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The Bar Is Closed: Bad Reviews Like "Mixology"'s Come Along Once in a Generation

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire February 27, 2014 at 2:52PM

Critics don't just hate ABC's dating comedy, which traffics in rape humor and slut-shaming. They want to wipe it off the face of the earth.
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Mixology

There are TV shows the critics don't like. And then there are those special, once-in-blue-moon specimens they hate with a passion so fiery it's as if they're trying to obliterate the show's very existence. ABC's "Mixology," which premiered last night in the coveted post-"Modern Family" slot, is the latter, and the reviews are a sight to behold, so entertaining, so angry, so on-point, you're almost grateful the show that prompted them exists. 

That is, until you watch "Mixology," which brings "Hangover" writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore together with executive producer Ryan Seacrest to tell the story of 10 singles looking for let's-just-call-it-love on the same bar on the same night. Over the course of the three episodes provided to critics in advance, the bottle-show premise is apparently expanded with flashbacks that lend some depth to the characters' classless cruising, which includes reams of dating-game dialogue so crass it makes you want to never have sex again. ("I'm gonna bang her out" sounds like a euphemism conceived by a particularly depraved eight-year-old.) I say "apparently" because I only made it as far as the first rape-themed joked delivered Andrew Santino's uber-bro, which translates to about five minutes in. 

Given my mercifully limited exposure to "Mixology," I'll pass the baton to my colleagues, except to note that in the justifiable concentration on the show's rape-culture-with-a-laugh-track tone, not nearly enough attention has been paid to Santino's obscenely bad wig and/or facial hair, which are so terrible I started to wonder if perhaps the hair was real and his head was fake. Fasten your seatbelts: It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Tim Goodman, Hollywood Reporter

Billed as "high concept" because the series revolves around 10 people in one bar on one night, "Mixology" breaks up their various pursuits to get laid and tries to make comedy from the mix. Put the emphasis on "tries," and scratch "comedy" entirely. And forget whatever love and/or affinity you might have for "The Hangover." Because in "Mixology," Lucas and Moore come off as people who got fired from "2 Broke Girls" for being heavy-handed with the stupidity and sexist sensitivities.

Robert Bianco, USA Today

The 10 male and female strangers gathered for one unendurably long night in a bar you'd be wise to avoid are uniformly awful human beings, without regard to gender or race. The ones who aren't cruel, disloyal and sex-crazed are dim-witted and sex-crazed, which isn't much of an improvement.

Daniel Fienberg, HitFix

"Mixology" is as much about people on a quest for love as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is about an archeologist on a quest for snakes. When you get down to it, "Mixology" is about 10 hateful people looking for sex, irrespective of the lack of chemistry between either the characters or the actors.

Margaret Lyons, Vulture

I wish I could laugh at things like this, but I'm a woman, and I'm alive, and so instead of laughing at it, I actually have to spend my time avoiding being raped and worrying that if I ever were, the response would be "well, why'd you get so drunk?" Perhaps Bruce could "smash it out" with someone able to give consent. Ha, ha, ha.

Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

I'll allow that there may be some revelations and resolutions further down the line that pull everything into beautiful perspective. (I would settle for some polar bears and black smoke.) The end is a long way away, however, and I am tired of this bar.

David Sims, the A.V. Club

At first, it seems like a cute idea. By the sixth episode, it feels like the characters are trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare from which there is no escape. 

To be fair, there are a handful of critics who smile on "Mixology": Entertainment Weekly's Karen Valby enthuses, "If you like -- or like zoning out to -- slick and shiny romantic comedies in the vein of' New Year's Eve' and 'Valentine's Day,' 'Mixology' is the show for you." (Translation: Set expectations to "low.") Variety's Brian Lowry calls it "an inordinately appealing comedy, blessed with quick wit and a promising array of characters." But given that Lowry has previously chided Sarah Silverman for being insufficiently ladylike, it's fair to say that sensitivity to gender issues is not his strong suit.

Still, you have to hand it to the San Francisco Chronicle's David Wiegand, who goes all in and likens "Mixology" to Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde," brilliantly filmed by Max Ophuls.

"Mixology" may not be a direct reboot of "La Ronde," but it does use love-seeking duos as a way of making similarly informed commentary about our own attitudes about sex and its role as the lingua franca of contemporary single life. Schnitzler focused on how sex could transcend differences in class and social station. "Mixology" focuses on how we use sex to transcend our fear of vulnerability and emotional intimacy.

Although Wiegand doesn't mention it, one of the other things "La Ronde" is about is venereal disease, whose passage from one lover to the next is intimately linked with the play's daisy-chain structure. Based on the bulk of the reviews, it sounds like V.D. might be a more apt comparison.


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