This article previously appeared on Crossfader.
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
You can’t choose your family, and you certainly can’t choose your living situation when your wife takes all your money from your prenup, leaving you dirt poor with a struggling acting career. The only issue is, with the new CBS multi-camera sitcom 9JKL, our main character Josh doesn’t seem out of luck at all. Between its lackluster premise, unsympathetic and boring protagonist, and characters that are merely caricatures, 9JKL fails to differentiate itself from any other family-oriented sitcom.
9JKL spoon feeds how Josh happened to be forced into living between his parents, his brother, and his sister-in-law on the ninth floor of an apartment building in New York City. Josh attempts to downplay how stressed he is about his current situation, but only grows frustrated with his overbearing parents, brother, and sister-in-law all in his business. The pilot follows Josh as he goes on a date with a woman and eventually brings her home to his apartment. Of course, his attempts to sleep with her are foiled by his family’s shenanigans. The woman gets annoyed and leaves.
Nothing says peaked in your 20s like your parents watching you sleep!
The pilot is full of great jokes, but it doesn’t subvert the issue of how plain 9JKL is. First of all, Josh is unlikable to a fault that makes him suffer as a protagonist. He complains so much about his living situation, despite the fact that he still has his own apartment in the city, most likely worth thousands of dollars to rent. Sure, it could be stressful to live in the same apartment with your parents, but Josh still has plenty of space despite his intrusive family. He comes across as severely stupid considering the fact that he’s not upfront on his date about his living situation, and tries to cover up his family later on in a manner that falls entirely flat. Although an unlikable character doesn’t necessarily mean an uninteresting one, Josh fails to provide any excitement by any other means. He is just another white man in his 30s struggling to become an actor. But he still doesn’t appear to be struggling too much, as he has an agent and a previous network television show that simply got cancelled.
Ah . . . so Lucille Bluth is the evil twin . . .
Considering Josh’s blandness, it is disappointing that the rest of the cast has nothing to bring to the table either. His brother, Andrew, is Josh’s foil who has it all put together. He is a successful doctor who is welcoming his newborn child with his wife, Eve, to the world. Eve, who is also a doctor, is rarely seen in the pilot, only to deliver the occasional, weird one-liner. Then there is Judy, who is a sober, loving, yet unfunny Lucille Bluth. Perhaps the most unique of the bunch is Harry, a lawyer who gets overly excited about Costco runs and attempts to promote his practice by creating a viral video.
In fact, the most memorable characters of the show aren’t on the ninth floor at all. Rather, it’s Nick, the doorman, and Ian, the well-rounded, witty kid who hangs around the lobby. They each appear to have interesting stories about how they have become the strange personality they are, but it is one that is unfortunately unrelated to the main cast, and not enough to carry the show. Thus, with the ninth floor being completely dull, 9JKL should most likely stay there with them.
9JKL airs on CBS on Mondays