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Not Only Is This Show Hilarious--It Has the Biggest Cojones on TV
This is BY FAR the funniest, smartest and most self-aware show ever offered to the Millenial set. By a million miles. Even as a huge fan of Bo Burnham (confession: I may have at some point had some of his YouTube raps memorized), the quality of the writing and Burnham's acting is astonishing.
He plays a recent high school graduate who forgoes college to instead spend all the grocery store wages he has saved on a camera crew. They film his entire life, ostensibly for some nebulous TV show, with the end goal of making Zach famous. Any nature or degree of fame will suffice. The gimmick is believable mainly because Zach Stone is so delusional that he really would want cameras there all the time. His quest for fame motivates everything (well, almost everything) in his life, and he is willing to do anything to make it to stardom.
It's easy to compare it to "The Office", and fitting that it is premiering within a month of that show's series finale. Both of them are ostensibly behind-the-scenes looks at the making of two documentaries that will surely never been made. Both handle moments of quiet And they both turn out to be showcases for movie-star-level character acting and charisma. That was certainly the case for Steve Carell as Michael Scott. And Burnham was much closer to being a movie star than we know. He was reported to be developing a "High School Musical" parody for Judd Apatow (at the peak of Apatow's box office success).
Burnham decisively satirizes the MTV generation--the show's premise explores the idea that all you need to be famous is a camera crew. But his character is so likable and non- threatening that the satire might as well be delivered wrapped in marshmallow. (I don't mean to say the satire isn't dead on or cutting--it is.) And if you're familiar with Burnham's previous work, the character is even more clear-cut. He has always exhibited an overblown and carefully-crafted sense of egomania. There's more than a little bit of YouTube era Burnham in Zach Stone, but with the real Burnham (who has shown incredible depth in songs like "Welcome to YouTube" and "I Am an Artist") running the show.
Everyone involved with this show has major cojones, especially the MTV execs who put a show on the air that could possibly have alienated most of its audience. They shouldn't have to worry, because Burnham plays Zach Stone remarkably likable and sympathetic. But great shows struggle for viewership all the time, so I might as well start the plea now. PLEASE watch this show to make sure it gets a second season. This show has the potential to be one of the best on television.
How's this for irony? If you're looking for the smartest voice of our generation in television, it's on MTV.
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