The G Word with Adam Conover season 1 review – informative docuseries that needs a major injection of humour

May 12, 2022
Adam Lock 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
3

Summary

Making government fun is tricky, but this humorless series struggles to bring anything new to the table when there are already much better examples.

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3

Summary

Making government fun is tricky, but this humorless series struggles to bring anything new to the table when there are already much better examples.

This review of the Netflix docuseries The G Word with Adam Conover season 1 does not contain spoilers.

NOTE TO EDITOR: TO BE SCHEDULED AT 17:00 ON MAY 12. 

Netflix enjoys building partnerships with influential people and respected filmmakers, having signed long term contracts with David Fincher, Ryan Murphy and now even the Sussexes Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. In 2018 they started a multi-year deal with Higher Ground, a production company founded by former POTUS himself Barack Obama and the former First Lady Michelle Obama. This partnership kicked off with the highly successful American Factory, which won the Academy Award for best documentary the following year. The company are now back with a brand new docuseries focusing on all the major aspects of the government (the G word of the title), presented by American comedian Adam Conover.

The TV host and comic Adam Conover attempts to bring some educational fun to the notoriously dull topic of government. He’s a self-assured, lively host, who tries to elevate the subject matter with an abundance of jokes and some heartfelt human stories, although the humour is terribly cringe throughout and our fast-paced presenter conveys a certain level of arrogance in his smug delivery. Not liking the host is a large hurdle to overcome, yet this show does actually grow on you as the episodes advance. I would advise sticking with this one past its dawdling first episode.

This six part series covers the governments approach to: food, water, money, future, disease and change. Each chapter follows a similar structure, as the host sets forth an array of questions to ponder before addressing the main issue of that specific episode, using skits and personable real-life encounters. The skits play out like Horrible Histories sketches, reusing the same actors and capitalizing on the show’s incessant, unfunny wit. Look out for a few cameo appearances from The Office’s Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) and a magic trick from Penn & Teller. Obama himself makes a bookended appearance in the show as well, discussing the purpose of the series in the intro and his thoughts on change in the finale.

For a series funded by a former president, you’d expect a bigger budget. This show has some truly awful CGI, portraying itself as a kind of Louis Theroux fly-on-the-wall style documentary. Like Theroux, Adam Conover does participate in the production’s more hands-on scenes, with a stand-out moment involving the film crew actually flying into the eye of a storm. Conover does a valiant job at trying to make the series enjoyable and educational, literally throwing everything at it. The jokes may not all hit, but his harmless wordplay and self-parody approach does eventually break through and entertain.

It’s hard to pinpoint who this show is actually aimed at though. The series keeps it pretty tame, yet there’s some strong profanity peppered throughout and the fast-talking jargon-filled explanations can be hard to follow at times. Will teens or adults be amused by these embarrassing dad jokes partnered with the complex issues at hand? Furthermore, Netflix has already done this style of informative docuseries many times before with a lot more success. I’d recommend Explained and its countless spin-offs for a much more effective use of your time. Overall, it’s a mixed bag, there are positives to this harmless and knowledgeable six-parter, but the lack of humour and its polarising host may turn a lot of people off.

What did you think of the Netflix docuseries The G Word with Adam Conover season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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