3 out of 5
Created by: Jackie Clarke and David Caspe
covers season 1
I find Kenan Thompson to be… inoffensive. It’s not a bad trait for a comedian, for sure, though, yeah, it ranks somewhere below “funny.” It’s probably on the level with “amusing,” though that comes with a suggestion of smirks or smiles, and I don’t think my mouth contorts that way when Kenan is doing his average man mumble-comedy shtick. But funny sets a bar one has to achieve, and amusing can be a little noxious over a long run, whereas inoffensive – well, it doesn’t really affect me one way or another, and so stick Kenan on a show and I can watch it, eyes glazed, for days on end.
Kenan – the series – applies that vibe to all of its 1/2 hour episode runtime, extends it across the rest of its cast, and holds steady like that for its entire first season. It is wholly standard sitcom stuff, with Thompson as a single dad taking care of two daughters after his wife’s passing, balancing that with his dayjob as a talk show co-host, and inserts its requisite sitcom quirk via his family and extended family: brother / manager Gary (Chris Redd), and father-in-law / housemate Rick (Don Johnson). All of the actors do their mugging and single-attribute acting quite perfectly, and as it’s all blanketed by that inoffensiveness, it never irks in the way it might with sitcoms lacking that trait – Kenan’s producers thankfully spared us a laugh track, and every episode has a feasible enough plot with some “wacky” zigzags and well-earned lessons; every moment, regardless of who or what’s in focus, is eminently watchable.
I mean, I don’t think I laughed once, but I noticed I was paying attention. That is, actually, a mark of (some type) of quality for right-down-the-middle programming, so while “inoffensive” could also be equated to “disposable,” it’s also also totally easy to watch, for those of us needing another half hour of distraction once a week.