What About Brian is not a sequel to What About Bob, so those of you who are waiting for them to get to What About Buford can just keep on waiting. Instead, it’s a TV series centered on a guy and the girl he really should be with, but he isn’t with because she’s otherwise involved, so he’s gonna keep dating other girls while they tease us about the two of them getting together. Sounds horribly original, eh? I mean, if you haven’t watched any other TV show of the past couple of decades. But really, society’s been crying out for a remake of Joey.
The structure of this drama is built around three couples and their single friend Brian. One of the couples is trying to conceive, one is trying to turn their marriage into an open marriage, and one is a couple that has the woman that Brian is supposed to be with in it. It’s all watchable, it’s all well-played, but the problem is that when they’re doing Brian-and-the-girl-he’s-supposed-to-be-with (which is put forth in a far-too-obvious hammer-to-the-head form to be believable), then it seems trite – and when the Brian stuff gets away from that, it’s somewhat watchable but seems pointless, since we know that’s not what the Brian storyline is really about.
The attention paid to the open marriage storyline is an example of something that frustrates me about drama. On one hand, drama is supposed to give us a window into the world. But stories only get interesting when things go wrong. As such, drama tends to show that interesting things (particularly non-default sexuality things) cause bad effects. “Open marriage” in a drama is always step one to “marriage disaster”, because that’s interesting. But is it truly a window on the world? I won’t claim to know a statistically significant sample of those in open marriages, but those I have known have been in some of the happiest and comfortable marriages I’ve seen.
(I also think it’s funny what gets trumpeted as fantasy sexuality at times; the second episode of this series focused on a sexual achievement that they made sound like a wildly unlikely success even for the sexually-active very pretty people who populate this piece. But I’ve done it, and I’m hardly anyone’s picture of the successful man slut. And, of course, this trumpeted achievement ends in disappointment, because, you know, sex outside of comitted monogamy doesn’t lead to happiness in drama. You’d think dramatic writers have never enjoyed sex.)