This series feels fresh and ambitious, but it lacks likable characters or consistent humor.
This review of the Hulu series This Fool Season 1 contains no major spoilers.
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Comedian and co-creator Chris Estrada leads this new Hulu original series as Julio Lopez, a cowardly boy child who still lives at home with his mother and other close relatives. The 30-year-old works at a nonprofit rehabilitation center called Hugs Not Thugs, where ex-gang members can get a second chance and even get their face tattoos removed for free. In the first season, Julio welcomes his immature cousin Luis to the program and into his own home. The criminal has just been released from prison after eight years in prison. This pairing of a righteous do-gooder in Julio and a mischievous lawbreaker in Luis should go for sitcom gold, but the series fails to muster any likable characters or consistent comedy moments throughout its ten episodes.
The show draws heavily on these bickering cousins, making them the main focus of the plot. Julio and Luis constantly argue like schoolchildren, play fights and insult each other. This teenage rivalry dies down pretty quickly, but the creators manage to throw in some endearing family values to balance things out, with the cousins always having each other’s backs no matter how deep the argument goes. Luis and Julio get into a lot of uncomfortable troubles as Luis struggles to adjust to civilian life, while his case manager Julio takes his authoritarian duties a little too far and goes insane with power and revenge.
Julio is really busy, tasked with keeping criminal Luis on track while his ex-girlfriend Maggie (Michelle Ortiz) comes back into the picture and doesn’t end the drama herself. Even his boss and founder of Hugs Not Thugs, Minister Payne (The sopranos star Michael Imperioli) manipulates Julio at every opportunity, taking full advantage of his sustained kindness and shameless desperation to please.
And Julio is a true humanitarian, focusing on solving other people’s problems through his own to avoid any self-reflection or self-reflection on his part. The series attempts to address both Julio’s and Luis’ complex psychological issues in the episodes, but eludes any real, discernible progression. When characters are ready to learn a lesson or mature, they suddenly revert to their old ways and repeat past mistakes (for the most part). This frustrating trend is becoming a real problem in the modern TV landscape, with shows blatantly aiming for a second season by leaving things unresolved and open-ended.
This fool however, suffers in broader areas, particularly in the comedy department. The show tries to make people laugh by any means necessary. Use shock and awe tactics or annoying caricatures. Luis beatboxes and Maggie spins silly baby voices that only irritate, while a subplot involving a billionaire couple delves into rather dark territory. The humor just doesn’t fit the tone of the show and at times feels too eager to please. I have to admit that there are some hilarious running gags to enjoy and certain jokes that land on the odd occasion, but for a newly formed comedy series it’s lacking in genuine laughs.
It would be easier to accept this conflicting humor when the cast is worth grappling with, but this is one hell of an unlikable cast, led by our main culprit, Julio, who comes off as a smug hypocrite. It’s hard to care for or engage with these performers when they constantly ignore past mistakes or break out of character from time to time. Although, surprisingly, the show can still be quite heartwarming. The idea of criminals self-improving is predestined for your stereotypically uplifting feel-good moments and This fool manages to evoke thoughtful self-reflection. It can be quite encouraging when it wants to be.
There’s clearly a desire to impress and the show has high ambitions, which only adds to my general frustration here. The series looks great, with a cinematic edge and a distinct, unique voice, but falls short with lame jokes and lots of uninteresting characters.
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https://readysteadycut.com/2022/08/05/review-this-fool-season-1-hulu-series/ This Fool season 1 review – ambitious comedy series that just falls short of the mark