FXX’s Man Seeking Woman returned for its second season last night. The premiere episode, “Wings,” centers around the disintegration of protagonist Josh Greenberg’s (Jay Baruchel) relationship with his best friend Mike Bunk (Eric André). They grow apart because Josh gets a new girlfriend, Kelly (Sarah Gadon), thus abandoning everyone else close to him to spend time with her.
The episode is quite funny when Josh is trying to fit in with Kelly and her high school friends on a cabin retreat — he finds the Devil-infested corpse of a lumberjack they murdered back in high school. It reaches its peak, though, once Kelly dumps Josh and he dejectedly returns to Chicago looking for his long-lost friendship. It turns out he and Mike have something binding them much closer than best-friendship: a daughter.
In the most biologically accurate segment of television in 2016, their daughter, Sophie (Maya Lowe), was born when Josh and Mike “accidentally jizzed into the same toilet, and then it got struck by lightning.” It’s a ridiculous key detail. Josh, in an effort to win back Mike’s trust, takes Sophie out for “a nice day.” They go out to lunch and Sophie — because teens — isn’t into it. She criticizes Josh every step of the way. That is, until Josh asks her about herself and shows interest in some dragon drawings.
Josh’s lunch with Sophie is painful to watch. It’s even more painful when she starts to be nice, and worse when Mike makes some dad joke about her showing some enthusiasm. But that cringeworthy display of cliché is exactly why MSW succeeded greatly in “Wings.” Remember, Sophie is the creation of mixed semen in a dirty toilet. Every time there is something heartwarming, you’re talking about a child that literally “crawled” out of the shitter.
There is no greater metaphor in Sophie. She does not represent Josh and Mike’s friendship. She’s simply a vehicle for show creator Simon Rich to have some fun with TV tropes. MSW never shies away from cliché. (The entire conceit — a sad sack single dude looking for love in all the wrong places — has been done. A lot.) But beyond its surrealist tendencies, Sophie is a straightforward display of twisting the mundane into humor. The show does not get too weird with the plot. Instead, Man Seeking Woman keeps the surface clean, but just fills in the rest with layers of absurdities.