I find it harder and harder to discuss TV with anyone these days because, inevitably, at some point in the conversation, that person will become incredulous that you don’t watch a certain show that they love. We all know “that guy,” the one who says, “It’s the best thing in the world and you are totally missing out, but don’t worry you aren’t that far behind, you can easily catch up, so definitely check it out I promise it’s worth your time.”
No, I’m not using hyperbole to convince you; I really mean it. No other comedy on TV right now makes me laugh out loud the way this mockumentary-style show does, and few ever have. Not a single episode goes by without me losing it at some point, all while simultaneously feeling terrible for the main character as he utterly destroys his own life.
The basic premise is that Forrest MacNeil (played by secretly the funniest man alive, Andy Daly, who you definitely know even if you don’t know that name) reviews life. He doesn’t review restaurants or movies, but the experiences that make up human existence. As he says in the opening credits, “Life—it’s literally all we have. But is it any good?”
It’s a simple premise, and one that Forrest takes to with 100% full enthusiasm and energy. No, really, 100%. Because Forrest thinks that what he is doing is important work, meaningful to humanity, so he stops at nothing to do each review with total sincerity and complete commitment. The problem, and why this show is so funny, is that Forrest doesn’t simply try to answer “fan” submitted questions, but lives out those experiences wholly, with complete and total disregard for his own safety and happiness. The amount of people that die or go to jail on this show makes The Wire look safe.
Forrest, in his same brown jacket and tie, will go to any length to give an honest 5-star review (half-a-star to five is the range) to the question posed to him, even if it’s something that could (and almost always does) ruin his life. Like early in season one (when it was already apparent this show was something special) after someone asked Forest to review what it’s like to be addicted to something.
And that was before the show really got dark. Reading/performing Chicken Little to your son while high on cocaine is exactly the type of black comedy with a smile (sometimes forced) that defines this show. For as optimistic and energetic as Forest is about doing his job, he is equally shortsighted about the personal how harm he is doing. By the end of season two his addiction wouldn’t even rank in the top 10 worst things he had done to his family.
Another recurring aspect of this show is the actual danger to Forrest’s life. He almost dies constantly, no matter the nature of the review. Only on this show can spending a night in a haunted house turn into one of the saddest meltdowns you’ll ever see, followed by another unexpected brush with death.
Honestly, I’m hesitant to give much more than that away, because the relationship of Forrest and his wife on this show is one of the most important elements of the story, a major source of both humor and pity on the show. It’s something best experienced on your own because its path is often unexpected and shocking, in the best ways.
It’s not like it’s hard to find other great examples of Forest almost dying anyway.
There hasn’t been one bad episode of this show in two seasons. Not one. They are all funny and brilliant. Where else can you see a father show up at the courthouse for a custody hearing dressed as Batman? Or “join the Mile High Club” just a few seats away from his son on a plane? Where else on television will you find someone letting his father’s house burn down because he refuses to stand up in the name of his job? All of this happens while our battered host offers deep insights on the nature of life while trying to find meaning in our existence.
Review is based on a simple idea, but the depth of the writing is at a level few shows ever reach. It’s a show where reviewing the acts of eating pancakes and getting divorced can carry both the weight of the most heartbreaking Greek tragedy and the comedy of the funniest Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.
Forrest MacNeil is the most lovable monster on television, and he is ruining his life and the lives of everyone he cares about, and it couldn’t be funnier.
I know there’s a lot of great television these days, but Review is the best thing in the world and you are totally missing out, but don’t worry you aren’t that far behind, you can easily catch up, so definitely check it out I promise it’s worth your time.
Oh. Sorry. I give “Being That Guy” 2 stars. But seriously, watch Review.
Image: Comedy Central