Despite its title, Andrea Savage’s new truTV series joins a new age of female-led comedies that are founded on being unapologetic. From the confessional Fleabag to the wry Better Things to the scathing Veep, some of the best comedies of the last year have featured women at the forefront who are navigating their daily lives on their own terms. The beauty of it is that it means so many different things, and there’s not a struggle to fit into any one defined role.
Savage’s single-camera series I’m Sorry lands on a Curb Your Enthusiasm side of Better Things — it pushes for more laughs, and embroils Savage’s character Andrea in increasingly awkward situations as she balances being a wife, mother, and full-time comedy writer. Promos for the series have leaned in heavily on the idea of Andrea as a “cursing mommy,” but her epitaphs are not the same as the foul verbiage Selina Meyer uses on Veep. For Andrea, it’s always said with a smile, as she knowingly goads her husband, her mother, her friends, or even her daughter’s classmates into a reaction. “Your mom packed you a poop sandwich,” she says casually to a kid. Upset, he tells her he doesn’t want that. “How do you know? You’ve never tried it. What if it’s covered in candy?” The conversation goes on until the boy bursts into tears and finds the teacher, and which point Andrea sighs as if to convey “why did he have to ruin the game?”
That sly, sophomoric humor permeates I’m Sorry, where Andrea likes to question and challenge those around her with absurd “what ifs?” and observations. Though some come out of a bourgeois boredom, the funnier lines are when Andrea takes on a mission. When an anonymous person with the word “horse” in their email address outs a fellow parent as having a past in the porn industry, Andrea goes around asking other moms if they enjoyed War Horse, or watched the Kentucky Derby, hoping to enact justice against the gossip. Instead, the crowd turns on her in a very Larry David-esque moment. But instead of letting the moment hang there and ending the episode (as Curb so often does), Savage breaks the tension and restores Andrea to the good graces of the others. If Curb’s premise is that the character of Larry is an asshole in a world of even bigger assholes, I’m Sorry — perhaps hence its name — takes a less aggressive stance, backing away from more extreme forms of cringe comedy.
Things are the most staid are at home, where Tom Everett Scott provides a calming presence as Andrea’s supportive husband Mike. In a rare dynamic in comedies, Mike and Andrea are true partners. They split duties between them amicably, they joke and tease, and ultimately seem to enjoy one another’s company. At parties, they mostly hang out with each other, making comments about the other attendees, and stand up for one another when needed. In an early episode, their daughter Amelia (Olive Petrucci) is revealed as a racist, and the two parents scramble to try and get her out of this mindset. But they never get angry with one another, and support each other’s tactics. Though there is plenty of tension elsewhere in the series, Andrea and Mike’s relationship is spared from it, which is a refreshing change of pace.
Savage, who has written for Funny or Die and appeared on Veep and many other comedy series, brings a star-studded set of executive producers to I’m Sorry, including Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and the Lonely Island trio. Fellow comic actors also augment the cast like Judy Greer (as her sardonic best friend, of course) and Jason Mantzoukas as her chaotic writing partner. The show’s placement on truTV might be curious to those who still remember it as CourtTV and a channel that primarily aired crime series. But a rebranding in 2014 swung it in a completely new and comedy-centric direction, where I’m Sorry fits in well with its lineup of personality-driven series.
While being on cable rather than a premium network may hold back some of the more explicit humor the show might otherwise have, Savage finds ways around, and frankly, it’s not missed. What makes I’m Sorry worth watching is Savage’s immense charm, which helps mitigate some of the series’ thornier moments and more caustic humor. But take it or leave it, Savage has created a comedy on her own terms — and that’s nothing to apologize for.
Rating: ★★★ Good — Proceed with cautious optimism
I’m Sorry premieres Wednesday, July 12th on truTV