Mixology Series Premiere Review: One Night Is Probably More Than Enough

By Kaitlin Thomas

Feb 27, 2014

Mixology S01E01: "Tom and Maya"

ABC's newest comedy Mixology, which follows the adventures of ten single people over the course of one evening at a bar, is a messy cocktail of stereotypical characters, shallow jokes, and a rather problematic format. And yet the series is actually perfectly watchable, though possibly only as a show you leave on in the background while you're doing the dishes or cleaning out the litter box. I think the key is to go in with low standards and even lower expectations—which, hey, also describes at least two of the show's main characters! In fact, here's the show in a nutshell: 

Mixology certainly isn't pretending to be something it's not, but it's also not really trying to be much of anything. It exists because it exists; I'm not sure it has a real destination in mind. Given the series' one-night-only premise, there won't be much real time for character development—so even though I suspect that we're going to be seeing several characters change their minds about love, life, and everything else over the course of the series, I don't think it'll ever feel genuine. 

That's not to say that events and experiences that take place in a bar can't change a person's life; however, I'd wager that the ones that do generally involve a night spent in jail or the creation of a tiny human. I'll give Mixology credit for attempting to break the standard comedy mold by setting the series over the course of a single evening, but if there's one thing that How I Met Your Mother's final season has taught us, it's that such a compact storytelling structure can damage a show's foundation. HIMYM has managed to get by simply because it's in its ninth and final season and has a loyal following; fans might occasionally grumble about the rather silly nature of the 23-episodes-in-one-weekend set-up, but they're ultimately going to stick with the show until the end. Without that established audience, Mixology is taking a much bigger risk. 

That means it's particularly important for Mixology's characters to be immediately compelling; sadly, I'm not exactly sure who will care about them enough, after a one-episode encounter, to stick around for their respective journeys. The cast is large and made up of relatively unknown actors (save for Vanessa Lengies, I suppose; some viewers will recognize her as Glee's Sugar Motta or Hawthorne's Kelly Epson) and nothing that transpired in the pilot was super memorable. Pretty much every role has a stock character quality; for example, Blake Lee's Tom—the focus of the episode—just got dumped by his fiancee after an eight-year relationship because she could no longer stand how nice he was. That, and she also thought he looked like a beaver. Tom was dragged to the bar by his two best friends, Cal (Craig Frank) and Bruce (Andrew Santino), both of whom believe they know a lot about sex and women, but I get the distinct feeling that their characters have less sex than anyone else. It doesn't get much more unique that that, folks!

As a trio, Tom, Cal, and Bruce belong in a Judd Apatow movie from five years ago. And while I'm a fan of Apatow's films and the immature nature of many of their protagonists, Bruce and Cal are simple caricatures with no redeeming qualities. They kind of seem like a cheap knock-off of New Girl's Schmidt, and I don't have any interest in following their exploits, especially for multiple episodes—there are only so many obvious, raunchy jokes to be made, you know? Already, I feel like if I hear Bruce use the word smash as a verb meaning "to have sex with a woman" one more time, I will smash my fist into his face so hard I'll knock out Cal. I'm not the type of gal who's easily offended by jokes about women or having sex with women, but so far, Mixology's humor is tired and old, and Mixology's world is one where most of the female characters are really poor sketches of what men think women should be. We've seen/heard it all before—and it was better.

If Mixology wants to find success as a network comedy—and I truthfully don't feel like it'll have the chance because of its format and its shallowness—it needs to give its characters some depth beyond just the very clear-cut stereotypes they are now. As of the premiere, it's pretty clear that they haven't evolved much beyond the general outlines the writers probably drafted when they were first developing the series. In addition to the Douche Duo and their nice-guy friend, there's a cold-hearted lawyer (Ginger Gonzaga) who prides herself on her bitchiness because she was raised by a father who wanted a son, a single mother (Alexis Carra) who believes she's running out of time to find a suitable husband, a ditzy waitress (Lengies) who's sleeping with the bartender (Adan Canto) who doesn't even remember her name, two perfectly fine female sidekicks (Frankie Shaw and Kate Simses), and a token British man (Adam Campbell). 

Mixology will use flashbacks to give us a glimpse at its characters' backstories and what brought them to the bar in the first place, but from what I've seen (ABC posted the first two episodes online before the premiere, and made the first three available to critics), the series only uses them as a way to reinforce stereotypes instead of adding depth. If you don't care about character development or progression, Mixology is a perfectly fine way to kill half an hour, because it clearly doesn't mind coming off as shallow and trivial.  If you simply want a series to fall asleep to that requires little to no brain power to follow, then I can say with 100 percent certainty Mixology is it. But if you want a comedy with direction and purpose, I'd look elsewhere.

What'd you think of Mixology's series premiere? Will you be back for Episode 2?

  • Comments (31)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • No1Slayerette Mar 04, 2014

    Wow, harsh review Kaitlin, I actually quite enjoyed it myself, and am eagerly anticipating the next episode.

    It will be interesting to see how the series deals with its 'one night' concept as it continues, as it could lead to several problems like you mentioned, but I thought it worked well in the pilot.

    You can't really expect all 10 characters to be fully realised in the first episode, so I'm willing to actually wait and see how they're developed. I actually found Maya quite refreshing, particularly as she'll undoubtedly be playing one half of the series' core couple. Tom was a little bland, but like I said, I'll reserve my judgement for now, and I was surprised that I actually didn't mind Bruce (I thought I wouldn't be able to tolerate his character. I also see a lot of potential in Maya's co-worker/ friend, she pulled the most laughs for me.

    I'd be curious to know what comedies you think have 'direction and purpose' Kaitlin, since you feel the need to say Mixology lacks that important aspect in its first episode. Isn't the main purpose of comedies to make you laugh? They're not serialised dramas that have a set plot to unfold.

  • savagetan Feb 28, 2014

    Horrible, trite show. The reviewer was right about almost everything except in saying that it was slightly watchable. Caricatured characters, trite, tired humor, and a trying to too hard to be hip element that has all but sunk NEW GIRL in my opinion. Cool all episodes in one night conceit wasted. I'm sorry, but whatever happened to credibility? Even the wackiest of great comedies (Scrubs and Modern Family come to mind) had situations and characters you could actually believe could exist in real life and none of this show is even remotely real, from the puse puking to the way nobody but two people seem to be working (and not very hard) on an obviously slammed weekend night. I'm sorry to be so harsh but I do hope this is cancelled soon as if it's a hit, it will be giving more producers the wrong idea of what's good television these days.

  • Big_Pecks Feb 28, 2014

    I only watched because of Vanessa Lengies. I don't know if I'll drop it or not cause I wasn't impressed. Also hate the red head douche.

  • all-hail-lord-starscream Feb 27, 2014

    I actually laughed more than I meant to. I think that Maya is my spirit Animal and I am going to give the show a chance just because of her.

  • davidbergfors Feb 27, 2014

    all I can think now is how awesome the genious of Kaitlin Thomas is.
    about the show; I think I actually found the show when I was trolling for something shallow and mind numbing so looking at it from that point of view, I'd say they've hit the mark.

  • dude19 Feb 27, 2014

    It's a pretty harmless show. Some cute lines (Sarah Wright's delivery of "I hate your face" was pretty great) nothing amazing but I'd watch again if nothing else was on.

  • CriMINALMInd Feb 27, 2014

    I am getting so sick of ABC's horrible scheduling decisions ruining great shows, and most of them have been comedies! (Happy Endings, Apt 23) Now instead of airing a compatible comedy after Modern Family (Hmm a show about a modern and non-conventional family, I wonder what show that could have been?? TROPHY WIFE) They air a non funny show about awkward women trying to be 'cool' (SFN) and a non funny show about stereotypical twentysomethings trying to get laid at a bar (Mixology). while Trophy Wife is rotting away on Tuesdays and it's ratings aren't that good enough for a renewal. Well If ABC just actually tried to make shows successful by airing a Middle/Goldbergs/Modern Family/Trophy Wife block on Wednesdays, not even airing SFN and Mixology at all, and having BITG and Suburgatory air on tuesdays, ABC would have maybe probably had 2 new successful shows on their hands. ughh

  • Carla-Wexler Feb 27, 2014

    Cancel it already!

  • NillaSweden83 Feb 27, 2014

    I've watched both of the episodes that have been released and I really liked it! The douchy redheaded guy I could have done without, but I liked all the other people and I'mm looking forward to the next episode

  • MarlboroMagpi Feb 27, 2014

    I quite enjoyed the first episode. In this type of show you probably need to like the two main leads to enjoy that particular episode. I liked the two main leads from the pilot but I am not sure about the second episode. I am already not very fond of the drunk British guy.

    This show reminds me of Dates. An excellent British dramedy from last year which stars Game of Thrones Oona Chaplin. I do not think this is as good but I will give it a few more episodes.

  • NillaSweden83 Feb 27, 2014

    I'm still not sure about the british guy either. Is he a douche? Sure seems like it. And yet, he seems nice as well. I'm conflicted.

  • stanking Feb 27, 2014

    He was a good actor on Harper's Island.

  • NillaSweden83 Feb 27, 2014

    Whom? Regardless - the acter can be good and the character suck (or be a douche)

  • stanking Feb 27, 2014

    Adam Campbell, played the likeable foreigner-on-the-edge-of-the-group character, Cal, on Harper's Island, at least until he was murdered and thrown off a bridge.

  • See More Comments (14)