I’m such a sucker for britcoms even when they aren’t wholly britcoms.
To that end, I highly recommend Showtime’s non-brit britcom, Episodes. And not only because Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Grieg are from one of my all time favorite britcoms, Green Wing (on Hulu and Netflix). Matt LeBlanc goes a long way towards making you see him beyond Friends‘ Joey Tribbiani.
Mangan and Grieg plays a married writing couple, Sean and Beverly Lincoln, who have a hit erudite TV show in the UK that follows the headmaster of a prestigious boys school. He is played by Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter’s uncle and more interestingly from The History Boys). When the show is picked up by a US network, the Lincolns have to make many many concessions – the show is now about a hockey coach, played by Matt LeBlanc, and called “Pucks”. Nothing erudite about this one.
Going into how your favorite British show (the UK’s Coupling) becomes the hackneyed US show you hate (the US’s Coupling), Episodes manages to poke fun at the Hollywood machine without totally destroying it and allows LeBlanc the freedom to do some great acting. He is playing himself, but the Matt LeBlanc that people assume he is. More crafty and wily than Joey, he uses the assumed idiocy to his benefit, and even wrings a slight bit of pathos out of this incarnation of himself.
The first episode of season 2 is now online – and I have to admit, I have not yet watched it. But I’m very excited to see how this show will do during its sophomore outing.