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Friday, October 28, 2016

PILOT REVIEW: The Great Indoors


Starring: Joel McHale, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chris Williams, Susannah Fielding, Christine Ko, Shaun Brown, and Stephen Fry

Created by Mike Gibbons
Written by Mike Gibbons, Directed by Andy Ackerman

The Great Indoors is a tired new sitcom that pits Joel McHale against millennials. McHale plays Jack Gordon, who has been all around the world for the Outdoor Limits magazine. When he returns home, he finds out the magazine is moving to an online-only publication and he is put in charge by founder Roland (Stephen Fry) alongside his daughter, Brooke (Susannah Fielding), who has a romantic history with Jack. Jack and Brooke are put in charge of a group of millennials who - surprise! - Jack has nothing in common with.

Everything about this pilot felt tired and it started with the fact that they made over half their cast a single stereotype. Now I'm a millennial myself and I know that there are very few millennials who act the way they do in this show. But that's not the point. There is some truth to every stereotype and there are certainly things about millennials that are ripe for mockery. But this show didn't choose to do that and find clever ways to poke fun at our generation. Instead, they made all the characters nearly identical and resorted to easy punchlines. The millennials on the show weren't fully formed characters, they honestly could have all been one character playing off of Joel McHale.

For his part, McHale felt a little sad in this role. After his edgy run as the host of Talk Soup and then the lead on beloved cult hit Community, McHale has always felt "cool." But since the end of Community, he somehow made the transition from a hip guy to a lame dad. I might have bought this "rugged outdoorsman not in touch with the digital age" character if he was played by a young Craig T. Nelson for example but I didn't buy it at all from McHale. He has felt far too much in touch to play someone completely out of touch and I also didn't really buy him as an outdoorsman on top of that.

With all this negativity, I actually feel like there's a show here if it can actually find an interesting voice. For all the promises with casting and characters, the premise is a decent one and it allows for a broad framing that has the potential to more exploration of characters. Of course, they have to get some distinct characters quickly for this to work. Right now, the team of millennials that populates the cast does not make any sort of impact and the show is going to have to work overtime now to make them individual characters.

I'll probably give it another week or two to see if it's heading in a good direction.

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