“B Positive” is the feel-good, kidney-transplant comedy of the year!
The preceding sentence was meant to be sarcastic. “B Positive” is the kidney-transplant comedy of the year only because it happens to be the only one -- not only this year, but ever (unless somebody tells me differently).
“B Positive” is CBS’s sole new comedy for the COVID-delayed fall season. It is a new sitcom from prolific producer Chuck Lorre.
Slated for Thursday nights at 8:30 Eastern, the show is to be hammocked between two other Lorre shows -- “Young Sheldon” at 8 and “Mom” at 9 (both of which are returning for their new seasons on Thursday as well).
For those who have not yet realized this, the title of “B Positive” has a double meaning.
B positive is a blood type that in this case probably has something to do with a kidney donor's compatibility with the person who seeks to acquire one of her kidneys.
It can also be read as a slogan -- “Be positive” -- that is synonymous with “keep a stiff upper lip” and other such bromides.
Certainly, the main character of this show -- a Connecticut psychotherapist named Drew, played by Thomas Middleditch -- is the 30-something man who is trying to “be positive” after learning his kidneys are failing and he will need a transplant or else he will die.
That's Drew hearing this bad news from his doctor in the photo above from the first scene of the comedy's premiere episode. Sounds hilarious, right? (Sarcasm alert.)
In that first episode, Drew finds a donor willing to part with a kidney on his behalf -- a woman, also in her 30s, who he once knew in high school.
The problem is that this woman is unstable. She is a promiscuous drunk and casual drug user who also happens to be a schizophrenic.
Thus, the situation in this situation-comedy is that this man, Drew, must somehow keep this woman, Gina (played by Annaleigh Ashford), on the straight and narrow for long enough for her to eventually supply him with a healthy kidney.
As a foundation for comedy, this scenario presents a number of challenges that the show fails to overcome.
Most importantly, how do you make renal failure funny? Basically, you don't. Or more to the point, you can't -- as this show demonstrates.
And while we are on the subject, there is nothing particularly funny about this woman’s struggle with addiction and her mental illness either. And yet, this TV show attempts (unsuccessfully) to position these conditions as comedic.
When Gina is not abusing drugs or sleeping around, she drives a minibus for a senior assisted-living facility whose passengers include Linda Lavin (“Alice”) and Bernie Kopell (“Get Smart,” “The Love Boat”), who some viewers will get a kick out of seeing.
Ultimately, one of the most jarring aspects of “B Positive” is the dim-bulb depiction of the female donor character who happens to be blonde.
For that matter, she has a female best friend -- not a blonde -- who is just as ditzy and addle-brained.
About halfway through the first episode, it dawned on me: This is the year 2020 and these producers are actually doing a “dumb blonde” comedy like it's the 1930s.
And kidney failure was no less funny then than it is now either.
“B Positive” premieres Thursday (November 5) at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.