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'Rel' Review: Oversimplified Fox Sitcom Still Has Plenty of Room to Capitalize on Lil Rel Howery's Talents

 
 
 
'Rel' Review: Oversimplified Fox Sitcom Still Has Plenty of Room to Capitalize on Lil Rel Howery's Talents

If Lil Rel Howery’s last series “The Carmichael Show” was about a family trying to break free from the usual sitcom mold, “Rel” finds a group of people being thrust into one. Once the on-screen goofy foil for a brother who mostly had his life together, now Howery is starring in a show of his own as the character all the other people in his orbit are bouncing off. “Rel” has the germ of something subversive at its core, but the opening episode finds the show attacking a basic comedic premise with workmanlike passability.

Howery plays Rel, a down-on-his-luck divorcee, trying to rebuild his life after his wife leaves him, taking their children with her. “Rel” wastes no time dunking its title character into the requisite sitcom rebound cycle, using this pilot episode to get him back into the dating pool. And wouldn’t you know it, the first woman that’s a romantic possibility has a tiny character quirk that bugs Rel. (This leads to another indicative moment from the pilot: When Rel and another person have a conversation about a person from their past named “Roach Girl,” the script has them tell the story behind it, rather than leave it as an unexplained joke.)

His wife’s affair becomes so pervasive in his life that Rel doesn’t have any respite from people confronting him with it. Even a solitary moment on a bus is broken up by a bunch of guys who turn the inside of a moving vehicle into an impromptu Rel roast. D.C. Young Fly, as Jaymo, the leader of this insult-to-injury group, is a lightning bolt of energy. As this cycle of self-pity threatens to grow stale, his timing and delivery is a welcome shakeup.

Here’s hoping the show finds ways to work him into plenty of future episodes, because the rest of the show’s supporting cast is already settling into a familiar, easily repeatable dynamic. Brittany (Jessica ‘Jess Hilarious’ Moore) is doing what she can to shake Rel from skulking, and Nat (Jordan L. Jones) seems content to fulfill the little brother duties of being occasionally helpful and a frequent thorn in Rel’s side.

Tags: Rel
Source: indiewire.com
 
 
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