George: This all very insane and illegal, isn't it?
Ray: It's very illegal. And insane.
George: I like insane.
An HBO Sitcom
created by Jonathan Ames that first began airing in September 2009. It stars Jason Schwartzman as Jonathan Ames
, a non-licensed private detective who believes he can help people
. After breaking up with his girlfriend Suzanne and discovering that she was the only thing he had, Jon puts an ad on Craigslist hiring himself out as an investigator. He attempts to juggle this life with working for a magazine run by George Christopher, a middle-aged man who is actively attempting to recapture his youth through drugs and sex. Jon's best friend, Ray Hueston, is a comic-book artist with relationship issues who begrudgingly helps Jon in his exploits any way he can.
The series was cancelled in 2011 after its third season.
- Accidental Aiming Skills: "I wasn't aiming for the boss." "What?" "Never mind."
- Affably Evil: Jon starts a friendly conversation with the man who's taken hostage the woman Jon's been hired to find in the pilot. They end up smoking pot together before the cops bust in.
- All Lesbians Want Kids: A lesbian couple hit up Ray for sperm in a coffee shop. When he obliges, they turn around and sell his sperm on the black market to all the other lesbians in the neighborhood, all of whom are also desperate to reproduce.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Jon, Ray and George escape a violent thug accidentally when they crash into the back of a police car.While high.
- Amateur Sleuth: Jon becoming one of these is the premise for the show.
- And This Is for...: "That's because of you, big nose!"
- Arc Words: "I believe I can help people."
- Arrested for Heroism: The end of the first episode, subverted as Jon gets off with a warning.
- As Himself: Jim Jarmusch and Kevin Bacon. Also Dick Cavett in season 3.
- Author Avatar: Jonathan Ames is the name of both the creator and the main character.
- Badass Bookworm: Jonathan becomes one of these for all of thirty seconds when he uses a few Groin Attacks and a large tree branch to save Louis Green from some drug dealers.
- Blackmail: In one episode, Jon is hired to get back a sex tape from a woman who serially seduces men and blackmails them with the evidence. In another, Jon is blackmailed into throwing his boxing match against Louis Green when someone finds George's Viagra bottle.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: George.
- The Boxing Episode: The first season finale.
- British Brevity: The show ran for three seasons of eight episodes each.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Season 3 ends with Jonathan embarking on a relationship with Rose and deciding to not tell her that he has discovered she is his half-sister.
- Chekhov's Gunman: In the first episode of season two, Jon helps a cop by breaking into an S&M club and erasing its member database before a police raid (Said cop is on the member database.). In the season finale, the same cop returns and helps Jon solve a case.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Jim Jarmusch, full stop. His apartment is completely bare so he can ride laps on his bike in it.
- Jon's mother really has her head in the clouds.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Lewis, when he sprains his ankle and loses his glasses, leading to Jonathan rescuing him from the drug dealers.
- Cool Old Guy: George wants to be this. Desperately.
- Creator Cameo: The real Jonathan Ames guest stars in the second season as Leah's jealous ex-boyfriend Irwin who stabs Ray with an X-Acto knife.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jonathan isn't exactly incompetent as a private detective but it’s very hard to see at first.
- Averted due to the fact that they are nothing like their father however
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Jason Schwartzman sings the show's theme song.
- Drugs Are Good: It's probably easier to count the number of episodes in which the main characters are not smoking pot. Sometimes the character may become an Erudite Stoner while under the influence.
Jonathan: I still like the way pot makes me think - maybe it's healthy.
Suzanne: Pot is not healthy.
Jonathan: They give it to cancer patients.
Suzanne: You don't have cancer.
Jonathan: Not yet...
- Exact Words: "When I'm in this office, I'm a psychiatrist. But when I step out that door, I'm a father."
- Gag Penis: Super-ray, Ray's comic book alter-ego, not to mention several other characters in "Make It Quick Fitzgerald!".
- Gag Nose: The size of Jonathan's nose is frequently the butt of jokes.
- Gone Horribly Right: George sent Jon out to have a great youthful time so that she would realize that she wouldn’t marry her 60 year old fiancée. Unfortunately Jon did exactly that.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The three main characters.
- Hidden Depths: Even though it was too late, Jonathan’s biological father did come back for him.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: The guy Ray boxes in the first season finale is eager to try S&M.
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Some drug dealers who abduct Jonathan and Louis try to force them to snort cocaine to prove they're not cops.
- Insane Troll Logic: The man who was impersonating Jon's reason for becoming a private detective.
Jon: Jesus! That hardly qualifies you.
- Insufferable Genius: Louis.
- He later became a Small Name, Big Ego after his Humiliation Conga.
- Irrational Hatred: It’s never explained why Lewis hates Jon so much
- Jewish and Nerdy: Jonathan.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: After accidentally almost killing Dick Cavett while trying to get the curtain to drop on Jon's segment, Louis was arrested, lost his job and ended up working as a busboy at Richard and Sons where Richard delights in humiliating him For the Evulz
- Laser-Guided Karma: Louis's segment in The New Dick Cavett Show was canceled in favor of Jon's. The revelation caused him to go through serious Sanity Slippage.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Though, while Jon is a novelist, Ray is a webcomic writer, and George is Jon's boss at a publishing company, writing isn't much of a plot point until season one's final two episodes.
- Nature Versus Nurture: Also qualifies as Rewatch Bonus as anyone watching will notice that Jonathan and Rose are ridiculously similar to each other. Though Averted as well given the fact that neither of them are anything like their father however.
- Never Bring a Cock To a Gun Fight: As the League of Rays found out.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In "The Case of the Stolen Skateboard", after going through all that trouble to return a child's skateboard to win favor with his single mom, it turns out not only is the mom is uninterested, but Jon costs George a shot at romance and the ending strongly implies that Jon has the shit beaten out of him by skater punks.
- Not-So-Badass Longcoat: Jonathan tries, but he can't really pull off a Badass Longcoat.
- One-Hit Wonder: In-universe example, Jon's first and only novel makes him one of these. The second season highlighted his anxiety about his sophomore attempt, which gets rejected. But by the third season, he's promoting a published work, which seems to be getting acclaim in the publishing world.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Jonathan once tried to break into a spa using towels as fake boobs, butt and to cover his face. It doesn't work.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Heather Burns, who plays Leah, Ray's girlfriend in season one and ex in season two got this halfway through the second season. She doesn't get her own little animation bit, though, they snuck her name into the top-right corner of the screen during Ted Danson's bit.
- Properly Paranoid: Richard Antrem has very little reason to believe that his wife Priscilla is having an affair when he hires Jonathan. She is having one, and with George—who is also Antrem's nemesis and publishing rival—to boot.
- After Jon was framed for murdering George while high, he noticed that everyone around him was giving him a death glare and surmised that he was being followed. Ray and Jon shrugged it off as a drug induced illusion. It turns out he was right.
- Refuge in Audacity: The entire premise of the show.
Ray: In a ridicules situation you must always stay positive
- Shout-Out: Frequently made to great authors and books.
- Sickly Neurotic Geek: Jon.
- Sitcom Archnemesis:
- Petty, pretentious and unbearably smug Louis Green (John Hodgman), a literary critic who panned Jonathan's first novel and never passes up an opportunity to belittle him or insult him.
- George has a rival in the form Richard Antrem (Oliver Platt), editor of GQ magazine. Cranked Up to Eleven when after George leaves his post as editor of Edition to focus on his restaurant a few episodes later Richard opens his own restaurant specifically to try and drive George's out of business.
- The Shrink: A Flavor One sends Ray into an extremely short-lived bout of self-awareness, which in turn causes depression. Said shrink goes on to "solve" all of Jon's issues in under five minutes, although it might've been because he knew Jon wasn't there for advice and wanted him to cut to the chase.
- Skewed Priorities: After finding out that Jonathan was clinging to life while dangling from a clock, Ray decided to have sex instead.
- Smug Snake: Lewis Green.
- The Stoner: All three main characters are almost constantly stoned, usually while in risky situations. They alternate between this and Erudite Stoner, depending on the circumstance.
- Stoners Are Funny: Played mostly straight. Much of the show's humor derives from the fact that the protagonists are avid stoners, and while it sometimes gets them in trouble, it's still funny.
- Surprise Incest: Jon and his girlfriend find out that they're half-siblings. However, it was Left Hanging due to the show being cancelled.
- They Fight Crime: A failing novelist, a comic-book artist, and a wealthy magazine editor, all of whom are stoners.
- ¡Three Amigos!: Jon, Ray and George.
- Throwing the Fight: George does this in the appropriately named episode "Take A Dive".
- Ungrateful Bastard: After Jonathan saved his life, Green wrote an insulting story about him to the New York Times and later tried to steal his job.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Ray is a selfish Man Child with an infantile obsession Regarding his penis (basically the centerpiece of his web comic), who mooches off his girlfriend, cheats on her with an older woman at one point and is often intoxicated when he is supposed to be watching her children or his infant son.
- Women Are Wiser: Rose to Jonathan.
- Averted in all other places as even Leah is just as emotionally needy as Ray, she's just more adult oriented about it.