×

TV Review: ‘The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale’ on Netflix

The comedian returns to a very familiar format in a 13-episode run of a weekly, timely, satirical clip show

With:
Joel McHale

To quote Joel McHale’s interview with Variety, the difference between E!’s now-defunct “The Soup,” which McHale hosted for over 10 years, and Netflix’s new “The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale,” which debuted Sunday, is as follows: “Nothing.” “What’s going to be different about it is that Netflix has really nice studios and catering,” McHale quipped, adding that the green screen behind him, used to project the reality and unscripted television clips that he then tells deadpan jokes about, is a “totally different” color, like a “forest green” instead of a “kelly green.” The premiere episode of the new Netflix show, which will air weekly for its current 13-episode order, doesn’t even attempt to transition viewers to the new show; instead McHale launches into his format from “The Soup,” with a knowing grin at the audience.

The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale,” like “The Soup,” is such a lazy cocktail party of a show — unerringly brilliant, but usually graceless — that it seems dated in 2018. With its bit-saturated format and weekly output, it seems like it should be a podcast (and indeed, there are many that have cropped up in the three years since “The Soup’s” cancellation). What distinguishes it is the snarky, superficial brand of postmodern commentary about reality show narratives and foreign soap operas’ recurring tropes, and it’s rewarding to see that again. But again and again, McHale reminds you that all the comedy the writing staff has to offer about these clips is barely elevated vulgarity. Almost every clip would be funnier if McHale just said nothing after airing it. In a bit from the premiere that must play well with teenage boys, McHale shows a clip from a South African soap opera, performed in Afrikaans, in order to marvel at the language’s word for child: “kunt.” McHale then takes full advantage of Netflix’s freedoms to repeat c*** several times. Because comedy.

There is still quite a bit of satisfaction to be found in the bizarre moments that make it to television, and viewers who like McHale’s style or “The Soup’s” brand of snark will find “The Joel McHale Show” a welcome return to form. The show tapes weekly, so there’s a nice recency to the material, and the show mocks Netflix with a lot of affection, in a poking way that feels like how “Saturday Night Live” makes fun of NBC. The clip show format is also easy to translate to other languages, which is an explicit priority for the streamer as it locks down its global markets. Presumably there is no accounting for taste in dozens of languages.

Popular on Variety

TV Review: 'The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale' on Netflix

Talk show, 13 episodes (1 reviewed): Netflix, Sun. Feb. 18. 30 min.

Crew: Executive producers, Joel McHale, Paul Feig, K.P. Anderson, Jessie Henderson, Brad Stevens, Boyd Vico

Cast: Joel McHale

More TV

  • YouTube logo

    BBC Studios to Explore 'The Edge of Science' for YouTube Originals

    The BBC’s production division, BBC Studios, has won its first YouTube Originals commission, “The Edge of Science.” Starring presenter and science enthusiast Rick Edwards and YouTuber Colin Furze, “The Edge of Science” will carry out a range of stunts and experiments to explore if it’s possible to levitate. The presenters will meet the scientists behind [...]

  • Kirsten Dunst'On Becoming a God in

    Kirsten Dunst Talks 'Little Women,' 'Interview With a Vampire' Reboots

    Kirsten Dunst was just 11 years old when she skyrocketed into stardom as Claudia in “Interview with a Vampire,” but now Dunst says her age is the only thing keeping her from reprising the role in a hypothetical reboot. “I mean I’m too old, right?,” she told Variety at the premiere of “On Becoming a God [...]

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content