Forrest MacNeil does not review food, or movies, or books. He reviews “life itself!” Such is the intriguing premise of Comedy Central’s “Review,” which premiered last week. What more could risk-averse Americans want than a bold adventurer to field their curious calls and assess life’s greatest highs and lows according to an easily digestible five-star rating system?
But, of course, Forrest MacNeil is not a real person. “Review’s” reluctantly intrepid host is played by actor Andrew Daly (“Eastbound & Down”). (His wife, to whom he brings home the profits of his stealing stint, is played by veteran comic actress Jessica St. Clair.) And while Daly manages to wring believable sentiment out of momentous occasions like going to prom or trying cocaine for the first time – “That’s like bleach in my sinuses. That’s terrible!” – the situations on the show are all set up and/or scripted.
The second episode airs tonight, with MacNeil taking a stab at becoming a racist. The show’s take on the arbitrary nature of racial stereotypes is hilarious: “Most infuriatingly, they won’t stop talking about their catering business.”
As I watched the following clip, though, I found myself wishing that “Review” was not just essentially a sketch show. Call me crazy, but I’d like to see someone of MacNeil – or, I assume, Daly’s – liberal, progressive leanings try to embrace the mind-set of a racist, even for a brief, uncomfortable moment. Of course, if Daly attempted to actually experience that which he lampoons, “Review” would be a much different show – less funny, more anthropologically minded, and way more dangerous for the host.