'Idiotsitter' Lets Jillian Bell Shine As Gene In The Series Premiere, So Billie Should Get That Chance Next
It's always great to see new comedic voices shine, and after the last few years of turning in great supporting performances in Workaholics, 22 Jump Street, and more, Jillian Bell finally has a vehicle to call her own. The premiere of Comedy Central's Idiotsitter is all about Bell, and any time not spent with her character, the trust fund screwup Gene, feels her absence. There's also a fair amount of table setting with Charlotte Newhouse's Billie, the unsuccessful Harvard grad who's hired as Gene's "babysitter" after she gets put under house arrest. Any show that makes the central duo's name a Michael Jackson reference is automatically after my heart, but I think Idiotsitter needs a few more episodes to really nail down its comedic tone. Right now, it seems a bit like Workaholics with more heart, since Bell's character is basically the bratty, spoiled version of that show's central trio, and she can cause just as much mayhem as all of them combined.
A good sign is that Idiotsitter knows when it's approaching a potentially inappropriate gag and then holds itself accountable. Hopefully, however, transgressive humor won't wind up becoming the show's bread and butter, since it has something much better in the odd couple of Billie and Gene.
Part of Bell's charm is that she always seems totally in control of her characterization even when the show itself is a bit scattered. Most of the episode is setting up the central conceit of Billie as Gene's tutor/guardian while her father, played by amazing character actor Stephen Root (of Office Space, King of the Hill, and tons of Coen Brothers films, among others) hightails it out of their enormous mansion in order to globe trot with his dim-witted wife Tanzy (the names on this show are wonderful). That leaves Billie and Gene alone to figure out their new relationship, which immediately descends into anarchy in a big party sequence.
If there's one thing Idiotsitter should do as it continues, it is to deepen Billie's character a little bit more. Clearly, she's struggling pretty profoundly if she's being tailed by the repo man and considering taking this wacky job where she gets barfed on and fed horse tranquilizers in the span of one night. The show shares some similarities to Broad City, another show starring a female comedy duo who don't shy away from gross-out humor and whose Comedy Central deal started as a web series. But that show is successful because the friendship it portrays is so real, and Abbi, despite being the more "normal" character, gets just as much to do as total wacko Ilana.
While Gene is obviously the standout character right now, I hope Newhouse gets the chance to develop Billie into a worthy partner for Gene on Idiotsitter this season.
Images: Comedy Central; Giphy