Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pilot Review: White Famous

White Famous (Showtime)
Premiered October 15 at 10pm

It’s always interesting to learn something about a show after you’ve watched it that helps to put it all into a bit more context. I was a big fan of “Californication,” which had a few really great seasons and a few others that weren’t as good, and I did feel that a few of the scenes in this hourlong pilot were reminiscent of that show. Learning that this comes from creator Tom Kapinos and that it’s supposed to be set in the same universe as his previous does make some sense, and it’s been enough time that I didn’t remember that Stephen Tobolowsky had played producer Stu Beggs before. This show provides a great platform for “Saturday Night Live” alum Jay Pharoah to take the lead, and he’s clearly comfortable in the spotlight. I’m not quite sure what to make of the rest of this show, which in just its first two episodes featured a handful of recognizable faces chewing a lot of scenery. Jamie Foxx wearing a skirt and having a conversation mid-sex made quite an impression, and Michael Rapaport’s Teddy Snow is an incredibly outrageous character for whom the actor is a pretty good match. I also liked seeing Steve Zissis as a terrible hand-shaker and Lyndon Smith as Gwen, the actress who played her part very well and threw Floyd for a loop. I’m thrilled that Lonnie Chavis, who played young Randall on “This Is Us,” is getting more roles like this one. This show is very frontal and certainly addresses some hot-button issues, but I’ve seen far more appealing showcases of popular comedians than this one.

How will it work as a series? We went from a racist rant in episode one to a guy who knows he’s crazy and doesn’t care, and Floyd continues to get talked into doing things that he’s dead set against, like taking on a role or encouraging his son to go to private school. It’s a fun setup that’s someone reminiscent of a far more comedic “Atlanta,” and considerably more unhinged.
How long will it last? The first of these two episodes was made available online a few weeks early, and the reviews appear to be generally okay but not all that great. I haven’t seen much ratings data yet, but I think that, given Showtime’s previous affiliation with Kapinos and the desire to see Pharoah succeed, this one will get a decent shot.

Pilot grade: B-

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