'B'-ing happy in 2020: 'B Positive' brings laughter to a grim world

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Dana Simpson / TV Media
Annaleigh Ashford and Thomas Middleditch in "B Positive"

Annaleigh Ashford and Thomas Middleditch in "B Positive"

If we've heard it once, we've heard it a thousand times, but it never gets any less true: this year has been a tough ride for many. From the controversial American Presidential election and the resurgence of human rights movements, to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent health and safety restrictions, 2020 has certainly been one for the books. Through all the toil and stress, one thing many can agree on is the old quote stating that "laughter is the best medicine." While comedy can't kill the coronavirus, it definitely has had a hand in lightening our moods, and it's thanks to new shows like CBS's "B Positive" that the smiles continue to spread under our face masks. The sitcom began its first season on Nov. 5 and will be airing another episode Thursday, Nov. 26, on CBS.

Created by "Mom" producer Marco Pennette, the story focuses mainly on a recently divorced dad, Drew (Thomas Middleditch, "Silicon Valley"), and his journey to find a kidney donor after his doctor informs him that his body is in renal failure and he desperately requires a transplant -- a story inspired by Pennette's own experience of getting a kidney transplant.

On the hunt to find a match for his B positive blood type, Drew reflects on the current state of his life as he takes stock of who he might be able to ask. On the outs with his highly strung ex-wife (Sara Rue, "American Housewife"), struggling to strike a connection with his teenaged daughter, Maddie (Izzy G., "AJ and the Queen"), and with no close family to turn to, Drew comes to find that it might not be so easy to get a donor. Luckily, he ends up running into Gina (Annaleigh Ashford, "Masters of Sex"), an old acquaintance who drunkenly offers her help. Despite the fact that he and Gina have not seen each other since high school — and weren't even the closest of friends at that time, either — Gina sticks to her alcohol-induced promise even after she sobers up, proving that she truly does have a big heart. If only that were the end of Drew's troubles.

While Gina made a promise that she fully intended to keep, she is learning that, in order to be a viable kidney donor, she must cease all her usual partying and abstain from drugs and alcohol for three months; if that sounds easy to you, you obviously don't know Gina. Even Drew, learning more about her by the day, comes to the realization that perhaps she may need a little more coaxing than they had originally anticipated in order to get him that kidney he is after — that is his main focus, after all (at least for the meantime).

But, as the show kicks off and the plot is just beginning to thicken into the character-driven sitcom it promises to be, it is clear that there are subplots beginning to weave their way into the "B Positive" tapestry, complete with a myriad of often-quirky, relatable and down-right hilarious supporting characters.

Thomas Middleditch stars in "B Positive"

Thomas Middleditch stars in "B Positive"

In complete contrast to her Manic Pixie party-girl self (whom she refers to as "Becca" as if she were a separate entity entirely), Gina drives seniors to their doctor's appointments on a shuttle bus from the assisted living center — and a very fun bus at that! Along for the ride as recurring characters are Linda Lavin ("Alice") as Norma and "The Love Boat" and "Get Smart" actor Bernie Kopell as Mr. Knudson. And, while Gina has proven to be an uplifting, responsible and musically inclined spirit by day, Becca is — as the Emerald City doorman in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) might put it — "a horse of a different color." Often accompanied by her equally party-minded co-worker and good friend, Leanne (Kether Donohue, "You're the Worst"), the pair promises to be the bane of Drew's (hopefully no shorter than it should be) existence. But, don't fret; Drew has plenty to keep him distracted from Gina/Becca and Leanne's antics, and one of those such things is his new dialysis routine.

While we must admit, there aren't many dialysis-based sitcoms out there, "B Positive" treats the clinic as a sort of workplace: the place where Drew gets introduced to other like-minded weirdos including former pro-football player Eli (Terrence Terrell, "Giants"), type-A businesswoman Samantha (Briga Heeland, "Ground Floor") and the always-slightly-behind dentist Jerry (David Anthony Higgins, "Mike & Molly"). Of course, every workplace (or dialysis center, in this case) needs its dry wit, and "B Positive" gets a healthy dose of that from Nurse Gideon (Darryl Stephens, "Noah's Arc").

All in all, this new Chuck Lorre sitcom does well to balance just about everything you could possibly want from a quirky, spirit-lifting half-hour comedy — but would you expect less from the producer behind TV hits like "The Big Bang Theory," "The Kominsky Method," "Young Sheldon," "Mom," and more? We wouldn't either.

Be sure to tune in Thursday, Nov. 26, to get your daily dose of laughter with an episode of "B Positive" airing on CBS.