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Series / Mulaney

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"I look back on making the show really fondly. It's my noble failure. I tried, and I wanted to do it this way. Some people liked it—just not enough."
John Mulaney on the failure of the show.

Mulaney is a comedy that aired on the Fox network. It centered around comedian John Mulaney (played by comedian John Mulaney) getting the opportunity of the lifetime when he's chosen as a writer for legendary comic Lou Cannon (Martin Short). The cast was rounded out by John's best friend and fellow comedian Motif, angry roommate Jane (Nasim Pedrad), The Friend Nobody Likes Andre, and their neighbor Oscar (Elliott Gould).

Produced by Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live fame. Mulaney was formerly a writer for the show and Short was an actor, though all three never overlapped at once. The trailer for the series can be seen here.

It debuted in October 2014 with a 16 episode order and a cushy time slot, right after Family Guy. Unfortunately, critics and viewers were not kind to it, dismissing it as a Seinfeld ripoff. After a few weeks, FOX cut the episode order from 16 to 13 and moved Mulaney to an earlier timeslot...where more often than not, it was preempted by a football game. FOX officially canceled it on March 15, 2015, one month after the 13th episode aired.

This Series Provides Examples Of:

  • Ascended Meme: John's Girl of the Week in "Sweet Jane" saying that she defended him when people said he was ripping off Seinfeld is a reference to Real Life detractors to the show saying the same.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Much like Seinfeld, there are sequences of Mulaney performing standup. Unlike Seinfeld, which could have been In-Universe, these take place on the set.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Apparently John in school, his grades were fine but he always got a low "effort" grade, which bothered his mother.
  • Butt-Monkey: Things never go well for Andre.
  • Calvinball: Celebrity You-Guessed-It makes no sense. John asking how the game works has become a running gag. Even Mary Jo, who runs the show, says it makes no sense.
  • Captain Ersatz: "Motif in the City" has Motif's old crew... which are blatant ersatz versions of the cast of Sex and the City (with Motif being the Carrie).
  • Character Title: Much like Seinfeld before it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Motif is often pretty disconnected to reality.
    • Oscar, the neighbor with the strange anecdotes and goofy but often good advice.
  • Creator In-Joke: Macauley Culkin quits the Christmas special of Celebrity You Guessed It at the last minute.
    Lou: Apparently he doesn't like to play himself on tv.
  • Crappy Holidays: Lou feels like people aren't scared of Halloween anymore, so he fires people on Halloween. He hates Halloween because it's when his parents got divorced so he tries to make other people hate it as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: John and Jane. John usually snarks around the Large Ham Lou Cannon, and Jane usually snarks around Motif or John.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The gang trying to get the air conditioning through a window is treated like a childbirth.
  • Fallback Marriage Pact: Jane reveals that John is her backup guy, in case she's ever old and desperate.
  • Follow the Leader/Genre Throwback: The show attempted to be one to 90s multi-camera sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends. However, this was cited as its failure as it was too anachronistic for a modern audience,
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: No one likes Andre.
    John: "Bad news guys, it's Andre!"
  • Friend Versus Lover: The primary plot of "Sweet Jane." Jane has a tendency to dislike John's girlfriends, which sets off the plot.
  • Genre Savvy: John learned how to date from 90's sitcoms, and has styled his dating persona after Ross from Friends.
  • Girl of the Week: No characters are shown to have a recurring paramour from episode to episode.
  • Godwin's Law: In "Motif and the City," John suggests a drinking game for the tenant meetings in the apartment complex where you take a drink every time someone compares something to the Nazis.
  • Gone Horribly Right: John thinks praying that his mom not finding out he doesn't attend church went horribly right... by having the priest giving the sermon die, thus being replaced by another priest who resembles the one John made up in the stories he told his mother.
  • Halloween Episode: The aptly titled "Halloween."
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Sexually Active Today?: A Rare Female Example in Jane:
    Jane: "Must be time to take my birth control... for sex!"
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Andre. When Jane says she'll do anything to get her ex-BF's password, he chose "let me hang out in your apartment with you guys." The second episode sees him carry up heavy appliances and furniture on his own for them.
  • Imagine Spot: Motif has one when someone asks him how he thought birth control works. Turns out, he thought the pill functions like the gun in Space Invaders and shoots the incoming sperm.
  • It's All About Me: To say Lou is self-centered would be a drastic understatement.
  • Large Ham: Lou Cannon is just as loud and bombastic as his name implies.
  • Magical Queer: John's neighbor Oscar dishes out welcome life advice to John, helping him make a career decision in the Pilot and relationship advice in the following episode.
  • Mythology Gag: Ice-T does the "this show was filmed before a live studio audience" reading, which is a call back to John Mulaney's famous joke involving Ice in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
  • Noodle Implements: Andre's "used baseball cards."
  • No Ontological Inertia: "In the Name of the Mother, and the Son and the Holy Andre" reveals that Andre's acne medication is what causes him to be... Andre. He stops taking it and becomes a productive member of society, getting a Fanservice Pack in the process. If The Stinger is to be believed, after a week's time he's turned into a completely ripped guy who looks nothing like Andre.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Motif. His real name is Gerald.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: John and Jane. They've known each other for over eight years and never came close to dating.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure:
    • Motif never watched Friends, so he didn't get a lot of John's references to it. As Mulaney says, it was largely "for us, by us" (meaning white people).
    • He also misses the Sex and the City references from the three yuppie women he has cocktails with, not knowing what they mean when they call him "the Carrie", although he eventually agrees.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Jane. Her ex-boyfriend has taken to calling her "crazy bitch" and... well, he doesn't seem to be terribly wrong.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jane gives one to John in "Sweet Jane" insulting him as a lover when he implies she's jealous of him.
  • Side Effects Include...: Jazzapram, a birth control pill, has side-effects that include "Unmanageable hair, haplessness, cartoonishness, and an inability to know when to leave a room." In other words, being Andre.
  • Sit Comic: As the name may indicate, it's a vehicle for John Mulaney, and incorporates some of his material from his earlier routines.
  • Squick: In-Universe, childbirth is this for John. Kind of an issue when he's dating a woman who's essentially a midwife.
  • Straw Feminist: Jane's Guy of the Week in "In the Name of the Mother, and the Son and the Holy Andre." He's a lawyer fighting for women's reproductive rights... but only because he doesn't like to wear condoms.
  • Studio Audience: As Ice T mentions before every episode, the show was filmed before a live studio audience.
  • Token Black Friend: Motif, John's best friend. Hipper and luckier with the ladies than Mulaney.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: It's described as a semi-autobiographical look at John's life.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: After binging on Friends, Motif sees everything though the lens of the show and winds up giving John some lousy advice.