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'A to Z'zzzzzz . . . Unrealistically Excessive and Boring

By Emily Cutler | TV | October 17, 2014 |

By Emily Cutler | TV | October 17, 2014 |

Oh, A to Z, we’ve got beef. We’ve got serious beef. You’ve got so much potential. AND YOU ARE THROWING IT AWAY.

Let me back up. A to Z is the comprehensive account of the 8 month relationship between Andrew (Ben Feldman aka Ginsberg from Mad Men) and Zelda (Cristin Milioti aka The Mother from How I Met Your Mother). This is the information given in the opening credits. And pretty fairly represents everything good and bad about the show.

An “8 month relationship” means we’re seeing everything. Most people have 8 month relationships, and very few of them get turned into works of art. It’s a really untapped market. Long enough to fall in love, not long enough to write epic romance. I’m excited about this part. And then it gets ruined by the cutesy names. A to Z, Andrew and Zelda. We got it, guys, you love a theme.

The conceit of the show ends up overpowering almost everything else and almost ruins it. It’s like the creators/ writers decided if their going to have a show with one interesting element, they should drown that interest in every single rom-com cliche ever. Starry eyed, romantic, might as well get “looking for the one” tattooed onto his forehead male lead? Check. Realistic, closed off female lead with her unstructured childhood backstory? Yep. Cast of wacky best friends/ co- workers/ various supporting characters? Oh hell yes. (By the way, I can’t even bother to unpack the “women only don’t believe in pre- destined, true love if they’ve had bad childhoods that turn them into cynical bitches” trope here, but come on. That’s the worst.)

The plots themselves are no better. Through just the first three episodes we’ve covered the meet cute, the misunderstanding that leads to them almost not getting together, the respective best friends hating each other, some creepy stalker-ish behavior on his part, tracking each other on dates that were planned before they met, snooping into each other’s past, and then the old couple at the restaurant where Andrew and Zelda are eating. Attention, hipsters: you did not create elderly couples nor do they exist solely so you can make deep, philosophical comments on life and love while on a date. Please stop doing that.

The part that makes me so angry though is that Feldman and Milioti are amazing together. Look at this picture:
Andrew and Zelda.jpg
And here they are in real life
A to Z panel.jpg
No, she doesn’t love whatever bad joke was just made. But she’s going to pretend smile her way through it because whoever made that bad joke is clearly important to him. She’ll try for him.

When the plots/ characters are pulled back enough to give Feldman and Milioti room to breathe, they’re really good. You want to watch that couple fall in love. The fact that we know they’re going to break up in 8 months only makes it more bittersweet. They have moments where it looks like the showrunners are going to let you in on the joke. “Here is a couple falling in love who clearly believe they invented love. You know how everyone believes their love is special? Let’s watch these cute kids start to believe that. They’ll be slightly annoying, but it’ll be fun.” Make that show instead. That show would be amazing.