“Loosely Exactly Nicole,” which premiered its first-ever episode on Sept. 5, is loosely based on the life of actress and comedian Nicole Byer, best known for her appearances on MTV’s “Girl Code” (2013 – present). Byer shines throughout her segments on “Girl Code,” which is a comedic reality show in which a group of women gives advice on topics ranging from sex and dating to friendships and families, and she is praised for the boldness she brings to the table.
The type of crude humor that is sprinkled throughout the season premiere of “Loosely Exactly Nicole” isn’t exactly what one would call “politically correct.” For fans of “Girl Code,” this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Byer rarely shows reservations or much of a filter. This is part of what makes her character, Nicole, so entertaining and realistic, albeit a bit wild. She’s an actress living in Los Angeles with roommate Devin (Jacob Wysocki), and has been struggling to find any leads. As a side job, Nicole babysits Troy (Ian Chen), a young Taiwanese boy whose mother (Laura Kai Chen) is the Type A sort. Though Nicole appears to not be the most attentive of babysitters, she does stick up for Troy when he gets bullied on the playground and channels the cool, young babysitter trope quite well. Nicole’s interactions with Troy are really where the unorthodox humor begins to emerge.
Nicole hears of an audition opportunity for an acting agency that is looking for a mother and child to shoot a commercial for depression medication. Being childless, Nicole, seemingly out of the goodness of her heart, offers to babysit Troy for the day in order to take him to the audition and pretend he is her child. When a woman in the waiting room of the audition location tells Nicole that the agency already auditioned the “non-traditional families” (read: adopted, as Troy appeared to be) yesterday, Nicole swipes dark foundation all over Troy’s face in the bathroom and calls it a day. The scene made this reviewer simultaneously cringe and laugh nervously, surveying her surroundings to make sure no one had seen her watch this segment before continuing to play the episode.
While in the audition, Nicole proceeds to fabricate an elaborate story about how she met a Taiwanese man at a bar, fell in love with him and conceived Troy. She ended up not getting the part, but is given the number of an acting agency looking for female comedians. This plot point on the show reflects the challenges that many actresses face — specifically those of color — when trying to make it in the comedy industry, which is typically dominated by white males. It’s refreshing to see a woman of color leading in a comedy instead of being relegated to the same, stereotypical roles that writers tend to haphazardly throw around.
One of Nicole’s good friends, Veronica, played by Jen D’Angelo, is a fairly bland character and is completely overshadowed by Devin, who has some hilarious one-liners in this debut. When Nicole asks him to help her fix their air conditioning unit, which she’s named “The View” (1997-present) after the television show, he responds by saying that his hands are “not [those] of a common laborer.” When describing a sexual encounter with a recent fling, Devin describes the male orgasm “…like Pringles. Once you pop, you cannot stop.” It is unclear what that comparison even means, but the delivery was spot on, and made for one of the best lines of the episode.
An issue that comedies like “Loosely Exactly Nicole” face is where to draw the line — when does the unorthodox kind of humor become the offensive? While Nicole and Troy are in the car, she asks him to practice a dialogue with her so she can rehearse her lines. As Troy reads the lines of a character that is a pimp, he stops before reading a line that contains the N-word.
Troy: I can’t say that word.
Nicole: Listen, we’re saying it for a very important reason today.
Troy: My mom says I should never say the N-word for any reason.
Nicole: OK, listen, Troy. Black people can say that word, and Taiwanese people are the black people of Asia.
Troy: We are?
Nicole: Yeah, sure. Plus, we’re in a car. Nobody can hear us.
Whether or not this scene is funny depends on the audience. Some people might think it’s funnier and less offensive because it’s an oblivious kid. Some might think the exact opposite. It’s kind of a toss-up. All in all, “Loosely Exactly Nicole” was enjoyable and provided many laughs. It reminds this reviewer a bit of “Broad City” (2014 – present) but is not quite as hilarious. As the show progresses, there’s no doubt it’ll sharpen its humor and showcase Byer’s talents.