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The Trip

Showtime recently began the second season of The Green Room, a talk show with an irresistible premise: For each episode host Paul Provenza, a stand-up comic who is a historian of his craft (you may recall his wildly profane documentary The Aristocrats), gathers four or five comics to sit and chat with each other. Unlike the broadcast talk shows, they don’t simply regurgitate their current routines to Dave or Jay or Conan. They talk to each other, sharing their histories and opinions and what they think of each other’s work. Comics are people who talk for a living, and it’s hard to see how you could go wrong given a chance to eavesdrop on a conversation among, to cite one episode, Martin Mull, Tom Smothers and Penn Jillette.

Friends With Benefits

Midway through Friends With Benefits, Jamie, the female lead, congratulates herself on her understanding of love and sex based on her grasp of “history, personal experience, and romantic comedies.” There’s precious little evidence of such comprehension at work onscreen. It’s apparently intended as a wicked-funny take on contemporary sexual mores and the human heart among the affluent urban young. But it comes off as a self-satisfied mixture of crude sensibilities and smugly sentimental pop psychology.

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