Friend o’ Bacon Brayden recently claimed he can’t watch Pushing Daisies because the characters are too sweet–the lead character doesn’t have enough addiction problems to be of interest. I’d argue that said lead character keeps something dead around to talk to and manipulates life and death to his own professional and personal advantage, which essentially makes him Al Swearengen, right? Still, it’s a fair point–the show can edge toward the all-too precious, as evidenced this week by naming a character who sells friendship Buddy Amicus.
On the other hand, the writers on this show are actually aware of their characters as fully formed human beings who not only have flaws but work on changing them. Ned’s realization about his avoidance of his past was quickly followed this week by his decision to learn how to be alone without being lonely. Olive and Chuck’s locker-bound fight exposed that the writers really do realize that Chuck often behaves as though her interests and imperatives are the center of the universe, and Ned enables her in this. Emerson’s relationship with his mother is fabulous for viewers (I’ll bet Debra Mooney still has great getaway sticks), but it needs to change in order to be truly healthy, and both parties know it. A show this colorful and witty might look at first glance like it’s all lambs and lollipops, but the core is made up of painfully real human emotions and a willingness to engage them.
Of course, I do have to wonder if a show that might be struggling to capture an audience because of that juxtaposition of fairy dust and elbow grease–and because they make jokes out of Latin and Battleship Potemkin–really ought to have storylines featuring a) offal and b) David Arquette. There’s dark, and then there’s creepy.