10 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching ‘Go On’
1.) Because, to paraphrase Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan, comedy and tragedy are twin tendons that flex simultaneously. Never has that been more true of a network sitcom. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, because creator Scott Silveri is a pro, a former producer of Friends, but let’s be real – when you think Friends you think Smelly Cat, not tugging at the heart strings week to week, Rachel and Ross aside.
2.) Because Matthew Perry isn’t just Chandler Bing. I’ll be honest, I didn’t consider myself a huge Friends fan, and I considered myself even less of a Matthew Perry fan. In his role as Ryan King, sports radio host and recent widower, Perry is careful building an entirely different character when he could rest on his platinum laurels and serve us straight up Chandler quips. He’s believable, and likeable, and someone you root for.
3.) Because even the pilot is great. As any avid watcher of TV can (eventually) tell you – the pilot of any show cannot be the reason you love or hate a program. It simply is designed to bear too much weight – it has to be expository and pleasing not just to you the viewer, but their myriad of bosses. It’s the beginning of a story, true, but more than that it’s a bid to demonstrate why they deserve to be on television in the first. While I did wind up waiting until five episodes in to write up Go On, I knew based on the rare fact that their pilot was breathtaking, that the show would be gold.
4.) Because you like to laugh. Sure, Perry gives with the quips, but the real meat of the humor comes for the expertly cast ensemble. Be it the ‘kooky’ characters – the obsessive voyeur Mr. K, Sonia the cat lady, or the ‘straight’ characters – Perry’s assistant Carrie or his boss slash best friend Steven – the specificity of the characters makes their humor hit.
5.) Because you like to cry. You guys. I literally went from guffawing at a beat in the pilot TO STRAIGHT UP BAWLING. It took my breath away. I actually said – to the air – mid-sob – “Oh my god I am totally crying right now!” You never feel manipulated, you feel truly empathetic.
6.) Because it’s diverse. It is. There are women and men and gays people and straight people and Asian and black and Hispanic people on the show. More importantly than that – it doesn’t seem like that’s a big deal, it’s certainly not made one. It’s kind of awesome.
7.) Because it’s not Community. I was so, so, so worried they were going to aim for Dan Harmon’s milieu and just miss and crash and burn – but they don’t. While the group structure is the same, and while Ryan certainly plays the unwilling anchor role that was foisted upon Community‘s Jeff, that’s where the comparisons should end. While Community is a study in absurdity, social outsider status, and the metaphysical (but seriously, it is.) Go On is a sitcom from another time – from before the age of irony. It’s currency is earnestness and that’s…really refreshing.
8.) Because of Julie White. Because oh my God Julie White is on it, and I missed her on TV shows, I mean I was happy when she cropped up on Six Feet Under, but let’s be real – I’m talking about her playing Nadine on Grace under Fire. Here her stellar turn as Anne – the furious, grieving, lesbian of the group – is by turns almost too realistic to watch comfortably, and such a breath of often needed comedic relief that you want to high five her. But you can’t. Because it’s TV.
9.) Because it’s not about death. Yes, the inciting incident of the show is a man losing his wife and coming to turns with that, but it isn’t a show that ruminates on death – it focuses on the messy busy of being alive, grief being part of that. Things that shouldn’t be hilarious – like Ryan lying to his gardener about his wife still being alive to avoid the awkward moment of someone comforting him and being sad – are, because they play as authentic.
10.) Because of John Cho. Look. I love him, okay? And that’s never going to change. He plays a great friend to Ryan, and his navigating the waters of his relationship with his bro post said bro’s wife kicking it brings the funny.
BONUS REASON – Spoilery – Because Ryan’s wife didn’t die from Cancer. She died from texting, highlighting yet again the absurdity of death and the preciousness of life.