As a standard sitcom about the romantic adventures of a group of friends and misfits in Detroit, Undateable had decent writing and a solid ensemble cast. When the second season finale aired live, however, the show hit a sharp, funny stride that culminated with actor Brent Morin having his chest waxed on live television and clutching music star Ed Sheeran like a shaggy, ginger teddy bear afterward.
The ratings from the live event were respectable enough for everyone to go "Hmmmm..." and for the third season, Undateable has become Undateable Live, a wild, improv-rich ride. Each weekly episode still revolves around the characters' relationships and life lessons, but now there are live bands playing through set changes, surprise celebrity cameos such as Scott Foley, Sarah Chalke and Meghan Trainor, and an interactive component to make both the home and studio audience feel as if they are part of the show.
Viewers can call in to a real phone carried by one of the cast members, and there are plenty of glances and asides to the audience, such as former Whitney co-star Chris D'Elia riffing about how he regretted never sleeping with Whitney Cummings in real life or Ron Funches getting everyone involved in his bid for a catchphrase. Most scenes take place in the Black Eyes Bar, and 'security footage' viewed by the characters often includes a real-time shot of the studio audience. Cast members also race into the studio audience and do various poses or stunts during the credit sequence.
Live television is nothing new, but Undateable Live's meta approach tops Saturday Night Live in sheer exuberance since the show is performed live twice, once for the east coast and again for the west coast a few hours later. There are a few crack-ups occasionally, but the actors, many of whom have improv and theater experience, stay on track with each episode's plotline and blaze through the thirty minutes with such glee it makes NBC's other live show, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, feel like a forced company picnic.
With its innovative style, Undateable Live brings back the thrill of live television and everyone seems to have a blast while doing it. If you're without a date on Friday nights, it's good to know there's at least one group who's glad to have you.