Thank you to Netflix for allowing me to watch and review this show!
This is a running review, as after each episode I will write about that episode until I finish the series. Each “Episode Review” will be my immediate thoughts following the episode, and the “Series Review” at the bottom will be my thoughts on the show as a whole.
Creators: Ben Hoffman
Stars: Jake Johnson, Ron Funches, Cleo King
Synopsis: Centers on a hot-headed, foul-mouthed high school basketball coach who thinks turning around his godawful team will take him to the “big leagues.”
E1: The Pilot
Really starts off strong with the vulgar humor. I feel this is done in a strategic way to show the audience what exactly they are getting into with this show. Of course I won’t find out until I finish the series, but even though I did find this first episode humorous, it might be too much for some viewers.
E2: My Two Dads
This is an episode that happened too soon, and was resolved too quickly. For example, BoJack Horseman tackled parental issues throughout the entire show, but didn’t really dive into it until the later seasons. Granted that show was more dramatic than what this seems to be, but nonetheless it is a trope we have seen. Other than that the stuff with the kids is funny, but nothing memorable.
Nothing here was really memorable. The show is funny, don’t get me wrong, but there hasn’t been much of anything to really grab on to yet.
E4: The Sponsor
Strangely enough, the episode with the most basketball has been the best one so far. Funny how that works for a basketball show.
E5: Matty gets a Girlfriend
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I didn’t learn a goddam thing”. This is a quote taken from this episode of the show. Sadly, this is how I have felt for the first half of this series. Hopefully the back half brings in more, because as of now there isn’t much to really gravitate to.
This episode was a reversal on the stigma of making fun of gay people, and decided to have gay people make fun of straight people. It was funny, but it was just kind of too on the nose.
E7: The Strike
I wonder if this was based on the actual Kentucky teacher strike. Either way, solid episode overall.
Not much care for this episode.
E9: The Road Game
Funny at times, but no different than the rest.
E10: The Scout
For the first time in the show, I didn’t feel like we were stagnantly moving along, but were instead moving forward. I don’t know what this will mean for S2, but they at least saved the best for last.
Basketball in Kentucky is right up with religion. I’m serious, it goes: Religion, Basketball, Family. Sometimes, basketball before religion depending on who you are talking to. I mean shit, the Kentucky vs. Louisville rivalry itself has divided families in Kentucky. Basketball isn’t a sport in this state, it’s life.
So to see a tv show tackle basketball within the state is something that piqued my interest right away. At times, this show truly does do what it can to capture the essence of how important basketball is to Kentuckians, but for the most part, it falls into a farcical look at high school basketball that never really picks up any momentum until the final episode. Instead of giving an honest look at what basketball means to people in Kentucky, it felt more like an outsider’s POV into what they think Kentucky, and Kentucky basketball is.
The biggest issue with the show, however, was the idea of being vulgar for the sake of being vulgar. Vulgarity can be used in animated shows and has done well for shows in the past. South Park, Family Guy, and even Netflix’s recent success in Big Mouth to name a few. However, with these shows, they aren’t being vulgar for the sake of “dropping another F-bomb”. While the crude humor still finds ways to be funny for me, the show just never managed to really go anywhere. For the first 9 episodes of the show, we were stagnant in the lives of this coach and his players.
I guess you can say the build-up paid off for the last episode, but the build-up was so strenuous I, at times, completely stopped caring. There really isn’t much in this show that many people will be able to gravitate to. The previous shows mentioned all had an underlying stigma that allowed viewers to remain engaged. With South Park, they manage to get deep into politics and the news structure, with Family Guy they rely on family, and with Big Mouth they bring back the feeling of growing up. It feels as though Hoops saw all of these shows and managed to pull the wrong things from all of them.
Don’t get me wrong, I found the show to be funny at times. There were many moments where I found myself belly laughing at something that was done or said by Ben (Jake Johnson) or some of the players. But, the writing of the show just remained in a “high school” frame of mind, and never quite matured into a real adult comedy. There were even times throughout the show when the writing would be so on point in calling out an open plot hole that had been resolved episodes prior. Even in the last episode, there is a moment where a character says something along the line of, “I thought we already handled this”, and that was just my thought throughout the entire show.
Hoops manages to be more of a soft lay-up with LeBron chasing you down than a slam dunk when it comes to adult animated comedy. This show feels like it pulled the worst parts of some other adult animated comedies and threw it all into a bowl. The show is funny at times, but the fact we never managed to move forward as a viewer until the final episode was extremely bothersome for me. If you are looking for a cheap laugh, this is for you. If you are looking for a good comedy, you might want to look somewhere else.
ON NETFLIX AUGUST 21
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.