Step Right Up
In episode 1 of Reboot Season 1, Hannah Korman pitches a reboot of the old sitcom Step Right Up to Hulu Executives. The catch? She wants to revamp the sitcom style to be more edgy. The characters won’t always do the right thing anymore.
Hulu is in, but they first have to find where all the original actors are. Reed Sterling, who played the stepfather in the show, tried to pursue a serious acting career. Bree Marie Jensen (the mother) married the duke of a small Nordic country. Clay Barber (the father) was arrested twice and is now doing stand up again. And Zack Jackson (the kid) starred in multiple teen movies.
When Reed gets the script, he loves it. It’s funny, but also dark–and much more “real” than the old show. His character Lawrence even has a dark secret.
His girlfriend worries about him being so close to Bree, his ex-girlfriend, in LA–while she is directing a play in New York. But Reed assures her that nothing will happen.
So, he makes his way to Hollywood, soon reuniting with Clay and Zack. He knocks on Bree’s door so they can talk for the first time in 15 years. However, they only end up arguing like old times.
She’s angry he quit their show so he could do a movie. He’s mad she left the country for a duke and didn’t even say goodbye. But in Bree’s eyes, he didn’t truly care about their relationship. He thought he was better than all of them.
Later, the entire cast is called into the showrunner’s office to find Hannah storming out. When they enter, they find the reason. It’s Gordon, the original showrunner and writer. He’s taking over the show.
Reed immediately protests, and the others join him when they dislike all the changes Gordon proposes. They all storm out together, but Bree starts panicking.
Bree needs this show. She finally admits she’s not a duchess anymore. She caught her husband cheating on her. They divorced, and now she desperately needs to make money. It turns out the rest are in similar poor situations in their careers.
But it’s not Gordon they want to plead with to save them. They instead decide to show up at Hannah’s house to try to convince her to stay. They promise to support her “no matter what.” Hannah likes that that would infuriate Gordon. So, she’s in.
They assure Hannah that Gordon’s not so bad once you get to know him, but Hannah knows better. Gordon is her father, and he based Step Right Up on his stepfamily and acted like his daughter never existed.
Lawrence’s “dark secret” in the new show, they realize–is Hannah.
The Episode Review
Reboot plays off a comical premise (given, as the show itself points out, the overwhelming presence of TV comedy reboots), while also promising a tense generational clash.
The show is certainly finding its footing with some awkward introductions that over-explain each character’s scenario. Neither is the comedy and drama as daring as we would expect, but rather a bit too clean-cut for a premise that seems to want to critique that very style–or at least take the middle ground.
The question is whether Reboot moving forward can be self-aware enough not to fall into the same pitfalls of the sitcom comedy genre that it’s making fun of.