Thursday, June 17, 2004

Method Man & Redman: the Sitcom

Just when I didn't think television could get any more ridiculous, Fox outdoes every ill-conceived reality show (except for The Swan) with a new sitcom.

Picture the following: two of the toughest and most well-known hip hop stars living in a mansion in New Jersey with a geeky Steve Urkle-like sidekick and, worst of all, a laugh track. That's basically "Method & Red," the new Fox show featuring Method Man and Redman.

These guys are one of those celebrity duos with awesome chemistry. Their 1999 album "Blackout" is in this white girl's opinion one of the best hip hop albums of the last 10 years. And when the two appear in a movie, it's usually good for a mindless laugh or five. So when I heard the sitcom was coming out, I was a little excited. I knew it wouldn't be comedic genius, but I thought it might at least make me giggle.

I am seriously disappointed.

The plot of last night's series premiere went as follows:
Method Man and Redman move into a rich, white neighborhood in suburban New Jersey. They buy their mansion because Method Man has made a promise to his mother. The neighbors, led by an overzealous and nagging realtor, decide to vote the hip hop stars out of the neighborhood. Method Man and Redman attempt to woo the neighbors with fruitcakes. In the end, the neighbors vote to give them the boot until the Norman Bates-esque neighbor stands up in their defense. (While distributing fruitcakes, Redman helped said neighbor lift said neighbor's father out of the bathtub.) The neighbors realize the error of their racist ways and let Method Man, Redman, and Method Man's mother stay in the house.

Obviously, with the FCC on a rampage, scenes featuring the duo smoking blunts won't be welcome. But there has to be a way for this show to not suck so horribly. And there must exist some writer creative enough to steer them from recreating the entire series of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The rich-white-people-fearing-black-people-in-their-hoity-toity-neighborhood thing was worn out by Will Smith, but my objection has nothing to do with rehashing of the stereotype. It's with the addressing a stereotype the exact same way everyone else does. As a huge fan of Lenny Bruce, I believe that the more often we are forced to confront stereotypes and bullshit, the more likely it is that society will be able to move away from such things. However, the show's writing is weak and lacking in wit and the situations are far from original, leaving it devoid of any useful social commentary. It's nothing different, and it's stupid.

My only constructive suggestion, aside from hiring a whole new team of intelligent writers, is to get rid of the laugh track. It's unnatural and distracting, especially when the main characters are these guys. They're above canned laughter, and there's no rule that says a sitcom must be adorned with a laugh track. Take a cue from a successful and funny Fox sitcom, "Arrested Development," and trash the lame laughs.

Barry Garron's Reuter's review offers a more favorable opinion: TV Review: "Method & Red"
The review written by Vince Horiuchi, TV Columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune, is much more critical -- of both Fox and this show: TV: Fox's trio of new comedies settle for appealing to simple minds