‘A to Z’ pilot shows promise for NBC and romantics alike

Elena Wandzilak | TV Editor

when Thursdays, 8:30 p.m.

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Even in a world where we buy drinks with names like “Martini Luther King, Jr.” and go to concerts with bands that have “like 50 people on stage and everyone looks like they’re from the Dust Bowl,” we have managed to become pretty cynical, especially when it comes to relationships and dating. The divide between people who believe in soul mates and those who hardly believe in anything seems to be growing larger, and we’ve switched from face-to-face meeting to online dating and social media in order to find that significant other. Is it getting harder to find “the one”? Is there even such thing as “the one”? Will we all be alone forever?

While that’s a little dramatic, one of NBC’s newest fall pilots, “A to Z,” explores this new world of dating and relationships through the lens of one couple: Andrew and Zelda.

Andrew is a goofy guy’s guy who believes in soul mates and destiny. He works at Wallflower, an online dating site where he spends his life helping people find “the one.” Zelda is a feisty lawyer who believes she’s too busy for a relationship but still enjoys costume parties and girlier things. They represent, stated quite obviously, those two types of people, but we know from the beginning of the episode that they will meet and start dating, as is said in the opening voice-over. After all, these opening credits reveal that “‘A to Z’ is a comprehensive account of their relationship,” which will last for “eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour.”

“A to Z,” therefore, could easily just become another boring relationship comedy where every week we see how the couple’s different backgrounds and beliefs lead to silly fights and their romantic chemistry allows them to figure it out in the end. After watching the pilot, however, I think this show is going to be something better.

First of all, I really like the cast. Cristin Milioti, who just played “the mother” on “How I Met Your Mother,” is spunky and funny as Zelda, and while Andrew could just be goofy and hopelessly romantic, Ben Feldman keeps him smart and reflective. The characters, while certainly playing off certain tropes, aren’t necessarily stereotypical.

Secondly, the show displays a more realistic example of today’s world of dating. Andrew iMessages Zelda, “Wanna get a drink?” complete with a martini emoji, and she Shazams a song when they are out. They worked in the same office park but never noticed each other, and they discuss the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. “A to Z” manages to be fun and fresh while examining how we meet people and communicate with one another.

When Andrew and Zelda first meet, Zelda asks if they’ve met before, and while this certainly could just be a pickup line, this line—and this episode—ask this same question. How do we meet people? Our show’s protagonists meet when Zelda comes in to Wallflower after having a negative experience on the site, so we are reminded that online dating is a viable option today. Their jobs are in the same office park, and their offices overlook one another, so it could also be proximity. And then there is the idea of destiny: Andrew believes he saw Zelda, whom he believed to be his dream girl in a silver dress, from afar at a concert a few years back.

When Zelda, however, adamantly denies this moment of destiny, Andrew begins a search to prove to her that she was the girl he saw. He embarks on a wild goose chase of Internet searching (done by his company’s programmers) through social media outlets like Snapchat and Instagram, using every inch of the Internet in order to make the connection.

We do this all the time. We Facebook stalk and Google one another in order to know as much information as we can about people before we actually know them. We want to make connections, and sometimes the Internet allows us to find things we have in common, or to reinforce that it might be worth it to go after someone or something. While it can be creepy and weird, it sometimes pays off or can just show that you are very interested, as it does in Andrew’s case.

This pilot gave me, a cynical-yet-hopeful romantic, a little bit of hope, and not only because NBC might actually have a show this year that I like—but also because the future of dating isn’t the absolute worst. Maybe I won’t have to resort to online dating just yet. I just have to go to a concert in a silver dress.