Friday, October 29, 2021

Champaign ILL


(YouTubeTV, 2018-19)  In Sam Richardson's first scenes of on Veep he seemed like he was playing a two-dimensional, stock corny nerd character. However, almost immediately after that he/they proved to be amongst the funniest actors/characters I have ever seen on TV, generating IRL LsOL nearly every appearance. His earnest optimism/obliviousness to the horrors around him/ninja level comic timing was a marvel. Thus, I sought out Detroiters, his co-starring comedy series with Tim Robinson, and I for real enjoy that show more than Veep. It is a modest, honest, incredibly sincere comedy about loving your decaying rust belt city, loving the families and neighbors and classmates who make up your community when you stay at home, and loving the weird flavors of local businesses, characters, TV stations, etc. Richardson's skillset was perfect for this, and he and Robinson presented a real assed friendship. And it's funny. Though I became a devoted fan (had to buy a month worth of Comedy Central on Amazon to watch Detroiters...that was like $3.99!), I was not willing to get whatever YouTubeTV was to see his show Champaign ILL, but now it has reached other streaming services and it was worth the wait. Similar to Detroiters, if a few hours drive away, it takes a pair of interracial childhood best buddies awkwardly figuring out adulthood, but adds the twist that their third best friend became Tupac-famous after high school, and they became his entitled, living large entourage leaders, who a decade and a half later end up with nothing, living at home shellshocked by their change of fortune. Pally and Richardson are good together, but I think it would be fair to say that though Pally is always a funny, pleasant screen presence, he has a vibe of your addict friend who you can't really trust, which is a weird texture against Richardson's uber-affableness. Which leads to the twist: this10-episode series starts off wacky and jokey-decadent, then takes a sharp turn into exploring the horrors of devastating opioid addiction. Which makes this narrative very compelling, even if this doesn't showcase our stars at their funniest. That said, Curtis "Booger" Armstrong, Jay Pharoah, and especially Keith David are wonderful supporting castmates, and this has way more action and arc and twists and satisfying wrap ups than should be expected from a show that no one should have had any expectation anyone would watch. What is YouTubeTV? You go, Sam!

Adam Pally

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