On October 24, 2014, ABC announced the cancellation of Manhattan Love Story, a dime-a-dozen sitcom featuring the quirky relationship of two unlikely protagonists: a young, fresh-faced twentysomething seeking financial security and love in New York City, and a jaded New Yorker with a self-destructive romance life. Summarizing the show isn’t terribly important (it was cancelled, after all)… just think Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 only without the star studded cast, without the quick dialogue, and without the cute coffee shop B plots. Insert Kickstarter campaign for ABC to bring back Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 here.
As you may have already noticed, I’m not here to mourn the untapped potential of Manhattan Love Story. The concept of the show was half-baked enough without the poor execution, no matter how handsome I find Jake McDorman. I took issue with the show from the very start, but perhaps the most offensive flaws in Manhattan Love Story can be found in the character of Dana, as portrayed by Analeigh Tipton.
Dana is meant to be an ambitious, small-town girl living out her dreams in the city that never sleeps. She has all the staple characteristics of a sitcom heroine: a cute and easy wardrobe, endearing clumsiness, and a ‘quirk’ factor that sets her apart from all the other girls. With the success of Fox network’s New Girl, Zooey Deschanel in all her quirky glory at the helm, it’s no wonder freshmen sitcom are presenting audiences with newer, stranger female characters to adore and admire. The only problem is Dana falls just short in terms of substance. In the pilot, she prides herself on knowing how to text using proper grammar, although she has an unbelievable difficulty managing the use of her cellphone and additional social media venues without help from her ‘savvy’ or as I like to call it, ‘average twentysomething’ Amy.
The scene not only solidifies Dana’s character as a snob, but it also begs the question: what young person in the 21st century, seeking a corporate position or not, doesn’t know how to use basic technology? Dana is presented as a clumsy, fumbling idiot to the audience. In the writers’ effort to give Manhattan Love Story their brand of quirky, Dana becomes a rare breed… the technologically inept twentysomething. In one instance, Dana mistakenly updates her Facebook status several times instead of using the search tool. The very same gag was used in one of ABC’s comedies from last season, Trophy Wife. Bradley Whitford’s character not knowing how to use Facebook was a believable and hilarious inclusion on the show. Insert Kickstarter campaign for ABC to bring back Trophy Wife here.
Dana Hopkins’ inability to use a simple search function on a highly user friendly website? Not so much. The difference lies in the age. Dana is meant to be young, and motivated by her career passions; a millennial. However, in several instances within the show, she proves to be an anti-millennial of sorts. Dana Hopkins inept technological skills rivals that of the caricatures of elderly people featured in the popular Esurance commericals.
Two characters immediately come to mind when I think of millennial representation in television. Mindy Lahiri of Fox network’s The Mindy Project and Gina Linetti of the same network’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine are both highly flawed, highly egocentric characters with a vast social-media related knowledge. Gina spends an entire episode speaking only in emojis. Mindy once lamented the fact that she didn’t vine her own ill-fated engagement. Meanwhile, Dana fails to have even a basic comprehension of the way email and even doors work.
All in all, well-written sitcoms should not be this hard to come by and– if Brooklyn Nine-Nine, with its Golden Globe awarded only four months after the show’s premiere, is any indication– they aren’t. It comes as no surprise that ABC network would cancel Manhattan Love Story, it is only surprising to me that they encouraged production of the show at all.