Andy Daly stars as Forrest MacNeil in show-within-a-show "Review." (Comedy Central)
Comedy Central’s new show, “Review,” is often overlooked. There hasn’t been much buzz or many followers, though that clearly shouldn’t be the case. Continuing on its run of finding talent and creating quality content, Comedy Central have struck gold in Andy Daly.
Though they took a while to recover after losing “Chappelle’s Show,” the network has consistently produced engaging comedies, most notably since the logo rebranding in 2011. Shows like “Key and Peele,” “Nathan For You,” “Workaholics” and “Broad City” are all great examples of Comedy Central’s commitment to talent. Each of those programs is engineered entirely by its creators, including shouldering lead acting responsibilities. “Review” is simply the latest to follow the tradition while maintaining the current winning streak.
The premise is a show-within-a-show, wherein Daly plays Forrest MacNeil, host and reviewer for his fictional review show called … ‘Review.’ Only, instead of reviewing books or movies or any of that boring crap, he reviews life itself. Every episode, Forrest’s assistant and co-presenter, A.J. Gibbs (Megan Stevenson), reads three tweets from three different fans in which they request Forrest review certain topics. This could be anything from eating 15 pancakes to getting addicted to cocaine. Yes, both of those reviews actually happened, and the funny thing is just how brutal and dark the show actually is.
Forrest goes to great lengths to fulfill his hosting obligations, sacrificing not only himself but his relationships with his family. Reviews like “Getting a Divorce” are key examples of how directly “Review” damages Forrest and the people he loves. The best part is that it’s not episodic – at least, not entirely. The show is episodic in that each review is stand alone, though Forrest’s personal arc is maintained and developed in a serial fashion throughout the season.
That’s what really makes this show great. That Forrest completely goes all out and ruins his life for this stupid, stupid show is a testament to how funny the material can get, especially after we invest in Forrest on the long term rather than for 30 minutes per serving. Over time, his consistent failure at personal happiness, balanced with his unyielding passion for his work, is what ultimately helps us connect and eventually root for him.
When my friend showed me the pilot, I thought it was an Internet channel, that each review was a separate clip. In retrospect, it still isn’t a bad idea. The reviews are funny enough on their own that it could thrive on the Internet, though I believe it would truly suffer without Forrest’s subplot. Yes, it would be funny, but it wouldn’t be as dark or morbid without the context of Forrest’s actions. The character would not be able to carry these lessons after each episode, rather, it would be as if Forrest MacNeil was wiped clean after each airing.
I’m glad that is not the case, as Daly absolutely kills it in his leading role, a performance that wouldn’t be as subtle or appreciated had there been nothing to tie it all together. Though you may not have heard about it, it’s already been renewed for a second season, and if Daly and Co. keep up the good work, there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing his name again soon.
For more information and to view episode highlights, visit cc.com/shows/review.