By Jasmine Bratton
Netflix often acts as the final frontier for canceled shows, a haven of ‘what could have beens’ and ‘remember how cool this was?’ But, it’s easy to forget that sometimes, shows get canceled for a reason. The Cleveland Show, Seth Macfarlane’s first flop, is an unwise Netflix pick, as it is one of those rightfully canceled shows.
In an effort to replicate Family Guy’s success, but with a black audience in mind, Macfarlane proved that it is just way too difficult to be a good show runner, and instead created a show with borderline minstrel characters and half-baked plots, which just isn’t going to cut it these days.
The biggest problem with the show is that it looks and talks like it wants to imitate and celebrate black culture, yet only seems to further stereotype African Americans as a whole.
While watching a episode, any humor or joy derived from understanding a culturally relevant joke is instantly flushed out when you see stereotype after stereotype, which are all portrayed in a awkward, humorous light.
It’s incredibly easy to joke satirically about race, as proved by the classic Chappelle Show and anything by Chris Rock, but the jokes in the show aren’t funny in a way of ‘Hey, look how crazy and stupid this is!’. It’s more like, ‘How much can we say at African American expense, without looking like a rip-off of Amos ‘N’ Andy?’. And, in this age, it isn’t clever writing to have racist content followed by a vapid, ‘It’s just a joke!’.
Another reason of why the show failed is that it took a well-liked, reasonable character from Family Guyand made him into a generic comedy dirt bag. Cleveland Brown is one of the worst main characters I’ve ever seen, being a trifecta of selfishness, stupidity, and nothingness, and has less value as than a trash bag.
It is genuinely cringe-worthy to see him on the screen, as his characterization fits what the plot demands, leaving no substance between the quippy one-liners and bad, bad acting.
Being the main character, he is, in my opinion, unnecessarily relevant in every single episode, leaving no room from the side characters to evolve from their characteristic molds. Cleveland adds nothing to the show and takes away any positives the show could offer.
Plot wise, the show has nothing to offer, which isn’t surprising since this is Seth McFarlane show. Watching the storylines play out leaves you feeling a little numb, as you find more substance watching paint dry. It’s boring, with the few successful jokes tricking you into watching, only for it to get more boring. Nothing in the show is memorable, and only the repeated Kanye West cameos really standing out to me even now. It’s boring even to write about.
Based on his other shows Seth Mcfarlane has showcased that he can be at least a little bit socially aware.
Family Guy pulls no punches about making fun of its “ethnic” characters. Sure, the occasional Irish Catholic or “redneck” joke slips in, but not quite as often. But, he at least attempts to form some type of commentary with the audience in regards to religon rather than with race.
American Dad does a better job with this by focusing on archaic beliefs that many societies still hold. Yet The Clevland Show does not even accomplish tiny tasks like this.
I tried to like The Cleveland Show. I really did. But the writing came off like the obvious product of a white guy that tried to make show about various people of diffrent etheneceties without any input or insight from the actual people he is trying to parody. In fact it seems that Mcfarlane knows it. He even refreences this very sentiment in both of his other shows American Dad and Family Guy.
I give The Cleveland Show zero stars only because I can’t give it a negative number, and extra points for being a borderline racist show, and extra extra points for being a boring borderline racist show.