TV review: ‘Super Fun Night’ and Rebel Wilson are still weighed down
Where we’ve seen her before: Caplan played outcast and friend to Lindsay Lohan in the film “Mean Girls.” On television, she’s known for her small but recurring roles on “New Girl” and “True Blood.” (Craig Blankenhorn / Showtime)
Where we’ve seen her before: For four-and-a-half years, Fumero played a love-at-first-sight, smitten teen on the soap opera “One Life to Live.” Other television credits include stints on “Gossip Girl” and “CSI: NY.” (Fox)
Where we’ve seen her before: Kane played a recurring role on horror TV series “Teen Wolf.” She also starred in action-adventure “Power Rangers R.P.M” and Australian TV series “Neighbours.” (Mathieu Young / The CW)
Where we’ve seen her before: On the big screen, Beharie portrayed Rachel Robinson, wife of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, in the biopic “42.” Beharie is also known for her film debut as a single mother faced with drug charges in the drama “American Violet.” (Kent Smith / Fox)
Where we’ve seen her before: Lowe had a small role on the comedy series “The Slap” and on the drama “Satisfaction.” In between, she starred in movie shorts like “Moth” and “Kiss.” (Jack Rowand / ABC)
Where we’ve seen her before: Song played ditzy and affluent London Tipton on the Disney Channel series “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” She went on to star in the show’s spinoffs and Disney feature films including “College Road Trip,” alongside Raven Symone. Most recently she has appeared on episodes of “Scandal” and “New Girl.” (Jennifer Clasen / Fox)
Where we’ve seen her before: In a slew of rom-coms like “27 Dresses,” “The Proposal” and “The Heartbreak Kid.” Her television credits include stints on “Entourage” and “The Comeback.” (ABC)
Where we’ve seen her before: She voiced Mulan in the Disney animation film by the same name. She also played a physician in the medical drama “ER” for nine years and a state judge on the comedy “Two and a Half Men” for three years.
(Justin Lubin / ABC)
Where we’ve seen her before: Need we say...Gellar starred as protagonist Buffy Summers in the action-drama “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” On the big screen, she played an American nurse living in Tokyo in horror mystery “The Grudge” and “The Grudge 2.” (Richard Cartwright / CBS)
Where we’ve seen her before: In comedies including “Enough Said,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Connie and Carla” and dramas including “The Way Way Back,” “Hitchcock” and “Mental.” (Jeff Neumann / CBS)
Where we’ve seen her before: On the big screen, we’ve seen Faris star in “The House Bunny” with smaller roles in “The Dictator,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Lost in Translation.” (Monty Brinton / CBS)
Where we’ve seen her before: In a swath of comedies like “Pitch Perfect,” “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “Bridesmaids.” Wilson can also be seen on comedy TV series like “Bogan Pride,” “Pizza” and “World Record Pizza.” (Colleen Hayes / ABC)
Where we’ve seen her before: On the 1960s drama “Mad Men” and comedy drama “90210" in recurring roles. In addition to stints on action-comedy “Monk” and drama “One Tree Hill.” (The CW)
Where we’ve seen her before: Cameron played small roles on the Reba McEntire comedy “Malibu Country,” crime drama “The Mentalist” opposite Simon Baker and comedy drama “Shameless” with Emmy Rossum. (Disney)
Where we’ve seen her before: On TV series like “State of Mind,” “Six Feet Under” and “Deadline.” On big screen flicks like “Ransom,” “High Fidelity” and “The Conjuring.” (FOX)
We’ve come a long way, maybe, since Camryn Manheim made her famous “this is for all the fat girls” acceptance speech at the 1998 Emmys after winning for her portrayal of Ellenor Frutt in “The Practice.”
Since then, Brooke Elliott won critical praise for “Drop Dead Diva,” Melissa McCarthy picked up an Emmy as the female lead in “Mike & Molly” and Lena Dunham, though plus-sized only by Hollywood standards, has done everything but play ping-pong in the nude on “Girls” to help HBO viewers reconsider their absurdly conditioned views on the female form. (Oh wait, she did that too.)
So the timing is perfect for cinematic scene-stealer du jour Rebel Wilson to bring on the curves in ABC’s new “Super Fun Night.”
Unfortunately, though Wilson remains gorgeously fearless in her willingness to go all in, neither the network nor Wilson (she is an executive producer) know quite what to do with that. Beyond, you know, making sure everyone realizes that we shouldn’t have such narrow preconceptions based on appearance.
Except that’s precisely what “Super Fun Night” does. Having ditched the original (and terrible) pilot, the show premieres with its (slightly less terrible) second episode, in which we meet Kimmie Boubier (Wilson), a pretty and sweet young woman apparently still damaged from abuse suffered at the hands of adolescent mean girls.
Never mind that she’s a junior attorney, smart and ambitious enough to have just received a major promotion, Kimmie is a self-defined loser, part of a semi-agoraphobic trio — neurotic Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and socially klutzy Marika (Lauren Ash) — who have recently taken a vow to move their traditionally apartment-bound Super Fun Nights into the wider world.
Furthering the “Glee"-inspired notion that life never ventures much past high school, “Super Fun Night” gives Kimmie an “impossible” office crush — Richard (Kevin Bishop), the handsome British lawyer and boss’ son — and a thin-girl nemesis (Kate Jenkinson). Both of whom wind up at the karaoke piano bar Kimmie and her friends have chosen as their maiden voyage into adult social life. Karaoke also figured into the premiere of “Trophy Wife”; is it really on so much of an upswing?
There Kimmie hopes to get over her fear of speaking in public (how did she manage to get through law school?), which means we get to see Wilson do a fine cover of “I’d Do Anything for Love” before it devolves into a pretty silly sing-off with Jenkinson’s character.
Nuance is not Wilson’s thing, nor does it have to be. It is still a thrill to see a female comedian really throw her weight around.
But the writers seem determined to stuff her into a conceit as restrictive as the Spanx she also feels obligated to wear. Having stripped Wilson of her signature Aussie accent for no good reason, the basic story line trots her back about 10 years, to the dark ages before geeks ruled the earth and McCarthy was a franchise.
It’s a shame, because there’s no reason Kimmie and her friends can’t be anxious, insecure and still full-grown modern women. Wilson’s attraction is her often seemingly oblivious dismissal of the ridiculous restrictions on femininity. There is no need to bind her or her costars (who all do a great job with what little they are given) to bland sermons on self-love or timid speculation that handsome men might be attracted to larger gals.
Fifteen years after Manheim’s speech, the TV audience is ready to see the full figure unleashed.
‘Super Fun Night’
When: 9:30 p.m. Wednesday
Rating: TV-PG-DL (may be unsuitable for young children with advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language)
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