By definition, only a few TV shows can be considered classics. All that we can ask from the remaining 99.9 percent is that they find their lane and stick to it. Survivor’s Remorse, in its final episode of a brief season, proves that it knows how to live within its means.
As crafted by Starz, Mike O’Malley and the LeBron James crew, Survivor’s Remorse has a pretty good handle on the ratio of “brand” derived dramedy vs. family dramedy the show can support. “Six”* like the five episodes before it wisely keeps the drama confined to a relatively unimportant trapping of fame: a shoe deal. It derives the lion’s share of both its humor and conflict from this, which opens up a confrontation between Cam and Reggie to play out quietly in the margins.
*No, I have no idea why the final episode is called “Six” after the previous five got their own title. I assumed it was a placeholder for another title but as of “press time,” Starz still has the official name as being “Six.” Maybe it’s an Illuminati-esque sign LeBron will go back to Miami after two years.
After their entertaining and mysterious courtship with Nike, Cam and Reggie have their final shoe meeting with Chinese shoe company “Bao” (“Bao is his first name, it just comes last,” Reggie patiently explains to Cam.) Bao is a bit of an uncomfortable Asian weirdo stereotype a la Ken Jeong’s character in The Hangover but at least he can talk just as pretty as Nike’s Eva Robles… He’s brushed up on his Greek mythology, only pronounces “Nike” phonetically and ponders what meat Asia will eventually name after Cam after sampling some Kobe beef. Most importantly he offers Cam 5 years, $40 million and 6 percent equity in his company. Cam accepts the deal as Reggie explains: “Equity makes you a boss, paycheck makes you a worker.” Man, Reggie’s cool.
Unfortunately, Reggie and Cam overlook one important detail: the shoes themselves. Cam’s shoes fall apart during practice while Uncle Julius’ pair fall apart during a particularly aggressive deuce. This is a nice touch, as I must admit I was even too wrapped out in the fun of the shoe deal plot to even think that the quality of the shoe would play a role. But it’s also where the episode threatens to fall apart altogether as the “family drama” portion Survivor’s Remorse fragile ratio begins to take over.
Throughout “Six,” Reggie has been in touch with his ex-fiancée Adina. Man in successful marriage begins to talk to old flame is not a successful recipe for any comedy, especially for one only six episodes in. Surprisingly, however, it leads to a really satisfying conversation between Reggie and Missy about past loves. Rarely are the realities of confronting past loves in a marriage covered, let alone so adeptly, in a half-hour comedy. It helps that Survivor’s Remorse has focused on family since minute one. Then the Adina plot begins to merge with Reggie and Cams’ shoe deal and things get a little confusing.
Cam is explosively angry at Reggie for the oversight on Bao’s shoes. He goes from 0-to-10 almost immediately saying “I know you’re faking it until you’re making it. I should have gone with a professional.” They go their separate ways, Reggie to Bao to fix this issue (it turns out Asians have flatter feet. Okey doke.) and Cam to the rest of the family for support. Then Cam finds out that Reggie has been talking to Adina and realizes he needs to help his friend.
Adina wasn’t back in town to see Reggie; she was there to see Cam, something Reggie discovers when he finds Adina attempting to feel up Reggie on their roof. The problem is that Cam shouldn’t need this encroachment from Adina in the first place. His brief “break up” with Reggie is so sudden and over the top that the “bros before hos” deus ex machina shouldn’t be needed, especially one with as confusing emotional implications as the Reggie-Cam-Adina triangle.
Still, it leaves the episode and the season in an interesting, appropriate place: with Cam and Reggie playing H-O-R-S-E to ignore the complex emotional dynamic they’re in. Cam, Reggie and Survivor’s Remorse all learned an important lesson in season one: that sometimes friendships require ignoring the hard stuff and focusing on fixing the shoe deals. Who knows if Survivor’s Remorse will see a second season but I certainly wouldn’t mind at least another six half hours in Cam, Reggie, M-Chuck, Missy, Cassie and Uncle Julius’ Atlanta.