‘Me, Myself & I’: Sentiment and gimmicks can’t compensate for this many clichés

If Me, Myself and I was about 30% better, it could be one of my favourite shows. The extremely high concept, which sees three actors portray one man at different stages of his life, is incredibly appealing to me. This is Moonlight: pathetic white guy edition. There are two things in fiction that never fail to make me cry: witnessing a person age a great number of years in a short stretch of screentime, and touching father/daughter relationships. Me, Myself and I goes deep on both of these things. Of the 3 actors playing Alex, 2 are relatively talented: Bobby Moynihan and John Larroquette are charming, if one-note. Jack Dylan Grazer, the preteen Alex, didn’t impress me much in the pilot, but he could improve. But these performers are too different for a 20-minute episode of the show, as hard as the writers try, to feel cohesive. They look and sound completely different, their performances don’t share a physicality. They should’ve all taken tips from the Moonlight guys. What this show needed was one key performer, a Dax Shepard type, able to handle sentiment and comedy equally. As it is, this show simply isn’t funny in the least, despite starring the thoroughly-comic Moynihan.

So, with its time-jump set-up and dad/daughter stuff (Kelen Coleman is, to the show’s credit, very believable as the daughter of Moynihan and Alison Tolman), why didn’t Me, Myself and I make me weep? Firstly, this pilot is 20 damn minutes long, and I can safely say only Community has ever managed to bring me to tears in that short a time. Secondly, and this is a big problem, there’s no original storytelling here! The three plots — young Alex is humiliated at a school dance, adult Alex has to cope with his divorce (with, for some reason, the help of Urkel) and old Alex decides to retire — are largely unrelated both practically and spiritually. Like Life in Pieces, the only other CBS single-camera comedy I can think of right now, no plotline is given enough time to be explored properly. At least This is Us’s hour-long format allows for sufficient emoting in a very similar structure. And the clichés, oh boy the clichés. “There She Goes” plays every time Alex sees a cute girl from school. It’s horrendously obvious, and totally unaffecting. Even the transitions from adult Alex and his daughter, as child, to old Alex and his daughter as adult — which reminded me of the last act of Adam Sandler’s Click, which always makes me cry — didn’t work on me.

This show could, in some alternate universe, have been a sentimental mashup of Moonlight, This is Us, Parenthood and — I suppose — the last act of Click, but nobody’s trying hard enough.