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Two perfect people, two people you want to see hang or in the electric chair, and the request to pay $10+ a month to see the entire series. Um, let me think about that.
Joanna (Kina Grannis) | Peter (Harry Shum Jr.) | Chloe (Hillary Anne Matthews) | Mark (Eric Ochoa) | Lisa (Manon Mathews)
Main Plot (with Commentary)
Topic 1: When The Pact Began (Joanna and Peter)
During senior year, after Peter punked out of a high school party, Joanna comes see him as he licks his wounds. With this, it becomes established that Peter likes Joanna, would like to ask her out, but between shyness and fears of rejection, he holds back. However, with Joanna bringing up the idea of having a backup, this leads to the idea that if they both are single at 30, they will be each other’s backup. An idea neither seemed to take that serious at the time.
Setting aside the weird hairstyles, circa 2002, things started off very likable. Grannis brings the sweetness you can almost find in all of her videos and instantly becomes someone you can imagine having a crush on. Alongside her, Shum has all that usual shyness that I’m sure many could relate to. Though I must admit, I kind of wished we got a bit more into their friendship before they made the time jump from high school to adulthood.
Topic 2: Joanna is Back! (Joanna, Lisa, and Chloe)
After a long hiatus, of which Joanna left and seemingly traveled the world, she returns to her hometown and finds herself connecting with her old friend Lisa. Someone who is married, makes married life seems miserable, and is trying to offload Chloe. Her sister who she pushes Joanna to take as a roommate and thus Joana now has a roommate and an annoying sidekick.
I try to live off the argument that an actor getting a reaction out of you means they did their job. However, a part of me honestly feels like Chloe is a two-dimensional character. On one hand, she can be seen as a counterbalance to the sugary sweet Joanna who you could argue is some form of perfect. Yet, at the same time, because of how entitled and obnoxious Chloe seems, a part of you is unsure if she is simply a stereotype being played up or perhaps, in the future, this character may actually be built into something more complex than she seems. Which if that is the goal, the pilot sets quite an uphill battle in terms of getting the viewer to care.
Topic 3: Joanna and Peter – 12 Years Later (Joanna, Peter, and Mark)
Since their high school graduation, it seems Peter eventually found himself working for his parents. A decent gig, since they seem to own the place and it isn’t your usual mom and pop shop. However, with his 30th birthday coming comes some questions. One being if Robin, Peter’s ex, got in contact with him? Of which the answer is no. Then comes his mom pestering him about children and his little sister, Grace (Anna Akana) jumping in on the fun.
Though it gets bad when Peter’s friend Mark gets involved for he comes up with this last minute party and no one Peter knows shows up, until Joanna. From there, after a few road bumps thanks to Mark and Chloe, they get to reacquaint and it leads to them bringing up that pact from high school. Something Joanna is still for, and Peter definitely is too, but with a catch. Mostly being, the pact is more so a means of them working harder, especially with Joanna’s 30th birthday in 5 months, to finding someone rather than maybe seeing each other as a first choice and just going from there.
Through and through, Shum and Grannis make a cute on screen couple. Their best friends, though, I just don’t understand why they are written to be so obnoxious? Not to make it seem I think every character should be likable, but I am of the belief that there should be reasons behind a personality and if you are going to make characters like Mark and Chloe, give them some redeemable trait. Mark, at the very least, could be seen as a decent friend but what about Chloe? Someone who is so irritating that honestly, I would speed through all of her scenes to save myself from digging my nails into my face.
- Grannis and Shum Jr.’s chemistry is undeniable, even if it is because they, as people, just seem like ideal partners for anyone’s life.
- While the conversations are breezy, they are authentic enough to not make it seem these characters are pretentious or are living in some fantasy world. They are set in a reality which isn’t harsh but is realistic.
- Joanna lies to Peter toward the end of the episode, and while it is a small lie, the breaking of this idea that Joanna is perfect had to be done.
On The Fence
Both Mark and Chloe need development. They will get a rise out of you, but something about them seems so stereotypical and generic that they never take those feelings they make you feel and make them into something which could work in favor of their characters. In other words, they neither make you love to hate them or present themselves as some type of asset in the form of a comic relief or a break from the perfection of our leads. They just are characters you want to see fade and get forgotten about. Like they were part of a pilot that got buried.