As a cleverly self-described “bromcom,” the new web series “Parker and Steve” follows two guy friends in New York City who spend their time hustling for rent money, looking for love (or something like it), and ending up in sticky situations that they invariably botch into stickier messes. While the premise and plotlines fit snugly into a well-worn genre of bro-based comedy, the 5-7 minute webisode format necessitates some scaling back in the genre’s typically overblown plotlines. The result is an interesting combination of bro humor and wry “Louie”-like charm. In fact, I find that “Parker and Steve” does a good job of bringing the bromcom to life with quirky side characters, witty one-liners and a realistic New York City vibe that will resonate with anyone who has struggled to get by in this magical land of tiny apartments, soaring rent and eccentric individuals all around.
Steve is the down-to-earth partner in the eponymous duo. He hustles for rent as a mime while attempting to make headway on his big novel. Each show opens with a prototypical New York City scene, usually in which Steve is hard at work as a mime (that is, standing stock still and alone in a park) and has an interaction with a funny character. You never know when a little girl in a neon pink tracksuit is going to steal all the money from your bucket – or any number of other scenarios that the non-buskers and non-mimes of the world might or might not ever consider. The scenarios are funny, but they’re just real enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Intravia, the real-life mime who plays Steve and the Writer/Producer of the series, has actually encountered all of them.
When Steve returns to his cramped apartment from busking, he often finds Parker, his broey screw-up friend/roommate who brings all the exaggerated hilarity to the show. Parker has a blow-up doll girlfriend, a big old van, plenty of beer, and just as many hilarious ideas to fuel his random and impulsive behavior. Parker hustles as a mover thanks to his van and plans to become a superstar rapper just as soon as he…well that part is unclear, but we do see him attempt to sell c.d.’s on the sidewalk in one episode. (His salesman zeal increases when he gets the opportunity to show off his skillzz to a pretty female passerby, but ultimately – well, you’ll have to watch the series.) Brennan Taylor, the actor who plays Parker, has a natural talent for physical comedy that greatly enhances the character.
Of course, Parker’s antics constantly land him and Steve in twisted and embarrassing scenarios. Being by far the brainier of the two, Steve reacts to these situations in ways that you might expect a reasonable, risk-averse person to react, while Parker…suddenly runs away from a double date, decides to go all in with a pair of much older hookers, or otherwise leaves Steve hanging in less than desirable predicaments. All along, Parker’s misunderstandings provide Steve with plentiful opportunities to produce genuinely witty one-liners that I very much appreciated as I watched.
The fact that Parker and Steve remain steadfast friends throughout their misadventures is not only a reflection of the “bromcom” genre but also, I felt, a sort of touching and appropriately understated commentary on the nature of life in this very unique big city. They are held together by a shared ability to muddle opportunities and a mutual need for a partner in crime. But most of all, they both (and we all) simply need a constant friend in a challenging place full of strangers.
For a quick note of critique: The production value of this web-series could use some work, particularly when it comes to sound (the inevitably most difficult piece of any independent production). That can be fixed with experience. I was more bothered by something I have never appreciated in any show but that seemed particularly out of place here: the campy, ’90s-sitcom-style musical refrain that divides many of the scenes. This is simply an artistic preference, but in my opinion the music detracted somewhat from the quality of the show.
That said, “Parker and Steve” manages to strike a fun, witty and uniquely charming feel despite some measure of predictability. I recommend the series both for its entertainment value and for its humorously realistic depiction of the New York life that I myself (and maybe you too) have loved – and sometimes hated – for years now. Check out the whole series at www.parkerandsteve.com and www.youtube.com/user/ParkerSteveBromcom. Episode 10 is slated for release on Monday, with 9 more to come thereafter.