Being a major sucker for a good musical, I will watch literally any one of them that comes my way. In terms of the television format, an absolute obsession over Glee, Smash, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was kind of a no-brainer. Along comes Hulu’s Up Here which, to my surprise, could easily join the pantheon of excellent TV musicals. Each breezy episode is almost exactly thirty minutes in length, never overstaying its welcome while delivering contagious, earwormy songs courtesy of Steven Levonson (tick, tick… BOOM!) and songwriting duo Kristen Anderon-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen)! Toss in the irresistible charms of Mae Whitman and Carlos Valdes, and Up Here firmly cements itself as must-watch television.

Imagine experiencing a trauma so deep that it literally forces one to repress and compartmentalize their innermost thoughts; now envision them personified as imaginary versions of the people they know. This is the exact quandary that Lindsay (Whitman) finds herself embroiled in, circa 1999. As a budding preteen, Lindsay revealed her deepest sexual fantasy—having sex with a hot librarian—during a truth or dare game with her best friend. Everyone at school interpreted her comment as an admission for having the hots for a 70-year-old. Both her mother and father scolded Lindsay about keeping fantasies in her head; “only show people the nice parts,” Lindsay’s mother insists. Now, adult-Lindsay is having trouble actually adulting. She works aimlessly as receptionist at a dental office, her not-so-complex boyfriend, Ned (George Hampie), content living out a simplistic existence at Lindsay’s side. Ned is aptly described in song as “comfy like an old shoe.”

Her luck may be about to change—Lindsay wins a short story prize out in New York City, practically a world away from her small town. Ned is not receptive to Lindsay’s enthusiasm for relocation, so instead of attempting to work things through, she abruptly jumps ship. And just like that, Lindsay is already destined for great things as she zooms off to the Big Apple! At the same time, Miguel (Valdes) forges ahead after a rocky breakup with a girlfriend of his own. He attempts to pivot from a job he loves doing game programming and design over to a complete opposite, a real manly man’s suit-and-tie investment banker gig. As fate would have it, Miguel meets Lindsay at a bar, where he first compliments her “nice pants.” The flirtation begins, colored by Lindsay immediately fibbing that she is a seasoned writer of novels. Up Here’s debut episode mostly follows Lindsay’s story—by the time it ends in the throes of a sexual encounter between the two, we discover with a shockingly excellent twist that Miguel also hears voices in his head!

For both Lindsay and Miguel, these voices are manifested as people that were in their lives at one time or another—parents, ex-lovers, bullies, role models. Brilliant songs unfold out of the imaginary scenarios cooked up in their heads. As the season progresses, a number of interesting and always-hilarious moments emerge thanks to the physical representation of these voices. The musical numbers themselves and often bold and intricate, intertwining seamlessly into the plot. There was never a moment where I felt a song slowed the proceedings to a halt, or annoyingly described something that did not need to be defined. Miguel compares himself to a “tiger shark,” while Lindsay laments her unfortunate new living situation in her pjs and 90s smiley-face scrunchies. A beautiful duet about how “I Can Never Know You” starts every episode off in a gleefully off-kilter fashion that perfectly encapsulates Up Here. This cute and colorful intro reverberates into every magical moment.

Up Here builds on the complicated relationship between two characters every bit as quirky and lovable as the other. Neither are perfect, their flaws worn as plainly as their hearts on sleeves. Whitman and Valdes have a vibrant chemistry that recalls the best in the romantic comedy genre. Each time they hit a hurdle or their situation seems impossible, one longs for them to rekindle the flame. The show seems to tackle everything from bathroom sex to hallucinatory drug trips to threesomes. Lest we forget, a certain sequence wherein an entire family of rats are burned alive goes down as one of the funniest and most twisted moments. There is even a Christmas/New Year’s finale that will win over the grumpiest of cynics.

Part of what makes the show such a blast is how relatable and simple the story and scripting juxtaposes against the musicality. Struggling to make money, awkward sexual experiences, and frustrating miscommunications are aspects of young adulthood that nearly anyone can recall. Setting Up Here in the midst of the Y2K craze and with the bubbly backdrop of New York City is a stroke of genius. Here’s to hoping for a second season sooner rather than later, judging by that jaw-dropping cliffhanger!

Drift away into the comforting rom-com clouds of Up Here when all episodes debut exclusively to Hulu on Friday, March 24th.

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