Brazilian Netflix Original Samantha is a by-the-numbers comedy that fails to draw up substantial laughs or compelling characters through its seven episodes. Samantha! begins with its unlikable child-turned-adult star and as the season progresses we see her involved in increasingly elaborate schemes to try and rekindle past successes. This forms the crux of the show and while this alone is a simple enough premise to hinder on, Samantha is such an unlikable character it makes it difficult to conjure any sort of empathy for most of the show’s run time.
After an impressive opening tracking shot which introduces us to young prima-donna Samantha (Emanuelle Araújo), the series skips forward in time to show this child prodigy clinging to her childhood fame as an adult with little in the way of career prospects for the future. We’re introduced to Samantha’s two children and ex-con husband Dodoi (Douglas Silva) around this time too and as the series progresses, each of these characters have their own subplots play out in the shadow of Samantha’s increasingly elaborate schemes to try and grasp the success she experienced as a child.
While the plot itself is serviceable enough, with twists and turns along the way to make it worth watching all the way through, as a comedy Samantha! fails to really deliver anything beyond a few slightly humorous anecdotes. Perhaps some of this is as a result of differing styles of humour in each country; Brazilian humour may be a lot more toned down to that which we’re accustomed to here in the UK. Even so, Samantha’s comedy feels very lacklustre and mediocre, relying on jokes we’ve seen play out hundreds of times before in other sitcoms only Samantha! plays out much closer to a dramatic comedy than an outright slapstick offering.
There may be some that empathise with Samantha’s journey and view this as a literal depiction of the mental health problems endured as a result of the entertainment industry but Samantha! never quite feels clever enough to draw on those comparisons in a way that makes it feel self aware. Still, there’s just about enough here to see you over the finish line and although Samantha! is unlikely to turn many heads
Ultimately Samantha! is likely to be a show that divides opinion. There will inevitably be those that find some redeeming features here and enjoy the easy-going nature of watching such a simple premised comedy. Those looking for a cleverly written, original comedic offering though may well be left wanting.