Alan (Ed Robinson) can’t seem to find a girlfriend. He doesn’t even know how to meet women. He’s a nice guy, maybe the kind that’s too nice. He’s decent, decent income, decent home. Alan is awkward with women. Very awkward, and prone to saying the wrong thing even when he can meet a woman. So, Alan spends his time playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons with his brother Drew (Rick Robinson) and his friend Bobert (Nathan Mobley), eating sushi by himself and talking about his lack of dating success with his sushi chef Rose (Nebula Gu), crafting beer based on his father’s recipe, or cooking for himself.
You see, with all of his ordinariness, Alan is exceptional at one thing. Alan is a terrific cook. Food is a main player in this show.
Alan becomes aware of possibilities when he and a rare date leave a trendy restaurant in the middle of a bad meal and go back to his place so he can cook for her. Alan is amazed by the seductive qualities of his cooking. We find out later that he managed to screw things up on that particular date post-dinner. During a discussion at Alan’s weekly dinner and Dungeons and Dragons game with his sister Addie (Shannon Nelson), Drew, Bobert, and Steve, his brother-in-law (David Nett), Bobert bets Alan that he can’t bed 8 women in a 2 month period. Bobert even gives Alan 10 to 1 odds. Encouraged by his brother and frowned at by his sister, Alan accepts the bet. $10,000 would be the seed money to produce his craft beer and fulfill a dream.
Pairings becomes the story of Alan’s venture into the world of dating. He starts off at a speed dating session, wooing potential dates with his homemade madeleines and crafted coffee porter beer. Women love it and Alan’s dating sheets are soon full. Jessica Mills, as Jade the Roller Derby girl (the Green Whornet), love it is wonderful, as is Stephanie Thorpe as Geena. The fantastic meals that he prepares for his dates lead to bed and Alan is soon on his way to winning the bet, but not without complications.
Pairings is a nice show, and one I liked the more episodes I watched. The humor is more clever and amusing than belly laugh funny, and the story is simple, but the characters aren’t. The acting is top notch and the actors are comfortable in their roles and with each other. Dialogue comes off as truly conversational, not just a reading of lines. Shannon Nelson as Addie, Alan’s sister, is particularly notable and it’s easy to believe that she and Alan are brother and sister. The thing is, you like these characters; even when Alan begins to behave like a putz, he doesn’t become a total jerk.
It would have been easy for the show to focus on the bet as a source of laughs and to tell how dating success changes Alan. Easy and ordinary. Instead, Ed Robinson and Jodie Younse have written a wonderful show, deftly directed by Rick Robinson, that unfolds, using the bet to tell the real story of family, friendship, relationships and a universal desire to find love. Alan isn’t doing this to sleep around. The prize will allow him to produce the beer that his father created. Alan’s father’s death plays an important part in Alan’s motivation.
Alan’s sudden success at dating doesn’t make alan into a different person. With his sister’s help, it does make him reassess certain tings and be more aware, though. At the end, Alan finds that sometimes what you seek is right there in front of you the whole time.
All of the incredible food cooked on the show is shown actually being prepared and cooked. The recipes are available at pairingstheseries.com
This is a review of Season One. See what I have to say about Pairings Season 2 here.
Watch the series at pairingstheseries.com
By Jeff Siniawsky