The Buzz: Weekly Airings Or All At Once? ‘The Joel McHale Show’ Review
Is The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale a The Soup rip-off, an extremely pandering outlet to hock new Netflix content or a mostly entertaining show worth your time? Yes, yes and yes. The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale is a half hour comedy Netflix series that stars who else, but comedian Joel McHale. The show consists of Joel McHale standing in front of a green screen as he comments on various clips and performs in the occasional skit. If that sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen E!’s The Soup. Cancelled in 2015, The Soup ran for twelve seasons and starred Joel McHale doing nearly the exact same thing. Don’t worry, Netflix and Joel are aware of the similarities and they often mock it. Meta humor dominates here making it impossible for anyone to forget they’re watching a show on Netflix. Is it obnoxious? Yes, but it’s worth it and here’s why.
Unlike almost every other show on Netflix, The Joel McHale Show releases new episodes weekly instead of all at once. This means you won’t be able to binge the whole first season yet, but this does allow the show to include much more topical humor. This works in this particular show’s benefit, but it isn’t something Netflix should adopt for its other more scripted and produced series. Immediate bingability has become a staple expectancy of most Netflix viewers and to take that away would cause more harm than good.
The first episode was a bit of a mixed bag. While most of the clips shown were funny, the commentary from Joel McHale wasn’t the best. The first episode also contained a lot of self-deprecating humor as the show mocked and plugged a variety of their other programs such as GLOW, Stranger Things and Luke Cage. The only skit in this episode was a mock tour of Netflix Studios that was littered with the leads from many of Netflix’s shows. While many of these celebrities, like Alison Brie, are generally very funny, the overly scripted skit came off more forced than funny.
However, as the series went on, not only did the clip choices get better, but so did Joel McHale’s comedy and commentary. After not hosting for a couple of years, it seems Joel just needed some time to get back into the swing of things. After the first episode, the best segments were expanded on, the worst were faded out and new ones were constantly tested out. By episode seven “Thank you, Lasagna,” Joel had fully found his groove. His commentary became just as funny as the clips, if not funnier at times.
There are also several recurring gags across the course of the show. Some great ones included Joel mugging at a second camera and executive Paul Feig imitating clips. However, the most entertaining had to be the Donna-Dorable feud. After being unable to appear as a guest on The Today Show’s after show with Donna-Dorable, Joel started a mock feud that grew more and more layered as the two reacted to each other’s shows on a weekly basis.
On a less positive note, many of the celebrity cameos seemed unnecessary and pointless. For the most part, it felt like the humor was supposed to come from, “Oh, look it’s a celebrity,” rather than humor based on said specific celebrity. However, not every celebrity cameo fell flat. A few guests like Jason Priestley did end up tying well into the jokes, but overall the show could really benefit from toning down the celebrity appearances.
Additionally, the show incorporates some returning segments such as “Joel’s International Corner” and “Joel’s Weekly Dump” for grouping together clips. Some segments proved better than others, but “Joel’s International Corner” was one of the best by far. Not only did it give United States viewers some exposure to new cultures, it also proved that the United States is not the only country with ridiculous reality shows, unintentionally hilarious movies and uncomfortable commercials. The world may differ greatly in many places, but at least we can all come together in our mediocrity.
The show was also shot in front a live studio audience which led to some endearing mistakes and screw ups from time to time. While you wouldn’t want huge mistakes all the time, the occasional flubbed line or stage hand accidentally being in the shot combined with Joel’s reaction added a level of charm to the show that you wouldn’t get if it wasn’t filmed live.
While the show’s introductory theme isn’t of much note, the end credits song is probably one of the best of any Netflix show yet. Make sure to listen to it every time as the lyrics change every couple of episodes or so.
Being on Netflix, The Joel McHale Show can cross some boundaries that The Soup wasn’t able to. For one, the show is fairly liberal with dropping the F-bomb and showing intense gore. Sometimes censoring can work in a show’s favor, because what a character is imagined to be saying can be funnier than what is actually said. For the Joel McHale show though, lacking censors works to its benefit, as it allows for more genuine unscripted reactions and allows just about any kind of clip to be shown.
If you’re interested in watching the episodes in order, be careful though because Netflix starts you off with the most current episode rather than the first one. This won’t hurt your viewing in any way as the show is completely episodic, but it might leave you slightly confused.
The drawbacks of course are the constant Netflix plugs. Meta marketing has become one of the leading forms of marketing as it appeals to younger audiences. Commercials from Old Spice and just about every other commercial at the Super Bowl prove this method works. Meta marketing seems less deceptive as these companies openly mock what they’re trying to sell to you. Nonetheless, just because it’s honest it’s an ad, it doesn’t stop it from being an ad. And there are a lot of ads in The Joel McHale Show. Most come from the celebrity guests, but there are plenty already built in with the clips from Netflix shows.
In conclusion, The Joel McHale Show is a good show that would probably give most people a lot of laughs. That said, anyone who unironically enjoys reality shows like The Bachelor and Vanderpump Rules or is easily offended by crude humor, probably won’t get much out this show. Besides that, the worst thing that can be said about the show is it’s a little heavy on the ads. All in all, anyone with the slightest amount of interest should check it out. New episodes air every Sunday on Netflix. Season one will consist of thirteen episodes, but it has yet to be announced whether there will be a season two.