Reboot is an absolute riot, delivering laugh-out-loud comedy, subtle emotional depth, and some notable twists. This is the funniest series out there right now, with the added potential of becoming a long-term hit for Hulu.
This review of the Hulu series Reboot season 1 does not contain any major spoilers.
Hollywood is awash with reboots, remakes and revivals right now, to the point where you’d think there isn’t much originality left in the film and TV industry anymore. Yet somehow, Steven Levitan (the creator of Reboot and Modern Family) has managed to take the terribly derivative idea of rebooting a sitcom and has made it into an entirely original narrative. It’s one of those perfectly executed concepts that feels obvious but is actually surprisingly unique. And Reboot is full of these little surprises and so much more. Do not be fooled by the trailer, this is an adept and downright hilarious series.
The show centers on an edgy, young writer named Hannah (Rachel Bloom), who pitches a reboot of the noughties sitcom Step Right Up to a room full of impressionable Hulu execs. She wants to bring back the original cast, but wishes to totally mess with the stale, dated sitcom format. The Hulu heavyweights are bowled over by this lucrative notion and throw silly money at the project. Although the show’s original creator Gordon (Paul Reiser) isn’t buying this new angle at all and returns with his own, old fashioned, offensive style of humor.
Step Right Up’s cast are eager for this reunion, but are also apprehensive after all these years away. None of their careers have taken off in the way that they had hoped and a witty montage highlights just how far they have fallen from grace. Reed (Keegan-Michael Key), a pretentious, egotistical thespian, can’t even land a small film role anymore. Bree (Judy Greer) is struggling herself, best known for playing an embarrassing alien on cable TV. Whilst Clay Barber (Johnny Knoxville) has been in and out of jail on an array of charges, before following that up with a stint as a controversial comedian. And lastly, there’s the child star Zack Jackson, who is now all grown up, yet still lives in that mollycoddled past, with his mother hounding him on set daily. However you look at it, these hopeless wannabe stars need this reboot to work.
As expected though, things don’t exactly go according to plan. The cast have to deal with quarrelling writers, unresolved rivalries and the many pitfalls modern society has to throw at them. The showrunners take these topical ideas and satirize them, subverting the sitcom formula entirely, whilst poking fun at social media and cancel culture. The writing is exceptional, mining plenty of genuine laughs from the ridiculous situations the cast find themselves in and the idiocy of the 21st century.
The casting is also highly impressive. Keegan-Michael Key seems to have been working towards this kind of role his whole career. He looks to be having an absolute blast as the pompous diva Reed Sterling and is just an utter joy to watch. Then there’s the revelatory casting of Jackass star Johnny Knoxville, who seems particularly untested in the TV world. Knoxville is actually perfect as the cheeky chappy comedian, who gets entangled in many unfortunate scenarios throughout the first season’s run. Then there’s Paul Reiser, an actor who is enjoying a renaissance of his own, after appearing in The Boys and Stranger Things earlier this year. He’s deftly suited for the role of an aging comic, who is stuck in the past.
Reboot is a riot, fitted with laugh-out-loud comedy, subtle emotional depth and some notable twists. The creators are really onto something with this premise and a game cast that look to be in their element here. This has the potential to be another hit for Steven Levitan and of course Hulu, who are in a habit of green-lighting shows that happily mock the streaming service of late.
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