The first sitcom of the “affluenza” era, Idiotsitter is about a rich, spoiled, anarchic brat of a young woman (Jillian Bell) who’s placed in the charge of a babysitter/tutor (Charlotte Newhouse).
The brat is Genevieve “Gene” Russell, who scampers around her mansion belching and trying to slip off to commit mischief. Her father, a wealthy, amiably neglectful parent played by Stephen Root, hires Billie Brown to keep tabs on his wayward daughter. Billie, a Harvard grad, is at first put off by Gene’s willful stupidity and her seemingly non-stop substance abuse. But, hey, she’s got student loans to pay off, her car is being repossessed — Billie needs a job, and Gene’s father is willing to pay a lot of money for someone to idiot-sit his adult kid, so Billie accepts the challenge.
If you think too much about it, Idiotsitter is depressing, since it suggests there are an awful lot of college-age people who think of Beethoven as only that dog in the movies, and can quote lines from Dirty Dancing more readily than from any work of literature. But like Gene herself, the show doesn’t want you to think too much.
Like Teachers, the TV Land sitcom that premiered earlier this week, Idiotsitter comes from a web series created by female graduates of an improvisational comedy troupe — in this case, co-creator/stars Bell and Newhouse are from the Groundlings.
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Bell, who is migrating from a role on Workaholics to this new show following it on Comedy Central, manages to be just likable enough to keep Gene from seeming too awful. Idiotsitter is also wise not to make Billie a mere goody-two-shoes — she’s a reasonably savvy person who very quickly learns what she’s getting into by taking on this job. It’s just that she never anticipates things like the climax of the premiere — being given a “hoofie,” half-roofie, half-horse tranquilizer — at one of Gene’s wild parties.
Idiotsitter, a smartly crass comedy, plays like a treatment for a wacky buddy-movie, shrunk to a smaller scale for TV. Whether Bell and Newhouse can sustain the anarchy every week while teaching Gene life-lessons — as Gene puts it here, “You want me to be a better person or something” — remains to be seen.
Idiotsitter airs Thursday nights at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.