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The emergence of TV shows like “Arrested Development,” “The Office,” and film series like “The Hangover” trilogy have set a trend for writers to blend hysterical humor with satire, aiming to offer a discerning look at the state of American society in the 21st century. These productions bravely tackle societal issues encompassing race, sexuality, workplace dynamics, and class divisions. In a similar vein, the creators of “Cobra Kai” – Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald – have attempted a satirical twist on action comedy with their Netflix series “Obliterated,” set in Las Vegas. However, the anticipated result falls short, leaving the show as a bewildering mishmash of absurdity littered with crude humor and explosive situations.
The series kicks off amidst a blazing casino rooftop, engulfed in a colossal pool party. Here, a team of seven elite special forces members nears the conclusion of a six-month mission to thwart a Russian bomb threat and save the city from annihilation. CIA Agent Ava Winters (portrayed by Shelley Hennig), the pragmatic leader of the squad, grapples with keeping the team focused while grappling with her unwelcome attraction toward Navy Seal Chad McKnight (played by Nick Zano). McKnight, unaccustomed to following orders, sparks tension with Ava due to his insistence on doing things his way.
Among the team members, Trunk (Terrence Terrell), McKnight’s best friend and a fellow SEAL, harbors an obsession with food but holds a clandestine secret. NSA agent Maya Lerner (Kimi Rutledge), also known as Tech Girl, thrives in the digital realm but openly fixates on McKnight’s physique. Marine sniper Angela Gomez (Paola Lázaro) dedicates herself to her marksmanship skills and captivating Las Vegas’ bachelorettes. Air Force pilot Paul Yung (Eugene Kim) grapples with the challenge of maintaining a connection with his teenage daughter. Lastly, Army explosives technician Haggerty (C. Thomas Howell) embodies unpredictability, mirroring the bombs he disarms.
Despite initial setbacks, the team successfully neutralizes the bomb, marking the culmination of their extensive mission. However, before disbanding, McKnight persuades Ava to allow the team a final celebratory bash. The party spirals into a drug-fueled escapade with unexpected chaos, but amidst the revelry and budding romance between McKnight and Ava, CIA director Langdon (Carl Lumbly) shatters their euphoria by revealing the neutralized nuke as a decoy.
Driven by Ava’s determination, she rallies the inebriated team to regroup and save both their careers and Las Vegas. The series concept holds comedic potential in watching intoxicated special ops agents attempt precise maneuvers and formulate a coherent plan within a tight seven-hour countdown. Unfortunately, the show’s execution falls short due to lazy jokes, excessive nudity, and hour-long episodes that prove draining rather than engaging.
The various plotlines, including the predictable romantic tension between Ava and McKnight, were evident from the onset, lacking nuance. Maya’s unreciprocated infatuation with McKnight and her animosity toward Ava feels tedious and immature. Paul’s sudden realization of his absentee fatherhood and Trunk’s depiction through stereotypes about Black men add to the show’s shortcomings. Additionally, an acid and mushroom trip renders Haggerty incapacitated until a later episode, forcing the team to carry him around as dead weight. Predictable dialogues strip away the sharpness required for successful satire.
Despite the ambitious premise, “Obliterated” fails to offer depth beyond the glitzy surface of Vegas nightlife and the central characters’ backgrounds. The series forces viewers to engage with a group that lacks an appealing depth, making it an uninviting place to invest time. Beyond a few quirky moments, the show veers more toward offensive stereotypes than clever parody.
Perhaps if “Obliterated” had condensed its episodes into 30-minute segments, propelling the narrative forward briskly, it might have preserved some of the intended wit. Instead, the episodes seem interminable, lacking genuine moments of laughter and remaining a string of chaotic sequences that fail to create the anticipated thrilling experience. By the final episode, “Last Call,” viewers are left feeling disconnected, akin to being the only sober individual in a room of revelers—a disappointing outcome for many. “Obliterated” premieres on Netflix on November 30.