Roush Review: Annaleigh Ashford Shines in Buddy Comedy ‘B Positive’

Thomas Middleditch Annaleigh Ashford B Positive
Michael Yarish/CBS

Let’s start by accentuating the positive: It’s about time that someone gave Tony-winning spitfire Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex) a lead role that takes full advantage of her madcap personality and offbeat comic timing.

B Positive, from hitmaker Chuck Lorre and longtime Mom colleague Marco Pennette (borrowing as he has before from a real-life experience), offers her just that opportunity, although it’s not yet clear if the show will live up to her potential. As the exuberant Gina, a hard-partying free spirit who impulsively offers to donate a kidney to high school acquaintance Drew (Silicon Valley‘s terminally sheepish Thomas Middleditch), Ashford is warm, wacky, larger and weirder than life.

The moment she arrives in the pilot episode, as an eye-rolling joint-toking scamp of a bridesmaid who can’t help but be the center of attention, she elevates the premise of B Positive, which is maybe a B+ at best. Gina is the live wire in this odd couple, while Middleditch struggles to bring much originality to his wet-blanket Drew Downer, a therapist who could use one himself. It doesn’t help that his life is a series of dark clouds, with a snippy ex-wife (a wasted Sara Rue) and a sullen teen daughter (Izzy G.) who snappishly ignores him.

Gina, who chirpily drives a shuttle van for elderly clients in an assisted-living facility (including Love Boat and sitcom veteran Bernie Kopell and, next week, the great Linda Lavin), is a more interesting sort of mess. Her equally spacey BFF, Gabby, is played by You’re the Worst‘s delirious Kether Donohue, and their scenes together suggest the seed of a much funnier buddy comedy should things with Drew not work out.

But for now, that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. And even before next week’s complication, when Gina’s slapstick attempts to stay one step ahead of a creditor leave Drew wondering if he’s made the right choice, he’s already fretting that he won’t be able to keep Gina sober long enough to ensure a healthy transplant. Regardless, will this bonding experience make them, as she puts it, “kidney buddies for life?”

I know this much: I wouldn’t let her get away.

B Positive, Series Premiere, Thursday, November 5, 8:30/7:30c, CBS