Well… that was unpleasant.
Did you laugh? I didn't laugh. I frowned a lot. Maybe I kinda smiled twice, but I wouldn't swear to it. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I'd bet against it.
Manhattan Love Story has a large cast of mostly horrible characters. The lone exception? Male protagonist's (much like the children on Black-Ish, most of this cast hasn't earned me bothering to learn their names or actors) sister, AKA Chloe (Chloe Wepper), who has a natural rapport and chemistry with her otherwise dull brother. Kurt Fuller is in the show, but has, I believe, two lines in the pilot, rendering him as useless as everyone else.
MLS (and it's so terrible that I'm fine using that abbreviation) is also, like every other sitcom so far this fall, over-narrated. Here, though, it's one of the only things that could possibly give you hope for this train wreck. Don't get me wrong, the narration is awful. However, the idea of a running internal monologue pointing out the hypocrisy of our despicable main characters is one with legs… if only it had writers. A mash-up of Kevin Nealon's old "Mr. Subliminal" bits with Scrubs' JD at his most biting is a great hook for a show, and we know from Scrubs that you can turn excessive voiceover from a weakness into a strength. But MLS is- shout out to TLC- no Scrubs.
The other tarnished, rusted, dented silver lining is that the two leads, as well as Wepper, have very strong comic timing. Unfortunately for them, having excellent comic timing doesn't help you when there's nothing comic about what you're being forced to say. That's not entirely true, I suppose- there's one or two passable (but certainly not great) jokes- but it's close enough for our purposes. That the story, such as it is, is a forgettable, gimmicky mess doesn't help things, but at least the show eventually ends. There were times during the pilot when I feared that would not be the case, that I had somehow been sucked into a purgatory of one-dimensional cliches and bad dialogue, forever trapped in the miasma of lowest common denominator pandering, an engine of entropy fueled by the mercenary impulse of network suits to market directly to the loneliness and desperation of those sad, pathetic people who can never find love, but still believe that their soulmate is out there waiting for them as they have tragically not yet realized that not only does no one love them now, but no one ever will… because they're awful; so awful, in fact, that they would watch Manhattan Love Story on purpose, and therefore deserve to die alone.
... Excuse me. Got a little dark there for a second. Anyways, back to the review:
The two most prominent members of the supporting cast, the leads' best friends who are married to each other, are somehow even worse than the cardboard gender stereotypes that anchor the show. The best creative decision the show could make at this point is to kill these two soulless oxygen wasters off in the second episode, and have the leads' romance be complicated, and deepened, by an overwhelming- if inexplicable, given the awfulness of the departed- sense of loss. Somehow I don't think that's where MLS is going, though I do expect I will find myself thinking a lot about death whenever I watch it.