'Mad Love' Series Premiere

Mad Love tells the parallel stories of one couple’s love at first sight and their best friends’ hate at first meeting.

Mad Love

Airtime: Mondays, 8:30pm ET
Cast: Jason Biggs, Sarah Chalke, Judy Greer, Tyler Labine
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: CBS
Air date: 2011-02-14

Mad Love tells the parallel stories of one couple’s love at first sight and their best friends’ hate at first meeting. Unfortunately, neither is particularly convincing.

Ben (Jason Biggs) meets Kate (Sarah Chalke) on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. She finds his cellphone; he finds her favorite hat. When they make the exchange, they fall in love. Meanwhile, Ben’s best friend, Larry (Tyler Labine), and Kate’s best friend, Connie (Judy Greer) have their first encounter at a bar. He hits on her; she rebuffs him. Then, they find out that they are both there to meet their friends’ new significant others.

A group of funny young professionals in New York City is certainly not a groundbreaking premise for a sitcom, but it is does have a pretty good pedigree. Like many other new shows this season, Mad Love has its sights set on successful predecessors like Friends and Seinfeld. In this first episode, Ben and Kate play out a relationship that usually takes years on other shows. But this misses the point: no one would have cared about Ross and Rachel if they had worked through their issues in the first 22 minutes.

Everything in the pilot of Mad Love feels too easy and so, a little bit lazy. Take the meet-cute premise at the Empire State Building: after An Affair to Remember (both of them) and Sleepless in Seattle, that idea seems pretty much covered. Mad Love tosses in some complications, of course. For instance, Ben neglects to break up with his current girlfriend before diving in with Kate. The girlfriend, Erin (Rachel Boston), is such a caricature that her early exit is a relief, though her belligerent malapropisms do provide some of the episode’s few funny moments.

This deception should be enough to make Kate doubt Ben, but the show doesn't pursue that well-worn plot twist. Instead¸ it's dismissed and replaced with a far less believable misunderstanding, when Kate sees what appears to be Ben making out with another girl. Turns out he was just stuck to her earring after a chaste farewell hug, which is a common occurrence only in sitcom-land. Without much evidence, Kate takes Ben's word, which makes her seem a bit gullible. The viewer knows Ben is a good guy, but it feels like cheating to have her intuit what we’ve seen.

Ben and Kate's togetherness isn't much of a surprise, and their story gains nothing by running on this pilot's treadmill for a half hour. Which brings us to their apparent opposites: Larry and Connie. It seems that we’re meant to take them as curmudgeons in the Seinfeld vein. But we’re also supposed to believe that they immediately dislike each other. It seems that their shared jaded worldview would make them friends, or at least comrades in arms.

Mad Love is too timid to turn these two into true misanthropes like George Costanza. So by the end of the pilot, they’re working together to get Ben and Kate back together, which is as boring as it sounds. It might have been better if they worked together to keep their irrationally lovestruck friends apart.

Still, it's tempting to have hope for future episodes of Mad Love, based on the actors' talent alone. They've done very funny work in other shows and movies, from Scrubs to Saving Silverman to 13 Going on 30. If the show would deemphasize its already tired premise, it might be another decent comedy about four quirky friends in the city. We've seen talented casts make that concept work before.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.