The new spring NBC television show, “About a Boy,” is based on the 1998 novel by Nick Hornby and the 2002 British-American movie adaptation. Show creator Jason Katims is responsible for turning films like Friday Night Lights and Parenthood into successful multi-season television shows.
Will Freeman (David Walton, “Break Point”) is a songwriter living off his royalties in a comfortable suburban area. He is an archetypal attractive bachelor, living a life composed of parties, friends and a revolving door of women. His routine changes when single mother Fiona (Minnie Driver, Stage Fright) moves next door with her 11-year-old son Marcus, played by Benjamin Stockham.
Walton is engaging as the charming and good-hearted, yet often misguided bachelor-next-door. However, the writers should ensure that the episodes do not become formulaic. The last few episodes have all included Will making a poor decision or behaving selfishly, but learning a lesson and making up for it in the end.
Viewers can see the immediate conflict between Will and Fiona in the form of their differing opinions and lifestyles. This is a reemerging theme throughout the first four episodes. It is not apparent if sexual tension is developing, or if they will challenge and learn from each other as they continue to be neighbors.
Stockham gives a great performance as the precocious and often dorky Marcus. His high-strung vegan mother raised a sensitive, cultured young boy who engages in the arts and expresses his feelings. This series shows the heart and strength of nontraditional single-parent families.
However, Marcus benefits from having a male influence in his life, along with some time away from his mother who has a tendency to micromanage. Will serves as a guide to Marcus as he adjusts to a new school, participates in a talent show and develops his first crush on a girl.
Aside from Will’s sexual escapades, including another single mother in Marcus’ class, “About a Boy” is a television show in which both parents and teenagers can enjoyably relate. Will and Fiona are still trying to find themselves in adulthood, despite their different lifestyles and familial structures. Meanwhile, Marcus looks to assimilate in school for the first time, navigating the sometimes judgmental perils of childhood. These experiences can be awkward at times and do not always go as planned, like when Marcus takes Will’s misguided advice to be a bad boy, however, “About a Boy” portrays them in a heartwarming, entertaining fashion.
Nicole Horton is Culture Editor at The Fordham Ram.