FX’s Wilfred – Series Premiere “Happiness” Review

Never before has there been a show that I was so uncertain of going in. For months worth of Justified we were bombarded with ads for a show about Frodo and a man dressed as a dog. We didn’t know much more than that. However, given their track record, I’ll give anything on FX a chance.

The show starts off with Ryan’s (Wood – see what I did there?) attempted suicide. He is trying to over-dose on the anxiety medicine his sister gave him, and failing miserably. His survival results in a wasted 4th draft of his suicide note and his impending introduction to his new neighbor Jenna and her dog – Wilfred.

Wilfred is no regular dog though as you can see. Because of Ryan’s fragile psyche, he sees Wilfred a man playing dog, where the rest of the world just sees a dog. This allows Ryan an outlet and someone to talk to, in what is really a Fight Club situation, and Ryan is talking to himself.

What he perceives to be Wilfred though means nothing but trouble for out protagonist, and that results in the further spiral-downturn that his life heads in. Ryan starts out simply tolerating Wilfred to get closer to Jenna – obviously, but he then grows attached the low-life canine. As he begins to trust his new friend, the audience learns this pooch can’t be trusted. This harkens to Youth in Revolt and makes for the start of what should prove to be an entertaining show, if it survives.

The idea isn’t new, it’s actually a re-make of an Aussie show by the same title, and staring the same dog – Jason Gann. The original series ran from 2007-2010 before Gann was able to sell FX on it and bring it to the states.

The first episode was funny and original (at least here in the US) and had a dark humor that I think is really paired well with its Thursday night partner Louie. That however is what worries me, this may be too dark and clever to survive.

Not knowing what to expect going in turned out to be a nice surprise for me, it’s not often that’s the case. I really liked it and look forward to next week. Though at the same time my girlfriend and her sister, who both watched it with me, didn’t laugh at all, so I wonder if it has enough mainstream appeal to draw in new viewers. In any case, I once again give FX kudos as they try to populate my TV with something a little different.

I’d give this first episode a ‘optimistic for the future’ 3.5/5 Bears. 

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