At this point in the show’s freshman season, Go On has put a greater focus character exposition and funny gags than adding depth to the characters. Yes, we’ve seen growth and change, but most of the characters remain two-dimensional and meaningless outside the scope of the group. They clearly don’t feel confident about group members striking out totally on their own. Plenty of pairs have gotten run in real world settings, but it always ties back to the group. While the therapy group is the center of the show, group members need to be able to have adventures of their own.
Not to keep bringing it up like the college senior who likes to talk about their summer abroad, but having group members function as individuals is something done exceptionally by Parks and Recreation. It’s a show with an entertaining cast of characters that can pair the characters in all manner of ways and get humorous and worthwhile results. They don’t have to report back to the group, and it makes the characters’ bonds seem deeper and richer because we know they have these shared experiences that others may not know about. Go On could do those sort of things. Not every story needs to be fodder for group conversation. Not every storyline needs to surround their reason for being in the group. These people are just weirdos. It could be fruitful to simply explore their idiosyncrasies outside of the context of the group. At this point, it’s hard not to work off the assumption that the show doesn’t trust the ancillary characters to have a completely independent storyline. It’s a move that needs to be made for the sake of the long term health of the show.
Allowing greater independence for the other characters will be important because Ryan King keeps checking off things from his road to recovery list. This week, we watched him have sex for the first time since his wife’s passing. His partner was an always game Piper Perabo. She’s not the greatest comedic actress, but her willingness to do different things can make her rather useful. Here, she’s just odd enough that it’s relatively convincing that Ryan would want to hop into bed with her. Still, Ryan’s statement to the group that “this is a big step for me” made me wonder how many steps there are. More importantly, what happens when Ryan King completes all his “steps”? What will sustain the show? Once it becomes clear that the show has evolved past the point of needing the therapy group, doesn’t it really just become Community?
Rhetorical questions aside, there are real questions about the direction of the show once Ryan King is able to fully deal with the death of his wife. There is the chance for good television between now and then, but the show has to put in deeper shades with the supporting characters for the show to have long term success. I mentioned last week the show seemed to be thinking long term with Ryan, but a long running series needs long term thinking for the supporting characters as well.