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TELEVISION | Promising Netflix series gets busted by family unfriendly content


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➤ Rated TV-14
➤ Netflix

The first two episodes of the new sitcom Blockbuster, currently one of Netflix’s Top 10 TV shows, dangled hope for programming that harks back to the days of more wholesome television. Although not entirely devoid of offensive material, the pilot and second episode weave mostly clean humor into relevant themes, such as running a unique business (the nation’s last Blockbuster Video store), and parenting young-adult children.

By the third episode, however, it’s clear once again that family-­friendly programming has gone the way of the formerly ubiquitous video-rental chain.

The diversity of age groups in the Blockbuster store’s staff signals the show’s bid for older and younger viewers. Many of the quips and cultural references have mass appeal. Manager-turned-owner Timmy (Randall Park) tells his strip-mall landlord, Percy (J.B. Smoove), why he hasn’t fired Percy’s snippy daughter: “I love Kayla like a daughter you made me hire.” And with Gen-Z sincerity, Hannah (Madeleine Arthur) rebukes a co-worker: “I try to reserve ‘hero’ for first responders and the geese Sully Sullenberger murdered.”

On the serious side, multiple characters testify to the harm divorce has caused them and their children. But otherwise, Blockbuster, like most shows, helps normalize a fashionable defiance: Two male characters engage in a long kiss. Foul language escalates in later episodes, too.

Timmy encourages renting a DVD from his store over streaming because it requires human interaction: “You can’t replace getting to know a person with a computer program.” While that’s true, dismal content can come from both DVDs and downloads: The more formats change, the more they play the same.

Classic workplace comedies

  • The Dick Van Dyke Show / 1961-1966
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show / 1970-1977
  • Taxi / 1978-1982
  • WKRP in Cincinnati / 1978-1982
  • Night Court / 1984-1992
  • Coach / 1989-1997
  • Wings / 1990-1997
  • The Office / 2005-2013
  • Parks and Recreation / 2009-2015

Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.



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