As its title suggests, Reboot tells the … reboot of a fictional sitcom from the 90s. With a good dose of humor and satire.
What is Reboot? Young screenwriter Hannah (Rachel Bloom) offers Hulu to reboot Step Right In, a cheesy but successful 1990s family sitcom. The original cast – Reed (Keegan-Michael Key), Clay (Johnny Knoxville ), Bree (Judy Greer) and former child star Zack (Calum Worthy) – agree to be part of the new project. But if Hannah intends to reshape the tone of the series to make it more acerbic, it is counting without the showrunner of the original series, Gordon (Paul Reiser)… who is also her father and abandoned her family when she was little. Ego quarrels, old rivalries, evolution of the audiovisual industry and settling of scores between father and daughter: the reboot promises to be eventful.
Reboot was born from the imagination of Steven Levitan, co-creator of Modern Family and veteran sitcom screenwriter. By his own admission, his new series is a way to recount his experience on television in a parodic and humorous way, but also to ironize about the shortcomings of the current television industry and in particular the wave of… reboots.
Everything is in the title : Reboot tells the story… of a reboot. That of a fictional sitcom from the 90s, Step right in, which Hannah, a mainstream screenwriter, decides to relaunch with a more acerbic and realistic tone. Which is not to the liking of the creator of the original series, Gordon. However, he is also Hannah’s father and their relationship is far from being good. As father and daughter try to work through their differences, the original actors, whose careers have failed, agree to reprise their respective roles.
Reboot is a good comedy, light and rhythmic. She alternates between schoolboy humor, touches of irony and touching little scenes, relying on her gallery of characters. Particularly the actors from the original series who are making a comeback – mostly because their careers were cut short. Studio-trained Reed didn’t get the high-profile roles he aspired to (his most recent performance? Voice-over in a commercial for hemorrhoid cream); his ex Bree who married a complex Scandinavian aristocrat about his age; Clay got into drugs and alcohol; At 24, Zack plays retarded teenagers in improbable films. Add the writers of the series, between comedy veterans and young Gen Z screenwriters, and especially the duo between Hannah and Gordon.
The most impactful dynamic remains the one that is established immediately between them. We quickly discover that Hannah is Gordon’s daughter and that rebooting the sitcom is a way for her to tell her version of their family history. When Gordon decides to get involved with the show, tension rises between father and daughter not only because of their shared history, but also because they have two starkly different take on comedy. He returns to the old classic gags of twenty years ago, she wants to dust off the series by giving it a sarcastic tone.
Reboot is at its best when poking fun at the television industry. Hulu’s program director boasts of his incredible audacity (he was the one who renewed The Handmaid’s Tale for a fifth season); his team lists the litany of recent reboots and verifies that the actors of Step right in are still alive; the vice-president of the comedy section admits that she was appointed to this position thanks to the acquisition of Fox by Disney and that she has never watched a sitcom in her life. Reboot is then funny and incisive, having fun with its concept and mocking its own broadcasting platform. As a nod, the episodes also use the titles of other comedies like New Girl, Growing Pains Where Who’s the boss?
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The characters are funny… but stereotyped and hardly hold any surprises. They don’t really deviate from caricature and, when they do, it’s in an expected way: their flaws, their doubts are those that are expected from the start. And you have to accept that some actors overplay, even if that’s obviously what is expected of them. The humor does not always shine by its subtlety, some gags are easy and typical of those expected from a sitcom.
And it is finally all the paradox of Reboot. In theory in line with series like Episode, The Comeback or even BoJack Horseman, it is not as forceful in its irony. We laugh at Hulu and reboots.. but it’s a reboot airing on Hulu, and the show doesn’t push the sliders all the way, just being kindly teased and good-natured. Reboot ends up moving away from satire to become precisely a series like the ones it seemed to want to mock at the start: it’s a very good sitcom, but you don’t have to look any further.
We see if… we love good, simple and effective comedies; the lively dialogues make us laugh out loud; we are attracted by the cast which brings together actors such as Rachel Bloom, Keegan-Michael Key, Johnny Knoxville or Paul Reiser; we’re tired of reboots.
We don’t see if… we expect a biting comedy that is not afraid to get angry with everyone; we prefer the subtle dramas which push us to reflect; we are president of Hulu and we are very touchy.
8 episodes of approximately 25′.
November 2 on Disney+.