Hulu’s star studded show “Reboot” is a clever meta comedy about rebooting an old sitcom.
Premiering Tuesday (Sept 20), “Reboot” is helmed by Steven Levitan (“Modern Family”) and follows the dysfunctional cast of an early 2000s show called “Step Right Up” who must reunite, deal with modern social media and cancel culture, and grapple with their interpersonal issues when their sitcom gets an edgy new reboot.
Among the actors on this fictional show are the pretentious Reed Sterling (Keegan-Michael Key) who unsuccessfully pursued a film career after the show (but nobody appreciated his insights from having attended the Yale School of Drama); Bree Marie Larson (Judy Greer), who has a romantic past with Reed, followed up the sitcom with a stint on a terrible sci-fi show, then left Hollywood to marry the Duke of a small Nordic country; Clay Barber (Johnny Knoxville), who did some stints of stand up comedy after “Step Right Up,” in between getting arrested for disorderly conduct, and Zack (Calum Worthy), the show’s former child star who’s all grown up now and feels the need to prove it by driving a red sports car and telling his fellow cast members that although they’re back together for this show, “It’s different now, because we’ve all had sex.”
Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex Girlfriend”) co-stars as Hannah, a writer pitching this reboot who wants to make an edgier version where the sitcom characters “don’t do the right thing anymore”, and Paul Reiser co-stars as Gordon, the original “Step Right Up” creator who wants the reboot to be more traditional. Naturally, this leads to some awkward clashing between Gordon and Hannah, as they have different creative approaches to this reboot project.
Shows that attempt to be meta can sometimes get too inside baseball with showbiz references, but “Reboot” is clever and funny, for the most part. When Hannah is first pitching this reboot project, execs are surprised to hear that the dorky sitcom “Step Right Up” is popular, and one asks, “Are you sure that’s not just people leaving it on for their dogs?” Without missing a beat, another exec responds, “No, we track that.” When execs ponder if reboots are even popular at the moment, they’re given a laundry list of real-life recent reboots (“Bel-Air,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Gossip Girl,” “Saved by the Bell”) that’s staggeringly long, and effectively hammers in this show’s point that this is a hot topic worth exploring.
For his part, Reed doesn’t hold the original “Step Right Up” sitcom in high esteem, but after reading the script for this reboot, he agrees to participate and tells people, “It’s much better this time. My character has a dark secret!”
“Reboot” is a busy show, with a slew of clashing personalities. But it never feels too chaotic, or like anyone in this sprawling cast slips between the cracks.
For anyone who has ever watched a sitcom, “Reboot” is a smart and amusing commentary on them – as well as a searing parody on the TV industry, reboot culture, and all the ridiculousness baked into it, with a great cast, to boot.