One of my favorite new shows to hit television this season has been Up All Night. I’ve wanted to write about it for a long time, but I never can really settle with just a recap. Finally, though, I realized what issue needs to be addressed with Up All Night: their popularity. While the show brings in solid ratings, most people still believe the program should be bumped from NBC’s Thursday night line up. I, however, will fight for Up All Night because I disagree. Up All Night might differ slightly from their line up, but no shows on the lineup are all too similar to each other.
Here at last is a show that brings in a slightly older and younger audience and manages to combine parenthood, work, and growing up to make a hilarious half hour program. Up All Night deserves their time slow and is - sadly - underestimated, unknown, and underrated. More people need to give it a chance. If they did, they would find a dynamic and entertaining show.
There are so many things I love about Up All Night, and I’ll try to fit those reasons into this one blog post.
An ensemble of three comedic powerhouses - Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, and Christina Appelgate - comprise the cast of a couple with a child (Reagan and Chris) and their best friend (Ava) dealing with everyday work and personal life. The best part, however, isn’t just the cast, it’s the chemistry they have together. Will and Christina are quirky and fun to watch - it’s like they are still teens just figuring out how to deal with parenthood, and once you add in Maya, the charming, smart and glamorously dramatic star of the show, you’ve got perfection.
Maya Rudolph brings life to the show, a life that other NBC comedies lack (cough cough Whitney). Her character, Ava, is this semi-delusional, wonderfully supportive and confident talk show host that pulls the show away from simple couple dynamics and makes it about a single lady’s plight as well. What should be a third-wheel sort of situation really isn’t - it’s the tale of three friends hanging around and trying to deal with all the situations that life throws at them.
Up All Night balances great writing with great performances. Maya Rudolph may be the shining light of the show, but Christina Appelgate and Will Arnett are not far behind. These two work together like peanut butter on bread - the perfect and most enjoyable dish you will never stop craving. Arnett’s almost cocky and glowing energy mixed with Appelgate’s persistence and fiery passion creates a couple I think anyone would want to be friends with. Better yet, these two make having a baby seem enjoyable, almost fun - like a great addition to the family. Sure, Up All Night does not truly show how gruesome it can be, but I see no problem with bringing out the best in motherhood and fatherhood.
And I resent that people think the show is “baby proofed” with jokes and humor because I honestly do not believe that the show is deterred in the slightest by censorship of any kind. The show handles having a baby as a blase sort of occurrence - the child barely shows up in later episodes, merely as a plot device to bring out Chris’ desire for another child or as a springboard for a messy birthday party. I believe the show merely deals with jokes relevant to these character’s lives, something the people that watch can relate to.
And while critics have bashed it as an “irrelevant look at parenthood,” I think they’re missing the point entirely. Up All Night really isn’t about parenthood at all. Anyone who actually watches the show knows that their child makes an appearance maybe every third episode. While the show’s original premise might have been that a baby changes everything, I think the show has moved on. It’s about a couple of friends trying to figure out how to keep up their lives and stay exciting while other forces, such as parenthood, try to pull them back. Yes, it was about children at the start, but the show has grown into its own by embracing a problem many midlife couples face: falling into routine.
What Up All Night brings to television differs from what other shows on NBC Thursday have to offer. Unlike 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, Up All Night brings more of an SNL style, so-absurd-it’s-funny humor instead of smart, awkward and fast one liners. Unlike The Office, Up All Night is actually funny and hasn’t been sitting in their time slot for one more season than it should be. And unlike Community, which is currently finishing their run on Parks and Recreation’s time slot, Up All Night is not too weird to alienate half their viewers.
With three of the funniest working actors and actresses on television, Up All Night shines as a new shift in NBC Thursday’s. No, it might not match the mood of the others, and of course it attracts a slightly different audience, but the show is a breathe of life for NBC’s thursday night line up. It appeals to teenagers (hey - this reviewer loves the program!) and adults and deserves every bit of praise it receives.
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