PN and Friends Episode 20: Summer Distancing (2020) web series review

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Manchild simpleton PN tries to make it through lockdown and all of the new rules that entail with the help of the internet, Zoom and all of his friends. Here is our review of Episode 20 of the cult hit web series PN and Friends.

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Back in 1989, stand-up comic Jerry Seinfeld created one of the most influential sitcoms of all time when he stood up on stage and did 2 minutes of his act either side of a funny story involving himself and a cast of awful-yet-lovable characters. In the process, he managed to reinvent a medium that was still covered in the remnants of a formula that had its heyday in the ’50s and ’60s. Seinfeld dared to suggest that sitcoms didn’t need to be about important issues or even use traditional forms of storytelling, instead, they could just focus on the small things in life and the simple moments that happen to all of us.

Also influenced by Seinfeld was writer, director, and editor of PN and Friends, Todd Montesi who, as the creator of this web series, has taken the lead given to him by Seinfeld and produced a sitcom that focuses on the lives of a bunch of colourful characters who do nothing but banter with each other about love, life and everything in between.

This particular episode was number 20 and my first ever visit to the world Montesi has created and, although the show made no real sense and I had no idea what was going on at times, I found myself laughing in parts and enjoying the journey. Montesi plays PN who is a sort of manchild in the mould of the recent Judd Apatow stable of leading men, usually played by Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, and Paul Rudd; likeable characters who seem to be lost, wasting their lives in terrible jobs, laughing, smoking pot and talking about nothing. PN is a character in a similar situation, he needs to grow up but he either doesn’t have the mental capacity for it or just can’t be bothered.

Filmed on webcams, smartphones, and handheld cameras, we follow PN’s journey through the summer lockdown, learn that he has been furloughed and that he doesn’t really understand the situation he is in. There is an amusing scene in the beginning with his Costco work colleagues when he finds out what is actually happening to him and what he has missed out on. The camera work is purposely shoddy and it works in the sense that it symbolises PN and his friend’s current lives.

PN PAINTINGA lot of the scenes understandably take place inside rooms, usually in the form of zoom calls and video calling, but when there are scenes of PN out and about in the real world they are often fun and a nice alternative to the interiors. There is another amusing running joke of PN being told to put his mask on but the best gags actually come from a cameo by former Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci and the cast invoking ‘The Mooch’ jokes during the show.

All in all, PN and Friends is an above-average web series that allows Montesi to bring to life a character who is both sweet and stupid. Exuding a charisma that gets the audience on his side from the start allows PN to take them on his flights of fancy and fantasy when spouting wry observations about his friends and the life we are all living. The 50-minute run time of episode 20 does drag a little, but it did get me invested enough in the characters to seek out the rest of the show online and see where else Montesi and his cast can take me.

3 / 5 stars     

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