'Weird Loners' Is Fox's 'Unromantic Comedy'

Judy Hur

The initial set-up contrivances suggest that Weird Loners is not so strange as its title might lead us to think.

Weird Loners

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9:30pm ET
Cast: Becki Newton, Zachary Knighton, Nate Torrence, Meera Rohit Kumbhani
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: Fox
Creator: Michael J. Weithorn
Air date: 2015-03-31

“At the time this picture was taken, not one of these fourth graders was in a serious or committed relationship.” In a faded class picture, children sit at their desks, each one smiling at the camera. One by one, the children vanish from the picture, leaving behind a relationship status, a blurb that reads “Married in 2004” or “Civil Union in 2009". Eventually, only one student remains, a girl in an empty classroom and without a status. As Weird Loners begins, the child's school photo is replaced with a shot of her current self.

That self is Caryn (Becki Newton), and she's on a date. Her handsome counterpart appears at a distance, the glasses of wine and table decorations creating a wall between him and the overeager Caryn. He edges away from her and the camera, and calls for the check. Her disappointed face provides a new portrait, her relationship status no different from what is was in grade school.

Caryn is one of four relationship-challenged 30-somethings in Weird Loners, a self-described “unromantic” comedy series. All four live in the same building in Queens, an arrangement established in the series premiere. Caryn's grown up to be a high-strung dental hygienist who constantly reminds herself that all her peers are either married or in a relationship. Stosh (Zachary Knighton), a self-absorbed womanizer, is fired from his job and forced out of his company-owned apartment after seducing his boss’ wife. He “offers” to stay with his bizarre cousin Eric (Nate Torrence) and provide him emotional support after his father’s death. Disturbed by furnishings of Eric’s home, Stosh sends him into the city to purchase new décor. Much to his surprise, Eric brings home not only a giant painting, but also its unattached, free-spirited creator, Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani). Luckily for Zara, next-door neighbor Caryn just happens to evict her previous roommate, providing Zara with a place to stay.

As such set-up contrivances suggest, Weird Loners is not so fresh as its title might presume. Its protagonists are more familiar than strange, and their stories are clichéd, beginning with the premise that these lovable misfits become "friends". Neither is it news that they form a kind of family; their unconventional situation is now quite conventional.

The term "unromantic comedy” alludes not only to the series' efforts to challenge generic conventions, but also how one can find relationships in mostly predictable and sometimes unlikely ways. The friends' townhome is not only a setting, but also provides easy to read signs for their personalities. Each has a particular living environment designed to reflect their weird loner issues. Caryn, so desperate to settle down, has a kitchen stocked with food. She prepares a multitude of dishes, always unsuccessfully. Zara meditates in a room that is empty and free of clutter, much like her lack of commitment to anything.

Eric’s apartment and behavior are similarly revealing. Traditional in a stifling sort of way, his rooms are filled with relics left behind by his late parents. Quilted blankets drape over couches, framed pictures cover walls and flat surfaces. Whatever space isn’t occupied sits a menagerie of ceramic figurines, dancing women and milkmaids all proudly displaying his Polish heritage. On the other hand, his cousin Stosh doesn’t have a home at all and prefers to flit between Eric’s place and those the women he beds.

Stosh's interactions with his new friends suggest he's going to be learning some lessons from them, or rather, they'll all learn from each other as they repeatedly land in each other's homes. During the first episode, Stosh breaks into Caryn’s kitchen, Eric watches Stosh sleep in his late father’s room or Caryn disturbs Zara as she meditates. While some of us might consider living spaces private, in a sitcom, even an "unromantic" one, homes provide opportunities for intrusion.

Despite Caryn's best hopes, Weird Loners is not about people attempting to settle down. Even as she seeks a boyfriend, she and her cohorts spend a lot of time together, offering comfort and occasional jokes. “What does it sound like when all the pieces fit?” a disheartened Caryn asks after her failed engagement party. She's sitting with her new family on a bench in the park, watching an outdoor wedding from a distance. Their backs are a blur in the foreground while the wedding is clear and bright in the distance.

And so they do what audience members do: they impose their own narratives on what they're watching. “You’re in luck. I read lips,” Eric instigates. And so he and the others attempt to lip-read the wedding, their efforts by no means accurate: “And now, by the powder infested in bees, you may fist with pride.” But the imperfect lip reading reflects the lives of these weird loners. Their separate lives become intertwined, and they end up providing each other friendship and support, albeit imperfectly.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

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.