TV Review: ‘Survivor’s Remorse’

Starz Survivors Remorse

Look past the marquee producers (including NBA superstar LeBron James and his manager), and “Survivor’s Remorse” is really just a new version of “Entourage,” with a predominantly African-American cast and a new big-money setting — namely, pro basketball. And that’s not a bad thing, at least once one gets past the exposition-heavy premiere, which feels too obligated to state every beat of the premise, including the underlying meaning of the title. Starz has ordered six episodes of this half-hour series, which hits just a high enough percentage to warrant a continuing spot on the roster.

As the show begins, Cam Calloway (Jamie T. Usher) is signing a megabucks deal with the NBA’s Atlanta franchise, one negotiated by his cousin and lifelong friend, Reggie (RonReaco Lee). The contract has allowed Cam to financially float his entire family, moving his mom (Tichina Arnold) out of the Dorchester, Mass., neighborhood in which they grew up, with Cam’s older sister (Erica Ash) and Uncle Julius (Mike Epps) also eager, as Reggie says to Cam, to “suckle at your teat.”

Written by actor-comic-producer Mike O’Malley, the pilot has Cam explicitly state that, “I feel guilty that I’m surviving,” given the people still struggling with the poverty in which he was raised, and feels a sense of obligation to share his good fortune. He also spends a fair amount of time smoking pot and purchasing luxury items, many for his family, who take pleasure in reminding him about all they’ve done for him.

If the opening is too on the nose — too explicit about the question of whether Cam can make his money last when everyone has an open palm extended — the episodes get better, repeatedly dealing with matters pertaining to image management, whether that involves attending a classy charity dinner (where Mom brags to a reporter about beating on him as a child) or going to a hospital to visit a kid in a coma (a prospect Cam dreads).

Perhaps the most intriguing choice is that the audience never sees Cam playing basketball, or even training for it. Instead, the focus remains steadfastly on his off-court life, which his family, however well intentioned, has a way of complicating.

What makes it work beyond the sitcom-ish sound of that, to the extent it does, is primarily the genial camaraderie between Cam and Reggie, and the genuine warmth among the characters, even when they’re sniping at each other. Give part of the credit to director Ken Whittingham, who brings a natural, unforced quality to those scenes.

Like “Entourage,” there’s some of the expected excess associated with being young and incredibly rich, and Uncle Julius in particular appears determined to leverage his access to Cam to bed women eager to meet a twentysomething multimillionaire.

In more pragmatic terms, James’ involvement should help market the show to sports fans Starz might not otherwise reach, adding a series with likely male appeal to a network still celebrating its inroads with women via this summer’s “Outlander.”

Taking all those stats into account should add up in “Survivor’s” favor, even if the case for it isn’t a complete slam dunk.

TV Review: 'Survivor's Remorse'

(Series; Starz, Sat. Oct. 4, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Atlanta by Spring Hill Prods., Werner Entertainment and O’Malley Ink.

Crew

Executive producers, Tom Werner, Maverick Carter, LeBron James, Mike O’Malley, Paul Wachter, Victor Levin; co-executive producer, Chris Moore; producers, Hilton Smith, Jerome Hairston; director, Ken Whittingham; writer, O’Malley; camera, Oliver Bokelberg; production designer, Chase Harlan; editor, Matt Ramsey; music, Ludwig Goransson; casting, Kim Taylor Coleman. 30 MIN.

Cast

Jessie T. Usher, RonReaco Lee, Erica Ash, Teyonah Parris, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps

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  1. Anthony charles says:

    This show is a masterful piece with a delicate perfection of cast with a wide range of personality and attention to detail. I was truly sadden and disturded to see mike epps character come to a sudden end which gave the show that glue substance and wonderfully timed comic relief and insite. Almost seemed like a father figure for cam.

  2. Annette says:

    I find this show refreshing. The story lines may be disturbing to folks like Jane who noted on Oct 12 2014 that the comedy is laughable. Great acting and well produced. I cant wait to see what season 3 has bring. BTW – RonReaco Lee is bringing much swag in his role. Keep it coming doubleR!

  3. Jane says:

    Calling this show a comedy is laughable. This show is not only unfunny, but so bad that it would definitely fit into the cringe-worthy category. The gay daughter/sister, whatever, is so offensive to the point of being embarrassing and frankly, disgusting. I also wish Tichina (don’t remember her last name) would take on some better roles. Instead, she always ends up playing the offensively stereotypical eye-rolling, eye-popping loud mouth black woman incapable of human emotion, feeling, consideration and respect for others. Not all African-American individuals and families are like this, but this is the same garbage that shows up on TV time after time. The last decent show about African-Americans was The Cosby Show. SR is a waste of time and a piece of trash that should be disposed of immediately, or better yet, incinerated.

  4. Alphonso Dejesus says:

    Survivor’s Remorse episode 2 is awful… blatantly awful. The acting, the script, the premise, the plot, the dialog momentum is astonishingly bad. 18 minutes in to episode 2 when a pudgy Kevin James look-a-like chases down “Cam” to get a photo from him with his son, and then begins to tell him that thanks to Cam’s mom talking about her experience whooping Cam that it had changed his parental views and that because of that he started “Whooping” his own kid that morning is obvious the work of a non-existant writing mind.

    Whoever wrote that scene exposed themselves as a farcical shit-for-brains no talent hack amatuer, who should have never been allowed to put finger to keyboard to manifest such nonsensical drivle.

    And that one and half minute scene alone is why Survivor’s Remorse beyond its disturbingly bad title choice, an exploit of momumentous African American laziness. When there is more development and depth in the writing, and acting on the Real Housewives of Atlanta, then your show should probably be put down inhumanely like a Michael Vick pitbull. Oh boy! can’t wait for that episode when Uncle “stereotype” Julius gets interviewed and remarks about fighting dogs when he was younger, and then a Fat Kevin James look-a-like runs up to him on the streets and tells him that because of him he now fights dogs.

    Get it? Survivor’s Remorse (TV show) is a piece of shit from top to bottom.

  5. ken says:

    Thanks for the shout out Brian.

    • Kina lowes says:

      The name is terrific. The 20 min I saw really interest me. I’ll definitely be tuning in. This poster seems they have a personal problem with the series… Does Kenton owe you money?

  6. BJ says:

    Surprisingly good show. Like the chemistry between the characters. Good mixture of drama with a dab of comedy.

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