"Ben and Kate" has made it to the "certain to be canceled" slot on TV by the Numbers. Why is the quirky comedy doing so poorly? Comedy can be a tough sell for a large number of viewers. Humor, by nature, is very personal. Still, the show may have been more successful had there been a few slight changes. It is possible to reach a wider audience without losing the essence of what makes a show funny.
Kate shouldn't lie so much
It seems like just about every comedy, good and bad, is based on lying. The now-classic comedies "Seinfeld" and "Friends" got most of their laughs from lies that characters told. Even more recent hits, such as "New Girl," are often based on lies. "Ben and Kate" is a very unusual comedy and does not need to rely on this played out tactic. It could have set itself apart by bringing some truth to comedy. Some of the funniest stand-up comics rely on true stories, because truth can be more hilarious than a lie. For a TV show that is completely fictional to begin with, there is no reason for the characters to deceive. Truth-telling could be very refreshing.
Ben shouldn't be quite so annoying
The character Ben (Nat Faxon), Kate's (Dakota Johnson) brother, must be one of the most annoying brothers who has ever lived. But that's one of the show's aspects that makes it funny to some current fans. Still, they could likely reach a wider audience if he wasn't quite so dumb. Ben just seems a little off as a complete character. Part of it is because he's way over-the-top stupid, which doesn't ring true. Comedies that reach too far can sometimes work when all the details are filled in to make the perfect character (a la Michael on "The Office"), but Ben doesn't have all those elements. He would be much more humorously believable if he was not quite so predictably moronic.
BJ has become too indecipherable
BJ (Lucy Punch) is one of the most amusing characters on the show. The problem is that she seems to be less funny as time goes on. She was always strange, but at least you could see where her mind was going when the series began. Now, she's going into a realm where it's nearly impossible to understand the connections between events on the show and the things that come out of her mouth. That character needs to be toned down so viewers can at least understand why what she is saying is funny.
What they've done right
One of 'Ben and Kate" best qualities is that the characters are not super glamorous. They are normal looking and weird. This is yet another reason other aspects of the show should not be so exaggerated. The funniest situations are ones that people can relate to in some way, such as an annoying brother. Exaggeration can compound the laughter, but there comes a point when it's just too excessive .
What constitutes great comedic acting and directing is as personal as what can be considered funny. What's most important is that the actors and directors pull off whichever style they are going for. Other than the few tweaks mentioned above, the acting and directing seem to be great for fans of quirky comedies. The daughter, Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), is especially cute, and Ben's best friend, Tommy (Echo Kellum), is especially loveable. Geoff Stults as Will is also a breath of fresh air. It's great to see him again in this role after his dramedy "The Finder" was canceled. Hopefully, if "Ben and Kate" is canceled for good, he'll pop up soon on a show that lasts.
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