Notes From The Underbelly
young couple adjust to life with a baby on the way
Review Of: Season One
Type of Series: Sit-Com
Similar Shows: Scrubs (fast-pace, short scenes, heart in the right place); Baby Blues (young couple with a baby)
Typical Episode: Six of the first eight were about the pregnancy affecting Lauren in some way. Andrew adjusts and there is a ripple effect through their friends.
The Inner Light: True Love will weather all storms.
Strengths: Very funny. It has heart. Rachael Harris.
Impressive Characters: Andrew is my favourite character. He has boundless love for his wife and, instead of merely coping with the changes in their lives, he seems to be falling in love with her in new ways because of what's happening.
Impressive Actors: Rachael Harris is scene-stealing hilarious as Lauren's anti-babies best friend. I would watch this show just to hear Harris deliver her lines.
Impressive Episodes: Hard to choose. Maybe the fifth episode? Lauren is friends with a couple who are very much pro-baby, and this is the episode where their baby is born. Illistrating just how good the concept is, this birth effortlessly involves all the other characters in some way.
Impressive Writers: Stacy Traub.
Three Things I Really Like About This Series:
It's such a romantic series.
It's laugh-out-loud funny.
This one blew me away. Not only by being so good, but not being being anything like what I thought it was going to be.
Episode 1. "Notes From The Underbelly" Who would have thought you could turn pregnancy into a sit-com? But you can. This show proves it. It began last Spring with 8 half-hour episodes, and it follows the lives of a young couple who are expecting their first baby. Jennifer Westfeldt (who was in the first season of Two Guys And A Girl) is really rather good as the mother-to-be. I never liked her in Two Guys, but I'm completely smitten here. Her partner (Peter Cambor) is funny and likable and the whole thing was much, much better than I expected it to be.
Episode 2. "Animal Style" I would have assumed that a sit-com about pregnancy would be slow and serious. Not fast and snappy (like Scrubs). Lauren is obsessed with food in this episode, and her impending driving test, and her impending change of car. And it's all fast and funny and very enjoyable. I'm starting to love her best friend Cooper (Rachael Harris) who gets all the best lines. And seems to have a ball delivering them.
Episode 3. "Million Dollar Baby" With parenthood on the horizon, Lauren contemplates giving up her job. Lots of short scenes, fast cuts, quirky lines, etc. make for another winning episode. Again, I have to say, who would have thought a show about pregnancy would be so much fun to watch?
Episode 4. "Oleander" Another winning episode. Now that Lauren's pregnant, she's got bigger breasts, and Andrew is almost in heaven. "Almost", because she is nauseous most of the time, and there is zero chance of actually having sex. This simple idea generates a lot of laughs and leads to a great climax (so to speak) when Lauren and Andrew fight rush-hour traffic -seperately - in an effort to meet during one of the rare times that she is not feeling sick. Under it all, the writing makes it clear that Andrew is not just horny, he's utterly smitten with his wife and it's difficult for him being without her. This element is probably my favourite thing about the whole series: this guy isn't just 'in love' with his wife, he's simply adores her. All the time. Even when - being pregnant and all - her behaviour is somewhat odd. It's a cool element in a seriously cool show.
Episode 5. "Julie & Eric’s Baby" I love television. Love it! Love it! Love it! I would never have predicted two months back that two of favourite new shows would be about a couple expecting a baby, and a teenage girl living in Africa. But that's the way it is.
Notes' 5th episode is the funniest one so far and highlights the genius of this very funny show: very different characters trapped together by pregnancy. This is the episode where Julie gives birth. All the scenes where we see how this affects the others in the group are hysterical. Melanie Deanne Moore is the absolute star of this episode, but all of the cast shine. The script is razor sharp. Many lines are worthy of an instant rewind to savour them.
Episode 6. "Mothers Milk" The most important episode so far. Why? Because this is the first time the writers have told a story that is not generated from the premise of the series (young couple has a baby) and, as such, is a good indicator of whether the show/concept has legs. So what happens? Andrew's mother visits. She and Lauren usually don't get on. But, surprise, surprise, as soon as they start to criticise Andrew they bond and become friends. Much to his discomfort. By taking on this old sit-com chesnut, and making it very very funny, the show proves that it can run and run.
Episode 7. "Keeping Up Appearances" Once again the writers use the series set-up extremely well, for an episode about how Lauren balances work with pregnancy. As I say every time I mention this show, I have to marvel at the genius idea of taking something so commonplace and using it as fodder for a sit-com. Never mind the breakneck pace of the show and the superb jokes. This is one of the fastest moving episodes they have done. And it is hilarious. It is also sweet to see Andrew looking after Lauren as best as he can. Sweet. And hilarious.
Episode 8 "Surprise" ends the first season by using a generic storyline to fantastic effect. All but two episodes used The Pregnancy to set up the stories. This time out, we get to see Lauren and Andrew having a fight (on the night of his birthday party). Flashbacks are used to clever effect. The flashbacks, to seven years ago, are shown in reverse order, so each time we get a flashback we get to understand a little bit more of the story and we get some of the gags that were set up in the previous flashback. Man, I love that.
I also love these characters/actors. All six regulars get equal screen time for a change and all of them get major laughs. They are all so good, I couldn't possibly pick a favourite. (Yes, I can, it's Rachael Harris).