Hello Ladies’ can’t decide if it’s creepy or endearing

Stephen Merchant might want to make a call to Ricky Gervais before filming more episodes of the uneven Hello Ladies.

For most of his career, Stephen Merchant has been known as Ricky Gervais’ right-hand man. He co-created The Office, Extras and Life’s Too Short (and co-starred in the latter two) and is the co-host of Gervais’ podcast/animated series. Hello Ladies finds him flying solo for the first time, in a show that has some of the same cringe humor as his work with Gervais, but also functions as a more conventional sitcom. The mix of styles is actually the show’s biggest problem, since Merchant and his co-creators Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (who were writers on the U.S. Office) can’t seem to decide whether lead character Stuart (Merchant) is a creepy, lecherous weirdo or an endearing nerd.

When he’s out on the town in Los Angeles attempting to pick up women, Stuart is undeniably unpleasant, surrounded by a group of friends who are sort of the anti-Entourage. But at home with his roommate/obvious future love interest Jessica (Christine Woods), he’s sweet and charming. Neither mode is all that funny, but the awkwardness is a tiresome retread of Merchant’s work with Gervais, while the show’s more low-key side exhibits greater potential. If Merchant is going to strike out on his own, he should fully commit to developing his own unique voice.


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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