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'I Just Want My Pants Back' review: Young hipsters in N.Y.

Twentysomethings exchange 'Juno'-like banter, troll for sex and look for the meaning of life on MTV's new show.

February 02, 2012|By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
  • The cast of "I Just Want My Pants Back."
The cast of "I Just Want My Pants Back." (MTV )

Oh, the pressure we put on young people today. Not only are they expected to survive helicopter parenting, compete for slots at over-priced universities and then find jobs in an increasingly scanty workforce, we also need them to have more diverse and carefree sex than any previous generation — all while exchanging crackling "Juno"-esque banter with their misfit but socially insightful friends.

To wit, MTV's new half-hour dramedy "I Just Want My Pants Back," which premiered as a sneak-peek in August, a completely ridiculous yet randomly entertaining exhibition of all these desires.

Based on the novel of the same name by David J. Rosen, who also created the series, "I Just Want My Pants Back" follows the adventures of Jason (Peter Vack), a recent college grad trying to tap the hipster life in Brooklyn for a little love and meaning. He is aided in this quest by his best friend, Tina (Kim Shaw), a Web designer and post-feminist sassy minx, and their cute-couple friends, Eric (Jordan Carlos), a medical resident and Stacey (Elisabeth Hower), a "responsible" law student.

If it sounds like "Friends" getting drunk and grabby with "Sex and the City," it is, but a show could do worse, parentally speaking. The action, and title, kicks off when Jason, seeking to end a brief but worrisome "dry spell," hooks up with the mysterious Jane, who rocks his world and borrows his jeans, leaving only a haze of post-coital euphoria and a fake phone number behind.

Oh, the smirking, quotation-marked (but not really) heartache. As sexually adventuresome as he may be, Jason is, at heart, a romantic, as are all his friends and this show, which saves him and it from being a youth-pandering, semi-salacious mess. Or at least a complete youth-pandering, semi-salacious mess.

That and Shaw, who steals every scene she's in. Someone please find the guy's pants and give her a bigger show.

More than anything, "I Just Want My Pants Back" feels like MTV doing a 180 on its ill-received version of "Skins." There, the kids were just too awful to be believed; here, with their tendency to utter pop cultural references as if they were heroic couplets, they're a bit too cute. Yet behind all the hipster wordplay, the characters are strangely charming. You know they're just talking tough because they're adrift and more than a little afraid, and what's more they know it too, which gives the show a heart it so easily might not have had.

And as they glide past post-irony into post-post-irony (which is to say irony) taking down James Franco, the compost movement and more, you find yourself rolling your eyes but willing to hang out, if only for the time it takes to do a few shots and make out in the bathroom.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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