The pre-air PR for this Netflix animated series did the show no favors, focusing as it did ad nauseam on star and co-creator Bill Burr’s appeal as “a warrior against PC culture” and so on in the sort of proudly strident terms guaranteed to make me not want to watch it, ever. Luckily, those knuckleknobs at The AV Club paid me to review all six episodes of the first season, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much more thoughtful and interesting it was.
In retrospect, Netflix’s ad strategy might have been smart (most likely by accident), pulling in fans of, say, Family Guy, or just plain assholery and letting placating them with the undeniably incessant profanity and inappropriateness of Burr’s 1970s blue-collar dad and husband Frank Murphy while the show (from Burr and Simpsons writer Mike Price) went in a more interesting (if, again, undeniably crude and foul-mouthed) direction.
There are some significant weaknesses here—the characters outside the Murphy family are pretty poorly imagined (except for Sam Rockwell’s McConaughey-esque neighbor), and the show isn’t especially funny. But it’s aiming more for a sort of Bojack Horseman sitcom of quiet (or in this case boorish) despair, something that costar Laura Dern plied so devastatingly on Enlightened. And that it does pretty well indeed. Anyway, it’s a good show. Here’s a link to my AV Club reviews of the whole season. And here’s a clip from one of the reviews to get a taste of what you’re in for:
In a six-episode season, things are going to feel rushed, especially on a sitcom, where, by definition, situations drive character. But what’s become clear now that we’re two-thirds of the way through, is that we’ve been dropped into the midst of the Murphy family’s story at a crisis point. And, sure, the cliché about ”crisis” and “opportunity” might apply, but at this point, each member of the family is at a juncture that could go either way. As the season’s gone on, Burr and Price have made it clear that we’re witnessing a family on the verge of major changes, a fact that serves to smooth out some of the character shorthand.