One of the most common complaints about Hello Ladies is that its protagonist, Stuart, is such a jerk that it’s difficult to empathize with him or care about his stories. “The Date,” though, shows a different side of Stuart than previous episodes, one that if anything dials up the awkwardness quotient by making him a much more relatable human being. Stuart is still simultaneously full of himself and completely without confidence, but those are the traits that make him interesting. It’s nice to see the show keep from repeating itself, too, so that while Stuart is definitely at fault, it’s not just 30 minutes of watching him be terrible to everyone—Hello Ladies has a lot more ambition than that, even if Stuart is always going to shoot himself in the foot before the end of an episode.
The date isn’t actually one date, it’s a pair, as Stuart successfully asks out a woman working at his gym. They go out to dinner, and he finds himself stunned by the prices on the menu. He continually cajoles the waiter into not allowing them to order expensive wine, which is entertaining but a little broad. What I liked about this entire date, though, was that it both showed us that Stuart can be an enjoyable person to be around, and that it largely skipped through this part through montage, not wasting our time with the specifics. Still, Hello Ladies perfectly captured the beginning and end of the night, with the awkward comedy coming from the situation itself and the difficulty navigating around the strangeness of dating. Their strained hug and mutual desperation for another date was sad and hard to watch and completely true.
After the date, though, she fails to answer his text, and this drives Stuart crazy. He escalates from calm to panicked to enraged in a matter of hours, and I loved how disheveled he was while writing her an angry email that his assistant refuses to send. Once she finally does respond and they go out again, she spends the entire time texting, and in his irritation and jealousy he glances over to see that it’s with an “Alex.” The rest of their date goes well, but it’s subsumed by this texting, which she never explains. At the end of the night she has him drop her off at a friend’s house, and he sneaks to the window to see if it’s a woman or a man, on the assumption that this must be Alex. It’s not, and things fall apart, but what was sublime was that for a few seconds there, even after he was caught, she was ready for another date. As always, he takes things too far, though, and screws even this up. It’s an intrusion of reality on what was almost a Hollywood ending, and as such it’s especially brutal.
Hello Ladies is intent on exploring Stuart’s failed attempts at finding love every episode, but it also has a second goal, exploring the lives of lonely, successful 30-something people in Los Angeles. It’s a sort of anti-Entourage, where even starring in a tampon commercial and making it through the shower without injury are too much to ask for. Jenny Slate (Mona-Lisa from Parks and Recreation) guest-starred as Jessica’s successful friend, who makes Jessica feel terrible about not having paying work in nearly a year. She confronts her agent about this, and he sends her out for a tampon ad, which is auditioning at the same time as a Martin Scorsese movie that Jenny is auditioning for. Jessica’s repeated lies to cover up for the current state of her career, and the machinations she goes through to avoid being caught before it completely blew up in her face, reminded me of Seinfeld.
Still, the saddest story of the night belonged to Wade, who realizes that if he died in his shower no one would even know for possibly days. In his panic over this, really a panic over separation from his wife, he asks people to become part of an AG (all good) network, notifying each other every three hours that they’re still alive. It’s both depressing and completely understandable, a way for single people to essentially reassure themselves that they still matter. It’s nice to see that Hello Ladies can do more than one thing well, too. “The Date” also had me laughing the hardest of any episode so far, as each story hit its note perfectly, and best of all without going back to similar situations to the first two episodes. Here, the show proves its bleak version of reality is bigger than simply the night life; it’s an all-encompassing world of painful embarrassment, one that I couldn’t be happier to watch.