TV Review: Logo’s ‘Setup Squad’ a Harmless Cross Between ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Rock of Love’
Producers Brent Montgomery, Colby Gaines and David George
The new reality series centers on a NYC dating service that hooks clients up with wing men — or wing women.
Do you suffer from a crippling lack of self-confidence that prohibits you from being able to score a date? If so, would you be willing showcase said embarrassing awkwardness on reality television in the hopes of curing it?If you answered yes to both questions, you might consider dropping a line to Wings Inc., a New York dating service for the inept and confused. As chronicled on Logo’s new series Setup Squad, the schmooze instructors at Wings—not-so-cleverly referred to as wingmen and wingwomen—are ready to transform even the most hapless social outcast into a sexually aggressive animal. This learn-from-the-master approach to hooking up may sound a little too much like the premise of VH1’s The Pick Up Artist, but take solace, dear viewer: that insufferable hipster known as Mystery is mercifully absent this time around. Instead, Renee, Wings’ workaholic founder, introduces us to Lauretta, a British-Nigerian “loud proud diva,” Jonathan, a gay nightclub devotee with “model good looks,” and Meredith, a “sassy and confident” brunette who is “not afraid to tell it like it is.” As with the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy formula, the only real way this dream team of experts could be classified as such is if their clientele seems downright pathetic by comparison. On the series premiere, that isn’t a problem. First up is Tim, a befuddled gay 27-year-old who hasn’t had any action for three years. Tim might seem like the perfect acolyte for Jonathan, but Renee, in her role as the company madam, pairs him with Lauretta. “Tim really isn’t comfortable being around anybody gay,” she explains to her perplexed love trainers. Determined to teach Tim what it is to be a homosexual, heterosexual Larretta parades Tim around Chelsea “the epicenter of really kind of gay New York,” and schools him on what she calls the “gay one-two-three.” “A man you’re attracted to walks past,” she says. “You count one… two… three… and you turn and you look, and if they look back at you that’s an invitation. You go back you start talking. You exchange numbers.” Mortified at the prospect of forced conversation, Tim balks, giving Loretta the chance to fire off another finger-snap line. “Just look around, we’re in Chelsea, see if there’s anyone that makes your twinkle go hard.” It’s advice like this that makes you wonder how much Renee’s customers are actually shelling out. With Lauretta handling gay duty, Jonathan is sent to work his magic on a straight client. Zakeenah, a 31-year-old single mother, has let shyness and self-doubt lay waste to her sex life. Fortunately, Jonathan offers her just the right amount of nudging, and before long the wingman leaves her—and the ever so discrete film crew—to some promising small talk with a guy at a wine bar. Was it her new-found confidence or her ample cleavage that stiffened the stranger’s twinkle? We’ll never know. As far as the show is concerned, what matters is that numbers are exchanged, and Tim and Zakeenah express eternal gratitude to their social liberators. Which is all to say that producers Brent Montgomery, Colby Gaines and David George have created a show that feels like rather harmless cross between The Bachelor and Rock of Love. It’s not really about finding love, nor is about being a complete slut. Unfortunately, an attempt is made to spice up the proceedings with a force sub-plot in which a new wingwoman, Helen, arrives to disrupt the company chemistry. Described as an “Asian Hello Dolly,” Helen’s catty same-team sparring with Lauretta seems incredibly boorish and undercuts the show’s premise that the wingmen-and-women have their emotional shit together. “Just wait till I start, and I have great success, and I leave your ass in the dust,” Helen taunts Lauretta over cocktails. Maybe that’s the real problem with Setup Squad: watching insecure singles stumble their way toward landing a date is only slightly more entertaining that listening to a their overconfident, blowhard mentors go at it with one another. Airdate 11:30 PM ET/PT Monday, April 25 (LOGO)