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TV Series Review

If I were to pen a personal ad for ABC's sitcom Romantically Challenged, it might read something like this: "Beautiful, neurotic, self-absorbed thirtysomethings seek shallow, physical relationships with the same." That's pretty much the premise behind this chemistry-free Friends-ian robot of a show about two guys and two women struggling to cope with the rigors of ongoing singleness.

Now, you'd think that being attractive, witty and articulate would give these people an edge in the dating department. But this being a sitcom—which by definition means far removed from anything approximating reality—it doesn't. As our "heroes" struggle through the twin traumas of dating and finding someone to sleep with (activities not necessarily related), viewers may struggle with other issues. Like why they're watching.

Rebecca Thomas (played by Charmed's Alyssa Milano, the only actor here likely to garner any name recognition) is a successful lawyer and single mother who's recently gone through a divorce after 15 years of marriage. And she's unsure of how to navigate the disorienting waters she finds herself in. Good thing she's got someone to show her the ropes. Someone like her little sister, Lisa, who is a kindergarten teacher by day/wild child given to one-night stands and threesomes by night.

And then there are the obligatory sad-sack guys. Perry's financial planning job gobbles up long hours but fails to fill the aching romantic void within him—something he's not ashamed to whine about. Keeping him company is his sarcastic roommate and longtime best friend, Shawn, an unemployed aspiring writer who's been sponging off Perry's generosity for years.

Together, this foursome commiserates over their shared plight at—where else?—a coffee shop. In this case, said shop is supposedly located in Pittsburgh (though the show itself is filmed on the old Seinfeld set).

Plots sometimes rotate directly around sex (such as when Lisa coaches big sis on how to have a one-night stand), and at other times around generically ridiculous comedic situations (such as whether Shawn will remember to pick up Perry after the latter's wisdom tooth extraction). Regardless, bawdy dialogue is never far away. The New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley wrote, "The humor is secondhand and stale—one-liners about being gay and sleeping around—and made all the more painful by the waves of canned laughter that wash up and crash against all-too-familiar sets."

Even Milano's not so sure about the content she's delivering. "I don't know if it's an 8 o'clock show," she told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "There are a lot of jokes about sex."

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Episode Reviews

RomanticallyChallenged: 4262010



Readability Age Range





Alyssa Milano as Rebecca Thomas; Josh Lawson as Shawn Goldwater; Kelly Stables as Lisa Thomas; Kyle Bornheimer as Perry Gill






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On Video

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Adam R. Holz

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