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Hulus Reboot: Stop Me IF YOU HAVE Seen THAT ONE Before

You understand how in the old sitcom the characters always do the proper thing? says young showrunner Hannah (Crazy Ex-Girlfriends Rachel Bloom) in the pilot of Hulus new comedy, Reboot. Shes pitching a renovated version of beloved 1990s family comedy Step Right Up for some Hulu executives. They dont always do the proper thing anymore! she promises. I fuck with it, however in a great way.

Television wants to play with itself, and Reboot joins an extended line of Television shows about Television shows, from The Dick Van Dyke Show and Murphy Brown to Extras and The Comeback. We have been often told to create everything you know besthence the frequent appearances of plotlines centered on writers insecurities, awkward backstage encounters, and squabbles with network executives. What better solution to sort out your behind-the-scenes traumas and skewer your nemeses than making attractive performers re-enact the conflicts and ego-driven tantrums is likely to TV series? 30 Rock, Bojack Horseman and Its Garry Shandlings Show (the grandaddy of the meta-TV sitcom) ready a higher bar for small-screen satire. Alas, despite its cute premise, Reboot doesnt quite reach that mark.

Streaming has transformed our ideas of television comedy during the last decade. The broadcast networks broad, risk-averse templates and well-worn punchlines unraveled right into a more adventurous, open-ended notion of the problem comedy, more prone to be filmed in real locations instead of on-stage sets before a live audience.

Nowadays, that old-school network TV model sometimes feels as though a fossil from some half-remembered past, when laughter was canned and jokes detonated punctually every 45 seconds. Reboot creates its shop in this gap between your old and new varieties of entertainment. Its the brainchild of Steven Levitan, who co-created Modern Family, among broadcasts last massive must-see comedies which could interest all ages also to hip and square audiences alike. Levitan toiled in the sitcom salt mines for many years before Family, writing for Frasier and meta-comedy The Larry Sanders Show (the follow-up to Its Garry Shandlings Show) early in his career prior to going to invent their own hits.

Fictional showrunner Hannah can be an indie filmmaker determined to get edgy new lease of life in the bygone (fictional) Step Right Up, an easy, Full House-ish sitcom. Along the way she revives the careers of original cast members Bree (Judy Greer), Reed (Keegan Michael-Key), Clay (Johnny Knoxville), and former child star Zack (Calum Worthy), most of whom have tumbled into post-primetime purgatory. Reeds last role was because the voice of a hemorrhoid, but his theatrical aspirations are flattered by Hannahs darkly comedic script. Its both funniest thing youve ever read and you also wont laugh once, he marvels. So Reed is devastated when Gordon (Paul Reiser), the shows original showrunner, is hired to partner with Hannah. He really wants to tilt Hannah’s fresh undertake the show back toward the initial (read: cheesy) tone. A generational tug of war ensues that’s also a battle between televisions past and future: tried-and-tired Pavlovian comedy, all signposted gags and stock characters, versus streaming-era dramedy using its signature genre blending and mixed moods.

Gordon is politically incorrect at every turn. Is this among those diversity intern training things? he asks when he meets Hannahs young and trendy crop of writers. The lessons youre gonna learn? Invaluable. Just to illustrate: misunderstandings. Always funny! He could be befuddled by their newfangled references to the Bechdel Test. One young woman suggests, That is probably too meta but imagine if [the female characters] bond by discussing Alison Bechdel? Bored with meta-humor, Gordon earns their own crop of crusty television vets who say inappropriate things in the writers room but learn how to craft classic jokes. We dont shlep in a live audience weekly to allow them to sit there and nod in thoughtful amusement, he scolds. We are in need of them to really laugh!

Nodding in vaguely thoughtful amusement, I realized that Reboot beat me to all or any my criticisms. The jokes tend to be clever and well-written, however they dont really cause you to laugh. The actors are delightful to view (just how long have I waited for Judy Greer to obtain the starring role she deserves?) however the characters remain trapped under a layer of cliches, whilst they make an effort to escape their archetypes. Nothing in the show makes me value what happens in their mind just how I became painfully mixed up in struggles of the mournful, washed-up sitcom star Bojack Horseman and his steadfast Hollywoo agent Princess Carolyn. That is saying something considering that that series was an absurdist animation where Bojack can be an actual horse and Carolyn is really a pink cat.

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