If you like cranky people, you'll like 'Loudermilk'

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Ron Livingston in Loudermilk. (Photo: Audience Network)

Ill-tempered and perennially cranky, Sam Loudermilk is four years sober and an addiction counselor in Seattle. If you’re still with me, you might be intrigued by Loudermilk, a nicely sour comedy premiering on the AT&T Audience network. Ron Livingston (Office Space) stars as Loudermilk; he maintains a skeptical deadpan and gives the world around him a dour glare. The very opposite of a feel-good addiction therapist, Loudermilk is all too willing to explore negative vibes in the 12-step meetings he presides over. In this, he seems a bit more realistic than your usual TV depiction of sunny sobriety.

The show is co-created by Bobby Mort (The Colbert Report) and Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary), and Livingston is surrounded by funny co-stars including the comedians Will Sasso (as Loudermilk’s AA sponsor) and Brian Regan (as a frowny recovering alcoholic). To be sure, there are certain sitcom standbys in the show’s setup, such as an attractive woman who’s just moved in next door, primarily for Loudermilk to flirt with. (She’s played by Laura Mennell.) Sometimes the writing is very funny, as when Loudermilk insults, at length, a couple of bearded, red-plaid flannel-shirt wearing hipsters about their fashion choices. But sometimes the writing is a bit too obvious, as when roommate Ben tells Loudermilk, “You make it really hard for people to like you.” Loudermilk’s throwaway joke in the premiere about Saul Zaentz would be funnier if the show didn’t feel the need to have Loudermilk stop to explain who Zaentz is.

Loudermilk’s backstory is that, in the 1990s, he was a pretty prominent rock-music critic, a profession that’s been neglected in TV and movies since Jeff Goldblum’s morose Boston Phoenix rock-crit in Between the Lines in 1977. In Loudermilk’s case, it helps explain both his living in former grunge mecca Seattle and his grumpy attitude. (Loudermilk disdains using the internet because it “killed the music industry.”) As the series progresses, Loudermilk’s sobriety and his pessimistic attitude toward life are tested, making the character more three-dimensional. He and the show named after him start off interesting and get better as they proceed.

Loudermilk airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. on AT&T’s Audience network.

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