Paul Asay

TV Series Review

While the Jonas Brothers out-Biebered Justin in the musical world during the latter half of the 2000s—and even drew comparisons, not completely unwarranted, to the Beatlemania of the early 1960s—Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas’ conquest of situation comedy has been less spectacular. At first, the brothers were going to star in a secret-agent-themed show on Disney titled J.O.N.A.S. (the acronym supposedly stood for “Junior Operatives Networking As Spies”). Then, when the Jonas Brothers became the subject of nearly universal tween adulation, the minds at the Mouse House decided to scrap the spy trope and instead make the show about a popular band named—wait for it— JONAS.

The series served as half-hour bites of adolescent wish-fulfillment catnip: The brothers lived in a tricked-out pad complete with fire station poles, holograms and always-stocked vending machines. They went to school just like average Joes and Kevins and Nicks. And they acted as normally as could be expected—considering the always-looming threat of rabid fans.

But while JONAS performed adequately, it didn’t exactly cause Disney’s corporate heart to flutter. Which may explain the (sort of) new! improved! California dreamin’! show JONAS L.A.

Gone are the poles and vending machines, replaced with a more easygoing coastal vibe. Mostly gone are the ridiculous reminders of the brothers’ status as sex symbols, allowing them to more realistically foster an endearing sense of self-depreciation. Macy—a rabid superfan in JONAS—has drastically mellowed and become Nick’s love interest. Stella, who designed tear-away outfits for the band on JONAS, still has a way with a sewing machine … but her relationship with Joe has taken on a new layer of depth and (dare I say it?) complexity. In short, the whole affair has shed some of its zany excess and become something better.

Yes, it’s still silly—but it’s a mellower sort of silly, and a far better environment for the Jonases to showcase their natural aw-shucks charm. Just like the music that comes from these guys, the show is all about lovey-dovey stuff, but not in the sexy-tawdry way so many other sitcoms deliver it. And JONAS L.A. is actually getting funnier and more entertaining—even for folks like me, who, when it comes to both age and sex, are far from the prime Jonas demographic.

Episode Reviews

JONASLA: 8152010

“Up in the Air”

Vanessa, Joe’s girlfriend, moves in with Stella and Macy in the brothers’ guesthouse under false pretences—she wants to keep an eye on Stella. Meanwhile, Nick tries to decide what to get Macy for their one-month anniversary. Kevin, hearing that Macy’s family exchanges handmade gifts at Christmas, suggests Nick make her a mug.

In a completely nonsexual way, a worker offers to strip off his pants and give them to Joe (reaching to unfasten them as he talks). Tank tops are as revealing as the girls’ outfits get. And kissing—on the cheek—is as far as the couples go.

Stella and Vanessa can’t stand each other, but pretend to be best friends while Joe’s around. Vanessa tries to frame Stella for poking her with a pin (she didn’t), and then threatens to try to get her fired. The plan backfires, and Vanessa apologizes. It’s just that kind of show.

Vanessa mentions that she has a spiritual advisor. Joe is preparing for a movie in which he’ll fight ghosts, and we see spectral extras stalk around the set. The director calls one of the zombie-like beings her “ax-boyfriend.”

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Paul Asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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