With this entry I’m breaking one of own little self-imposed rules. When I started this category, my intent was to feature TV shows that didn’t last past one season. Well this show technically made it to a second season before it was canceled, but the first season was just 7 episodes, and the 2nd season was canceled after its 12th episode, so altogether 19 episodes of the series aired on TV, which is less than the traditional 22 episodes that a single season of a network TV show had back then, so it sort of still counts, right?
Whatever, it’s my blog, I can write about what I want.
This half-hour sitcom debuted on ABC in March 1999, and it was created by Peter Mehlman, who also wrote or co-wrote several of the episodes that aired. Mehlman had been a writer and producer on SEINFELD, which had ended it’s run a year before. I recall this series being heavily promoted in the press as being from “writers of Seinfeld” (other former Seinfeld writers, like Carol Leifer, Bill Masters and Jon Hayman, would also write for this show), which is likely why I made a point to check it out in the first place, as that had been my favorite sitcom.
It’s Like, You Know was very much a Seinfeld-ish sitcom in tone, also borrowing heavily from Friends, with it’s premise of a bunch of attractive well-off White people having wacky personal adventures, with it’s distinguishing characteristic being that it was set in Los Angeles, instead of New York, which most sitcoms of its ilk were at the time.
Although it was an ensemble show, I’d consider Chris Eigeman‘s Arthur Garmet to essentially be the main character, as his storyline starts off the series. Arthur is a writer from New York, who moves to Los Angeles temporarily to do research for a book he’s writing called Living In L.A., How Can You Stomach It? Arthur is a stereotypical New Yorker with a disdain for L.A. culture despite never having actually been in L.A. before this.
Rounding out the cast is A.J. Langer (who is now an English Countess) as Lauren Woods, a young and overly cheerful woman who works as a masseuse and a part-time process-server. A recurring gag is that we see her giving a massage to a celebrity who’s face is hidden from the audience as they lay face-down on her massage table. So we just hear their voice, done by an obvious double. An exception was a time she was massaging the mayor of Los Angeles, and when he lifted up his face to speak it was the actual then-mayor, Richard Riordan.
Evan Handler played “Shrug,” who was clearly intent to be the “Kramer” of this series. His real name was never revealed, but he was described as a trust fund kid who’s never worked a day in his life and occasionally feels guilty about it. Despite being independently wealthy, Shrug claimed the reason he was bald is that he lost his hair due to “stress.” Shrug was nevertheless friendly, searching for some kind of purpose in his life, and often shown to be somewhat naïve as to how the world works for most people who have to work for a living.
Steven Eckholdt played Robbie Graham, a self-made millionaire, who got rich by creating and producing an ongoing PPV TV service for Jewish people called Pay Per Jew, despite not being Jewish himself. He was living in Shrug’s very large guest-house, as he waited for his own mansion to be finished being built. He and Arthur were old friends, and Arthur was staying with him while in L.A.
And last but not least, the show featured Jennifer Grey, as Jennifer Grey. A fictionalized version of herself. She lived next door to Shrug, and had previously dated Robbie although they were just platonic friends now. A recurring gag with her was that people didn’t always recognize her or believe that she was the Jennifer Grey, due to the fact that four years earlier she’d had a nose job.
So the general plot for most of the episodes, at least in the first short season, revolved around Arthur trying to understand and get used to the absurdities of life in L.A. Such as an episode where the entire city basically shuts down to watch a high-speed police car chase on TV. Like Seinfeld, the show usually made an effort to give each character their own storylines in each episode, which often included various dating misadventures. Robbie dates a model who seems “too perfect”, and she eventually dumps him to date a pair of famous Siamese twins who star on a cop show. He later dates a woman who is still obsessed with her ex, who happens to be Val Kilmer. Arthur dumps a woman, who ends up needing therapy because of the way he dumped her, so he feels guilty and agrees to join her in therapy, but ends up falling for her therapist. In one episode Shrug and Robbie pretend to be visitors from the Midwest to date two “L.A. women” who were sick of dating “L.A. men”
One episode had Jennifer getting her driver’s license renewed, but while she was there, there was some kind of computer glitch that erased her info, so when the clerk asked for her birthdate, Jennifer impulsively gave her the wrong year, to make herself younger. The problem was that later when she needed to prove that was the Jennifer Grey, she couldn’t, because the age on her license made her obviously too young to have starred in Dirty Dancing. This episode featured a cameo from her father, Joel Grey, who likewise refused to believe that she was his daughter.
During the second season Arthur returned to New York to turn in his book, which got released, but it totally bombed there. Yet it inexplicably became a big hit in Los Angeles, so he moved back to L.A. permanently to take a job writing a humor column about how much L.A. sucks, for the Los Angeles Times. This included an episode where, due to a series of verbal misunderstandings, he got accused of sexually harassing his male assistant.
Okay, on the surface, the plots may not sound exciting, but that’s point. Much like Seinfeld, “the show about nothing,” the humor came from the characters and their reactions to their circumstances. It was a well-cast show, everyone had chemistry with each other, and the dialog was tight. I was very disappointed when it was canceled. The Wikipedia page for the series blames the cancelation on the exploding popularity of the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which ABC at one point began airing 5-nights a week. Whatever the reason, I think if given a better chance it could have been a lasting hit.
As far as I can tell, the series was never released on DVD, and is not currently available for streaming, but most of the episodes can be found, for free, on Youtube, courtesy of James Canavan-Wagner. Do yourself a favor and check it out!