Michael and Michael Have Issues wraps up, crosses fingers
I've never hidden my fandom for The State, nor for its members' later projects. I rooted for Viva Variety, saw Wet Hot American Summer in the theater several times, have seen the touring version of Stella a handful of times, e-mailed links to Wainy Days, DVR'd the Reno 911! movie, and bought friends copies of The Baxter. It's the kind of thing that sticks with you when something—show, band, book—hits you when you're 15 and excited about these arts you're just beginning to figure out. I've been rooting so hard for these guys for so long, it's interesting to me, that with the new Michael and Michael Have Issues series on Comedy Central, they're actually reaching out for that help. Since the show began, both Michael Ian Black's and Michael Showalter's Twitter streams have read like town criers for MMHI, asking for anyone, everyone to watch it so it doesn't get canceled (as was the case with the Stella TV series on Comedy Central, which barely made it out of the womb). It really does feel like the first time this sizable cult following has been marshalled to do anything other than quote 15-year-old sketches back and forth. So with the final installment of the seven-episode airing last night, will it be back?
Yes. That's not a scoop, it's a prediction. Seven episodes is barely enough time for a show to find its bearings, and MMHI certainly has had its ups and downs. The premise is solid: M&M co-host a sketch show, and MMHI takes us behind the scenes of that show, while also giving us a couple of sketches from the show and some studio-audience bits. Michael and Michael bicker and go to increasingly ridiculous and astonishing lengths to embarrass each other, which often means embarrassing themselves in the process.
Over the course of the season, it seemed as if the show had trouble finding a rhythm among its various components, while also trying to develop the two Michaels as distinct characters. They're both assholes, but they need to be their own assholes. Doing that in 22 minutes, with a good chunk of time devoted to sketches, means several episodes have to go by before that's all established. That's why the show got progressively better as the season went on, even though some of the best bits came early. The laughs in the latter half of the show were more satisfying because the characters were stronger. And former Chicagoan Kumail Nanjiani established himself as a bona-fide scene stealer as the season went on.
The last few episodes showed just how worthy the show is of being brought back for another, longer season. The writers began playing with the form more (In the fourth episode, a zombie sketch blends with the "real world," for instance), and in the final episode, the Michaels turned their anger away from each other. The constant conflict between the two had begun to feel static and somewhat put-on, and last night's season closer, in which the two take on a rival sketch duo (featuring the vastly underrated H. Jon Benjamin, who deserves his own show) was a great way to change it up.
So I'm back to rooting for these guys. Michael and Michael Have Issues is a creative, sincerely funny show that feels as if it's just getting going. It started off funny and just gained momentum from there. It would be a shame not to get a chance to see it grow into something truly original on Comedy Central. It'll be back. Those tweets shall not go for naught.