Call it the Blind Side principle: You know you’ve got a hit on your hands when a sports doofus (like this writer) volunteers to recap a comedy series about a basketball player and his outrageous but lovable family. (The football-centric film that won Sandra Bullock the Oscar is one of my favorites.)
Survivor’s Remorse may be a show centered on a talented athlete, but the whole sports component is just a backdrop. One of the signature elements of the LeBron James-produced comedy, which premiered its second season tonight on Starz, is you never see protagonist Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) on the court playing a game. Because that’s not what the show is about. Showrunner Mike O’Malley (Kurt Hummel’s dad on Glee) has created a whip-smart series that has earned its place as one of the sharpest comedies on TV right now. O’Malley opts to explore the more important—and more interesting—aspects of Cam’s life, i.e. off the court. While money does make your existence a lot more cushy, especially for someone coming from the Boston projects, life’s problems are still right around the corner, ready to sneak up behind you when you least expect it.
So thank heaven that if we have to watch a family dealing with these kinds of curveballs, at least it’s the enduringly funny, politically incorrect Calloways, who are back to wreak havoc on their wealthy new lifestyle. And we get courtside seats for all of it.
Right off the bat, the second season begins with the Calloway family moving on up. Again. But where do you go when you get too big for your deluxe apartment in the sky? Try a sprawling, palatial mansion in a tony Atlanta neighborhood. In typical Calloway fashion, the move wasn’t so much an upgrade as it was the result of the clan’s shenanigans. As Cam’s sister, Mary Charles, a.k.a. “M-Chuck” (Erica Ash), proudly exposits, “If I hadn’t accidentally launched that lawn chair off your roof deck, your condo association would’ve never kicked us out, and we would’ve never moved here to Calloway Castle.” For those of you not familiar with Survivor’s Remorse yet (the entire six-episode debut season is available for free on Starz.com until August 25th), this is your first lesson in the Calloway mindset: Never apologize for something when you can brag about it instead.
Also coming out swinging in the season premiere? Mike Epps as Cam and M-Chuck’s cringe-worthy, but no less hilarious, Uncle Julius. This is a man who, within the same conversation, spouts AIDS jokes about Cam’s boss (team owner Jimmy Flaherty—True Blood‘s Chris Bauer) and makes inappropriate comments about his nephew Reggie’s (RonReaco Lee) wife, Missy (Mad Men‘s Teyonah Parris)—to Reggie’s face: “I bet that she wears you out. Mmm-hmm-hmm,” he says, mid-ogle.
But Survivor’s Remorse is not only about pushing the boundaries of humor—which it’s been doing with aplomb since its stellar first season. It’s also a pointed commentary on the role of athlete as commodity, asking questions like, “How much of your personal life should you sacrifice for a paycheck in the millions range?”
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