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7 Reasons To Watch “About A Boy” And Hope It Doesn’t Get Canceled, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:01am


I’ve had a little bug the past couple of days, and in my book, being sick means permission to watch as much television as possible. Yes? In any case, I was hunting for what to watch, being temporarily out of British shows, and stumbled upon bad news. They are quite possibly going to cancel About A Boy.

Huh, you say?

For those who haven’t seen it, and clearly you are many given the May Cancel status, it’s small. Nothing explodes, nobody chews the scenery, no lizards get eaten. The primary cast is made up of just 3 people. Locations involve a school, a side-by-side pair of townhouses, and occasional outings to San Francisco bar mitzvahs and skinny dippers’ hot springs. Such a nice ratio of quotidian to outrageous.

I’ll do a “listsicle” of reasons to watch, because we all know that in this time of Too Much Information, numbers serve a function.

7 Reasons I Love About A Boy

  1. Minnie Driver. Ms. Driver plays, to batty, intelligent, focused perfection, the hippie mother of an 11-year old boy. Accent in place. Named, understandably, Fiona. She doesn’t condescend one bit to the character. Oh, and her clothes! Artsy Cousin par excellence.
  2. Benjamin Stockham. He plays the 11-year boy, Marcus, who is most of all sweet. Dedicated. Nerdy, but in sweetness rather than brilliance. He doesn’t condescend to his character either, despite being in real life, 15. I just love his constant hat.
  3. David Walton. Yes, the show is, if you’d been wondering, based on the Nick Hornby book of the same name. While Hornby usually focuses on the story of the male protagonist, and Walton’s character, Will, follows the Hornby boy-man protocol as the series begins, over time Walton does a deft and generous job of highlighting Driver and Stockham’s more ornate roles. Which is hard, because he’s tall and has good hair.
  4. The ensemble. The 3 main actors have chemistry, meaning they relate to each other, rather than just throwing photons at the cameras.
  5. The actual friendship between a grown man and a grown woman. If the show remains on the air, it’s possible that Will and Fiona will in fact fall in love. But the narrative could feed itself on their friendship alone. The writers avoid the cheap drug of Will-They-Won’t-They.
  6. The deft understatement. Again, they keep the show small. Which means you have time to watch, enjoy, and notice little details like living room furniture. And character.
  7. The innocence. If I try to distill what I like about this show so much – because, let’s be clear, it’s not Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey (closer), or Seinfeld (closer yet) – I wind up at innocence. The characters have open hearts. The actors are playing human beings, even though they aren’t Realistic in the way we’ve grown accustomed to on cable. The show imagines that people like each other, are kind, can learn.

About A Boy is on NBC, Tuesdays, at 9:30pm. Usual Central Time adjustment. But I always watch it online, here. I’d say there’s a bit too much talk about sex for kids under 10, but heck, listening to the radio these days, perhaps I’m old-fashioned. It’s a dear show, and I wish it wouldn’t go away.

If, as it happens, you already knew this, you might want to go here and sign the petition to keep it going. If, on the other hand, you hop over to NBC and take a gander and feel as I do, you might also want to sign. Always optional.

Did I mention that it’s created by the same guy responsible for Friday Night Lights and Parenthood?

I wish everyone a good weekend and good weather. Of course, if it’s cold where you are, you might just be running out of television.

38 Responses

  1. I watched it some last year and just caught up with a few episodes this year. I totally agree with your review. And I find myself staring at Minnie Driver and thinking, “In my second life, I want to look just like her”. Quiet, intelligent sitcoms, unfortunately, are rare as hen’s teeth.

  2. a disturbing number of people (including my mother) have told joe he was a ringer for hugh grant in the film version of about a boy. “not the character!” they always hasten to add. “just the look.”

  3. My 12yo daughter and I LOVE this show! If it is cancelled that will be a crying shame.
    Incidentally, I’m watching Friday Night Lights right now with my husband and absolutely loving it. It completely captures small town life and the characters… it’s brilliant. Interesting that it has the same creator, I didn’t know that.
    Off to sign that petition. Thanks Lisa.

    1. For some reason I could not get into Friday Night Lights (a friend gave us DVDS of the program) even though its setting is one I know so well.

  4. I’ve been a fan of Brett Dennan, the artist who does the theme song, for some time now, which is what put this show on the radar for me. I have been meaning to watch the actual show ever since I heard one of Brett’s songs was on it, and this is just the push I need to finally get me to watch. It sounds wonderful.

  5. Thank you for this recommendation – I can’t wait to watch it and sign the petition based on your thoughtful post.
    I love it when a show captures your heart, and you feel like you are really there. It gives me a lovely break from my own day to day (I think it was Monty Python’s Flying Circus that used to say “And now, for something completely different!”). Happy Weekend!

  6. I haven’t watched it because I wasn’t crazy about the movie, and not particularly a fan of the other two shows by the creator. But on your recommendation, I will give it a try.

    1. @kathy, Hard to say if you will like this then. It isn’t as sentimental as Parenthood, and it’s certainly funnier than Friday Night Lights, but it’s definitely earnest, as were those other shows, so, hard to say!

  7. I hadn’t heard of this show, but I have set it to record this Tuesday. I would welcome something quiet and thoughtful and kind. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. We love British shows….last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley and New Tricks are three we have really enjoyed. Had not heard about either of those shows…will investigate and I hope that you feel better soon. TV is a great soother when one is under the weather.

  9. I haven’t watched the show but I loved the book and the movie. I will check it out and of course sign the petition immediately.

    Wouldn’t want you to be unhappy. Feel better soon.

    Xo J

  10. Thanks for the rec. Always in the market for something worthwhile. I did enjoy Parenthood for its honest moments though sometimes the intensity of the characters was emotionally exhausting…too much resonance, if that’s possible. I will check this out. Have you by chance seen the BBC show with the young Irish chap and his imaginary adult friend? Quite cheeky and hilarious.

  11. Thanks, Lisa, for the post – I wasn’t aware of the shaky standings – although II’m not surprised since excellent programming can often be pushed aside by the talking heads. Totally agree with you about the show – I hope it is allowed to stick around. Deja vu for me – when Riches (TV series with Minnie and Eddie Izzard) ended way too soon. Love, love, love love Minnie Driver.

    1. You’re welcome! So much fun to find others who like it too, since NBC has done pretty much no marketing of it whatsoever…

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