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Tune in tonight: AT&T’s hilariously grumpy new comedy

October 17, 2017

It’s the season of the grump.

Dissatisfaction with the way things are is everywhere, from Coach Pop’s poetically passionate rants against the man in the White House whom he calls “soulless” to the return to TV of the guy who’s the curmudgeon of all curmudgeons, Larry David.

Grumpy also can be very funny, as Popovich has proven time and time again with his scowling abruptness with reporters after a Spurs game. And who mines laughs from everyday irritations better than David?

We all hate those parkers who greedily take up two spaces in a crowded lot, not to mention those awkward tongs at refreshment tables. But it’s David on the recently revived “Curb Your Enthusiasm” who calls out these aggravations to our unending amusement.

Now, TV delivers a funny new grump. A bit younger — 50 — and somewhat easy on the eyes, Sam Loudermilk is the man you hate to love. He’s angry, disgruntled and bitterly outspoken about whatever or whomever rubs him the wrong way.

He’s played by Ron Livingston, known best as the fed-up protagonist in the 1999 indie comedy “Office Space” and Berger, the man who broke up with Carrie with a post-it note on “Sex and the City.”

“Loudermilk” casts him as an ex-rock critic and recovering alcoholic in Seattle who now devotes his days to helping others with their addictions at meetings held at the neighborhood church.

Sam lives with his sponsor, Ben, played engagingly by Will Sasso, and has developed a crush on the woman next door, who, naturally, has a boyfriend.

The comedy comes from Peter Farrelly, half of the team that gave us the silly but hilarious “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary.” It debuts at 9:30 tonight on AT&T’s Audience Network, available to both DirecTV and AT&T U-verse subscribers.

Yes, Loudermilk is a counselor and devotes quite a bit of his energy to folks, like himself, with substance abuse problems. But there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about this character.

This becomes hilariously apparent in the opening scene in a coffee shop, after he courteously opens the door for a young woman, only to become the victim of her inconsideration.

When she marches ahead of him to the counter and rattles off a long list of elaborate coffee orders, he quickly and ferociously lets her have it.

“You live in a world with other people. Get your nose out of your phone and you might see that,” he begins.

“There’s like a hundred drinks on that thing,” he continues. “Why are you getting coffee for the whole office? Have you never heard of Betty Friedan? Gloria Steinem?”

“Maybe you need to be on medication,” huffs the young woman.

“I am on medication,” Loudermilk growls. “It’s called coffee, and I can’t get it because I have to wait for you to order for everyone in your millennial clown car.”

Ah, yes, who can’t relate to such a situation?

Of course, as is the case with most grumps, Loudermilk is, at times, on the other side of admirable in his dealings with people. He insults some on their appearance — says they’re slovenly, stink and need a shower.

He’s also straightforward to the point of blunt to Claire (Anja Savcic), a young addict who recently lost her father, can’t stand her mother and, as a result, has been medicating herself with every drug she can get her hands on.

After agreeing to let her live with him and Ben as long as she embraces sobriety, Loudermilk goes about keeping her on the straight and narrow via his kind of “therapy.” His methods are sometimes cruel or, at the very least, deceitful. However, more often than not, they’re effective.

Although executive producer Farrelly acknowledged that the character does cross more than a few lines, the casting of Livingston keeps Loudermilk palatable, he said.

“Ron’s such a likable guy,” he said at an AT&T press session. “We did want a guy who’s a bit of a (bleep) because he gives it straight. He tells it the way it is. And sometimes pushes people, and sometimes hurts feelings, but can get away with it, and that’s hard to do.”

Livingston, too, couldn’t be happier with what he called the “most unfiltered” character he’s ever played.

“That’s one of the things that really drew me, is that the script was a really gloves off comedy,” he said.

“I don’t really worry too much about whether he’s likable. My theory on that is that if a guy is doing the best he can, the audience is going to respect that even if the best he can sucks. … As long as he’s stumbling along, generally trying to look for the right direction to go once in a while, then we love to see him.”