At first glance, crafting a Sex and the City for guys seems obvious, in the way that, say, taking Jaws and setting it in outer space (ergo, Alien) seemed obvious. But Love Monkey, the new hour-long comedy from CBS, demonstrates the perils of such a project: It squirms and bawls like the bastard love child of Candace Bushnell and Nick Hornby. The premise (four guys navigate the thorny—but hilarious!—world of urban dating) is pure Carrie Bradshaw, while the star (Tom, played by Ed’s Tom Cavanagh, a hapless, single A&R guy who’s just in it for the music) is swiped straight from High Fidelity. The result is a misfit hybrid that’s hard to believe, let alone love. If you can swallow the idea of a stunted New York music executive who, when listing his idols, peters out with Aretha and the Stones, you might also be willing to buy that he’s (a) blind to the fact that his attractive gal-pal (Judy Greer) is so obviously right for him and (b) oblivious to the totally shocking secret of his buddy, Jake, the former pro jock who’s mysteriously girlfriend-free. But what ultimately hampers Love Monkey isn’t its lack of credibility. It’s a severe shortage of preposterousness.
Compare it with HBO’s Entourage, the true SATC for boys. Sex and the City was always less comedy than fantasy, which is what Entourage gets and Love Monkey misses. SATC took Seinfeld’s urbane-quartet template, then sprinkled it with glitter: great friends, hot guys, unlimited funds. Swap Manhattan with L.A. and Blahniks for baseball caps, and voilà: Entourage. The show’s often praised for its insider’s dish, but Entourage unfolds in an imaginary Hollywood—one where movie star Vince Chase can dine out with Mandy Moore with nary a paparazzo in sight. Yes, the show mentions the occasional “Page Six” item, but for the most part, the seamy side of celebrity—tabloids, tantrums, hospital trips for “exhaustion”—is wished out of existence. Instead, Entourage is a waking dream of best buds (and good bud), pimped rides, endless after-parties, and conflicts that get hugged out so tidily they’d make the writers on Family Ties blush. In other words, it’s about as realistic as a Manhattan where every wardrobe is handpicked by Patricia Field, and there’s a cab always waiting, especially in the rain. Compared to the denizens of those dreamworlds, the soggy singles of Love Monkey are left stuck at the curb, looking like a bunch of drips.