There's always something fun about the cranky asshole that has a heart of gold underneath that hard and crusty exterior. If it's done right, we always root for them to eventually find happiness because we know they're not bad people. Normally, just a circumstance of tragic events happened in their past that unfortunately molded them into someone who is mad at the world and everyone in it. I'm not saying that Loudermilk is exactly that show because it is quite funny but it has a lot of the same elements.
From Peter Farrelly (There's Something about Mary, Dumb and Dumber) and writer Bobby Mort (The Colbert Report) comes a new half-hour comedy on AT& T's Audience Network (the channel can be found on Direct TV). Sam Loudermilk is a recovering alcoholic and substance abuse counselor at four years sober who doesn't hold his tongue on anything that pisses him off. The only problem is he seems to get mad at just about everyone and everything. He runs AA meanings out of a local church but doesn't exactly treat the poor souls with a delicate touch. He has his one friend named Ben (Will Sasso) who is also his sponsor and that probably has much to do with how he can continually put up with Loudermilk. For some reason, he is referred to by his last name like Kramer or Castle which considering how much longer it is to say then Sam makes no sense to me, but I guess they think it gives him more of a punch.
In the pilot episode, Loudermilk is asked by the priest who runs the church Father Michael (Eric Keenleyside) to help a mother out who's younger daughter Claire (Anja Savcic) is having substance abuse problems. Loudermilk isn't really interested in "making house calls" but when the priest threatens to shut down his meetings over anonymous complaints he's been getting, he's forced to comply.
Loudermilk goes to Claire's house to visit her and is met with the expected resistance over her thinking she doesn't need any help. He gives her the cavalier attitude that he doesn't really care if she wants his help or not but leaves his card in case she wants to come to a meeting sometime. We can see that he's playing her so she'll let her walls down and allow him to help but he leaves with the outcome in her hands.
We know the only way to calm the angry beast in any man is by the grace and charm of a beautiful woman and that concept is not lost in Loudermilk. While coming home from Claire's place he meets a woman named Allison (Laura Mennell) who has just moved in across from his place. He is instantly taken with her but unfortunately, in the middle of their chat, he is interrupted by an old man who is not a fan of his and properly destroys his game. There would be a similar instance later on in the episode as well so it seems like this will be an entertaining dynamic for Loudermilk to continually keep getting his chances to win over Allison foiled by those he is his typical abrasive self to. Have to try and keep kicking that football Charlie Brown!
Later on when Loudermilk returns to the church for their scheduled AA meeting the room is locked with a sign literally saying it's his fault. When he addresses it to the priest, Father Michael tells him he didn't follow through on helping Claire so he made good on when he told him he would shut the meetings down.
As much as he doesn't want to, Loudermilk's commitment to helping his fellow substance abusers takes him to Claire's place of employment to try and talk to her again. Unfortunately she just so happens to work at a bar, the last place he wants to go into. When he takes Claire out back to try and get through to her he ends up talking about his past in an effort to get her to understand how he relates to where she's at. This is the moment where we see some of that soft underbelly that we know he has. The character can't be just all bark without a reason for where it comes from. Now that Loudermilk has been humanized we can move on with supporting him in the series because he's just trying to get by with regrets that cause him pain every day.
Loudermilk might use an old formula to portray its lead character but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Ron Livingston does a good job of being a very hostile and aggressive personality as Loudermilk but he doesn't ever let his humanity disappear. He gets aggravated by those that he doesn't like but when the time comes for it to be something more real than a debate about Kurt Cobain's place in music history he is able to give it his serious attention. The "old man" grumpiness similarly reminds me of another character from an Audience Network show in Brendan Gleeson's Bill Hodges (Mr. Mercedes).
The fact that his life is set to the backdrop of substance abuse and AA meetings I see a bountiful amount of comedic and heartbreaking stories to come in future episodes. Plus, with having a supporting cast of addicts at his disposal I look forward to seeing what kind of quirky personalities and stand out characters will be showing up. With the show being only 30-minute installments I'm hoping to find time to fit this in my couch potato time and seeing what other laughs they can give me.
If you haven't given it a shot you should! For those of you that have, are you on board with this ATT Network series, or do you still need a few more episodes to win you over?