Review: Is The Men’s Room the Worst Professionally Created Comedy Series I Have Ever Seen?
Gabriel Neil
Oct 1, 2013 (Modified: Oct 4, 2013)

I last mentioned The Men’s Room back in our introduction to ITV Fest. My words at the time were far from positive, so I decided to give it a proper look, to really evaluate whether my hasty judgement was wrong. Was I too quick to condemn this new sketch show? Did the trailer give a false impression of The Men’s Room? Did I need to reassess my original view?

As it happens, no. The Men’s Room is everything that is wrong with comedy. Over-funded, unfunny, hammed-up, lowest-common-denominator-baiting, stereotyped and offensively intelligence-insulting; this is probably the worst professionally created comedy series I have ever seen.

mens-room-1

The Men’s Room substitutes ‘wacky’ non-sequiters for actual wit, the characters’ decisions make no sense, the humour is based on… well I’m not really sure where it’s supposed to come from. Of the two episodes currently online only one sketch made me smile a little and that wasn’t even a particularly good one. You know how in 30 Rock they show parodies of the kind of sketches seen on Saturday Night Live? The Men’s Room is pretty much like those parody sketches, only they’re not supposed to be bad. I was more inclined to laugh at it than with it.

By way of example, one sketch involves two fictitious trucker brothers of actor Billy Bob Thornton. In it they veer from fighting, to chatting amiably, to doing a ‘zany’ air guitar version of Sweet Home Alabama. There are actors playing parts here, but there’s no characters in this sketch, it’s just a series of weird sentences shouted in bad hillbilly accents that don’t make any sense together. Nothing said here even has nothing to do with Billy Bob Thornton that I can tell. It’s the kind of sketch I would have written and found funny when I was 13 years old (“LOL that’s so random!!11!one!!”) fortunately for all of us I am not 13 any longer. Oddly enough an apparently grown man called Michael Wilson put his name to this show as executive producer.

The Men’s Room sometimes finds itself not only insulting your intelligence, which it does constantly, but just being plain insulting. In one sketch we find a couple arguing about sexual experimentation, which ends with the man emotionally blackmailing his girlfriend into performing one particular act, with the implication that he has done this before. The studio audience apparently finds this hilarious. That is more than just a dumb, unfunny sketch, that’s getting into worryingly sexist territory. In general the show’s treatment of women as either window-dressing, unfunny straight-parts or shrieking harpies belies a less-than-enlightened attitude to the more populous sex.

mens-room-3

Apparently Michael Wilson has been involved with SNL as well as a number of small TV comedy and reality shows, which leads me to one of two conclusions. Either this man is a genuinely talented producer and show-runner, this is just a massive and uncharacteristic misstep on his part, or he is a calculating PR man who is simply appealing to the worst kind of vacuousness in order to try and make a buck.

The whole look of this show is that of one where more money has been thrown at it than substance. All the actors are absolutely caked in stage make-up, the outfits are annoyingly show-biz-y (mostly for the women though, because when you can’t be genuinely funny, just show some cleavage, right?), the lighting is garish and the stage sets have more bright primary colours than an episode of The Magic Roundabout. The addition of an apparently real studio audience is nothing more than an irritating anachronism (if it is in fact canned laughter, even worse). In the year 2013 for a sketch show to be unnecessarily limiting itself by having a live audience there seems a little like using a dial-up modem to do a Google image search. Even How I Met Your Mother simply screens the show in front of an audience after it’s filmed, for Christ’s sake. Quite apart from it’s impracticality, the only purpose having a laugh track on a show is to tell you when to laugh, appealing to deep psychological needs to conform to a larger group; it’s patronising, and I’d really like to see people moving past it.

Usually I like to try and find something positive to focus on, even in a negative review; something which the creators can latch on to and use to improve their show. In this case the only constructive thing I can think to say is this: bin it. Bin the entire show and start again, because absolutely everything in The Men’s Room, besides the filming and sound quality, is deeply flawed. By the professional look of the website and the industry standard production it seems that this series has had a lot of money sunk into it, sadly, this investment could only be described as a monumental waste of money on the scale of Waterworld; but Kevin Costner wouldn’t leave me feeling like I had just plunged my hand into an open sewer.

It barely needs saying at this stage, but unless you are an irredeemable masochist do not watch this show. It is, frankly, a sad, depressing self-parody of the worst of modern American comedy which should only go down in history as an example of how not to do it. If you’ll excuse me I think I need to take a shower now.

mens-room-2

7 comments
almostelvis
almostelvis

Wow!! LOL – Can you make it any more obvious that you have an axe to grind with this show? Sheesh, talk about bitter, sour grapes…  For the record, I happened to have seen this project at this year’s ITV Fest, and it was the Buzz of the Festival.  The audiences loved it –and what your article surprisingly fails to mention, it also won the Festival’s top honor as “Best Television Comedy.”  But ironically, you’ve decided to take the time out to bash it again –Wow, it must really hurt to have been so wrong about this one.  

GabrielNeil1
GabrielNeil1

@almostelvis All I can say is my review speaks for itself. I'm not sure what you mean by having an "axe to grind" or "sour grapes" about that show - I just thought it was genuinely terrible. Basically what Michael said, if you like it that's up to you.

MichaelRecord
MichaelRecord

@almostelvis I don't understand, Axe to grind? Sour grapes? There's no agenda here. The purpose of this website is to preview, review and comment on the web series industry. So it got mentioned in a preview (where we said the trailer looked poor) and now it's time for a full review of the show. In the writer's professional opinion (and also in my own professional opinion) this show is badly written, poorly acted, insultingly low-brow and with a very poor attitude to women. 

If you enjoy the show then we can't take that away from you, nor would we want to. But then we watch web series day in day out and know that the medium can do so much better than this effort; about which the most charitable word I can think of to describe it is 'lazy'. 

almostelvis
almostelvis

@GabrielNeil1 @almostelvisAgain, opinions are like (Blank) -everyone has one, including me...  But to be fair, I actually sent a link of this article to several other industry professionals who had also seen this project for the first time at the festival, and to be honest, we all felt the same: That it seemed you had an agenda, or other projects you preferred at the festival, and decided to lash out at the most popular, or commercial one -which by the way, also just also happened to Win the Top honor at the festival. -Again, it's strange you don't mention this "contradictory fact" within your review...   And given the fact that you also chose to review the project after it won this honor this past weekend is rather transparent... 

BTW: I'm also a woman, and found none of the offensiveness you propose, and a Media Advertising Executive who will actually be trying to get involved with this project when it lands on Broadcast Television. -Which it no doubt will. (My own professional opinion, and a little inside information) Again, you really missed here, but as you say, you're in the Web series world, and this is actually a "Television" Show -so perhaps in the future you should stick to reviewing the web-based fair, where you proclaim to be a professional. 

almostelvis
almostelvis

@MichaelRecordJust to be clarify, and I have now given this more time than I care... However I wish to be clear that I have no affiliation with the producers, cast, nor crew of this project which is called, “The Men’s Room”, not “The Men’s Show.” - And I had only mentioned that as a Media Buyer, I would have many national clients who would be very interested in spot advertising buys on this series when it comes to air.

I will also add, that to your website’s credit, and as an industry professional of 20 years, I do periodically scan you website, and regardless of you protectionism to your “author,” I find the entire review to be suspect, seriously off mark, and oddly abrasive.  –Again, just my opinion.  However, I will add it is the same of several other professionals who don’t care to post here, but echo my sentiments.

The project was rightly awarded the honor of “Best Comedy, Television” at the festival, and was praised by all who screened it.  Again, I feel you grossly missed the mark, and to be honest will take little more than a grain of salt to your reviews of other fair in the future.

Kindest Regards.

GabrielNeil1
GabrielNeil1

@almostelvis @GabrielNeil1 I'm not sure I can add much to what Michael has already said, but what I will say is that I had absolutely no idea either way about the popularity of this show when I was writing it, nor did I know it was about to win an award. That said, neither of those things would have changed my review in the slightest, except I would perhaps have mentioned my extreme surprise at the award win. 

Frankly, no matter how popular or award-winning this show may or may not be, it doesn't make my review "wrong", and the only "hurt" I would feel for the audience not being able to find good quality comedy to watch. In the context of this review, honestly, don't care that this show has won an award, what I care about is giving an honest and clearly defined account of my opinions to an audience of web comedy viewers, anything else would be me not doing my job. 

The fact that you are a woman who did not find this show to be offensive is neither here nor there in the light of your being someone with a vested interest in this show being successful. By the way, thanks for spreading the word by sharing this article around!

MichaelRecord
MichaelRecord

@almostelvis  Many of the shows shortlisted for the awards at the ITV festival were also to be premiered at said festival and only trailers were available. The Men's Show was one of the few shows that had actual episodes up, Therefore the decision to review was based around the ability to do so, not due to any form of 'picking the most popular and bashing it purely for the reason'. I assure you, we judge each show purely on its own merits. You state that you will be involved with the show later when it launches on broadcast television, which indicates that if there is anybody with a vested interest in promoting an agenda here, it is more likely to be you, not us.

I would also be careful about making too much of a distinction between our professionalism within the web series industry and broadcast television. The award the The Men's Show achieved was one at a festival that honored both formats equally. The quality of good web series is easily comparable to that of quality television. Indeed, web series are winning Emmys, beating out television shows to do so.

Whilst I don't want to put words in the mouth of my colleague, I suspect the fact that the reason the award that The Men's Show went on to win wasn't mentioned in this review was because it may have been written and submitted before the results of the awards were known. Again, there is no agenda there, simply logistics.

I note that award won was 'Best Comedy, Television'. The Men's Show has a distinctly tried and tested TV formula and so I have no doubt it will land on broadcast television. Whether it will carve a name for itself so as to be distinct from the myriad of other very similar and uninspired sketch shows, only time will tell. I suspect not.

I am happy that, as a women, you did not find the show offensive. As a man, I did find that it portrayed women in, at best, a very lazy manner. That will sit alongside the many other reasons I won't watch suffer myself to watch The Man's Show again. If it doesn't bother you then you can carry on watching the show to your heart's content.

We could have a long and detailed discussion about why the show is or is not funny and of course, as you say, opinion plays a large part here. We will inevitably differ in our opinion. What I take offense at, and what I am commenting to clarify, is any suggestion of unprofessionalism on our part. My colleague watched a show, he didn't like it, he said so. There really is nothing more to it than that. The Men's Show will continue regardless and I doubt our review will damage it much. Of course, if many other reviews come to similar conclusions then that would be indicative of a consensus of shared opinion.

Let's see how it goes, shall we?

Creator Feed (beta)

  • I Guess That Fortune Cookie Was Right: Danny Zappin Buys NewMediaRockstars
  • Thanks for the Memories – NMR Senior Class 2013
  • Check Out YouTube Space LA, Its Huge New Space For Local Video Creators
  • Baby Names – A Comedy Sketch from Whitney Avalon
  • McDonald’s Training Video Pops Up On YouTube, Ruins Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ [VIDEO]
  • Hulu Off the Market, Will Get $750 Million Cash Infusion
  • I liked it better when it was called Army of Darkness
  • Web Series Review Talks Slebisodes
  • Creating Your Next Channel Just Got a Lot Easier
  • The Slow, Impending, And Painful Death Of Basic Cable
  • Are Current YouTube Vlogging Styles Getting Tired? [VIDEO]
  • YouTube Opens Its Partner Program to Advertisers This Fall
  • Jack Black’s Tenacious D Ready To Make Best Web Series In The World
  • 10 Things Creators Should Know About the Latest Study on YouTube’s Top Channels
  • 5 Tips for Effective YouTube Descriptions
  • Koldcast TV Pulls The Plug on Their Terrible Crowd-Funding Campaign
  • MARGARET CHO SIGNS WITH MAKER STUDIOS TO PRODUCE WEB SERIES ‘IN TRANSITION’
  • The Actress Diaries – Season 2 is 20% Funded After First Week
  • Kickstarter is Not a Charity
  • ISSA RAE INTERVIEW: WRITER, PRODUCER & DIRECTOR
  • Dutch Gordon is Watching: Bad Lip Reading
  • Comedy Central Launches Stand Up App So You Can Watch All Your Favorite Comedians And Discover New Ones
  • Dutch Gordon is Watching: Veronica Osorio’s Character Reel
  • Dutch Gordon is Watching: L.B. RAYNE – WHERE NO MAN’S BEEN BEFORE
  • YouTube Triples Mobile Sales Amid Wireless Shift
  • Meet Your “On The Rise” Nominees for June
  • YouTube Rolls out New “One Channel” Design to All Its Channels
  • Maker Studios To Launch Online Video Platform To Compete With YouTube