Claire Dalton is the headmistress blogger over at Conversation A. She’s been kind enough to write about ‘Trust Me’ — TNT’s new wannabe MadMen-of-the-21st-Century dramedy. Below are her thoughts on what could be America’s latest admission to the importance of advertising. Claire, take it away.
The Suit and the Creative: For every tie, a carefully crafted chin of two-day stubble.
In keeping with today’s theme of breaking the mold a bit on the range of my blog posts, I wanted to put down a few thoughts about the new TNT series, Trust Me, which premiered tonight (SPOILER ALERT).
As with any pilot, the creator’s immediately set to set the stage of context and the various characters of the play. While they clearly sought very hard to portray Mason (Eric McCormack) as the responsible, older brother type and Connor (Tom Cavanaugh) as his immature-but-don’t-you-dare-get-in-the-way-of-a-good-idea partner, I appreciated that it wasn’t just a caricature of the people they’d play through the series and instead paid off in the episode when Mason gets promoted.
While the development of Sarah (Monica Potter) leaves a bit to be desired up to this point, I can see her going places. And I love the way Sarah and all the other characters were introduced with supers with their name and role. There was just something very charming about the little notes “It’s her first day” and “Everybody’s boss.” I hope these continue to be used in the series and aren’t just a tool for getting the ball rolling.
A lot of folks have been preparing to compare Trust Me with its period piece counterpart Mad Men, but after having seen the first episode, I’ve decided the comparison is really quite irrelevant. If anything, Trust Me reminded me more of Scrubs–taking a diversified group of folks and highlighting their interactions with themselves and each other as they work through shared cases–and perhaps I just described really every series in the history of series, but bear with me.
With this modern tale of the men and women of advertising, there’s always a hint of dark cynicism you see in many comedians underneath their witty banter and sharp speech. (Connor=Perry? Anyone else see it?) And there’s a certain lightness to the way they approach more serious themes. Of course Connor would call Stu an asshole in his eulogy. Of course there’d be a quick flashback to Connor picking a fight with some random Todd on the street to quickly explain how he got the shiner. But truthfully I like it. The supers, the flashbacks, they’re all nice touches to add a little something, and I think it’ll open up a lot of opportunities.
While there were a lot of jokes that strike a chord for ad folks (hello, focus group scene and failure to reach first class), I think that this show has a chance to appeal to all audiences. Everyone get advertising because we’re all consumers. Further, there’s a certain glamour to advertising that has made the profession a common thread in lots of movies and shows, and while Mad Men has played to the idea of the power of advertising, Trust Me really fleshes out the egos, the speed, the competition, and the insecurity that comes with the territory (don’t tell me you didn’t wince when the word “hack” started flying). And everyone can appreciate the dynamics of partner relationships, and for all the animosity that went between Mason and Connor, I think everyone gave a little internal “aww” when he said “I’m a better writer when I know you’re gonna be reading it.” Even though Trust Me can find some depth, you don’t feel the weight of it afterwards the same way as at the end of Mad Men.
All in all, I think the pilot really served as a well-written brief: it’s setting the series up for some great work, but we’ll have to wait to see if it can truly inspire the creatives to take it to the next level or if the execution will fall. I’m certainly looking forward to the first round of work.
Note: I’ve only just remembered that Cavanaugh was also in Scrubs, as JD’s brother. And I can’t help but note my disappointment that the annoying woman from the Zyrtec commercial (“They should put that on the label: Two hours you didn’t have before.”) will be a part of the show. Oh well, maybe she’ll wow us. If Flo from the Progressive commercials can rock it on Mad Men, I’ll give Zyrtec gal a free pass.
More: “‘Trust Me’ Actor Knows What’s Up”