Wingman Purgatory, a fairly new series on YouTube created by Maxwell Kessler and Kyle R. Morrison, is set around the lives of two young men, seemingly in their 20s, who live together, spend their time watching TV, trying to get laid and generally living like pigs. If that premise seems at all familiar to you, it’s because that is almost exactly the way you would describe something like Men Behaving Badly, the only differences being that these men are American, not English, and play computer games more often.
Seeing as Men Behaving Badly is a very British show, I doubt the makers of Wingman Purgatory are even aware of it – I think it would be somewhat unfair to level the charge of being derivative at their feet. Nor is the premise an essentially bad one, if done in a clever, fresh way – perhaps focusing on one guy who is falteringly trying to break out of his shallow, amoral life. Sadly this is where the charges can land. Wingman Purgatory is, without a doubt, a lazy, uninspired show, without even the pretense of trying to redeem it’s characters.
The main characters, the unhealthy, unhygienic, creepy ‘tashe bearing Ralph (Alex Salem), and the slightly neurotic and over-reactive Alex (Andrew Bachelor), seem perfectly at peace with their shallow, stagnant lives. All their apparent interests are having sex and… having sex (which, of course, they almost never get). Characters who care about getting laid are not necessarily a bad thing, but it would seem that for Andrew and Alex, there are no other aspects to their ambitions, it’s literally their only motivation to do anything. As a result, they come off as 2-dimensional, lazy creations with no humanity to them.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with having unpleasant characters in a comedy show, people do it all the time to great success (c.f. The Thick of It, or, to use a web comedy example, A Conversation While…). What those shows do and this one fails to do is to make the audience care about these characters despite their unattractive qualities. Wingman Purgatory is about two unpleasant souls, who are, despite glimmers of quality comedy in the murk, effectively dull and unlikeable.
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