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Old 02-15-2021, 05:18 PM   #1
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Default Netflix Sitcom The Crew Starring Kevin James Launches

A new multi-camera sitcom launches today. The Crew stars Kevin James as the crew chief for a NASCAR team. When the owner steps down and passes the team off to his daughter Catherine (Jillian Mueller), James has to protect himself and his crew from her attempts to modernize the team. Watch all 10 episodes of The Crew only on Netflix, beginning today, February 15. Freddie Stroma as Jake, Sarah Stiles as Beth, Gary Anthony Williams as Chuck and Dan Ahdoot as Amir also star, Paris Berelc as Jessie and Bruce McGill as Bobby guest star.
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Old 02-17-2021, 10:57 PM   #2
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Kevin James' Netflix sitcom The Crew is mostly interested in maintaining the status quo, despite its focus on change

"Love him or hate him, James has more or less made a career at this point of playing likable schlubs (with the odd exception every now and then), and (co-star Sarah) Stiles manages to find both a warmth and a bitterness in Beth, giving her character a genuine complexity," says Dan Caffrey of James' NASCAR-themed workplace sitcom. "But the characterizations aren’t enough to make up for the fact that The Crew just isn’t that funny. Yes, comedy is subjective, and yes, one’s preference for the jokes here is going to depend on how much they enjoy this particular type of sitcom—a hyper-specific genre in and of itself—to begin with. But the writers’ idea of what separates the young from the middle-aged or the working class from the corporate world feels, for lack of a better word, basic. In one episode, the crew is disgusted by Catherine restocking the break room with healthy snacks instead of junk food. Another plot point finds the team members incredulous that their long-running steak sponsor has been replaced by a company specializing in meat substitutes. There are cracks about the strangeness of any restaurant that isn’t the local bar (the predictably named Pit Stop). There are quips about Instagram. Whether or not the jokes land is irrelevant—the canned laughter stays cranked up to 11 at all times, as if attempting to drown out any dissenting opinions."

  • The Crew rehashes lazy and sexist sitcom clichés: "A consistent through line in (Kevin) James’ television work is the consideration of a man struggling to understand that the world he grew up in, including his perception of masculinity and gender roles, is becoming obsolete," says Sadie Gennis. "But while the world has evolved in the 14 years since The King of Queens went off the air, it seems James’ perspective on these issues has not. In addition to Catherine, The Crew introduces a young up-and-coming female racer, Jessie (Paris Berelec), as a rival for the team’s current driver Jake (Freddie Stroma). While Jake is a scatter-brained dope whose compulsion to hit on every woman in sight (including his new boss) is presented as a laughable quirk and not harassment, Jessie is focused, responsible, and up to any task put in front of her. Yet after one of Jessie’s races, Kevin dismisses the fans lined up to meet her as nothing more than 'old guys wanting to hit on her,' which is only one of many ways women’s successes are consistently diminished and mocked in the show. The overarching theme of The Crew is men bristling against how unfair it is to be forced to listen to or share space with young women."
  • The Crew turns its NASCAR setting into a 10-episode ad for the sport and its many sports: "Most eventually find a way on-screen, while Busch (the official beer), Budweiser and Stella Artois (also an AB InBev brand) get prominent placement during the bar scenes — so prominent that when conversation in one scene pivots to healthy food habits, a bucket of Bud Ultra Light is delivered to the table," says Verne Gay. "Product placement is old-school marketing but so crudely deployed on The Crew that it becomes its own running joke. A tiresome one at that."
  • Kevin James says The Crew's chemistry worked from the get-go: “You can have all the elements of the show come together, from script to production to NASCAR to Netflix, but if there’s no (cast) chemistry it doesn’t matter,” he says. “It’s the one thing you can’t control. It’s either there, or not. I gotta tell you, man, it was so there on The Crew. Shooting that first episode I felt like we were in Season 3 already."
  • James feels liberated by the Netflix management style, which amounts to: We trust you: “It’s much different and much better for me, for sure,” he says. With network sitcoms, James bemoans “what you have to go through to get notes from everybody and all the way down the line and everybody’s gotta weigh and in you gotta please everybody.” It’s not uncommon for the suits to flag a joke in advance for potentially scaring the advertisers. But “Netflix just does their thing, they give you the reins and they let you go,” he says. “When you worry about, ‘Hey, can we do this or do that,’ they’re like, ‘Just do it,’ ‘Absolutely.’”

On The Crew, Kevin James seems afraid to embrace what life is like for today's working-class white guy

From The King of Queens to Kevin Can Wait to his new Netflix NASCAR-themed workplace sitcom, James shows there's a major flaw in his decades-long persona, says Joseph Longo. "For all his insistence that we continue to care about every iteration of the working-class white guy, James refuses to show us a nuanced portrait of this type of man, still relying instead on played-out gender jokes and failing to demonstrate the repercussions of these actions," says Longo. "Almost every gag delivered on The Crew — laughing at the idea of two men dancing together, mocking the female office manager’s height, dating the CEO of a company sponsor — would warrant an HR violation, except that office manager and HR director Beth (Sarah Stiles) delivers just as many jabs. Most concerningly, James stays apolitical: His everyday guys talk shop and locker-room talk, but never politics, which seems wildly out-of-touch with a time when it’s this exact demographic who are being increasingly radicalized by the alt-right. It’s hard to imagine James’ NASCAR garage, as depicted on The Crew, not uttering the name 'Trump' when his team is ridiculing the neurotic Persian chief engineer for cowering to their hated female boss, or when whining about that same female boss partnering with a fake meat company. If James is supposed to be the real American on a show that makes a Pledge of Allegiance joke in the first two minutes, he’s oddly unconcerned about how his target audience likely views the state of America." Longo adds that "the simple answer to all of this is marketing" -- James likely doesn't want to turn off people by being political. "As such, it’s understandably easier for James to stay away from politics," says Longo. "His own political beliefs aren’t easily found online, which today is more telling than it is uninformative, but it also jibes with the format of The Crew, where the mile-a-minute humor of multi-camera comedy historically normalizes identity jokes, like pitting a misogynistic young race car driver against an intimidating female up-and-comer."

Last edited by TMC; 02-25-2021 at 02:27 AM.
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