HBO rarely strikes out, but it looks like giving Lena Dunham another big contract after her feminist-loved “Girls” series may have ended up being a bad call. The early reviews are in for HBO’s new Dunham-produced “Camping” series and it’s looking like HBO might want to quietly pack up and move on from this one.
“I guess now we know why Lena Dunham and creative partner Jenni Konner went there separate ways a few months ago. The pair knew that they had a turkey on their hands.” Showbiz411 notes.
Dunham’s new Jennifer Garner-starring show currently has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes with reviewers torching it in a way HBO isn’t used to seeing. Below are excerpts from the early reviews of the first four episodes of the eight-episode series:
IndieWire’s Ben Travers:
“Camping” might be more accurately called “Glamping,” but hoo boy is there even more evidence for just how lost HBO’s adaptation of Julia Davis’ British series gets. Frankly, the REI members tuning in for an accurate depiction of their favorite getaway should’ve known better anyway. The camping part of “Camping” is only utilized as a metaphor — and barely that. In another examination of bad people being bad friends, “Girls” producers Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s new cringe comedy tries to contrast the inner turmoil of its oblivious city-folk subjects with their displacement from polite society, but none of their exposed anxieties (some justified, some not) provide enough insight or amusement for comfortable viewers at home. Not only is “Camping” off track through four episodes, but it doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman:
Who takes Jennifer Garner and makes her a completely unlikable and joyless nag, annoying everyone around her?
Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, coming off their rollicking success with Girls, do just such a thing in HBO’s latest comedy, Camping.
Wow, does that not work. Nor does much else in Camping, but it all starts with miscasting Garner.
Variety’s Caroline Framke:
There is an art to making comedy about irritating, self-involved, or even just flat-out terrible people. Sharp writing can make such characters wickedly funny, spitting jokes like acid that sting as hard as they land (see: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”); it can peel back their defensive spiky layers to find surprising depth and tenderness hiding just underneath (see: “You’re the Worst”). But no matter what the approach, there has to be some dynamism in order to keep the story afloat, some glancing indication that the comedy’s got a little more to it than just showing off the depraved depths to which its characters could sink.
“Camping,” apparently, missed this memo.
TVLine’s Dave Nemetz:
If HBO’s new comedy Camping is meant to evoke the feeling of being stuck on an excruciatingly long camping trip with people you despise, on that level, it’s a success. But on every other level, it fails miserably. Despite a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera, Camping — debuting Sunday, Oct. 14 at 10/9c — is a deeply unpleasant viewing experience, led by the single most insufferable TV character in recent memory.
Now’s Radheyan Simonpillai:
In the first four episodes shown to critics, you got the sense that Dunham’s looking for a way to laugh at her own crippling anxieties. But the jokes are distancing and rarely contagious in this adaptation of the British series of the same name. … I imagine some heartfelt and empathetic moments await, though considering how condescending the show has been toward its characters, that already feels disingenuous.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Rob Owen:
Maybe “Camping” (10 p.m. Sunday) will be funny to fans of “Girls,” but mostly it looks down its nose at almost all of its strident-in-their-own-way characters. Juliette Lewis (“Cape Fear”) enlivens the series as a crunchy hippie who clashes with Kathryn, but ultimately she’s as much a caricature as all the others.