Netflix destroys Blockbuster (again)

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Streaming helped Blockbusters demise and closure of its stores, and now streaming giant Netflix has made a comedy about it. Blockbuster is a 10-episode workplace comedy that is meant to show what it takes to run a small business to succeed against the odds. An underdog story, supposedly. Timmy Yoon (Randall Park) Is an analog dreamer living in a 5G world. And after learning he is operating the last Blockbuster Video Store in America, Timmy and his staff employees, including his long-time crush, Eliza (Melissa Fumero) fight to stay relevant. The only way to succeed is to remind their community that they provide something big corporations can’t: human connections. Other characters are Hannah (Madeleine Arthur); a ditzy but hopeful homeschooler applying to community college, Carlos (Tyler Alvarez); an aspiring filmmaker, Kayla (Kamaia Fairburn) a socially aware teen, Connie (Olga Merediz); the oldest staff member and Percy (J.B. Smoove), the landlord of Blockbuster and Kayla’s father.

Blockbuster. (L to R) Olga Merediz as Connie, Madeleine Arthur as Hannah, Tyler Alvarez as Carlos, Kamaia Fairburn as Kayla in episode 104 of Blockbuster. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

With Vanessa Ramos running the show and writing, there was a lot of promise going in since Ramos worked on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Superstore. Blockbuster had the promise of being as quirky and funny as those titles, but sadly, that is all it is, a promise. Ramos’ previous shows were full of fun moments even in dark times like the pandemic, but Blockbuster is as bleak and drab as the lighting choices of the show. There are moments when the series has opportunities to have signature comedic moments like its predecessors and have characters that stand out, but no such thing happened.

Every character is miserable and except for Kayla, the Gen Z stereotypical sardonic teenager. Despite this, Kayla is the weakest character and performance to the point of annoyance. Considering Blockbuster is a comedy, somebody should inform the writers as every episode takes effort to remind how bad the characters’ lives are without any semblance of comedy to give one laugh or semblance of a smile.  Characters are always saying how much they hate working at “retail Hell” that is the last Blockbuster and having dreams crushed in almost every episode with only levity coming from the credits rolling. 

Blockbuster. Kamaia Fairburn as Kayla in episode 102 of Blockbuster. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

The depressing lives of the last Blockbuster employees could be done like how Ramos’s previous show, Superstore, dealt with characters that had their dreams shelved but none of that charm comes through. A lack of chemistry, comedic, and otherwise, between all the characters added to the bleak feel of this comedy that added to how dreary the show is.

Characters that showed any promise of chemistry, but sadly not comedy, were Hannah and Carlos, but that happens to late in the season to make any impact. Perhaps less time on the bleak lives of the staff and the too-cool-for-this teen would have helped the show, but it would be surprising if Netflix gives it another season.

Blockbuster. (L to R) Tyler Alvarez as Carlos, Madeleine Arthur as Hannah in episode 106 of Blockbuster. Cr. Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix © 2022

For the MVC, as harsh as it sounds, goes to the end credits for providing the one bit of happiness: that the series ended. 

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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