Imaginary Mary: EW review
Jenna Elfman stars in ABC's new comedy debuting Wednesday
Poor Jenna Elfman, trapped yet again in a lifeless comedy. The only thing remotely inventive about this ABC series is its titular animated character (voiced by Rachel Dratch), a make-believe friend Elfman’s Alice created as a child to deal with her parents’ divorce. Mary is a fast-talking, teddy-bear-like blue-and-white creature who acts as Alice’s id, pushing her to rebel and become the driven, career-oriented woman she is.
Mary eventually fades from Alice’s psyche until Alice begins dating a dad of three played by Broad City‘s Stephen Schneider. The family is appropriately awkward and adorable — there’s the over-eager teen who wants Alice’s advice on how to become popular, the aloof and nerdy one who’d rather not get involved, and the cute accident-prone daughter who warms Alice’s heart and makes her consider becoming a more responsible adult — but all three kids are stock characters at best, annoying at worst. There’s no spark or flair to their interactions with Alice, just half-baked sitcom tropes masquerading as story.
And as for Mary, she quickly embeds herself in Alice’s life again to encourage her to continue her hard-partying single life, but that’s where the show falters even more. While Dratch infuses Mary with impressive energy (karaoke will do that anyone, real or fake), she interacts only with Alice, and the show comes off feeling lopsided as a result. It’s one thing to suspend your disbelief about an adult woman seeing and talking to her imaginary childhood friend again, even laughing with her while actually alone in her car; it’s another to buy that this concept can drive an entire season of a television show. If only Imaginary Mary imagined a better gimmick. C+
Imaginary Mary premieres Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.