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Comedy Central's 'Review' Offers the Best Examination of Decisions and Their Consequences on our Lives Since 'Breaking Bad'

By Corey Atad | TV | April 30, 2014 | Comments ()

By Corey Atad | TV | April 30, 2014 |


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“Life. It’s literally all we have. But is it any good?”

Thus begins every episode of Review with Forrest MacNeil, the new series on Comedy Central. Okay, maybe not so new. Eight episodes have already aired and the finale is coming up this Thursday night. If you’ve been watching it, I’ve got good news for you. But if you haven’t been watching it, I have even better news! Comedy Central has put the entire season so far up on YouTube ahead of the finale. Catching up with the show couldn’t possibly be easier, and trust me when I say you want to catch up. You see, Review is more than just a great comedy. It’s also the best examination of decisions and their consequences on our lives since Breaking Bad.

Review comes on the heels of a string of successes for Comedy Central, the most notable of which being Broad City. The series is a remake of an Australian series called Review with Myles Barlow, and its premise is simple enough: Forrest MacNeil is a professional critic on TV who reviews “life itself.” Fictitious viewers send in life experiences and he sets out to experience them and then give them a star rating out of five. Those experiences range from getting addicted to drugs in the first episode, to making a sex tape, and even going up into space in a more recent episode.

Andy Daly plays Forrest MacNeil with stereotypical wonkishness in every situation, always wearing a boring suit and rarely aware of the horror of the things he’s tasked with doing (unless it’s eating thirty pancakes). Much of the show’s hilarity comes not just from the premise of each life experience he’s set to review, but the manner with which he decides to tackle them. Like in the seventh episode, where he reviews “revenge” by getting back at his bully from middle school by playing an absurdly dumb prank on him.

The real greatness of the show, though, comes from its very dark center. You see, Review goes the extra step of maintaining continuity, which, considering all the awful things Forrest does for the sake of his TV show, makes for an increasingly sad life. Even in the first episode, Forrest’s actions in one segment bleed into the next. By the third episode, he’s getting divorced from his wife for a review. Soon he’s living out of his office. Later, after a series of unfortunate events, he’s in legal negotiations with his wife, dressed as Batman.

The ridiculous weight of all his actions threatens constantly to destroy his life, and as the season goes on he becomes a sadder and sadder human being. My comparison to Breaking Bad may be hyperbolic, but in spirit the two shows do something very similar: They each have their lead characters make one horrible decision after another, watching as their lives crumble under all the unintended consequences. Amazingly enough, Review manages to be equally deft in its depiction of those consequences and their effect on its protagonist’s psyche.

Of course, Review is also damn funny. It’s irreverent and biting and dark, and Andy Daly is excellent in the lead. That the season piles consequence on top of consequence also gives it the advantage of a serialized show, where you can’t wait to see how things will progress in the next episode. I can only imagine how depressing and hilarious things will get for Forrest in the season finale, but whatever he reviews, it’s sure to make for some great and even profound comedy.

You can follow Corey Atad on Twitter, or listen to his Mad Men podcast, Not Great, Pod!



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