Comedy Central is known to cater its programming toward a predominantly young adult demographic and its newest show, “Idiotsitter,” seems to fit that mold. Originally a six-episode web series in 2014, “Idiotsitter” contains the irreverence of “Workaholics” and the female-empowered humor of “Broad City.” But as a whole, “Idiotsitter” works on its own as a refreshing take on the “odd couple” premise with its hilarious leading stars and improvisational energy.
The “sitter” is uptight Harvard grad Wilhelmina “Billie” Brown (Charlotte Newhouse, “Brainstorm”), who unwittingly becomes the guardian and GED tutor of the “Idiot,” wealthy, fully-grown delinquent Genevieve “Gene” Russell (Jillian Bell, “Workaholics”). The plot sounds hackneyed, but Newhouse and Bell’s chemistry and the show’s guffaw-inducing ridiculousness are enough to make “Idiotsitter” worthwhile.
While the pilot episode is mostly a simple storyline set-up, it quickly establishes “Idiotsitter” ’s swift pacing and absurd jokes. After Gene’s father Kent (Stephen Root, “Office Space”) and his airheaded wife Tanzy (Jennifer Elise Cox, “Web Therapy”) go out of town indefinitely, Gene throws a rowdy, alcohol and drug fueled party at her mansion, much to Billie’s dismay. It’s typical to dismiss the banality of this scenario, with Billie being relegated as a strict authority over the party’s out-of-control nature. But once Billie decides to indulge in letting loose through Gene’s encouragement, that’s when the fun (and best) parts of the episode begin. The two gals have a ball dancing to glitzy EDM music, doing horrible Austin Powers impersonations in the bathtub and playing Apples to Apples just with apples.
At times, “Idiotsitter” seems like it can go off the rails at any moment. Yet it never glorifies the affluent lifestyle, nor does it forget to recognize the humanity of its characters. After Billie is hoofied — half-roofie, half-horse tranquilizer — by Gene and her “best, non-sexual friend” Chet (Steve Berg, “Coogan Auto”), Billie becomes fed up with Gene and leaves. However, Gene apologizes and the two reconcile through their shared love for Patrick Swayze in “Dirty Dancing.” The moment between the two is subtle but sweet, suggesting that Billie and Gene might not be so different after all.
“Idiotsitter” seems like the perfect career catalyst for Bell, who has consistently shown her knack for witty, deadpan humor in several film and TV roles, such as “22 Jump Street” and “The Night Before.” Newhouse is also a perfect counterpart to Bell, with both actresses building quips off one another. What makes “Idiotsitter” a potentially inventive TV comedy is that Bell and Newhouse don’t just subvert the stereotypes of their characters, but also add more comedic flair and edginess to them.
At first, Billie exudes the high-strung, Ivy League-educated persona that feels all too familiar. But later on in the episode, she becomes more likable through the help of Gene, as they grow from completely opposite strangers to unlikely friends. Gene isn’t the cliché spoiled girl, with a rude demeanor and unpleasant attitude. Her behavior comes from a child-like innocence, and her recklessness is more silly than plain stupid — the opening scene involves her asking two police officers for sex while drunkenly riding a pony. Considering that both Bell and Newhouse are co-creators and co-writers of “Idiotsitter,” it’s hard not to appreciate their comedic efforts in crafting the characters so well.
Regardless of the undeniable talent behind “Idiotsitter,” the show still needs some work in developing the relationship between Gene and Billie from two very opposite women into something much more engrossing. “Idiotsitter” doesn’t quite reach the comedic heights of “Broad City” or “Workaholics” and probably won’t for a while. But with Bell and Newhouse at the acting and writing helm of the series, it’s bound to still provoke and charm Comedy Central’s audience.