TORONTO - Comic veteran Ryan Belleville admits there's not much to the premise of his new sitcom, "Satisfaction," and that's the way he likes it.
The CTV series basically centres on the lives of a young couple and their off-kilter best friend, who share a cramped Toronto apartment while navigating the ups-and-downs of their love lives and the encroaching responsibilities of adulthood.
"One of the things I love about the show is it's quite low-concept, like 'Friends' was," Belleville says in a recent interview from the meticulously outfitted set.
"It's just a group of fun people living together and interacting."
Belleville plays the slacker singleton Mark, a sweet but aimless ne'er-do-well who bumbles his way through an extended adolescence with childlike charm.
His best pals and roommates are the brainy Jason, played by Luke Macfarlane ("Brothers & Sisters"), and Jason's girlfriend Maggie, played by Leah Renee ("The Playboy Club"), who face their own hurdles in maintaining a mature relationship while still living like students.
Macfarlane says the show is essentially about that awkward transition to becoming a grown-up.
"There's that stage in your life when you're not yet an adult and you're still a kid and you're figuring out how to make it all work," notes the L.A.-based Macfarlane, originally from London, Ont.
Those growing pains are easy for Belleville to recall, the standup-turned-actor sheepishly admits. Years ago, he lived in a tiny apartment carved out of a massive Toronto house — much like Mark does.
"I was so broke all I had was Minute Rice and that's it," says the 33-year-old, noting the similarities didn't end there.
"And then I lost so much weight that this girl I was kind of seeing was like, 'Are you sick?' And I'm like, 'No!' And then food just started arriving at my house. And I dated her for longer than I should have because I had no food. That feels like a very Mark story to me."
Keeping it real and relatable was important to show creator Tim McAuliffe, whose writing credits include "This Hour has 22 Minutes," "Up All Night" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
During a recent CTV media event to promote the upcoming lineup, he says he based "Satisfaction" on his own experiences sharing an apartment with two friends — also a couple — years ago in Montreal.
The Mark character is loosely based on McAuliffe, while Jason's real-life inspiration is also involved in the show — as a music composer.
McAuliffe's real-life famous friends swing by throughout the season to make guest star appearances, including "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" comic Mark Critch, acting veteran Gordon Pinsent and "Mad Men" actress Jessica Pare.
"Jessica Pare was someone who used to hang out at our apartment a lot," says McAuliffe.
"She would just sleep over a lot because she was good friends with the (woman who inspired Maggie). And so she spent a lot of time there and we just stayed friends over the years."
Pare turns up as a sexy new neighbour who attracts the attention of Mark and his friend Simon.
Meanwhile, "The Defenders" star Jerry O'Connell stops by to play a jock who went to college with Mark and Jason but used to torment them back in the day.
Macfarlane says the show is unique in presenting a distinctly urban look at Canadian life, as opposed to past sitcom smashes like "Corner Gas" and "Little Mosque on the Prairie."
It also plays around with time, something he says is a relatively modern approach to mining TV laughs.
"We'll jump forward, we'll jump backwards in time ... and the pace is very, very quick," he says.
"I really like that. I don't know if Tim would appreciate this, but I think there's a kind of generation of people that grew up watching 'The Simpsons' and the 'Family Guy' where you can kind of do anything with time and it doesn't necessarily need to be a linear storyline. So I like that we embrace that a lot in our show."
Belleville says the recent boom in straight-ahead Canadian dramas like "Flashpoint" and "Rookie Blue" have opened the door for simple sitcoms based on simple ideas.
"The best thing this has going for it is it's really, really funny and it's not trying to do anything beyond that," he says.
"We're not hiding the fact that it's an urban Canadian centre but we're not kind of trying to cram things down people's throats. We're not trying to be like, 'Hey look how Canadian we are. This is an episode with a Mountie.'
"We're just trying to do funny stuff that are relatable stories and I think that's a big win."
"Satisfaction" debuts Monday on CTV.