4 out of 5
Created by: Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen
covers season 1
Los Espookys is… not very funny. It’s uncomfortable, and not in a cringe comedy way, but more like when you’re politely smiling at your new friend’s joke, trying to find the balance between acknowledging to your old school friends that you don’t find it very funny, but also encouraging your new friend to keep trying. It has a rather DIY vibe – despite being a Lorne Michaels production – and not necessarily in some kind of nifty punk rock way, more just, like, I shot this at my high school with the available sets and props.
But Los Espookys is also hilarious, and impressively humble in it setups and executions.
I managed to watch the whole thing without laughing once, but feeling like it was funny the entire time. This is all sort of encapsulated by Fred Armisen being part of this project: a comic actor who is never, at any point, not doing a bit, but commits so fully to being an actor doing a bit that it works. And that’s Los Espookys on the whole: it’s so committed to sticking to its approach that you’re just convinced by it, and then after a few episodes of scratching your head regarding why, exactly, this is working, you’ll pick up on all of these odd running gags that are happening in-frame, not to mention the way certain plot beats which land flat turn out to actually be narrative elements…
It’s definitely a bizarre mix. But I ended up loving it, and that love extends to the elements each cast member brings, which, again, have a kind of amateurish vibe, but that ends up syncing perfectly with the whole presentation, becoming more endearing and “normal” as the show ticks along becoming weirder.
Los Espookys concerns 3 – maybe 4 – friends who form a “horror group,” crafting special effects for hire. Need a possession to justify your priesthood? Howabout an impressive mansion haunting for a good ol’ “stay the night and inherit a fortune” setup? And so Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco) and crew get the call to make such things happen.
The show smartly bounces between Spanish topical stereotypes and (as I saw it) American expectations of the same, but kind of warmly embraces it all; I’m also a sucker for shows that just kind of embrace outsider status without even subtly poking fun, and Renaldo’s obsession with this very niche business is always shown with a sense of love. That odd “why is this even funny?” vibe is definitely a roadblock, and I do wish it was a bit clearer if Los Espookys are actually good at what they do or not – for all of his passion, Renaldo seems to half-ass it sometimes – but these are both concerns that disappear pretty quickly; as quickly as you’ll likely consume the short season of episodes.