So here's a show I really loved and miss a lot: Better Off Ted, a funny little sitcom that ran on ABC from 2009 until its cancellation in 2010 at the tail end of a little-watched sophomore season. It's not a perfect show — a little too offbeat in its humor for a mainstream audience, with plot threads that failed to consistently captivate — but the lacerating wit and Portia De Rossi's standout performance make it a more than worthy diversion.
And hey! It's streaming in its entirety on Netflix, so there's no excuse not to watch.
One part vicious satire of corporate culture, one part conventional rom-com, Ted follows its titular protagonist (played by Jay Harrington, a vision of WASP-like dreamboatiness) through his employment at the conglomerate Veridian Dynamics, a shady and futuristic company with a hand in every business imaginable. (It's not far off from 30 Rock's treatment of NBC Universal parent company GE, microwaves and all.)
Ted's interactions with boss Veronica Palmer (De Rossi) are the meat and potatoes of the show; De Rossi is masterfully taut, having so fully imbibed the corporate Kool-Aid that she dispenses corporate jargon with rigid intensity. She's at the other end of the spectrum from the recklessness of Arrested Development's Lindsay Bluth, but there's a comedic thread connecting the two shows that should make the tone of Ted feel familiar to Arrested fans.
His relationship with his daughter Rose (Isabella Acres, the rare child actor to be cute without feeling ingratiating) is heartwarming and funny in all the right places, but I'd wager that the show's major failing is the will-they-or-won't-they friendly antagonism between Ted and his co-worker Linda (Andrea Anders). They're both odd ducks, but the tense nature of their chemistry never quite materializes the way it should.
The show is at its strongest when their dynamic takes a backseat to Ted's head-butting with Veronica. Watching as the writers peel back her layers, as De Rossi's portrayal gets ever-stranger and more captivating for its strangeness. The delightful weirdness of the company, too, is an endless mine of odd, dark comedy; mock promotional videos for Veridian Dynamics are peppered throughout the series, and they're laugh-out-loud funny.
So that's Ted: sharp and funny with a lot of pluck, and it deserved (in my opinion) a better shake than it got. Not all shows find justice, of course, but at least a sweet little show like Ted can have another chance to shine a few years after cancellation. Join me in giving it a second spin, won't you?
Photo Credit: ABC
What Are We Marathon-Watching This Week? is a series where the very best TV shows that were canceled or forgotten before their time are spotlighted and treated with the respect they deserved all along — so you can spend all your time in bed, watching them