The Simple Charms of My Boys

The Simple Charms of My Boys

My Boys 1

From 2006 until 2010, TBS intermittently aired a hangout comedy called My Boys, one of the network’s early forays into original television. Noticed by few, watched by even fewer, My Boys only aired 49 episodes over its four seasons, with nearly half of them (22) coming in the show’s extended first season. However, though many have forgotten the little Chicago-set comedy, My Boys remains one of the most pleasant cable comedies of the last decade.

My Boys‘ charm was simple; starring Jordana Spiro as sportswriter PJ Franklin, My Boys was a female-led comedy about friendship, rather than the forced rom-com undertones every modern comedy seems required to have. Sure, it had its various romantic interests (like a bearded Jeremy Sisto, or PJ’s series-long story with Bobby), but until the later, shorter seasons of the show, these were not the primary functions of the show. My Boys embraced its poker night ensemble – and despite a lack of ambition to tell new, unique stories, delivered a fully-formed, surprisingly intelligent comedy with each episode.

The best episodes of My Boys were always those that examined the presence of a female in a male-dominated community of friends. In season one, a new relationship brings PJ’s dedication to her buddies to the front, and in season two, Brendan’s downward spiral spurned some of the show’s best moments when PJ steps in to help him rebuild his life, after being fired and breaking off an engagement. Particularly in the first 25 or so episodes, My Boys didn’t shy away from the interesting gender dynamics baked into its premise; and though it went about its business without fanfare, remains one of the most insightful shows about male/female camaraderie, regardless of genre.

More importantly, My Boys was never a show to be too light or too serious; story lines never became larger than life, even in season three, when Stephanie gets famous for writing a book (and oddly, nobody seems to remember that PJ also wrote one). PJ was never a woman overwhelmed by her career, or someone searching to “have it all”; in fact, she exercises patience with her romantic life, waiting for the right moments in life to pursue both a player (in season one) and Bobby (in season three), giving her character agency in places most shows would never. It was never a matter of balance for PJ; it was simply a matter of professionalism, something she’s unwilling to sacrifice for the short-term promise of infatuation. Unlike most female character, she understands she doesn’t need to be driven by career or pursuit of partner; she can love sports and live life, and My Boys was always better for understanding that.

Sure, there are parts of My Boys that aren’t great; the dedication to cliffhanger season finales was never great, and certain characters (I’m looking at you, Kenny), never quite feel as three-dimensional as PJ, Brendan, or Andy (PJ’s brother, played masterfully by Jim Gaffigan). However, its minor flaws never turned it into a bad show (even when PJ’s career became somewhat of a side note in later seasons); and while it may never have been truly “great”, My Boys remains a fond memory from the recent history of American comedy series (and always a great watch on Netflix, where it lives on today).

Photo via TBS

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