The Hard Times of RJ Berger
Unashamedly (by its own admission)
piggybacking off the success of the Judd Apatow/gross out teen comedy
sub-genre, MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger manages to wear its
influences on its dirty, snot-stained sleeve while still retaining
enough semi-inventive crudity to titillate even the most battle-hardened
of audience members.
Speaking of members, Hard Times
revolves around that of one RJ Berger, a nerd whose fitful bursts of
confidence and sizable package allow him to quell his teenage libido in
a series of fumbling trysts. Admittedly these usually end in disaster,
but hey, it makes a refreshing change from the ‘lovelorn nice guy
bumbling best friend who never quite manages to get the girl’ shtick and
its other shopworn variants, and the ladies in question - homely,
sex-crazed Lily and the beautiful, borderline unattainable cheerleader
Jenny - are infinitely less irksome and one-dimensional than some of
their Apatow equivalents.
Co-created by Seth Graeme-Smith, whose
books Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln,
Vampire Hunter top the list of those I wish I’d been clever to think
up first, Season 2 of The Hard Times find RJ with, more or less,
his pick of the ladies. His best friend Miles is the same crass,
sex-starved halfwit he was in the first season (but weren’t we all at
his age?) offering snippets of wisdom like ‘You’re about to pity-bang
yourself into a pity marriage,’ and RJ’s love life is even more of a
tangled mess the second time around. His attempts at finding some sort
of balance in his life, and not accidentally killing his sexual partners
with his gargantuan schlong, provide much of the impetus of Season 2 -
if you’re into the genre, or possibly in high school yourself, you will
find the series has much to recommend it.
Most frequently described as a cross
between Superbad and The Wonder Years, RJ Berger
isn’t quite as clever or compelling as either of its predecessors and
frequently fails to distinguish between cleverly crass and loathsomely
puerile. It is, however, still plenty of fun.
A 26-minute featurette entitled
‘Microsoft’s Behind the Screen,’ which incorporates behind the scenes
footage as well as some fairly candid interviews with the show’s stars.