Bored to Death (2009-2011) Review
A look back at the criminally underappreciated comedic HBO TV show ‘Bored to Death’, starring Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson.
This review contains light spoilers.
Searching for TV shows to watch, it came to my surprise to stumble across a HBO comedy with Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis that I hadn’t heard of before. I started watching and very quickly became hooked on the show’s atmosphere and sharp humour. After sadly finishing the show, I knew it had to be the next review, here on Eden Reviews.
Bored to Death, the HBO comedy by Jonathan Ames, starts with the loveable loser Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman) losing his girlfriend Suzanne (Olivia Thirlby), finding difficulty with his second book and, eventually, advertising himself as a private detective. His character is in a relatable point in his life, even though not many people may be in his exact scenario. He may be awkward and often called odd by others, but is ultimately very watchable. Ames’ friends Ray Hueston (Galifinakis) and George Christopher (Danson) appear too, though they have not yet formed the team they later will.
At first the overarching plot focuses on Ames trying to win back Suzanne, but this is soon dropped for the much better focus of pulling together Johanthan, Ray and George. This leads to a much more interesting dynamic, which couples with the intelligent humour to really create a very engaging show. The combination of its subtleness and realism create a unique atmosphere that helps the audience to feel more involved with Bored to Death than other shows may allow.
By the end of season 2 the format of the show has solidified, focusing almost exclusively on our loveable threesome. Along the way the overarching story showed signs of not being perhaps as complete as in season 1, but this issue eventually disappears. The atmosphere doesn’t wavier throughout though, being continuously very strong and allowing for a much deeper level of possible enjoyment. In part this is because of the wonderful New York setting being used superbly, with it being hard to imagine the show being set anywhere else. Also helpful is the improvement in the use of characters. For example, in this season George’s longer screen time really allows the viewer to become infatuated with his lifestyle thanks to Danson’s fantastic acting creating a believable yet enjoyable character.
While there are definitely some rocky parts to the second season, it seems to set up a third that has a formula which will satisfy its fans. So what they did next was very strange to say the least…
After setting up the foundations of a fan-pleasing season, the last of the three takes the show on a detour. Not one that ruins the show, but a noticeable change nevertheless. In fact, many may even say the chances lead to enhancement due to season 3 seeming to attempt to connect with a wider audience. The subtlety and realness is reduced in favour of more obvious jokes and high stakes story. Many will laugh more and love the extra cameos, but at the same time part of Bored to Death’s unique style became lost. Instead its replaced by these unrealistic larger than life moments which perhaps a larger audience would prefer? New bizzare plots are added with elder love and identifying a biological father which culminate in a very off the wall ending. The show just doesn’t feel the same, and yet it is still very enjoyable. If the show had started off like this it wouldn’t have hooked me like it did, but the love I already felt for it allowed me to still have a good time with the final season, even if it was slightly disappointing.
Concluding Bored to Death
Overall, Bored to Death is an original, creative and charming comedy. While underappreciated, its lack of popularity is understandable due to perhaps only original appealing to a smaller audience.
Jonathan Ames (the creator) is said to be still in the process of creating a TV feature of Bored to Death. He also has a new show Blunt Talk starring Patrick Steward and Adrian Scarborough coming in 2015.
What do you think of the show? What underappreciated shows do you like?
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