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Detroit to be more visible in NBC’s ‘Undateable’

Mekeisha Madden Toby
Special to The Detroit News

NBC’s buddy comedy “Undateable” wants to take its courtship with Metro Detroit to the next level.

Yes, the sitcom is still shot in Hollywood, but Ferndale and Detroit will get a lot more love when “Undateable” returns for a second season Tuesday. This includes seeing the characters’ day-to-day lives in the area as they wear even more Motor City-friendly gear from local companies such as MichiganAwesome.com and Pure Detroit.

“The city is a huge character in the show, if you watch it,” said Bill Lawrence, one of the executive producers behind the show. Former Metro Detroiters Adam Sztykiel, Jeff Ingold and Randall Winston also are producers.

“It’s about a group of underdogs,” said Lawrence, whose series include “Scrubs” and “Cougar Town.” “We feel like this is actually kind of a real shared experience for a bunch of young people, especially when you put them in that city, feeling like they have a chance to make it, but maybe feeling like the world is a little against them right now.”

Getting national attention and love is one of the reasons Ryan Hooper is excited about the new season of “Undateable.” The creative director for Pure Detroit, Hooper said he was thrilled to fill orders for the show’s costume designer. Pure Detroit has been around for 17 years.

“It was a no brainer,” Hooper said. “We always appreciate when Detroit can be highlighted on a national stage, spreading a positive image of the city.”

In August, Pure Detroit and the city got a glowing endorsement when Oscar-winning actor Ben Affleck wore one of the company’s signature “Detroit City” T-shirts in an ALS ice-bucket challenge video that went viral.

Hooper said he hopes that the same will happen when Pure Detroit speedometer T-shirts and embroidered Detroit hoodies appear on “Undateable” this season.

“It’s cool that they’re putting Detroit on their backs,” he said.

Comedian Ron Funches co-stars as Shelly, a character with an undying love for all things Detroit, especially the Lions. In season one, he wore a lot of the NFL team’s sweatshirts. This time around, he’ll sport even more Lions gear, plus cool shirts such as the “Thumbs Up” tee from MichiganAwesome.com, which he wears in the season-two opener.

On the surface, such efforts seem cosmetic and temporary, but Funches, a Chicago native, said it’s deeper than that.

“The first football game I ever went to was at Ford Field,” Funches said. “Detroiters are proud people and we tap into that. This season, you’ll see Shelly defending Detroit and his job. They all hang out at the bar in Ferndale, but this season, you’ll see them all outside of the bar more, in their daily lives interacting with the community.”

Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based TV critic.

‘Undateable’

Season 2 premiere

9 p.m. tonight

NBC