“I’m Sorry” (truTV) is cringe comedy you can unwind with. Its creator and star is Andrea Savage, whose onscreen alter ego is a comedy writer, harried mom, and full-time potty mouth. Her show assuages middle-aged, upper-middle-class anxiety with easy-listening raunch. Its filth is gently cleansing—exactly as coarse as an exfoliating scrub.
Savage’s character, Andrea Warren, lives in golden-toned Los Angeles with her lawyer husband, Mike (Tom Everett Scott) and their kindergartner daughter. The sensible spouse and inquisitive offspring are foils for Andrea, and help ground the show as a domestic sitcom that usually climaxes in a lesson of the week. The show’s exactingly zany protagonist makes like a wacky neighbor in her own home. This comedy writer is always on—not telling jokes, necessarily, but batting around premises, test-driving affectionate insults, noodling with slight material. She never snaps out of the mode of sitting around a coffee shop with her writing partner or hanging out with her comedy friends at a party, where they wallow in “our adorable state of arrested development,” as she puts it.
The juvenile thrust of the series is especially apparent as Andrea panics while explaining sex and death to her daughter. The anatomic naughtiness of the jokes centered on the marital bed is not outlandish or outrageous—just openly gratuitous, which often seems to be the point on “I’m Sorry.” Communication is everything. In one episode, Andrea encourages Mike to speak to her reproductive organs; in another, she insists that he chat with his own testicles. One of the better new scenes finds Mike discovering that Andrea’s gynecologist (played by Adam Scott) is an old friend of his from summer camp; they catch up while Andrea is in the stirrups, preparing to receive an I.U.D. It’s anybody’s guess what Mike is doing in the examination room. The show never allows logic to get in the way of a good riff, or a bad one.
This is, for better or worse, a going style of comedy, which has the shape of biting satire but no teeth. “I’m Sorry” is certainly a more satisfying example of this genre—let’s call it adult-contemporary absurdism—than the second season of “Friends from College,” newly washed onto Netflix. The thorough unfunniness of the season validates the judgment of viewers who were immediately drawn to its cast and subsequently repelled by its everything else. Keegan-Michael Key plays a mildly esteemed novelist who has been cheating on his wife (Cobie Smulders) with their friend Samantha (Annie Parisse) since they were all enrolled at a school unsympathetically specified as Harvard College. The couple moves to New York, so that the wife can take a job at a hedge fund; the adultery comes to light; the friend group explodes. Their clique is rounded out by a trust-fund layabout (Nat Faxon), a nonworking actress (Jae Suh Park), and the novelist’s agent (Fred Savage).
The initial knock on “Friends from College” was that its characters were unlikable. This was inarguable. I happened to find them unlikable in ways that closely approximate the way I dislike myself, though with a distance that shelved deep self-loathing, so I eagerly submitted to its antic group portrait of yuppie malaise. I recommend catching up with the first season and then forgetting about the existence of the second. Getting the gang back together for ceremonies around the agent’s marriage to his fertility-doctor fiancé (Billy Eichner), the show trifles with its characters by way of expressing its contempt for them. Like “I’m Sorry,” it is uneasy about taking itself seriously. The problem is that it can’t take itself ridiculously either.