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'Kevin From Work' tangles with love among the cubicles

'Kevin From Work' tangles with love among the cubicles
Noah Reid, left, and Jason Rogel in "Kevin From Work." (Eric McCandless / ABC Family)

McJobs and McG, cubicle culture and cougars, true love and weird roommates all jockey for space in ABC Family's "Kevin From Work," a bawdy but strangely mild millennial-angst comedy that fades from memory as swiftly as a Snapchat post.

This may be demographically appropriate, but it's probably not what creator Barbie Adler had in mind.

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Adler, who has worked as producer and writer for many fine shows, including "How I Met Your Mother" and the original "Arrested Development," brings a similar swirl of sugar and salt to "Kevin," which premieres Wednesday. Directed initially by action-adventurous McG, it doesn't so much swing from fairy tale to satire as attempt to lasso elements of each and herd them into the break room.

Kevin (Noah Reid) works at a generic office for a generic food-services company. His job, which is never explained, is a bore; his boss (a leering, miniskirt-flashing Amy Sedaris) is a nightmare; his co-workers are the requisite assortment of oddballs, and even his best friend, Brian (Matt Murray), is problematic in a dim and super-needy way.

In other words, a gentle sendup of every workplace comedy you've ever seen. Either that or an example of every workplace you've never seen. It's difficult to tell, which is the show's biggest problem.

Kevin's biggest problem, however, is his cubicle mate Audrey (Paige Spara). Kevin loves Audrey with a love so sweet and true that in his mind's eye, she is Disney-princess photoshopped.

Ah, but Audrey has a boyfriend, the dreaded he-man Brock (Matthew Florida), and Kevin, with his gentle mien and plaid button-downs, feels resistance is futile. So, when we first meet him, he has leaped at a chance for a job in Italy to avoid the daily heartbreak of not having Audrey. (As if getting a job in Italy were not incentive enough.)

But before he goes, there is a party where Kevin writes a soul-baring letter to Audrey in the belief that he will never see her again. Then, just as Kevin's super-rad young sister Roxie (Jordan Hinson) arrives to take over his apartment, the Italian job falls through.

So now his dull and painful life is even worse: He must return to his loathed job, share his apartment with his wacky sister and try to intercept the letter. This involves a regrettable encounter with Audrey's roommate Patti (Punam Patel), a character that should appeal to fans of "The Mindy Project." Indeed, the scenes between Roxie and Patti offer the most hope for a show that transcends its slight premise.

Love among the cubicles is always fertile ground — something about the overhead lighting — and Reid gives Kevin a winsome shade of wan to which Audrey is not oblivious. As they inch their way to, one assumes, love, the two are the quiet center of the storm, namely the insanity of their work and home lives.

It's an insanity that may push the PG-13 rating a bit, but more often it tries a viewer's patience. Random wackiness is only as funny as the story that anchors it, and "Kevin" relies too much on our Skinnerian tendency to root for the underdog.

As the title implies, Kevin is very much the subject of the series. He gets in predicaments while narrating his life with a sad-sack knowingness that may or may not speak for a generation. The problem is Audrey. Spara does her best, but Audrey is as generic in her amiability as the office is in its work.

So, sure, the two might eventually fall in love, but wouldn't it be smarter to try to get another job in Italy?

Twitter: @marymacTV

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'Kevin From Work'

Where: ABC Family

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Rating: TV-14-DLS (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14, with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and sex)

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