If you’re a lover of TV, you’ve probably had a discussion at some point about the numerous reboots that have happened over the last few years. We’ve questioned if companies can no longer think of original ideas and so are just deciding to reboot all old shows, but we’ve also made jokes about it. The new Hulu sitcom Reboot takes all our Twitter-filled jokes about reboots, sitcoms, and tv production and transforms them into a television series that, in our opinion, actually works.
As the shows, title states Reboot is about the revival of a family sitcom called Step Right Up. It is centered around Rachel Bloom’s character, Hannah, who decides she wants to reboot the family sitcom with a twist – it will discuss real issues that sitcoms typically avoid and where the characters “don’t do the right thing anymore.”
The show will still bring back the original cast who, even though it’s been years since their show ended and the actors still have their own set of personal problems. From ex-girlfriends and old grudges that were never resolved, the fact the sitcom actors all kind of fell off the acting train after the show ended and haven’t spoken in years turns out not to be a problem. They all decide to return for the reboot.
You have Reed Sterling played by Keegan-Michael Key, who was one of the reasons the show ended as he left the show to film a movie that didn’t end up happening; Bree Marie Jensen played by Judy Greer, an actress who used to date Reed but broke up when the show ended so she ended up marrying a duke; Clay Barber, played by Johnny Knoxville, a comedian with substance abuse problems and Zack the former child star now an adult played by Calum Worthy.
You also have the return of the original creator Gordon, played by Paul Reiser, that decides he also wants a piece of the action and decides to return to the rebooted series. However, he’s not on board with the modern sitcom Hannah is trying to make. He wants the more traditional ideas of sitcoms to remain.
The sitcom is not just filled with comedic seasoned pros actors but also seasoned sitcom creator, in the form of Modern Family’s co-creator Steven Levitan. Levitan knows sitcoms like the back of his hand, having worked on The Larry Sanders Show and Fraiser years before even getting involved in Modern Family. His experience is clear in the structure of the show, and this is what makes him the perfect person to do a series that parodies sitcoms in the way it does.
The world of Reboot exists in an exaggerated world from the writing room right down to the actors who act in the sitcom itself.
From the top to the bottom of this show, it’s clear everyone involved is a veteran in the industry and has the inside knowledge to make the show real and enjoyable. The actors bounce off of each other, which makes the jokes even funnier. The fact Hulu has basically produced a show making jokes about Hulu makes for iconic moments such as Elaine Kim’s, played by Krista Marie Yu, moment in the second episode where she says new to comedy and yet she’s Hulu’s VP of Comedy.
There’s laugh out loud moments, such as Zack saying the “It’s different now, because we’ve all had sex,” and one-liners, but that’s not to say that the show gets everything right. Some jokes don’t hit as well as expected, and it takes the first three episodes at least to get into what the show is trying to create in the way of not being a show that is taken as a serious sitcom but rather here to make you laugh about the sitcoms you watch. Luckily the show is releasing all three episodes at once, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that the satire element this show is going for fails to captivate over the first few episodes, which are crucial to gripping viewers to a show.
The way the character’s personalities are introduced can be compared to a drip. We’re fed bits and pieces across each episode, and it’s only really in the final episode you get an understanding of who each of them really are as individuals and what they really want out of life. It causes relationships like Reed and Bree’s, who the show really tries to make us invested in as a will they won’t couple, to fall extremely flat and just feel like an annoying point they bring up each episode. Like yeah they used to date we got it, let’s move on. The show fails to create solid character arcs for any characters in the show as we see most problems resolved by the final episode and that’s great considering it’s a sitcom but it means that the show overall falls into the same trap it makes jokes out of – how sitcoms rarely delve into deeper topics. We see characters like Clay not really have a purpose beyond comedy relief and being a supporting actor to the big four, also known as Hannah, Gordon, Bree and Reed, despite the fact Clay himself is supposed to be a main character. The parts of Clay’s personality that make him interested are not given enough time to be important, and despite Bree being the most developed character, even her arc is forgotten at times. She’s selfish, but still fun while also just facing the reality of what it’s like being older in the acting industry.
That’s not to say none of the characters are likeable or the episodes aren’t enjoyable because by far the best aspect of the show is Hannah and Gordon’s relationship. Their young and old/ modern and traditional sitcom dynamic makes for some of the best moments. The moments we get in later episodes where we see both Hannah and Gordon in the writing room makes for a golden aspect of the show. It contemplates how comedy has developed over the years. Plus, how the older comedians operate with inappropriate jokes in comparison to Hannah’s more modern way of writing is genius.
Also, the introduction of Timberly, played by Alyah Chanelle Scott was genius. Her addition allows us to see the competitive side of Bree and the fact Reed likes to feel important. The development of the importance of her character would’ve been something I’d like to have seen more of, especially as a newbie in the industry having to navigate the difference between sitcoms and reality tv. But also how much a person’s social media platform nowadays informs their career prospects.
Another thing that is a bit off about the show is the way it approaches a few hard-hitting topics such as coming out as lesbian and substance abuse. They introduce these topics but never really go deeper than the comedy aspect. The topics add depth to the plot, but overall, despair it feeling like these moments were added for them to go beyond the typical sitcom set up while also still being funny. They failed to do that instead it often just left us feeling confused as to why they brought up any of he topics in the first place.
While Reboot is a great show it’s clear that it’s not going to reach the level of Modern Family success in its first season but it has potential for a second season. It’s a super funny show and one unlike anything else on TV at the moment. It capitalizes on social discussions as well as viewers love of parodies on their favorite aspects of social life. It feels very much like Only Murders in the Building with the rebooting of an old show and how it capitalized on societies love of podcasts to make whole show out of it. Reboot does this with the worlds love of sitcoms.
Reboot debuts on Hulu on today, Tuesday, September 20th.