The eighth episode of I'm Sorry, a half-hour truTV comedy with two seasons now streaming on Netflix, begins with two sets of parents of preschoolers waxing nostalgic for all the things they miss about their youths: day-drinking, sleeping in, going to movies without a babysitter, having sex with other people. It's the tail end of a first double-date, and everyone at the table is visibly elated and relieved to have discovered a pair of kindred spirits. The laughter is frequent, the ribbing is good-natured, and there's a cheerful battle for the check between couples eager to make a good first impression on their new best friends.
The next morning, Andrea (Andrea Savage) and her husband Mike (Tom Everett Scott) are still positively glowing from the experience. "I feel like this is the first time we've had the potential to go from school friends to actual friends," Andrea says as they prepare for another workday. "We gotta get something else on the books, because if we lose momentum, we are fucked."
Because this is a sitcom, things go hilariously awry from here. Work and family obligations force Mike and the other mom to bail at the last minute on a pool playdate, leaving Andrea and the other dad shivering quietly in the chilly water with their daughters, suddenly aware of the harsh daylight, their relative lack of clothing, and the gaping chasm of unfamiliarity that exists between two adults shoved into an intimate setting after one shared meal. But Andrea and Mike's initial giddiness—and the militant urgency of their efforts to follow up on this blossoming friendship—are instantly recognizable to every thirty-something who yearns for a bygone era when meeting new people was frequent and effortless, and who now takes no opportunity to make a real grown-up friend for granted.
Savage, the show's creator and star, plays a fictionalized version of herself in I'm Sorry: a comedy writer grappling with an upper-middle-class Southern California landscape of playground meet-ups and preschool drop-offs in which dick jokes make poor fodder for inter-parent chit-chat. (The show's title is what Andrea stammers, a lot, to horrified moms before hustling her daughter away.) Mike is a more reserved lawyer who both physically and in his delivery resembles an older Jim Halpert, if Jim had to deal with Pam unleashing a constant stream of dick jokes. His reaction to his wife's fondness for workshopping bits is usually polite bemusement, but he occasionally finds himself unable to resist participating—or trying to, at least. (He voices polite objections to mixing their peer groups because he's the "the funny one" at work, and doesn't want her gang of poop-punchline professionals sullying his reputation for office-appropriate humor.)
In tone, subject matter, and casting, the show is a spiritual successor to The League, the improv-heavy FX comedy that satirized the same transition into adulthood for people unwilling or unable to accept the attendant responsibilities. Jason Mantzoukas, who played the delightfully-psychotic Raffi on The League, more or less reprises that role as Kyle, Andrea's equally profane writing partner; League regulars Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, and Rob Huebel make occasional appearances as Andrea and Kyle's comedy peers. Savage herself had a brief-but-memorable guest turn on The League as Raffi's girlfriend Gail, a children's swim coach with an uncomfortably public masochistic streak.
Like the pool disaster, many of I'm Sorry's storylines tap into the anxiety shared by everyone for whom the simple act of going to happy hour now requires between four and six weeks' notice and a Google Calendar invite: that as they get older, couple up, get married, have kids, and seriously ponder moving to the suburbs (for the schools!), everyone slowly yet inexorably becomes lame. Towards the end of the first season, when Andrea discovers that her crew of childless, commitment-free pals maintains a full social calendar and a non-stop group text of which she is not a part, she lets out an indignant howl—only to blanch when Kyle invites her to a birthday party that starts at 9:30 P.M.
Instead of leaning on the nihilism often associated with mid-mid-life crises, though, I'm Sorry portrays a more optimistic world in which people with families and mortgages and PTA obligations lead complex, fun inner lives—lives which anyone whose prior experiences with such people are confined to childhood memories of their own parents might assume do not exist. For all the eye-rolling Andrea and Mike do while trapped at another kids birthday party, I'm Sorry is full of glimpses into all the little ways they find to take joy in one another's company, and in their shared life: inside jokes that are impossible to explain to anyone outside of a relationship, but mean everything to the two people who are privy to it.
In one sequence, Andrea pranks Mike by not reciprocating a kiss, giggling as he gnaws haltingly at her face before he realizes what she's up to. ("That was fun for one person in this bed," he grouses—but he's laughing, too.) In another, when Mike gently brags that his sperm scored "off the charts" in a fertility test, Andrea responds with an extended riff that ends with her addressing his crotch in a mock Stephen Hawking computer-generated voice. Again, it's dumb and doesn't make a ton of sense, but it doesn't need to; because it leaves both of them smiling as they get ready for bed, it's hard as a viewer not to do the same.
Few real-world relationships will be peppered as many well-timed callbacks as Andrea and Mike's, because their relationship is part of a TV sitcom and real-world relationships are not. Even so, underneath the show's veneer of dick jokes is a unexpectedly sweet, aspirational portrayal of what a cool person's married-with-kids life might look like. Those worried that middle age will condemn them to a life of domestic tedium can take heart from I'm Sorry—just not tips on appropriate small talk.
You’ve seen him steal scenes on The League, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and plenty more critically acclaimed shows. But now, with The Long Dumb Road, he’s moving into the spotlight at long last.
Originally Appeared on GQ