The pilot episode of Down Dog is so bad it’s hard to believe that Robin Schiff, the mastermind behind Romi and Michelle’s High School Reunion, wrote it. What’s more gasp-inducing is that the shit-show could potentially be given life through Amazon Prime, the same network that birthed our earnest, important, brilliant, beloved, *BIG INHALE*, titillating Transparent. Down Dog is a comedy. No, no, that was a question. Down Dog is a comedy? It’s more like a new genre whose only logical name would be A’DOYYY!
The premise is this: Dumb, handsome Logan (Josh Casaubon) has skated by his whole life, sleeping with the ladies, surfing the waves, smoking the ganja. When his older girlfriend dumps him and their yoga business, for the first time in his life Logan has to get serious. The show opens a world of opportunity for parody and satire aimed at the Los Angeles yoga scene. But Down Dog goes almost the entire half-hour without even some semblance of landing a joke (at least not a clever one), so it reads less like a parody and more like a perpetuation of the floaty yogi caricatures it aims to ridicule.
The most disconcerting issue with the pilot is that not only is Logan unsure of his purpose, evidently so are the writers. When Winter (we’ll get to her in a minute) comes onto him in the bathroom, Logan rejects her, affirming his commitment to his girlfriend Amanda. Moments later, when Amanda dumps Logan, his non-rebuttal is an infuriating, drawn-out, “Baaaaabe,” followed that night by a bang-sesh with Winter. Viewers will be wont to compare Logan to Californication’s Hank Moody who was both an id-driven hedonist and a fervent family man. But unlike Hank whose contradictory qualities made him impossibly charming, Logan isn’t quite one thing or another. Instead, one minute he’s adamantly loyal to his girlfriend and the next he’s apathetic to her dumping him — among other inconsistencies. Attempting to form an attachment to him is like asking for a piggyback ride from a ghost.
The supporting cast is almost redeeming, but for every moment of humor or thoughtfulness they offer, there’s a moment of idiocy or flatness to negate it. Winter (Lyndsy Fonseca) is a ditzy hippie and her need for love means potential for character growth. But between “calling that cunt a bitch in front of her kids,” and other distasteful punchlines, Winter reads as anti-feminist, which has no relevance on the screen nowadays. The married couple dynamic between Logans’ best friends Matt and Cody provides some fun moments of bro-humor and the prospect of something to latch onto. But Matt (Amir Talai) is a brainy, rational therapist and it’s far-fetched that he would have the patience to converse with air-headed Logan for more than a minute. On the surface, boyish Cody (Will Greenberg) is likeable but the moment he says, “Suck MY dick,” you can practically hear the director shouting, “Say it more like Chandler! Chandler was funny!” Cody’s, and for that matter, each characters’, lack of wit and originality is discouraging in the face of comedy.
Pilot episodes are rarely an accurate representation of an entire series because they require reductive representations of its characters and storyline. If Amazon allows Down Dog to roll out its mat for an entire season, Schiff will have to become better acquainted with her main character, and then some. Down Dog’s tone is inconsistent, its humor is absent, and it relies on sex to make up for its lack of smarts. Much like a hot yoga class, you’ll be relieved when it’s over.