“Who makes that crap?”
This review is based on the first three half-hour episodes of Detroiters season 1.
There’s a procrastination montage of insanity that begins not long after six minutes into the show’s first episode that had me unable to stop laughing. The scene crams literally dozens of jokes into an economical few minutes while verging off into many different tangents and types of humor. The scene could play as a sizzle reel for the entire season, yet it’s just an ordinary several-minute stretch of time for this show. These avalanches of chaos are constantly burying this series in hearty laughter as you try to catch your breath and figure out what’s going to happen next. That’s to say nothing of the literally perfect scene that kicks off the series and illustrates the hopelessly optimistic ineptitude of Tim and Sam that you’re dealing with in this show. You should already be cramping from laughs by the time Tim and Sam barrel out of their hot tub commercial shoot.
Much like how the show’s opening scene illustrates, Detroiters provides the answer to the question, “Who makes that crap?” when you stumble across those abysmal dime-store commercials airing in the middle of the night. Tim Cramblin (Tim Robinson) and Sam Duvet (Sam Richardson) are low scale ad men in Detroit responsible for a lot of the local commercials that pollute late night television. The two of them might as well be in Hollywood, though, for the sunny disposition that they place on their eternally basic lives.
The idea of “Mad Men with schlubs” wouldn’t necessarily seem like a great premise, but it ends up working so well here. All of Tim and Sam’s ads are so upsetting and terrible in the most hilarious ways possible. It’s never a disappointment. Don Draper might have been creating picturesque dreams with his pitches that brought men to tears, but these guys are crafting nightmares that have people crying for other reasons entirely. Each episode ends up going in a radically different direction than the one before that it’s also not a show that falls into a predictable pattern (at least not yet). A series that can be reduced to the pitch of “bad Mad Men” is not going to do these absurd sorts of stories justice. You really just need to watch it.
The humor getting slammed in your face in Detroiters happens to very much feel like Tim Robinson’s Characters’ episode and the sort of energy that’s present there. If you’re a fan of that, you’ll adore this show. And if you haven’t seen it, it makes for a welcome companion piece to this. Sam Richardson has also been one of the most delightful elements (of which there are many) from Veep in recent years as Richard Splett. His tongue-tied, spastic attitude from over there is also very much present here in his character, Sam Duvet. These two aren’t the most complicated of characters, but they truly don’t need to be. This is a show that made me howl in laughter. It’s hands down the funniest content on television that I’ve seen in 2017. I hope they run this show forever, or until Tim or Sam (the characters) end up dying from incompetence.
The series isn’t afraid to move in an erratic nature, featuring a number of detours, while also verging off in unpredictable directions that give a very raw quality to the show. Each episode manages to fit in a number of inspired, outrageous set pieces as you watch Tim and Sam try to hopelessly navigate through some new pipe dream. There’s a very elastic reality in place for this show and it’s one that allows these very big personalities to constantly play off one another. I’m genuinely curious how much of this show is improvised because Robinson and Richardson create an undeniable energy that just never slows down. The amount of fun they’re having making this show is impossible to ignore.
This is also a series that does quite the effective job at world building and establishing this little corner of Detroit as such a hotbed for weirdness. The first few episodes of the show do an excellent job at introducing you to the recurring characters that Tim and Sam deal with in their lives. Great humor is mined from gags like the geriatric-but-doesn’t-know-it secretary, the inept bartender, or the vocal newscaster, Mort Crim, all of which highlight this show’s unique voice and brand of comedy. Detroiters is not at all afraid to spend time getting into weird niches either, like how Tim and Sam seem to be friends with all of the garbage men in their area. It’s a joke that never really gets explained or followed through, yet one that still works since it feels like such an odd, fitting encapsulation of these characters and their world.
Around all of the silliness and schemes for success, Detroiters is really about the sterling friendship between Tim and Sam. Their relationship is deeply sweet stuff, the bedrock of the show, and harkens back to other great comedic duos, like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, or even Key and Peele. In spite of the bad luck and incompetence that constantly confronts Tim and Sam, this is an endlessly optimistic series that has rose-tinted contact lenses permanently installed. It’s a show about following your dreams, never giving up, and working with your friends. Underneath all of the disasters and life-threatening misadventures, there’s something very sweet at the core of the show.
Detroiters is an absurd mix of comedy with some of the most infectious, cringe-worthy characters that you’ll come across. It’s deeply exciting to have a new comedy with so much life in it hitting the scene, and hopefully people respond to this program as enthusiastically as some of Comedy Central’s other recent content. Detroiters might get a little too weird for its own good sometimes, but Tim and Sam’s commitment never strays. Let these two madmen entertain you for a while and accept this show as your favorite comedy of the year.
Don’t names like Cramblin and Duvet inspire confidence?
Detroiters’ first season premieres on February 7th at 10:30pm on Comedy Central