Showtime’s Brooklyn Boheme and MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back explore Brooklyn

What you're watching.
Feb. 2 2012 4:19 PM

Brown Girls, Brownstones, White Guys, Black Pants

A thoughtful documentary and a filthy MTV series explore Brooklyn, then and now.

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The takeaway here is that the success of Do the Right Thing (set in Bed-Stuy) consolidated a community—first came the artists, then came the kind of people who actually drink Absolut Brooklyn, a vodka available under a label designed by Spike Lee, who moved to the Upper East Side ages ago. The artists now go to Bed-Stuy; the spoken-word poets may, God willing, have moved onto other things; and something of a hybrid Fort Greene spirit now haunts the general area. Let's look at the bigger picture and put it this way: When Mookie threw the trash can through the window at Sal's, he paved the way for the truffle ravioli at Chef's Table.

A flip of the channel, a sprint to the G train, and you're watching I Just Want My Pants Back (MTV, Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET), a comedy adapted from a novel by David J. Rosen and created by Doug Liman, who is now 16 years past his directorial debut, the generational touchstone Swingers. Oh, had you forgotten that you were old? Well, this new show, glossing the sex lives of twentysomething pleasurebots, is here to remind you.

Our Greenpoint-dwelling hero is Jason Strider (Peter Vack), a slacker who’d really rather not be. He wants to be a music journalist, but in the pilot he works as a pissant at a casting agency under what the press materials refer to as a “no-nonsense boss.” That’s kind of a mischaracterization. The guy’s a sadist, yes, but it’s Chris Parnell in the role, so the nonsense is baked in.

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Vack is well cast. He has Andy Samberg's hair, Stephen Malkmus' nose, and a mouth full of teeth as wide as billboards. His pants were also well chosen, neither too tight nor too relaxed. The costume department saves the superskinny jeans for the identikit kids it so ably mocks. Here is the deal: Goaded by his awesomely shallow female BFF, Jason picks up a honey at a bar. They get back to his place very quickly and start ripping off their American Apparel shirts before they even get to the bedroom, which is convenient because she wants to do it in the kitchen. Specifically, she wants to do it in the refrigerator. Not beside the refrigerator, 9 1/2 Weeks style, but in the refrigerator, with her rump in the air and face, presumably, in the stale hummus. In any event, she walk-of-shames away in Jason’s trousers the morning after. A quest begins.

What was the hipster? The show is here to tell you in the person of an alleged friend of Jason’s named Lench (Nick Kocher). Upwardly mobile—hey, shit floats—Lench is a media hotshot and an invigorating jerk. As we meet him, he is launching a magazine based on “environmental sustainability” and “hot chicks.” It is called All Naturals, which may be an actual magazine that I am on the comp list of. At the launch party, Lench licks his lips at "superhot locavore sluts and delicious raw milk cheese."

Elsewhere, we get fumbling foursomes, soulless hookups, casual cruelty, and a satisfying sneer at social-climbing ("Dude, Franco's doing a dramatic reading of his Wikipedia page on the roof"). The show plays sometimes like a screwball of manners, sometimes like a post-grad Charlotte Simmons adapted as a first-person shooter game, and sometimes like Happy Endings on some kind of drug. Which drug that would be I don’t know, because I’m too old to know much about what the good new drugs are. But this quick, mean, glib, giddy, satisfyingly filthy show might be one of them.

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