“What’s in the box? The answer may guitar you.”
The first season of NewsReaders was definitely one of the more underseen Adult Swim properties. The Childrens’ Hospital spinoff happened to produce some of the most intelligent wormholes into absurdist reporting of the year. It also acted as a rogues gallery for comedic voices like Michael Showalter and Wyatt Cenac to randomly write and episode and stop in for a piece of grounded craziness.
So it’s very exciting that NewsReaders is back, in spite of it not being without Mather Zickel as host, Louis LaFonda. I’ve always been a big Zickel fan and loved the restrained weirdness and delivery that he’d bring to LaFonda, so I’m legitimately sorry to see him gone. That being said, Alan Tudyk is wonderful, and Reagan Biscayne, the new host, doesn’t really feel that different than the previous one.
In the first segment, the always-reliable Kumail Nanjiani’s correspondent takes us into the phenomenon of “fuck dancing.” Fuck is dancing is exactly what it sounds like, and the kids just want to fuck dance the night away but the prom is being canceled as a result of the fuck dancing. Why can’t the grown ups just let them be and fuck dance!
Inevitably the concept of fuck dancing is ruined because it becomes so popular that everyone begins doing it, including the teens’ parents. The teens then suddenly no longer being interested in fuck dancing is a pretty predictable resolution, but in five minutes length, I’ll take it for how much is actually crammed in here. If nothing else, the joke of the reality show, Fuck Dancing With the Stars is very funny, and it has Hasselhoff as a judge to boot.
As this first segment pretty quickly confirms, this is still the exact same NewsReaders. It’s got the same biting satire, ridiculous wordplay, and beyond crushing stupidity. It may even be stupider now with Reagan replacing Louis, which is actually exciting.
In the second half of the episode, the “Are You Decent?” segment with Clavis Kim is the stronger of the two pieces. This is designed as a hidden camera bit about the obvious topic of race. We get a brief glimpse of Thomas Lennon as a studier of racial bias who says that “we are living in a post-racial America” as well as Harold Perrineur “as the African American.”
There’s some very silly stuff that goes on here as we see Perrineu in increasingly escalating threatening costumes. This reaches the point of him being dressed as Frankenstein’s monster, be called a “monster,” and then proceed to freak out over the racial insensitivity of it. Then, if this wasn’t threatening enough, the former Lost star is dressed up as Dracula. And then a zombie clown. I was actually laughing out loud by the end of this. It’s already so absurd with these people being scared at a monster and being called racist accordingly, but then to blow it up to this degree…
Both of these were strong enough segments to kick off the premiere of what will hopefully be a very strong season of NewsReaders. As this episode shows off, there’s a very strong team of comedic talent on camera that should get to do some wonderful things this year. Zickel might be gone, but thank God Ray Wise is still around as Skip Reming, who this episode goes on about how littering was the cool thing to do in his day.
There’s a lot of places this show can go, and second seasons are usually a great time for shows to explore what they are and master what they’re doing, so here’s hoping we’ll get an even more satisfying season than the first.