- - Sunday, August 24, 2014

‘Garfunkel and Oates” (IFC, Thursdays at 10 p.m.) is one of those under-the-radar comedies that viewers likely will stumble upon and then make a regular part of their viewing schedule because it’s realistic yet charming.

Think of Garfunkel and Oates as a long phone call to your best friend in which you both grump about the unsettling aspects of your daily life in a “can you believe this happened?” kind of way that makes you feel as if you can, indeed, soar another day.

The first few episodes of the show, built around a comedy-folk duo trying to make it in Los Angeles’ soul-sucking music business, are just realistic enough to make anyone who has struggled for a career to think “I know what you mean!” — and sweet enough to make them realize that things often work out in the end.

The creators and stars of this show — Riki Lindhome, 35, and Kate Micucci, 34 — first introduced the guitar — and ukulele-playing Garfunkel and Oates in 2007. They recorded a video as their folk musician alter egos while waiting out the strike by the Writers Guild of America, and eventually developed a cult following.

Fans of the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” will recognize Ms. Lindhome as the graduate student infatuated with Sheldon Cooper in a 2008 episode and Ms. Micucci as the ultra-shy girlfriend of Rajesh “Raj” Koothrappali in a seven-episode run in 2013. Both parts are memorable due to the skill each actor used to keep their characters neuroses just short of full-fledged crazy.

Each actor has plenty of other credits, such as “New Girl” and “Hell Baby” for Ms. Lindhome and “Scrubs” and “Raising Hope” for Ms. Micucci. Their comedic chops plus the natural chemistry between the two pay off in their understated sitcom.

“Garfunkel and Oates” premiered Aug. 7 with an episode full of slightly off-color silliness that included Ms. Lindome making private information about her boyfriend public and then having the tables turned on her. That episode also featured Ms. Micucci auditioning for a promiscuous role opposite Sir Ben Kingsley.

The second episode found the duo facing their sex video doppelgangers “Garfinger and Butts,” who form their own folk duo and quickly outpace the success of the originals. Don’t miss real-life rocker John Oates in a low-key and funny role as the porn shop clerk who sells the real-life duo the porn video made by the wannabe pair.

Although the show sounds ultra racy, it’s really no more adult than “Portlandia” or many other shows that air on major networks. It’s not fun for the whole family, but it’s certainly appropriate for high school seniors or college age kids.

One caution: The two played such memorable characters on “The Big Bang Theory” that it might take a minute for viewers to reconcile their new roles. Neither is as ready to go over-the-top as they appeared on that comedy. Here they are both underdogs, but with a charming sweetness. The difference is in their attitudes about life. Ms. Lindhome has a razor sharp, feet-on-the-ground attitude, while her cohort is full of childlike optimism as they sing about pregnancy, social boundaries and same-sex unions.

It would be easy to dismiss the songs from this show as mere background for a sitcom. That would be a mistake. “Present Face,” about insincere people, and “Good as You,” about same-sex unions, are heartfelt and endearing, if just a touch too saccharine to likely make it onto many play lists. (But considering the popularity of Pharrell’s song “Happy,” that assessment could be way off base.)

Judge for yourself.

If you’re behind in viewing it, just go the IFC website where you have plenty of free videos and episodes that will bring you right up to speed.

But beware: “Garfunkel and Oates” is addictive.

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