What You Should Be Watching But Aren’t: Review
School has started once again, which for many of us means lots of time spent not doing the things we should be doing. With this comes the always difficult task of figuring out ways to rationalize the time “wasted” so we don’t feel as bad. And, with the quality of television being as high as it is, it’s becoming significantly easier to waste time well. So, while one could say that I’m here to just comment on television you should be watching but aren’t, I’d rather say that I’m providing a public service by helping you feel better about not being “productive”.
Everybody and their mother watches Game of Thrones (Mom, please don’t watch Game of Thrones), and Suits is a staple of every college dorm, but there’s one show on TV that is doing things no other show (I’ve seen) has ever done, and is criminally under appreciated.
Review on Comedy Central takes a pretty solid premise and ups the ante significantly. The show features Forrest Macneil (the absolutely amazing Andy Daly) as he reviews life experiences. Each episode works the same way: a viewer calls in to ask what it’s like to do some life experience, and then Forrest goes out and does it. He then rates the life experience from one to five stars. For example, the pilot finds Forrest reviewing stealing, getting addicted and going to prom. It’s a silly idea ripe for comedy, but the thing that brings Review to the next level is the fact that there’s no reset button. Once Forrest has done something in one episode, that act will have sometimes major consequences for Forrest as a character over the entire run of the show. In effect, what starts as a fun piece of sketch comedy turns into a dark, character study of an idiot who feels so strongly about the importance of his work, that he is willing to do horrible things to both himself and those around him.
I almost don’t want to say anything more for fear of ruining amazing series long plot points, but in the name of getting you to watch this show (okay fine, I’m not a public servant) , I will tease what was probably one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen.
In season one episode three, Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes, Forrest is asked what it’s like to divorce his wife. Obviously, Forrest being the way he is, goes through with it and divorces his wife of several years (with whom he has a young son). For the rest of the season, Forrest’s entire goal which seeps into almost all of his reviews, is trying to win back his wife. For example, in a later episode, while reviewing “What’s it like to be Batman?” Forrest, in full Batman costume, has to go to an official divorce procedural.
He’s a deeply disturbed character - almost like Walter White in the way that he’s so thoroughly convinced himself that what he’s doing is right. Forrest remains completely unfazed as he accidentally burns down his father’s house while reviewing “being a little person”.
Andy Daly plays him like this loveable suburban dad who’s simply trying something he never tried before. He wears a goofy smile as if plastered to his face and always seems excited to review a new life experience. Every episode is an exploration. And, every episode gets deeper and darker into the pathos of his tragically hilarious character. But, the most amazing thing about the show is that it gets me to almost cry laughing while watching something terrifying like many many people getting shot down in a gunfight after Forrest starts a cult (and, for the record, I really don’t think I’m a psychopath). And you think that’s the end of it. You think how could he still want to do this? But then next week there he is ready to review life a little more.
Review airs Thursdays at 10 PM on Comedy Central (or, whenever you like after that on comedycentral.com).