This Thursday MTV will debut its new series, I Just Want My Pants Back, a scripted show about young twenty-somethings living in and around Greenpoint. The series is based on the 2007 book by David J. Rosen and a “sneak peak” of the pilot episode aired back in August. I got my hands on a press screener of three episodes. Here’s what to expect, spoiler-free.
The basic premise: Jason, a shaggy-haired guy a few years out of college meets a girl at a bar and takes her back to his one-bedroom off the Nassau G. They have a crazy night together and in the morning, she absconds with his pants. He’s hooked and becomes preoccupied with finding her, which distracts him from his job as a receptionist for a media company. (So far, minus the falling victim to pants thievery, this is my life.)
Jason’s sidekick is Tina, a foul-mouthed, crop-topped blonde who engages in some sexual misadventures of her own. There’s also Stacey and Eric, an interracial couple living together and going to grad school. The four characters have been friends since college.
The first episode is all about sex. Jason’s first line of dialogue is, “I don’t pick up the phone when I masterbate, unless I’m at work.” Three minutes in, he’s having sex. With talk of erections, “locovore sluts,” and ass play, the first episode is a lot like MTV’s late night, early ’00s classic Undressed. This is less the case in subsequent episodes when story lines revolve become more about under- and unemployment. SNL fans will appreciate the cameo from Chris Parnell as Jason’s boss (although the character has nothing on Parnell’s Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock).
So here’s what I think: while the overly-witty dialogue is a lot to handle at first, it grows on you. Some of what the characters say and do is rather true to life, like craving an egg and cheese sandwich after a night of heavy drinking. More authenticity comes from scenes shot on location, including outside of Warsaw and at least one actual Greenpoint loft (my friend was on the shoot). Very few scenes, if any, take place in Manhattan and north Brooklynites should appreciate the local references and not simply write them off as MTV’s attempt to stay relevant. The protagonists aren’t hipsters, nor are they trying to be. Sure, Jason rides a fixed gear and talks about Wavves (their music is featured in the pilot), but the show makes fun of people who take themselves too seriously; one guy is a chocolatier, another guy drinks homemade moonshine “distilled from quinoa,” and one girl says she is “so over the internet.”
IJWMPB premieres Thursday at 11pm. Time will tell if it goes the way of MTV’s scripted attempt this time last year, an American take on the UK’s Skins, which the network canceled after one season.