Scrotal Recall: How a Bad Pun Makes a Great Show

I blogged recently about how I adore a good pun. Then I discovered an exception:

Yes, you read that right. There I was, innocently delighting in the pre-9/11 optimism and shamelessly-pedantic dialogue of some early episodes of The West Wing, and I saw an advertisement for a new Netflix series. Netflix, the game-changing viewing portal that created two of the best new shows of the last few years: Orange is the New Black and House of Cards; Netflix, the great binge-enabler; Netflix, my best friend...suggested this shit.

"Scrotal Recall."

Et tu Netflix?

So, I took this screen shot and was going to write a See You Next Tuesday about the dumbing down of 'Merica and the runaway oversaturation of the television environment and the fact that The Newsroom got cancelled but Scrotal Recall has a place in the canon and all. But then I realized I could make fun of it more thoroughly if I actually took a looksie -- social research, anthropology style -- and then I watched it and, y'all.

This show is great.

Seriously! And don't take it from me! (In fact, never listen to me. I wrote a whole post about David Bowie's butt, pretty much). Take it from Vivian Kane ("Netflix's New Original 'Scrotal Recall' Is So Much Better Than Its Attention-Grabby Title,") and Chandler Dutton, ("'Scrotal Recall' is the Best Show You May Never Watch,") and Torie Bosch ("Don't Be Turned Off by Scrotal Recall's Awful Name. The New Netflix Comedy Is Delightful").

Admittedly, the plot is a little uncouth: the pilot opens with the main character, Dylan, getting diagnosed with chylamydia. It's curable, we hear, but dangerous if not treated, so Dylan needs to go inform all of his sexual partners that they're at risk. He decides to work through his fornications alphabetically, and we're off with a bang. The show's crass description, combined with its cheesy, dad-joke of a title, doesn't sound like it would beget a smart, delightful little indie show. But it does!

Why? Well, first, it gets major charmer points for being English -- the Brits can just pull off tawdry better than we can. See, Exhibit A:

NSFW if your boss missed the 80s. 

 Second -- and more importantly -- the show works because the main character is a hopeless romantic. Dylan, who looks like Jimmy Darmody mated with one of the Culkins, is this lovely, dreamy, sincere guy who tries to date girls, not bed them. His sweetness mitigates the fact that he has transmitted an STD to a comparatively large number of women with whom he's intercoursed. 

But, it works: as each episode chronicles Dylan's bumbling attempts to notify these long-lost women, he is appropriately shamed and embarrassed. It turns out that most of these encounters were disastrous or short-lived or both, often preceded by Dylan's sincere but misguided romantic gestures,  and ended in a moment of rejection, or awkwardness or -- well, always -- both.

The whole thing would collapse into a pile of Entourage-fueled vulgarity if Dylan were flippant or brash. But he's not, and his sexual "conquests" are shrouded in charming, amateurish misfortunes, which makes him consistently pitiable and likeable. He's tempered by his man-whore-best-friend-foil and his when-are-they-gonna-get-together female roommate. And it's got this nice little soundtrack and this sort of Igby Goes Down color palate, and yes I watched the whole first season in about a week so I know what I'm talking about.

So, don't be dissuaded like I was by the show's bad name, and don't only watch it because you want to make fun of it on your blog. I mean, do, if you have a blog, but be warned you'll probably change your mind. And it's only six episodes, so get back to me when you've finished your Scrotal binge. That didn't sound right.

I'm leaving it. Goodnight.
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