CHOZEN: Beef, Review

The bigger the ego, the worse it bruises, you silly little bitch.

So, we finally catch up with Phantasm, whose hip hop self-exaltation is, despite being a completely ridiculous exercise in bragging, not that much of a departure from the actual narcissistic ode to oneself that hip hop has more or less become. Still, all this fame and fortune isn’t enough. The bigger the ego, the worse it bruises from even the smallest hit, and the mere existence of Chozen’s fledgling career is enough to put Phantasm on edge.

Chozen’s parole officer hooks him up with a job, but it turns out to be a scheme laid by Phantasm to humble our hero. Chozen, having none of that, walks out on Phantasm and starts dreaming up ways (including a Street Fighter II battle) to get one up on his nemesis. Jimmy, however, is the one who comes up with the much more realistic and effective plan of getting some incriminating photos of Phantasm macking on Bobbi, a smoking hot transwoman that Chozen met in an on-campus LGBT group which he had very little patience for. It doesn’t quite work and, in fact, backfires when Phantasm arranges for a drunken Chozen to be roofied and taken home by one of his agents… who happens to be a transman. Chozen plans some image-killing revenge, but Phantasm renders the attack futile, and so the beef goes on.

Like the previous episodes, there’s some humor here that could be problematic, this time in reference to the transgender community. However, as with the racism issue, there’s a decent balance here. Yes, the idea of having fucked covert vagina, temporarily freaks Chozen out, which could certainly be construed as transphobic, but it was more to play on the comedy of Chozen’s… uh… is there a gay version of machismo? Straight people might assume that, heterosexuality being the favored orientation in society, a gay person would be more comfortable with hetero sex than a straight person would be with gay sex, but the comedy here comes through in that the morning after reaction is exactly the same.

Now, this still paints sex with a transgendered person as some kind of trap or punishment, and I can understand how that would rub a lot of people the wrong way, but balancing that out, there was some very positive portrayals of trans people too. While transman Chauncy is a villain here, Phantasm seems to value him as a member of his team, part of his inner circle. Bobbi is an awesome character. She’s funny, she’s cool, and when Chozen first realizes she’s packing dong, he doesn’t shrink away in disgust; he enthusiastically compliments her on her tuck and gives her props. They become friends because they bond over the lameness of the LGBT group and how hard it is to find guys there. And even though she agrees to help him pull one over on Phantasm, he still checks to make sure she doesn’t feel exploited, and not only is she cool with it, she has her own motivations for participating. She’s such a great addition to the show that if she doesn’t appear again in future episodes, I’ll be disappointed.

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If anyone take a hit this episode, it’s the lame-ass LGBT group, whom Chozen chastises for trying to pin a label on him just because he had a sexual experience outside his normal pursuits.

“So, would you say you identify as bi, then?”

“Well, I identify you as a silly little bitch, Terrance, so why ya gotta keep labeling our asses every five minutes? Just chill!”

The final word of this episode seems to be more about not being so concerned with labels and categories. Chozen himself says, “Call yourself what you like. Own that shit!” And I think that’s pretty much the point.

This episode was all right, but it was very uneven. The Chozen/Phantasm storyline was great, but the B-story about Crisco and Ricky evading a shady looking guy who turns out to be a repo man interested in nothing more than repossessing Ricky’s television… eh, it was pretty weak. Again, Ricky and Crisco seem to be nothing more than Chozen’s minority friends whose comedy is based mostly in how they speak. They are, at this point, simply not developed enough to carry a sub-plot on their own, and it dragged the whole episode down.

Bottom line? The interplay between Chozen and Phantasm is always good stuff, and there were some great one liners. Chozen’s reply to Phantasm’s warning that he’s always one step ahead of him is “In jail, I liked it when guys were one step ahead of me.” But the supporting cast is still thinly drawn and weak, and if that’s all they’re supposed to be, that’s fine, but if they’re going to be getting their own sub-plots, they could use a little more beef.

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Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

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3 out of 5