×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: Comedy Central’s ‘Detroiters’

Comedy duo Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson play two-bit ad men and best friends living large in Motor City

With:
Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, Jason Sudeikis

Detroiters” is about two second-rate ad men in the Motor City who are pretty bad at their jobs. They are Sam Duvet (Sam Richardson) and Tim Cramblin (Tim Robinson) — best friends, business partners, brothers-in-law, and proud Detroiters. They make cheesy commercials for the local market, advertising for worthy businesses like the local hot tub warehouse and the optician down the street. Their secretary, Sheila (Pat Vern Harris), is a white-haired relic of the “Mad Men” era who thinks that she’s a sexy blond flirting with her bosses. (She also regularly confuses Tim for his father, Hank, the respected ad man who founded the company and went insane due to overwork.) Sam’s sister, Chrissy (Shawntay Dalon). married Tim, much to Sam’s chagrin, but the partners haven’t let married bliss interrupt their closeness: Sam and Tim (and Chrissy) live next door to each other, Sam in a crumbling house he says he intends to flip.

But amid all this interconnected chaos, in a cityscape that is the poster child for American decline, “Detroiters” primarily derives its comedy from how carefree Sam and Tim are. They love their jobs, their city, and each other, with a codependent affection that is reminiscent of Abbi and Ilana in their sister show “Broad City.” More than serving up a plot, “Detroiters” offers a state of mind; it’s one in which the most ridiculous ideas seem eminently sensible. In the first few minutes of the pilot, Sam and Tim squirt steak sauce on their neckties and swipe a check from another patron to make it seem like they are “accidentally” bumping into a Chrysler rep (Jason Sudeikis, also an executive producer) at a steakhouse. Of course, they have to drive the point home so many times — accidentally bumped into — that they trample all over their own scheme, with unearned but infectious glee.

Tim and Sam are kind of like happy kids in the candy shop of the Detroit metro area — and their enthusiasm is made hilarious by brilliantly timed editing. There were several scenes in “Detroiters” that are so helplessly idiotic, so incredibly naïve, that I could not stop laughing. Richardson and Robinson play off of each other with seamless rhythms, and both lean into their roles as knockoff “Mad Men” hucksters. Some of the best bits in the show are either very bad commercials or very bad pitches for commercials — both of which are opportunities for the show’s many guest-stars to commit wholeheartedly to an unbelievable bit. “Detroiters” is skilled at guiding the viewer to a joke setup without betraying that that’s what is about to happen. In the premiere, a hot tub king played by Steve Higgins — best known as the announcer of Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” — delivers a monologue about having sex with his wife that is so dedicated, so committed, that even Tim and Sam are riveted; in another episode, following an absurd pitch from security guard Ned (Comedian CP), the two leads look like they are about ready to crack up themselves.

Of the episodes sent to critics, the premiere is the strongest, largely because Sudeikis is the perfect serious foil to Richardson and Robinson. (Sudeikis isn’t a regular cast member, but according to press materials, he will reprise his role as the Chrysler rep.) Without him, the show is a weirder journey, one that de-emphasizes story for the more elusive quality of atmosphere. But it’s a bizarre, rollicking joy to watch. As is fitting for a show named after a place, “Detroiters” is a state of mind — a nice place to visit and stay awhile, to enjoy the world in a completely different headspace.

TV Review: Comedy Central's 'Detroiters'

Comedy, 10 episodes (3 reviewed): Comedy Central, Tues. Feb. 7, 10:30 p.m. 30 min.

Crew: Executive producers, Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, Joe Kelly, Zach Kanin, Lorne Michaels, Jason Sudeikis

Cast: Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, Jason Sudeikis

More TV

  • 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Draws

    'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Draws 19.3 Million Viewers, Sets New Series High

    The “Game of Thrones” series finale ratings are here and they are — as you’d expect — staggering. Across HBO, HBO Go, and HBO NOW, the conclusion of the megahit fantasy series drew 19.3 million viewers, overtaking the previous series high of 18.4 million viewers that was set just last week. In addition, 13.6 million [...]

  • Andrew Stearn Alie Rivier Gutman

    Producer Andrew Stearn Sets Overall Deal With ABC Studios

    Andrew Stearn, the former head of Working Title Television U.S., has set up shop as a producer with an overall deal at ABC Studios. Stearn has enlisted Alie Rivier Gutman to serve as VP of Andrew Stearn Productions. ABC Studios is part of the newly established Disney Television Studios unit encompassing the separate labels of [...]

  • CBS Studios Exterior

    CBS Credit Union Manager Pleads Guilty to $40 Million Fraud

    The manager of a credit union for CBS employees pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court on Monday to a $40 million embezzlement scheme. Edward Rostohar, 62, was arrested in March after the scheme began to unravel. According to prosecutors, he admitted to stealing money from the bank for the last 20 years. Rostohar is [...]

  • EP_6_0036.ARW

    TV Review: 'Good Omens'

    Like Starz’s “American Gods” before it, Amazon’s newest limited series attempts to adapt the philosophically lofty, theologically-infused work of British novelist Neil Gaiman. In his 1990 novel “Good Omens” (co-written with Terry Pratchett), an odd-couple angel and demon attempt to avert the apocalypse in order to continue enjoying their unusual partnership. Onscreen, this pairing — [...]

  • Emmys: Second Annual FYC Independents Screenings

    Emmys: 'All American,' 'Atypical,' 'Vida' Actors Among Lineup for Second Annual FYC Independents Screenings (EXCLUSIVE)

    The FYC Independents Screenings will take place Friday, May 31 in Van Nuys, Calif, Variety has learned exclusively. Formerly the FYC U.S. Independents, this evening of screenings and schmoozing with talent from series such as the CW’s “All American,” Netflix’s “Atypical” and Starz’ “Vida” is thrown by actress and producer Meredith Thomas to increase visibility [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content