Scenario I Imagine at a CBS Executive Meeting
“All right boys, 2 And a Half Men is working out great! That Bruce Willis fellow sure has saved the show!”
“Sir, it’s Ashton Kutcher…”
“Ah, whatever! One’s married to Demi Moore, the other’s not anymore, it’s all the same…”
“Sir, I really don’t think…”
“So, what have we got for the new season? I tell you who I like, that Tom Hanks fellow…we should get him and turn him into a real big star!”
“Actually, sir, we don’t have much in the way of new pitches. I’ll start with the bad news first…there’s a pilot from Rob Schneider, sir.”
“Dee Snider? The guy from the music? I love that guy! I’m not gonna take it! No! I ain’t gonna take it!”
“No, sir…this is Rob Schneider. The horrifically unfunny actor from The Hot Chick, The Animal, Grown Ups…”
“Oh, you mean the Saturday Night Live guy! Why, he’s hiLARious! I love that naked man he plays! Let’s give him a show!”
“Sir, you don’t understand…the proposed show is about Rob moving in with a Mexican family. It features all sorts of potentially offensive Mexican jokes. This is a really, really bad idea…”
“Mexican jokes! HA! What if we make him a gardener? That’ll fool everybody! Book it, boys! I can’t wait for this ratings bonanza! You can put it right after the show with the guy from Star Trek and the Twitter thing.”
“Sir, we cancelled that…”
“WHAT?! How could you? I loved that show! Get me Leonard Nimoy on Line 1!”
So CBS’s new sitcom ¡Rob! is not funny. But you already knew that, whether or not you actually watched the pilot. Yet surprisingly enough, I will begin this review by trying to defend the show.
Here’s the thing about ¡Rob! – which I like to pronounce in my head with an excited faux-Spanish accent, making it sound like “Arrobya!” – it’s not that it’s overly offensive. It’s offensive in parts, sure, but overall it’s just bad because it’s not funny. The critics have come out with pitchforks held high because of the supposedly offensive Mexican jokes that permeate the show – but it’s a bad show because it’s just not funny. Is it offensive that Rob’s supposed knowledge of Mexican culture consists of just guacamole? Or is it just not funny? I tend to think it’s the latter. Granted, there are some offensive moments here – when Rob meets his new wife’s family, he remarks “This is a big family. Now I know what’s going on during all those siestas. Sorry, this is a big family because you’re all Catholic. You don’t use protection.” And there’s a gag scene which ends with Rob bent over, pants off, behind his wife’s grandmother. How is anyone supposed to defend that? Did anyone clear this pilot for air?
This seems like a good time to get to the basic gist of Arrobya!, er ¡Rob! – our titular main character impulsively marries a Mexican woman, whose name I already forgot, after a six-week fling. However, she hasn’t told her parents (Cheech Marin plays the father) or anyone in her rather large family. This leads to sitcom cliche’ after sitcom cliche’. Rob gets into bad situations by coincidence and doesn’t explain himself, leaving the audience to laugh and his in-laws to gasp in horror. There’s the schlubby, short guy marrying the knockout-beautiful woman. There’s lots of talk of sex. And none of it is particularly funny, aside from a stray joke here and a stray joke there.
Perhaps the best part of the show is Cheech Marin, who can carry a ridiculous line. The show’s main problem? Schneider can’t. His chemistry with his wife, played by Claudia Bassols, is non-existent. And the show tries to sell itself with a laugh track every three seconds. The show practically screams out to viewers “THINK THIS MOMENT IS FUNNY! PLEASE!” The laugh track here is more prominent than in-game music at an NBA arena.
There are some lessons to be learned here. Number One: it’s probably a bad idea to base a show around Rob Schneider marrying into a Mexican family. Number Two: Rob Schneider looking like he is sexually violating a grandmother has to be one of the least funny things CBS has ever broadcast. Number Three: When the most appropriate line in the show is Schneider’s character saying “I like to keep the bar low”, you’re in trouble. (Or as they say in Spanish, “¡una problema!”) My recommendation: ¡No!