It’s refreshing to see a television show using its location as a character at a time when far too many shows are still shot on soundstages. Even more refreshing is to see Detroit portrayed in such a positive light. I’ve enjoyed seeing my city on the big screen in recent horror movies like It Follows and Don’t Breathe, but there’s a lot more to Detroit than just creepy locales, and Detroiters gets that. It helps that both Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson, the lead actors and co-creators of the show (along with Zach Kanin and Joe Kelly), are from metro Detroit.
What I found mildly frustrating, at least in the premiere, were the moments of what felt like forced comedy. For example, a good chunk of the pilot is taken up with Sam and Tim’s all-nighter to come up with the perfect pitch to land Chrysler as a client. When their procrastination turns into a window-breaking contest, followed by both men taking far too many expired diet pills, I found myself wondering how this served the plot. Another example comes near the end, when Eddie Champagne (Steve Higgins) explains what happened to him and his wife after his botched commercial aired.
Still, in its twenty-two minute running time, the show manages to find itself and Detroiters works best when it wears its heart on its sleeve. In fact the best moment, and for my money the funniest, comes when Sam and Tim are saying goodnight to one another at the end of the pilot. So much is revealed about who they are and their long history together that its hard not to laugh at the circumstances they find themselves in. The comedy, in other words, comes from character, not from a bit or a sketch.
Detroiters has me intrigued enough to keep watching, so long as the writers can figure out what tone they’re actually going for. I’d say their love for the Motor City is a great start.
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