Hit or Sh**: Comedy Central’s DETROITERS

In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.


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The beautiful thing about comedy in The Year of Our Lord 2017 is that there’s so much of it, you’re bound to find something that comfortably fits into your niche sense of humor. DETROITERS does that for me. Everyone has a subconscious little list of things that will always make them laugh: mine includes jokes about cocaine, poorly edited video clips, and earnest dummies with hearts of gold. Somehow, all of these bits are checked off by this Lorne Michaels-helmed vessel.

Sam and Tim are the self-proclaimed “Ad Kings Of Detroit,” having taken over Tim’s family’s ad company after his father’s psychotic break. The pilot opens with the pair on the set of their newest commercial for Eddie Champagne’s House of Hot Tubs. They walk and talk with Sorkinesque urgency despite the low budget nature of their surroundings. Their speedy back and forths are genuine, making it clear that Sam and Tim, both the characters and the actors, are Best Friends. Watching them plan and execute their corporate hijinks feels the way you always imagine a TV show with your best friend would feel — they’re excited, they’re on the same page, and they’re down to act really dumb.

I have been hyping this show for months now and I’m so happy I can finally, in good confidence, encourage you to watch it. I’ve found myself at work or in line at Target remembering a joke and chuckling days after watching. I made my mom watch it and even she remarked, “That was pretty funny” — high praise from a devout fan of THE BIG BANG THEORY. Writers and creators Sam Richardson of VEEP and Tim Robinson, former SNL writer and featured performer, deliver a pilot with equal parts exposition, jokes, and touching moments.

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“Lea, you’re in film school, I think you can edit a hot tub commercial by yourself.”

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Richardson is, in my opinion, a comedic genius. His performance as Richard Splett on VEEP is astoundingly subtle in its stupidity and heartwarming in its earnestness. It’s already exciting to watch Richardson in a lead role as opposed to his secondary role on VEEP and bit parts in films like MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES and NEIGHBORS 2. Both he and Robinson are Detroit natives, and their commitment to paying homage to their city is simultaneously sincere and tongue-in-cheek. The two deliver a relationship that perfectly blends the ride-or-die nature of Abbi and Ilana’s friendship on BROAD CITY and the oddly sweet naivete of the WORKAHOLICS’ brotherhood.

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“We already ate here — look at these stains on our ties and the receipt.”

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DETROITERS is simply a good time. Richardson and Robinson’s sincerity in absurdity evokes a quiet sense of joy in everything they do. From crashing a business meeting at a local steak house to cheering on garbage truck drivers, they never leave you questioning why you’re rooting for them. The throughline of Eddie Champagne’s commercial leads to the best jokes in the episode. Lea’s commercial made me laugh so hard I cried, and the final scene in which Sam replaces the top bracket of his goal chart is heartwarming, hopeful, and stupid funny. Comedy Central has always been hit or miss with me, but the eager wit of DETROITERS already has me looking forward to the rest of the season.

Verdict: Hit

DETROITERS airs on Comedy Central on Tuesdays

Aya Lehman acts as a guest contributor for Crossfader so she can talk about rom coms in a public forum. Her passions include reading the writers of CRIMINAL MINDS for filth, the politics of the color pink, and Steve from STRANGER THINGS.

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