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TV Review: ‘Chozen’

FX's animated series about a gay white rapper works overtime at trying to offend

With:

Voice cast: Bobby Moynihan, Michael Pena, Hannibal Buress, Nick Swardson, Kathryn Hahn, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Ike Barinholz.

Chozen” is certainly for somebody, but on the face of it, it’s hard to figure out whom. An animated FX comedy about a gay white ex-con rapper trying to jump-start his career after being framed, the show works overtime in its determination to offend, but tries too hard on most every level. Mostly, this series from the producers of “Eastbound & Down” has taken the popular TV-development mantra “Make some noise” a bit too literally, since while everything about the show is loud and brash, almost none of it is clever or funny.

The eponymous hero of the title (voiced by “Saturday Night Live’s” Bobby Moynihan) clearly doesn’t fit a lot of rap stereotypes, but he’s undaunted by the hurdles that might stand in the way of his goal to become a superstar, including professional rival Phantasm (Cliff “Method Man” Smith), who helped send him away on a drug charge.

Still, satirizing rap seems slightly dated at this point, in the same way the gay jokes – including a musical fantasy featuring buff, oiled-up teddy bears – feel alternately outlandish and stale. As for scatology, Chozen’s less-desirable prison habits include leaving the door open while sitting on the toilet, much to the chagrin of his sister (Kathryn Hahn).

Nor is there anyone particularly distinctive in Chozen’s extended posse, which includes pre-prison chums (Michael Pena, Hannibal Buress) and a couple of college students (Nick Swardson, Ike Barinholz) who somewhat incongruously enter his orbit.

Created by Grant Dekernion and counting “Eastbound’s” Danny McBride among its exec producers, there are a few amusing lines in the multiple episodes previewed, such as when Chozen stresses he won’t let a guy treat his sister “like an NBA wife.” Yet while the series ostensibly appears compatible with its lead-in “Archer,” there’s an art to being aggressively obnoxious, and other than pushing the boundaries of young-male-oriented animation, the similarity pretty well ends there.

Like many eager-to-provoke animated shows in this vein, “Chozen” will no doubt have a small cadre of enthusiastic admirers, and FX is hoping to boost the premiere by previewing it via Xbox. Whether that will be enough to make this latest wannabe a headliner in the network’s programming stable might be another matter.

Either way, consider me proud not to be one of the “Chozen” people.

TV Review: 'Chozen'

(Series; FX, Mon. Jan. 13, 10:30 p.m.)

Production:

Produced by Floyd County Prods. and FX Prods.

Crew:

Executive producers, Grant Dekernion, Tom Brady, Danny McBride, Jody Hill, David Gordon Green, Brandon James, Adam Reed, Matt Thompson; producers, Brian Ash, Eric Sims, Pat Piper; writer, Dekernion; animation director, Todd Redner; music, Dekernion. 30 MIN.

Cast:

Voice cast: Bobby Moynihan, Michael Pena, Hannibal Buress, Nick Swardson, Kathryn Hahn, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Ike Barinholz.

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