Screen savors: Shrinks, buppies and Asian steakhouse owners

Two new comedy series are coming up in March on YES, and coincidentally, they are both about minorities in America.

February 25, 2015 12:08
3 minute read.
'The Comeback' TV series

'The Comeback' TV series. (photo credit: PR)

If you’ve enjoyed the slightly post- modern vibe of Friends actress Lisa Kudrow’s series The Comeback , about a fading sitcom star trying to keep her career alive (which airs on YES), then you’ll enjoy her series Web Therapy , which you can see on HOT VOD, although many episodes are posted on YouTube.

Originally a web-based series, it moved to television and is now in its fifth season. It features Kudrow as the supremely humorless therapist Fiona Wallace, who works with her patients through live chat. All the so-called therapy is satirical but very broad and meant mainly to show how clueless the therapist is. That said, it’s often very funny, and the real draw is the amazing guests who appear as patients, friends and relatives – among them, Matt LeBlanc, Meryl Streep, Steve Carell, Meg Ryan, Chelsea Handler, Jon Hamm, Conan O’Brien and Billy Crystal. Victor Garber has a recurring role as her husband, a closeted Republican politician.

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Each episode is about 13 minutes long, so if you want some quick entertainment, Web Therapy could be perfect.

Two new comedy series are coming up in March on YES, and coincidentally, they are both about minorities in America.

Black-ish , which starts on YES Comedy HD and YES VOD on March 18 at 11 p.m., tells the story of an African-American family trying to blend into their white neighborhood in this supposedly post-racial era.

While it isn’t especially subtle, it’s often funny as it raises interesting points about the familiar tension of wanting to fit in while still trying to hold on to your identity.

What really makes the show is the cast because the actors are extraordinarily appealing. Anthony Anderson, who played Detective Kevin Bernard on Law & Order stars as Andre Johnson, who explains in voiceover narration that while he is glad black men aren’t seen only as menacing thugs anymore, sometimes he misses it just a little. The visual during this is that he steals a parking space from a white woman who is about to back into it, and instead of cowering in fear when she sees him, she gives him the finger.

Race complicates his job as well. He is a vice president at a top Los Angeles advertising agency and is about to be promoted, but he is dismayed when he becomes head of urban advertising, a euphemism for black.

His wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross, Diana Ross’s daughter), whom he needles about being half white (“Tell that to my hair and my butt,” she says), is just happy he’s getting a raise.

His kids, he learns to his dismay, don’t even realize that Barack Obama is the first black president, and his father (Laurence Fishburne, who looks a little young for the role), would rather go to the track than teach his grandson African values. African values become an issue when his oldest son comes home and announces that he wants a bar mitzva, like all the other kids.

All the story lines lead toward the obvious, but every episode has some wonderful lines.

Fresh Off the Boat , which starts on YES Comedy HD at 11 p.m. on March 16 and on YES VOD, is a similar story, with a different perspective. It’s told from the point of view of a child in a Taiwanese-American family. He has to start from scratch when his parents move from the familiarity of their neighborhood in the Chinatown area of Washington, DC, to Orlando, Florida, so that they can own and run a restaurant that is part of a chain of steakhouses. His father’s dream is to run a successful business in American, while the son’s dream is simply to fit in as an American.

The series is based on the memoir of restaurateur Eddie Huang. While he complained that the series softened the tone of his book, the series has a genial tone that will probably appeal most to tweens.

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