Don’t let the title of Fox’s newest comedy fool you: Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life has little to no idea how to survive much of anything — at least not yet.
The oddball sitcom, which premiered Sunday, follows a trio of twentysomethings in the uncertain decade following college, and the hijinks that ensue as they attempt to strike out on their own.
The Parker Lewis Can’t Lose/Hangover-inspired hybrid takes place in present day, where our eponymous life guide Cooper (Jack Cutmore-Scott, Kingsman: The Secret Service) is being held captive by a group of rapscallions for a crime four years in the making. Breaking the fourth wall, he narrates a backstory that begins in 2011, as he and pals Neal (Charlie Saxton, Hung) and Barry (James Earl, Ground Floor) move into their first apartment. After Cooper’s older brother Josh (Justin Bartha, The New Normal) gifts them with a smart-TV, the guys agree to throw a wild housewarming party to appease the career man’s need to get away from his “fun-sucking” pregnant wife (Liza Lapira, Super Fun Night). The party quickly racks up hundreds of unwanted guests, and after consuming a handful of unmarked pills, the guys wake up to find their new TV has been stolen.
Two years later, the gang has seemingly moved on from caring about their stolen big-screen. Cooper is working for a barely-digestible energy drink company and has made good friends with girl-next-door Kelly (Meghan Rath, New Girl), Neal is in a (reluctant) committed relationship with a bodybuilder he met at the housewarming party, and Josh and his wife have settled down with two kids. Everything’s going well enough until Barry exits a movie theater and spots the alleged TV thieves. He persuades his friends to help him steal it back, but after a barely successful breaking and entering, the guys return home to discover that the TV they’ve just stolen isn’t actually theirs. This catches up with them two years later (aka the present day) after Cooper runs into the thugs they robbed at a Clippers game and is subsequently kidnapped. He’s eventually set free after Josh offers up a new 4K TV as a peace offering. (As it turns out, landlord Virgil — played by How I Met Your Mother alum Marshall Manesh — was the real TV swindler.)
Though ambitious, the framing device of Cooper Barrett‘s inaugural installment makes it difficult to determine how weak or strong the show might be without it. While it does a serviceable job setting up a potential romance between Cutmore-Scott and Rath’s characters, and makes good use of Ground Floor standout Earl, another episode or two is necessary to determine whether this Guide to Surviving Life can sustain any sort of sought-after longevity.
Will you survive another wild and crazy outing with Cooper Barrett? Grade the episode in our poll, then sound off in the comments.