Thankfully, comedian Rob Michael Hugel is in a four-year relationship right now, and it’s going quite well. If not for that, he might be somewhat like his character on the webshow “I Hate Being Single”: A snuggie-wearing mopester with significantly hindered social skills. It happened a few years ago after a particularly traumatic breakup, and the fear that it could happen again was what inspired him to create a show about New York singledom.
“It was months of awkwardly floating around to make new friends and date people,” said Hugel, who describes himself as “a relationship kind of guy.” “I was thinking about how I would feel if tomorrow, it was all over — how I would feel again.”
How he would feel again is that particular brand of loneliness that comes with living in a huge city and being surrounded by people all the time, but realizing that all of them are strangers. In “I Hate Being Single,” which debuts on Valentine’s Day, Hugel’s character (also named Rob) speaks to all of the singles who are struggling with a similar disconnect.
In New York, “Finding people you connect with – to be your friends or girlfriends – it’s hard to find the people you feel close with,” said Hugel. “Those bonds are made in college and it’s hard to make them after.”
Hugel, who grew up in Annandale, Va., raised the money for the seven-episode comedy through a $6,000 Kickstarter campaign. He produced it with friends he knew from various TV production gigs he’s worked over the years, as well as other comedians from the Upright Citizens Brigade, where he does improv. The show started to get buzz when it was entered in the New York Television Festival 2011, where it won the Bing Audience Choice Award. If the show does well as a Web series, he hopes it will get a corporate sponsor, or make the leap to television.
“I Hate Being Single” makes its debut on Valentine’s Day, as a not-so-subtle shout-out to those who are unhappy about spending the day alone. Though that shouldn’t be a big deal, either: “I’m not Mr Valentine’s Day,” says Hugel. “When you’re in a relationship, if you’re happy in it, you’ll take any excuse to have a special night ... [but] it’s definitely not like, a serious commitment in my book.”
Though Hugel doesn’t love the single life, he recognizes that there are many people who do — especially in New York, where singledom has been glorified by shows like “Sex and the City.” And then there are others, like the men and women profiled in our Sunday Magazine story, who might not love being single, but have made their peace with it. Hugel can’t relate to either type.
“The ways guys are typically represented in TV and movies, being single is a good thing,” Hugel said. “That’s the more alpha male attitude. I don’t identify with it. ... Hooking up and all of that is weird. It doesn’t seem like it’s all it’s cut out to be.”
In the first season, which features seven full episodes and seven shorts, there is quite a bit of self-pity. But because, as Hugel says, “it’s not too fun to watch someone be completely unhappy all the time,” his character will do some growing up — and he’ll get over the ex.
“It’s cliché, but true,” says Hugel. “If you hate the situation you’re in, you can only find happiness from yourself.”