Hump: I know, I just raved about Awkward last week, but with the 4th of July awkwardly (pun intended) falling on a Wednesday, there wasn’t a lot happening on TV this week. Plus, Awkward continued to "go there," when an entire subplot involved Jenna’s friend Ming infiltrating the school’s Asian Mafia in order to hack into the school’s security camera archives. At the helm of Palos Hills High School’s far-east family is Becca, a deliciously wicked teen who looks so sweet you’d never guess the devious nature that lies beneath. This girl runs sh*t in a style that some CEOs still haven’t mastered — in this episode alone she managed to get the vice principal unseated because she wanted to park in the visitor spots. I’d want to be in her good graces, but I’m also terrified of what she’s capable of. Either way, I hope she becomes a recurring character, because she’s awesome. Marry: You guys remember Travis Birkenstock, right? The loveable stoner-that-could from Clueless who stole Tai’s heart and was kind enough to thank the folks at McDonald’s for taking forever to make Egg McMuffins (without which he might never be tardy)? Well, these days, he’s made quite a name for himself. Or, Breckin Meyer has, anyway. Not only does Meyer star in Franklin & Bash with fellow ‘90s heartthrob Mark-Paul Gosselaar (a.k.a. Zack Morris), but he also created a show on TBS called Men at Work. I wanted Men at Work to be terrible because, much like many a female rom-com, it’s set at a magazine where no one seems to do any work and editors give writers illuminating wisdom such as, “You have to grab the reader’s attention.” Thanks. Because I so thought people read The New Yorker for its long, rambling thought pieces that never quite got to the point. But damn, if Men at Work isn’t a charming little piece of Thursday-night television fluff that’s just what I want when I’m exhausted and need to mindlessly laugh at four bros being bros. Out of the four main characters, my favorites are definitely Tyler (Michael Cassidy, who has the looks of a smarmy-yet-sexy European tourist, and the voice of a man 50 pounds heavier and older) and Gibbs (James Lesure). Oh, the wacky adventures this lady-loving twosome have! I’m going to have to put a ring on Gibbs, though, because he’s super sexy, a photographer (bonus creativity points), and seems more ready to settle down. You know, as much as a completely fictional character can be. Kill: My first introduction to Russell Brand was through one of my favorite British alt-comedians, Noel Fielding (he of Mighty Boosh and Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame). Brand and Fielding make a formidable pair; their wit is rapier, clever, and dark. I recommend watching Fielding and Brand as “The Goth Detectives” on Britain’s annual Big Fat Quiz of the Year, where the other comedians on the panel fall over each other to get Fielding or Brand to joke with them for even a minute. When Russell Brand first came to America, he told marvelous stories about Noam Chomsky and other intellectuals during talk show interviews, which is the way to my heart. He’s a cunning linguist; his way with words is unparalleled. Unfortunately, our watered-down, non-satirized palates have gradually eroded the acerbic Russell Brand that first washed ashore. Here was a man with big hair and an even bigger personality, and we did everything in our power to crush and censor him. A panned-out picture of the one you see her will actually reveal Brand doing “double guns,” and his hair is no longer teased like some Rocky Horror Picture Show extra. Major bummer. Brand’s latest foray into American TV is a show called Brand X on FX, which premiered Thursday night. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I can tell it’s not long for our airwaves. In the first episode, Brand spends a great deal of time trying to burn money, an act that could be humorously subversive if not for the fact that — as he readily admits — he’s afraid of getting deported. Nothing kills a moment of levity like the “d” word. It’s an awkward joke, and the audience doesn’t know what to make of it, which seems to be a microcosm for Brand’s entire career trajectory in the States. His network-mate Louis C.K. famously talks of a saturation point comedians are always in danger of reaching — a point where they become too famous and start reaching unintended audiences who don’t understand their humor. Russell Brand has definitely reached that saturation point, and this show won’t help.
Photo: Courtesy MTV; Courtesy of Williams & Hirakawa; Courtesy of FX