Resurrected TV shows and movies go to great lengths to avoid being labeled with the vile term “reboot.” You’ll often hear the folks behind this type of content label them as “reinterpretations” to mitigate the stigma — as if Hester Prynn had insisted that the scarlet letter on her chest stood for “autonomous.” It’s a more appealing word, but at the end of the day everyone still understands that we’re talking about a medium that has been exhumed from the grave, dusted, and erected with fresh putty.
reboot, just by its title, perfectly understands this stigma. So it also knows that it is widely used for parodies. Controlled by modern family Co-creator Steven Levitan, the new Hulu comedy, out Tuesday, follows the events on set of the cast of a fictional 2000s sitcom called step to the right once they’re tapped for a “reinvented” reboot of their show. Even though reboot exists to deftly skewer the contemporary television landscape, and it does so with comfortable reverence. That modern family-ish combination of heart and joy can sometimes make reboot feels uneven, although always comfortable.
From its opening scene, reboot enjoys playing to the strength of his own meta privilege. Progressive writer Hannah (mid-thirties) (Crazy ex girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom) attends a pitch meeting on Hulu, where executives sit around a table to hear their ideas. When she tells them she wants to start over step to the right With its original cast and a quirky new take, they’re interested. “You talk to the guy who gave the green light fifth season of The story of the maid!” says one executive, with verbal back pats from his subordinates.
That the actual executives at Hulu where reboot running, leaving such jokes in the final cut not only surprised me, but also excited me. If the streamer was willing to acknowledge that most long-running shows become cash cows with no meaning at some point, I was excited to see what could possibly come next.
This kind of attention from superiors gave us one of the greatest satires of the century, 30 rocks, after all. It’s hard to imagine Netflix — a streaming platform so much in its own ass that it constantly pushes its own attributes to the back of the content it produces — that has so much humor about itself.
Once the new step to the right gets the green light, it’s off and running. The only issue is the regrouping of the cast, who have all parted ways for tumultuous careers following the cancellation. There’s Reed (Keegan-Michael Key), whose Yale School of Drama ego has kept him from taking on significant roles; Bree (Judy Greer), who played a supporting role in a sci-fi series, which she left to become a duchess in a fictional Nordic country; Clay (Johnny Knoxville), who’s settled into a crappy, boozy standup career; and Zack (Calum Worthy), a child star who grew up mostly normal and starred in a slew of teen movies with straight-out-of-you titles arrested development Consequence.
Each member of the cast hopes that this reboot will be their ticket back into the spotlight, but it won’t be easy. Relationships are messy and old flames are reignited as Hannah deals with them step to the right‘s original showrunner, Gordon (Paul Reiser), when he’s brought in to help steer the show (he still technically owns it). Gordon’s sullen Gen-X sulkiness provides the perfect foil for Hannah’s millennial writing, and it’s within this argument where reboot finds his funniest comedic beats.
It’s impressive as well reboot balances between his conflicting perspectives of Gordon’s dated sitcom humor and Hannah’s overly awake, tongue-in-cheek reimagining of step to the right. As the competing showrunners work together, the writers’ room is filled with fresh college grads on Hannah’s side and grumpy, beat-up sitcom writers on Gordon’s side. Some of the show’s biggest laughs come from the scenes of the generations pushing each other back, particularly the pairing of genius character actors Rose Abdoo and Fred Melamed.
What’s even better is this reboot never makes his Boomer writers offensive, only regressive. It’s the middle finger of the show for comedians who constantly claim that “Wake” is castrating comedy. Here’s irrefutable proof that there are still plenty of punchlines to be gained from a more socially conscious world. reboot understands the line between intentionally offensive “comedy” with shock value and genuine humor.
Where the show occasionally stumbles is when it tries to balance that humor with emotional resonance. The main characters all have the built-in story of their relationships, but it takes a few episodes to really take care of their lives and struggles. We need to see their chemistry, just not just be informed about it. Until we do that, half rebootThe first season with eight episodes is already over.
Without a clever twist landing at the end of the first episode, the show might have ended up feeling a lot more one-sided than it ultimately does. But every time he remembers that his imagination is built on relationships as fleeting as they are tender, reboot gets back on track.
And while the show takes a long time to mock both its own existence on a streaming platform and the critical opinion of reboots, I wish it would twist the knife a little harder. The jokes at Hulu’s expense mostly die down after the first few episodes, although they hold the potential for Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy’s next pairing in Hannah and Gordon. Bloom and Reiser have excellent and believable chemistry, trading punchlines at breakneck speed, and it would be fun to see how hard the two could roast Hulu.
The show really picks up steam while exploring the culture of the reboot — so well that I often didn’t realize how cleverly it was done until the end of the season. Most reboots spend much of their runtime crudely hinting at their own existence, almost congratulating themselves for daring to endure amid criticism that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. From the beginning, reboot broadcasts the way these movies and shows often try to fool audiences assert to be edgier, more modern and more relevant than their predecessors, but nothing like that. And at the same time, it explores just how much behind the scenes these productions cry out for that provocative energy, highlighting the cultural differences between the old guard and the new generation, often with heartbreaking results.
reboot can’t always avoid the shaky transition of shoving his creator modern family-inspired style on a streaming platform that allows more swearing and sexual content. But even with those growing pains, it offers a really clever mockery of the current state of intellectual property. And with captivating performances from an eclectic cast of comedy actors, each bringing something unique to the table, reboot has the potential to run wild with its premise in an ever-changing entertainment landscape. I just hope that doesn’t have to wait until 20 years, when reboot inevitably gets its own reboot.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/obsessed/reboot-on-hulu-review-a-hilarious-meta-comedy-from-modern-family-co-creator-steven-levitan?source=articles&via=rss “Reboot” on Hulu Review – A hilarious meta-comedy from Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan