Pretty Smart

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Emily Osment in Pretty Smart.
Emily Osment in Pretty Smart.
Photo: Tyler Golden/Netflix


Pretty Smart




3/5 Stars


Book-smart Chelsea discovers she has a lot to learn about happiness when she's forced to move in with her bubbly sister and three roommates.


Pretty Smart is a show I never thought I'd get into, and I am still on the fence about it. The first episode was terrible, but by the 10th episode, I have to admit, I was into it enough to hope for a second season.

The visually appealing sitcom sees Hannah Montana's bestie, Emily Osment, return to the small screen. But, this time around, she is smart, sophisticated and all grown up. Osment plays Chelsea, a high-brow, Harvard-educated intellectual and aspiring novelist who is forced to move in with her pretty, bubbly, carefree, not-so-intellectual West Coast sister, Claire (Olivia Macklin). Also living in the digs are Claire's three lovably eccentric, not-so-intellectual roommates: Grant (Gregg Sulkin), a distractingly handsome personal trainer, Solana (Cinthya Carmon), a former lawyer turned healer, and Jayden (Michael Hsu Rosen), a social media influencer.

Initially, Chelsea comes across as a judgemental snob who thinks she is smarter than her new roommates. Still, she gets to know her new friends over time, forming an unlikely relationship. Similarly to Chelsea's growth in the show, I felt the same growth as I binged it in one sitting.

Things start off extraordinarily superficial, and I immediately thought to myself, 'How am I going to get through this!' Between Macklin's fake Paris Hilton wannabe baby voice and Osment's overacting, I just wasn't having it. But as the show progressed, I could see that creators Jack Dolgen and Doug Mand – both from How I Met Your Mother – had a few character developments up their sleeve. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Sulkin's performance as Grant. Sure he's drop-dead gorgeous with a hot bod, and, as Chelsea points out early on, he isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. But in the ten short episodes we have him for, he turns out to be caring, kind-hearted and not just the 'dumb jock' you'd expect him to be.

Another favourite for me was Rosen's Jayden. Yes, he is totally over the top and a giant drama queen, but he hit all the right notes playing a vain social media influencer. Of course, his character isn't for everyone. Under all the make-up, trendy outfits and IG Live videos, Jayden is just a guy who looks out for his friends and even has issues of his own.

I will mention that I can completely understand why critics hate the show. It is just one stereotype after the next. And similarly to shows such as Too Hot to Handle, Sexy Beasts and The Circle, this sitcom is another way for Netflix to say hot people have feelings, just like the rest of us.

I do believe, however, that it is a show that has the potential to get better in time. So, suppose there is a second season. In that case, I think there is a lot of responsibility on Dolgen and Mand to take these characters out of their stereotypical boxes and let them flourish. 

Pretty Smart is totally watchable. It's something that you can put on to unwind and even laugh at. Still, the show that would be in a WhatsApp group with The Big Bang Theory and even Friends is one of those sitcoms that will need some time to find its comedic voice.


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