Reboot (2022)

2 out of 5

Created by: Steven Levitan

covers season 1

This is the definition of high concept, with the most negative connotations of that: a TV show that pitches a bit too cleverly – it’s a meta Hulu series about a canceled TV show that finds a second whim as a meta version of itself, airing on Hulu – which isn’t clever beyond that elevator pitch, executing the most predictable sitcom setups, which are always a stretch, and are telegraphed as far out of ahead as possible. Favorably, you could suggest that the fact that it sifts through these setups exclusively is part of the metaness, but if you examine any given joke, it’s clear enough that’s not the case: Reboot is going for the easy laughs, just while wearing what is admittedly a pretty quirky bowtie. 

Here I normally explain the saving graces being that it’s, y’know, funny, but I was more often frustrated by the show taking the easy way out; subtlety of any kind is not its bag. 

Indie movie maker Hannah Korman (Rachel Bloom), of the feminist “hit” Cunt Saw (sigh), is pitching a remake of 80s feel-good show ‘Step Right Up’ to Hulu – the show being another version of that 80s / 90s era of Full House / Step By Step sitcoms – with the modern twist being that the characters have all aged in real time from the original, and we discover that their lives were not that great. This is still under the auspice of being a good setup, and it is: part of the credit I’d give the show is its promise, which keeps providing potential… and then sweeping things (slowly, while signaling it’s sweeping) back to safety. The other part, the major part, would be the cast. Everyone is funny. Everyone makes their dumb roles shine, and the predictable setups amusing. They are ultimately the reason for continuing to watch, and for making the show’s potential feel like a plus, and not a constant drag. 

Otherwise, though, as soon as Korman’s ‘Step Right Up’ update is co-opted by her father, (Paul Reiser), who worked on the original, and who the Hulu higher ups bring in for… y’know, sitcom reasoos, the meta concept collapses, and the only thing missing from each punchline and episode-ending moral is a laugh / reaction track. 

Gutsier writing could easily make this hilarious; the cast could crossover to that style naturally. Until then, the best the cast can do is make it harmless.