What the Fig?: I Just Want My Pants Back

MTV’s latest scripted comedy, I Just Want My Pants Back, made its debut on Thursday, February 2nd to a reception that ranged from accepting and optimistic to downright furious. Based on David J. Rosen’s 2007 novel of the same title, the series revolves around the lives of four 20-somethings as they navigate post-college life through the haze of booze, sex, unemployment, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Main character Jason Strider, played by Peter Vack, is a Cornell graduate who jumps from job to job in his struggle to maintain a somewhat steady income . . . and then blows most of his money on pizza, alcohol, and weed. So far, he’s been notably employed as an interviewer at a casting agency, an intern at a health food/porn magazine, and as a maid/male hooker to a wealthy actress. His fast-talking and impossibly witty friend Tina, played by Kim Shaw, isn’t having much better luck during her first few years out of college; Tina and Jason continually rely on each other for food, support, and late night adventures–which seem to be available to them in copious amounts in the world of late-night New York City. Completing the quartet of young ne’er-do-wells are Eric and Stacey, played by Jordan Carlos and Elisabeth Hower. Eric and Stacey struggle to transition their romantic relationship from the college bubble into the real world, with help from Jason and Tina.

The series gets its name from Jason’s most notable night thus far, when he takes a drunken girl named Jane home, they have sex in his refrigerator, and she leaves the next morning with his favorite pants, leaving him with a fake phone number. Jason’s search for Jane, and his pants, intertwines hilariously with his search for employment.

One of the only semi-realistic shows today that’s geared towards just-out-of-college 20-somethings, I Just Want My Pants Back is a refreshing, well-written break from MTV’s usual lineup, which is cluttered with reality shows that, ironically, have never done a good job representing any real demographic.

This is undeniably a show for the late-teenage/early-20’s demographic, with plenty of scenes involving sex, drugs, and drinking. MTV has done a good job of targeting this older crowd, seeing as the show airs at 11p.m. on Thursdays, directly after the reality show Jersey Shore. Whenever MTV airs I Just Want My Pants Back during the day, the more risqué moments are censored. Not everyone is satisfied by these measures, however: the Parents Television Council president Tim Winter claims that “once again MTV is taking HBO-style content and marketing it to a Nickelodeon-age audience,” as reported by EW.com.

The PTC’s problems aside, I Just Want My Pants Back is MTV’s first quality show in a very long time. The fiery, witty banter that trademarks each of the characters in the show–all the way down to the owner of the bodega down the block–gives the show a feel of hipster intellectualism that has been lacking in most of MTV’s programs as of late. The show’s intense relatability (at least, for 20-somethings) is its greatest asset, and it gains and retains viewers because of this. It’s easy, as a viewer, to find yourself rooting for each of the characters; you want Jason to finally find a job, and Tina to find a new apartment. But at the end of the show’s 30-minute run, you mostly just want Jason to get his pants back.

Meghan McCullough is a native New Yorker who has always had a deep interest in writing. She is continuing this passion as an English major at Amherst College.

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