The Life and Times of Tim
Recently HBO’s The Life and Times of Tim returned to the air as part of their Friday night comedy block, all jazzed up with a brand new title sequence, but sadly still on the outskirts of mainstream viewing. Some of that is probably due to the fact that the network has done very little to promote the show and won’t let it anywhere near their prestigious Sunday night timeslots because, well, it has been reserved for How to Make it in America.
Life and Times.. is the creation of Steve Dildarian (he who dreamt up the Budweiser lizards) and, like so many other shows of the past half decade, owes much of its existence to the success of Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The main similarity being that both shows feature protagonists who are perpetually being devoured by the ugliness that is humanity. But Tim, unlike Larry, is made to suffer because he is too much of a nice guy. He’s too willing to say yes when he should say no, too affable, and way the hell too easy to push over. Dildarian seems intent on reminding us in hilarious fashion that nice guys do indeed finish last, and in the process he has created something that is all too real a reflection of the greedy, selfish times in which we live.
Tim, playing the role of Job, walks into one seemingly benign situation after another, only to quickly be convinced to do something that he is not comfortable with before becoming trapped as everything goes terribly wrong. Throughout the first season these antics resulted in him being made to look like a jackass in front of his eternally forgiving girlfriend, Amy. But as this season opens she has apparently become a little less so as they have split, and Tim, not dealing with it so well, has grown a beard and gotten fat. He’s also sort of on a mission to win her back, but, being Tim, that only means that his good natured gullibility keeps costing him chances to reconnect with his one true love.
What makes the writing on this show so brilliant is the way in which they figure out, time after time, new ways to humiliate their main character. Near the end of the second episode of this season Tim finds himself taking a midnight stroll through Atlantic City with his ex girlfriend's doppelganger, who happens to be a trashy stripper also named Amy. Of course none of this was Tim’s idea - he never even wanted to go to AC in the first place - but instead of continually asking himself “What is the worst possible ending to this story” he asks himself “What is the path of least resistance.” Figuring out just how badly the story can end is the job of the writers and in this case, instead of going for the easy lay-up of an unfortunate run in with the real Amy, they take it a step further and deliver one of those devilish little endings that they should be more famous for.
As this show moves forward and possibly evolves it would be nice to see them move their long term plotting on screen because, as of now, anything important that happens in Tim’s life is unseen by us. Pretty much every mini-sode (each half hour episode is chopped in half) ends with Tim standing in front of somebody with a sheepish grin on his face while we do the cringing for him.
That’s fine and thus far it has worked out quite well for Dildarian but it would help the shows longevity if, for instance, we got to see the Tim and Amy break up (which happens between the first two seasons) and their reconciliation (which, inexplicably, happens between the second and third episodes of season 2). It is clear that he has no interest in making a serial but the product he is putting out now has limitations. In the meantime check out this small comedy gem. Just because HBO has neglected it thus far doesn’t mean you have to as well.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
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