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Bored to Death: Season 3 Premiere

By Meredith Alloway · October 13, 2011

Just as Hemingway said that easy reading was damn hard writing, Bored to Death proves that easy watching requires the same.  The third season, continuing our journey through the mind of Jonathan Ames (the writer) through Jonathan Ames (the protagonist) is yet again unabashed in its pretension regarding Boho New York culture and still miserable, yet lovable main characters. George Christopher’s (Ted Danson) meets his daughter, who he hasn’t seen in two years, for dinner at his latest entrepreneur venture, a swank new restaurant.  She tells him she’s in AA and that, “Mostly I’ve just been becoming a pothead, the way you used to be when I was a kid.” Yup, the fearless comedy is back.

The first episode, entitled “The Blonde in the Woods,” after Jonathan Ames’ (Jason Schwartzman) latest book on his detective mishaps, opens with a twist, Jonathan spinning on a huge wooden wheel while knives are thrown at his body. He’s promoting his book.  The circus-act of an opening quietly mirrors the way most writers feel when their work debuts: scared shitless. Not only is Jonathan dealing with the neurosis that comes with the book’s release, he’s also thrown a shocker from his parents: he came from a sperm bank. So who is his real father? Well there’s a case for the season, and this time Jonathan will serve as his own employer.

Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis), who is perhaps the best part of the show and always has been, is finally granted visitation rights for his son after the lesbians he donated sperm to decide to get a divorce. On baby Spencer’s first visit, Ray dresses in a super hero costume, his “alter-ego,” so he can be a hero for Spencer… cute. And also weird but, hey, everyone knows Ray is a boy in a big man’s beard.  His day with Spencer is utterly hilarious from his struggle to maneuver the baby stroller through a café door to his solution to Spencer’s continuous tears (let’s just say it gives breast feeding a whole new meaning.)

George Christopher’s (Ted Danson) has problems of his own, and this time he’s not getting any younger. During the meeting with his daughter Emily (Haley Fieffer) just as George is about to flaunt his picture in the “60 is the new 45” article, her fifty-something boyfriend walks in. They’re all over each other and to make things worse, he asks for their marriage approval. Here’s a mountain George hasn’t’ tackled before. As if being a grandpa will make him feel any younger or the need to smoke pot any less.

This season will prove entertaining because, like the seasons before, it’s situational comedy. The characters are put in scenarios that seem ridiculous, but remain relatable through their surreal depictions of our own every day reality.  As you watch these good people who consistently make bad choices, run around like imbeciles, you can’t help but think, “Yes, I’ve been there before.”

It also helps that the cast is brilliant. Schwartzman, Danson and Galifianakis not only have chemistry with each other, but also manage to portray characters who continually fuck up and still retain our empathy, while also making us keel with laughter. The vacillation between feeling smarter than Ray, George, and Jonathan (perhaps all three combined) and feeling stupider keeps you locked in to every character’s struggles.

Jonathan Ames, the writer, is a silent fourth main character throughout the series. Although the protagonist is granted with his name, his voice rings true in every key player. He’s put thought into everything. During an interview with HBO regarding the first episode he remarked, “I began with a circle and ended with a circle.” Jonathan begins by spinning on a board and ends with hanging from a clock, demonstrating that comedy is spherical that, as Jonathan says,  “life goes on, but we’re sort of trapped in a circle. We don’t ever know what’s going on, we’re always spiraling into confusion.” As long as his characters continue to struggle through their confusion through absurd, yet poignant circumstances, we’re willing to watch. Maybe for an hour we can laugh at other people trying to figure out life and in turn make dealing with our own a little easier.