After recently graduating high school, young Zach Stone opts out of a college to pursue the New American Dream: becoming famous with no talent whatsoever.After recently graduating high school, young Zach Stone opts out of a college to pursue the New American Dream: becoming famous with no talent whatsoever.After recently graduating high school, young Zach Stone opts out of a college to pursue the New American Dream: becoming famous with no talent whatsoever.
When I watched the show, I found out why.
Zach Stone is one of the funniest TV shows I've ever seen. It's The Office's ADHD child. The stripped down nature of the show makes it feel intimate, like you really are watching this kid make his own TV show and annoy his family to death. And then he makes mistakes that feel all too human and relatable.
One minute, Zach is rapping at a funeral and making you laugh while cringing into your seat, the next minute he's doing a hysterical impression of Gordon Ramsey. The jokes in the show are as hyper as Zach himself, flying at you a mile a minute. You'll be cracking up over what just happened, while trying to keep up with the punch line of the following joke, only to end up dying over the next joke. This show doesn't hold your hand either. It throws media references at you, occasionally dropping an introspective comment on whatever celebrity fad Zach is trying out today, then hitting you with a Justin Bieber joke for viewers that might not get the deeper humor. And there is plenty of easy humor. If you just want to have a good time, Zach's got you covered. If you want to think a little deeper, Zach's got that too.
A show this funny has no right to make me cry as much as it did. Which is why Zach Stone fits perfectly into the body of Bo Burnham's work. To loosely quote Bo, he likes to point out how stupid comedy is while making you laugh and pulling on your heart strings. (A very simplified, Bo-like way of describing the emotional power of his comedy.) And in Zach stone, he has plenty to say in between the lines. Society tells Zach to go to college, but he rejects it in pursuit of his own happiness, even if he has no idea what he's doing. Zach's desire for fame seems foolish, but could it be he's figured out something the rest of us haven't? Then there's the added layer of how meta it is. As far as I've read, Bo chose to perform stand-up instead of go to college, and a few years later he wrote a show about Zach who's so determined to become famous that he skips out on college to do so. So is Bo making fun of himself? No idea, but I love trying to figure it out.
It seems like a show that's actually about Bo's life, right? Except it's not. Bo is not playing himself here, or acting in his stage persona. He's playing a wildly different character than himself, a kid with ridiculous energy who's simultaneously the most annoying teen you know and a spotless ray of sunshine.
This show also achieves the rare feat of having a strong narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. It's an actual story with an actual ending. You'll leave the last episode totally satisfied (and then fall into a depression that there isn't more because MTV was too dumb to see the magic happening right in front of them.)
For anyone wondering about the adult content, the show's humor is fairly edgy but curses are bleeped out. Episode 4 leans towards an R rating but the rest of the show is comfortably PG-13.
I'm glad this show exists. Hopefully you'll feel that way too.
- Sep 18, 2021