Gather 'round, would-be chefs. Let's bake up a sitcom today! First, take a Disney comedy out of the fridge. Let's see, what do we have here ... oh, perfect! A little Jessie will do just nicely. Now, dump it in a bowl and mix in a heaping cupful of CBS' Two and a Half Men. Make sure it's not too fresh, now. It really needs to have aged a bit, preferably in the sun for, say, a year or two. Now, kneed and beat and froth the whole works up something fierce and garnish with just a dash of Julia Child or Rachael Ray to suit your taste. And what do you have? Young & Hungry, a dish just perfect for—well, no one.
Yeah, maybe next time Two and a Half Men could be replaced in the recipe with some high-gluten wheat germ or something.
Alas, it's too late for this ABC Family series, a tart and tawdry cookie-cutter sitcom that seems just as confused as its main character, Gabi Diamond.
Oh, Gabi knows what she wants to do: cook. As a young San Francisco food blogger, her professional life revolves around food. Now she has a new gig—serving as the personal chef for wealthy tech wizard Josh Kaminski. But it's not just the occasional steak being broiled between the two: Gabi and Josh are in, shall we say, a relational stew. The pair got drunk and slept together early on, and Gabi's not quite sure what they are now. Business buddies? Friends with HR benefits? Something more? And if so, what is to be done about Josh's fiancée?
Not that the two have a lot of alone time onscreen. Josh's other employees are always jostling for their turn in the spotlight too. There's Elliot, his personal assistant and walking gay stereotype. Yolanda serves as the requisitely sassy maid. And Gabi's flirty roomie, Sofia, fills the BFF slot.
Starring Hannah Montana alum Emily Osment and produced in part by Disney vet Ashley Tisdale (who makes a cameo as a lesbian editor attracted to Gabi), Young & Hungry has a bit of a Disney sitcom vibe—if Disney characters were prone to curse, sleep around and run screaming from any sort of end-of-the-episode moral. Its two-camera, setup-and-punchline delivery feels very familiar to shows in the Mouse House, and even the structure of the episode titles ("Young & Ringless," "Young & Lesbian") have the same gimmicky feel as those we've seen for years on Disney.
But these ABC Family characters are, in comparison to Disney's stable of tempered teens, old and randy. Gabi and Sofia are twentysomethings into the bar and dating scene, and any sort of morals they might've absorbed in their growing up years from the likes of Disney have been scrapped in favor of cocktails, canoodles and the occasional very adult use of whipped cream.
Admittedly, Two and a Half Men goes further down the sleazy slide than this series does. And it does stress the value of friendship and loyalty in its own little way. But given the involvement of Tisdale—who, in the High School Musical movies and a host of other Disney properties was both hilarious and clean—Young & Hungry leaves me feeling uncomfortably bloated and craving something fresh.
"Young & Younger"
Sofia tells Gabi it's time to stop treating Josh as a boyfriend and get back into the dating game. Immediately, Gabi meets a guy named Cam on the elevator. And also immediately, the scriptwriters insert a verbal gag about oral sex. The two go on a date, kissing and making out ... before Gabi discovers Cam is only 17. (His mother thinks Gabi is an SAT tutor.)
People talk about sex a lot (including repeated references to the night that Gabi and her boss got drunk and slept together). We hear sexual double entendres and word plays (such as "Oreo-gasm"). Elliot's homosexuality is used as the source of several jokes, and he crudely flirts with a guy on an elevator.
Lies and misleading statements seem normal here. References are made to dogs urinating on trees and people. Josh throws a party to play violent video games. Characters say "h---" (three times), "d--n" (once) and misuse God's name a half-dozen or more times.