ABC’s ‘Mixology’ Isn’t Just Bad — It’s Infuriating

There are so many negative things that can be said about Mixology. It is tactless, boring, occasionally offensive, and wholly unfunny. It is a romantic comedy that is devoid of both romance and comedy. It is an unwanted invitation to spend one night — over the course of 13 episodes — in the worst bar in the world, surrounded by a group of hollow people who manage to turn love and lust into something dismal and unsexy. It is a sitcom ostensibly about love but that is teeming with hate, maybe even reveling in hate. The characters hate each other and hate themselves. The show seems to hate its own concept, its viewers, and the very existence of television. The best thing I can say about Mixology is that it’s so hateful and negative that it has made me feel self-conscious about how hateful and negative I’m being toward it. It is also a show that has angered me to the point of talking in circles.

This should go without saying but I love television. I poke fun (as I did the second the logline for Mixology was announced) and I yell about its flaws, but that’s because I love television an indescribable (and unhealthy) amount. I had no extreme interest in Mixology because it was described as another show about sexy people doing network-approved sexy things and is created by the duo who did The Hangover movies, a trilogy that never hooked me as much as it did others. But I still looked forward to Mixology, and I still wanted it to be good, just as I want every show to be good, because the more good television there is to watch, the more enjoyable my days are. At the very least, I suppose, I just wanted Mixology to be a harmless bomb instead of aggressively terrible.

ABC’s latest dud is about a group of ten people (strangers, friends, bar employees) who are looking to get laid and/or fall in love. The “high-concept” twist is that the entire season takes place in this one bar on just one night (with some flashbacks about the characters’ childhoods and earlier relationships). It is not the most engaging premise, but it’s not a horrible place to start — though it is really confusing that ABC thought this would be a good end to their Wednesday-night family comedy line-up. “If you like the adorably sweet children on The Middle or Phil’s hi-lar-ious pratfalls on Modern Family, then you are going to love watching a man sprint to have sex with a vomiting drunk woman on Mixology!”

The pilot was bad enough, but there is nothing at all redeeming in the later episodes, either. I’m half convinced that ABC sent out so many episodes because it wanted us all to complain at such a high pitch that people would hate-watch and pump up the ratings. I don’t think I’ve seen this much anticipatory vitriol on Twitter since Work It, also on ABC. (For what it’s worth, the ratings aren’t great.)

Mostly, Mixology is exhausting. It is exhausting to watch dreadful people walk in circles around a bar, vomit out pick-up lines that make my skin crawl, and rely on well-trodden stereotypes that were already trite clichés when carved onto cave walls. It is exhausting to listen to someone repeatedly get called a bitch (both the men and the women, so at least there’s some kind of equality?), to heard the phrase “smash it out” for the millionth time (no one on this show has sex; they “bang” and “smash”), and to listen to men describe their mission to find very drunk girls to go home with (but not girls in flats — “the higher the heels, the looser she feels!”). It is exhausting to hear a woman claim that “real” men are the Don Draper types who would smack her in the mouth if she sassed. I imagine the point of this line (you know, besides the obvious hilarity) is that by the end of the series, she will realize that she’s wrong and doesn’t want a manly man but rather a nice, sweet guy. But the overall toxic nature of this show seems to be nudging her and whispering, “Go for Don Draper.”

It is especially exhausting to realize, as someone in magical, coveted 18-49 demographic and as a single 20-something woman who often goes to bars with friends, that this is the sort of comedy marketed to me. I think that I am supposed to root for these ten strangers and hope that they find love or smash it out in the bar’s basement — whatever makes you happy! — but I am tempted to do no such thing. These are not the type of people you cheer on in real life or on television.

Watching Mixology was such an angry and frustrating experience that I don’t even care to learn these characters’ names, let alone care about their ultimate happiness. I don’t even want to hate-watch Mixology (and I love watching terrible sitcoms! I watched all of Dads!). I don’t want to write about it ever again. I don’t want anyone else to ever watch it, even just to curiously check out how bad it is. I just want these strangers to aimlessly wander around a bar purgatory and wallow in their own hate and misery for absolutely no audience until ABC pulls the plug and we can pretend this was all a fever dream.