“Ground Floor” is the new Bill Lawrence sitcom (Cougar Town, Scrubs), airing on TBS. It follows Skylar Astin as Brody, an overly ambitious and successful banker at Remington Trust, and Briga Heelan as Jenny, a maintenance worker in the same building, as they attempt to have a relationship despite the fact that they come from completely different worlds. “Ground Floor” is refreshing, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and pokes fun at everyday things that most viewers can relate to. Most of all, “Ground Floor” proves that a show doesn’t have to reinvent the business in order to be an enjoyable ride.
Upstairs vs. Downstairs
The premise of “Ground Floor” is based on a slightly 19th century-like class conflict premise: Brody, the ‘Upstairs’, is interested in Jenny, the simple plebeian maintenance worker from the ground floor. For the first three or four episodes, “Ground Floor” focused a lot of its energy on this dichotomy and on how different Brody and Jenny are, how they will never make it. It was a bit heavy-handed, since we as the audience know that Brody and Jenny are probably going to be fine, since that’s what the show is based on. It was slightly difficult to believe that the ‘class difference’ between them was going to cause too much trouble. However, as the season progressed, “Ground Floor” has tapped into other aspects of this difference between the two main characters and how it affects their lives, like how annoyed Jenny is when Brody buys her a very expensive birthday present, or Brody’s dilemma on who to go to a baseball game with, his girlfriend or his work friends.
The problem, however, is that the show has taken about a third of its allotted episodes to explore and emphasize the differences between the people who work upstairs and those who work downstairs. When you only have ten episodes to a season, economy can be crucial. We already get that life upstairs is vastly different from downstairs by the end of the pilot. There was no need to spend about two or three more episodes with that as the sole ‘plot’ of the episodes.
“Ground Floor”‘s biggest asset is its cast. John C. McGinley as Mansfield and Rory Scovel as Harvard stand out particularly, but even Heelan as Jenny has her moments frequently. Mansfield is by far the best character the show has; his stiff, stern personality, thrust into absolutely ridiculous situations, makes for great comedic moments. His relationship with Brody is also quite entertaining, as Mansfield clearly has a severe case of favoritism when it comes to the young banker, but often finds that maybe he’s idealized Brody a little too much.
Scovel’s Harvard, on the other hand, is actually quite a pathetic character, but there is something about his dark humour and sociopathic behaviour that’s kind of hilarious, like when he declares that hate only makes his beard grow. He’s completely and hopelessly in love with Jenny and so oblivious to the fact that they will probably never happen, yet he just can’t stop. But his best scenes are admittedly those when he and Mansfield are thrown together. Such completely different characters, but the tension and conversations they have can be quite golden.
Overall, “Ground Floor” is not likely to get renewed, but for what it was, it wasn’t a complete failure- in fact, if the competition wasn’t kind of fierce, the show might have made it. There’s enough in the show to get you some genuine laughs and it won’t have you shaking your fist angrily at the screen, because while it’s not the best thing to grace TV, it’s pretty decent.