Comedian Andy Daly’s stand-up as different characters is amazing, but at first I wasn’t sure what to make of his Comedy Central show Review at all. He plays this really square TV host who “reviews” different life experiences: going to the prom, addiction, space travel, having a best friend, orgies, eating pancakes, all kinds of things. At first you think it’s gonna be this comedy in which someone makes a major production of doing things in a very stiff, social-anthropology, insider-playing-at-outsider way. Which is indeed the basic approach.
But what ACTUALLY happens is that instead of treating each “review” as a separate thing, there’s continuity between all of them. The magical comedy reset button you’d expect them to hit after, say, the character gets addicted to cocaine, overdoses, and goes to rehab, never gets hit. The experiences build one on top of another. So even though he never acknowledges it except in one brief fit of self-pity while eating an enormous stack of pancakes (don’t ask), you slowly watch him destroy his life and the lives of everyone around him. His marriage ends. People get killed. All under the rubric of this very high-concept mockumentary show.
In other words, this is a satire of New Golden Age of TV Drama antihero shows hiding in plain sight. It takes the basic “man ruins all he cares about in the name of something that makes him nominally freer and more powerful” structure of the genre and plays it for deliberate laughs. Instead of a meth empire or a mafia family or a double life, he commits his bad acts in the name of the television show that chronicles them. He’s Walter White, but without the sense that there’s anything tragic about him — he’s just an oblivious faux-smart buffoon. It’s a satire of the middle-class middle-aged white-male entitlement and privilege that all the big dramas treat as the stuff of life. And it’s unbelievably funny.
The season finale airs tonight, and in the meantime every episode is available in its entirety with no ad breaks for free on YouTube. You can watch the whole thing in the time it’d take you to watch a 2 1/2 hour movie. GO.