A Widowed Person's Review of the Sitcom "Go On"


The 2012 television series Go On answers the question - how would an narcissistic male in the sports radio industry grieve?

Ryan, our main subject, is played by Matthew Perry, who is 1 month into being widowed when we start the pilot.

Ryan has two communities that he is engaged with.

One is his work community - a sports news casting / interviewing show - that Ryan is doggedly trying to interact with after his loss. Ryan needs to be at work. He needs to have the diversion of his profession, as well, we see his replacement host performing his job and we are lead to wonder if he can stand having someone else fill his role. He spends hours working late with his assistant and spends time with his superior. Yet, Ryan is considered to be "in denial"  regarding his loss by corporate. The main work characters are trying hard to uphold him, support him and help him - and one way they are trying to help is by requiring 10 group sessions at the local Transitions Group, which is the second community.
NBC's Go On - a new series about a widowed person

The Transitions Group is full of oddball characters who cross talk and have a large spectrum of losses (not all human deaths). Ryan does NOT want this community and is resistant to participation with the group on it's own terms. By the end of the first session he attends, Ryan has engineered the group into competing against one another in a friendly, sportsman-like NCAA-style brackets way on whose loss is worse. Ryan is a advocate for stop talking and instead to go do something. He even lies initially about the cause of how wife's death. The group is also trying to get Ryan to cope on a more honest level with his loss, but can be whipped into a frenzy by his force of personality.

Finally, at Ryan's home, there is the solitary gardener that is not informed of his wife's death for over a month.

Later we learn that Ryan's wife died due to texting while driving. He displays hostility when he fights with someone who is texting while driving.

Ryan does not want to go home at night and tosses and turns in the martial bed, finally giving up and sleeping on the couch. In this more honest depiction, the writers hint and allude to the fact that they may eventually reveal the soft underbelly of this character. It will be necessary for them to depict greater depth for us to care about Ryan and in order to make the series less of a mish-mosh of caricatures and more of complex and interesting story.

We are shown Ryan's loss is propelling him involuntarily to be engaged in new ways with people. In these new experiences he is trying to pull out with full force all of his old methods of narcissism and action in dealing with his loss. We can assume that there will be lessons to be learned in the episodes that follow if the series is to be thought provoking.

I have watched numerous shows from the pilot phase progress to find an interesting and full-bodied voice, and I have seen others evaporate. It will be interesting to see where this one goes. Initially, I am not drawn with anticipation to this show because the grief group characters seem rather vapid and cartoon-like, with the exception of the lesbian who lost her wife. The counselor is made light of and the dynamics within the grief group are made extremely silly. For me to be hooked, I will need to see an arc of character development within the next 6 episodes. Otherwise I will begin to loose interest fast.

The workplace being depicted as supportive and aware that Ryan needs a grief group - this is only partly believable. It is only plausible because Ryan is the "star" of their show and corporate needs to keep him stabilized. Most workplaces, where the rest of us spend our days post - loss, are totally unattuned to such matters.

I am not offended by the series being a sitcom about widowed life. It has potential to help people think behind laughter, to entertain and enlighten - if it is bold and intelligent enough to achieve such a goal. The writers are hinting to us that they are capable of this level of material. Several of the actors are certainly capable of this level of performance. But, it is too soon to tell.