Matthew Perry returns to the squawk-box playing a lovable sportscaster who turns awkward group therapy into hilarious group theatrics when he’s forced by his bosses to deal with his feelings. Let the “sharing” begin!
It’s unusual for a situation comedy to focus on a lead character who’s just suffered the traumatic loss of his wife, but that’s the deal with Ryan King (Matthew Perry), a sports radio show host who’s so in denial about losing the love of his life that he refuses to grieve. Worried about his mental health, his bosses agree to let him come back to his job if he just attends 10 little group therapy sessions focused on “life change”.
Arriving at therapy, Ryan is a bit creeped out by the members of the group, especially the sexually ambiguous Mr. K (Brett Gelman), saying, “Why do I feel like your life change involves wearing a suit of other people’s skin?”
Waiting for the session leader to arrive, Ryan holds a competition with the group to see whose problems are most horrendous. Using sports-style brackets on the white board, he fills in the names of each person competing and gives each one five seconds to tell their sob story. Only a sportscaster could turn therapy into a fun sporting event. Could “fantasy therapy” — where you create dream-teams of troubled people like Lindsay Lohan and let them compete for drama queen — be next?
When the group leader Lauren (Lauren Benanti) arrives, she scolds Ryan for not following the rules, but later admits the only training she has in outreach is attending Weight Watchers. But her intentions are good –- at least we hope.
While Ryan may not yet be able to help himself, he does help young Owen (Tyler James Williams) lighten up after the death of his brother. Ryan’s “glass half-full” attitude is what makes this show super-uplifting.
But grief can take the form of anger when it’s not expressed, and Ryan nearly enages Terrell Owens in a fist fight — this is one sporting event even Ryan should avoid. While he has a long way to go before he can face his tragedy, laughing through the hard times sounds like a good plan to us as long as we can laugh too!
Photo credit: NBC