Pretty Smart is Pretty Dumb

Image courtesy of Netflix

By Kat Kaderabek

A new Netflix show starring former Young and Hungry and Disney Channel star, Emily Osment, premiered on October 8th. The show follows the inquisitive and uptight Harvard-grad Chelsea who winds up living with her carefree, whimsical sister, Claire, and her three other roommates in Los Angeles. Chelsea struggles to find a job she loves, writing her debut novel, connect with her sister, and adapt to the new West Coast lifestyle. It is only through the assistance of her sister and her roommates—the zen-guide Solana, influencer Jayden, and bodybuilder Grant—that Chelsea comes to accept and enjoy her life out in LA. 

The show is very gimmicky. It lacks depth and strong plots, but it acts as a good background watch while doing household chores. The jokes are baseless and only remain amusing due to the laugh track set behind them. In other words, the show tries to convince the audience that it is funny when in fact, most of the gimmicks feel unoriginal and predictable. 

That too can be said for the entirety of the plot, which could be predicted from the very first episode. While the show started off with promise, it ultimately lacks any originality and instead fell into the category of” any other Emily Osment show.” 

The ending to the show is not dramatic and is solely focused on the dichotomy between Chelsea, Grant, and Claire, who had formed a love triangle at the end of the series. However, the love triangle is baseless and disjointed; it feels like the actors were pushed together by the script rather than the characters’ connections pulling them towards each other. The romance was cringe-worthy to watch at some points, especially when the characters make suggestive innuendos or clumsy mistakes that result in sexual actions. It feels more like a comedy sketch rather than an actual storyline. 

The cast overall did well with what they had to work with. It was obvious that the writing lacked finesse and originality. Osment’s dialogue was supposed to be that of a Harvard graduate, but any educated person would be able to understand what she was saying. What she had to say was also unnecessary and incredibly long, which only made her a less likable character. 

Osment in particular felt like she was playing the same characters she has played a million times before. It would be easy for anyone sitting down to watch any random episode and to take this show as another season of Young and Hungry or Hannah Montana. For a star who has so much potential, it is disheartening to see her seclude herself in the sitcom world. It is even worse to see her portrayed as the same character who possesses the same witty remarks and cheesy lines. Perhaps, however, this is a reflection of her as an actress, instead of a critique of the plot and writing of the show. The other cast members were entertaining to watch at times. Each a highly personified version of West Coast Angelenos, they played out their roles in as dramatic a way as possible. From overbearing influencer Jayden to healing zen-guide Solana, each fully embodied these characteristics to an almost nauseating level. There is certainly a lack of depth to any of them as each seemed to only possess one personality trait.   

Overall, Pretty Smart was entertaining in its ridicule of the West Coast lifestyle, though it is unclear whether that was the intention of the writers. The series is quick and easy to get through, with ten episodes starting at about twenty-five minutes each. It is unclear as of right now whether there will be a second season; the cliffhanger is so disappointing that it is likely this show will not get the green light. 

The lack of originality is its downfall, with the plot being too similar to other well-loved sitcoms. It would be hard to create a well-loved sitcom if each of the characters are meant to be hyperbolic iterations of everything wrong with LA. Time and ratings will certainly tell for the future of Pretty Smart

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