Review: Hulu’s New Original Series Deadbeat Tries to Combine The Sixth Sense With The Big Lebowski
I see dead people, and they really tie the room together, man.
Hulu showed off the first episode of their upcoming original supernatural comedy series Deadbeat at SXSW, and I got to see it. I’ve been really impressed with some of Hulu’s other originals like Moonboy and especially the wonderful The Wrong Mans. How does Deadbeat hold up?
The show follows Tyler Labine’s character, Kevin “Pac” Pacoliogu, who is a ghost-seeing medium and runs a business to help ghosts finish their business on Earth and move on. In premise, it’s similar to Ghost Whisperer, but it’s played for comedy and, unlike Ghost Whisperer, is actually really enjoyable. (Sorry, Jennifer Love Hewitt.)
Labine is great on the show. Readers might recognize him from Tucker & Dale vs. Evil or the late great CW show Reaper. He hasn’t had much luck on television with a number of shows like Mad Love, Animal Practice, and Sons of Tucson getting cancelled after only a season. It’s unfortunate, because Labine is genuinely charming and funny on screen. Maybe having him in the lead rather than a supporting role will help carry Deadbeat on to a second season.
Labine is incredibly likeable, but his character doesn’t share that quality. In the Q&A after the screening, one of the show’s creators, Cody Heller who wrote for Wilfred, described Pac as, “The kid from The Sixth Sense grows up to be the The Dude from The Big Lebowski.” It’s not an entirely inaccurate description. The biggest difference is that, while The Dude is content in his life and has no higher aspirations, Pac is just kind of down on his luck, because it turns out it’s tough making money by helping ghosts.
Pac’s best and only friend is his drug dealer, Roofie, because like The Dude, Pac likes to smoke weed. A lot. Roofie is played by Brandon T. Jackson, and it’s a little problematic that the only black character on the show is a drug dealer named after a date rape drug, but individual levels of offense may vary.
Pac himself makes some vaguely racist comments, like swapping his L’s and R’s when speaking to Asian clients, but that comes across more as a character flaw than a problem with the show itself. The real challenge Pac faces is that he gets along with the dead better than the living. He sums up his situation to Roofie in one scene, saying, “My clients are more willing to put up with a ghost than me.”
The villain of the show is played by
Dancing With the Stars So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley who is wonderful as rival medium Camomile White. White is a John Edward-type who writes best-selling ghost erotica. Pac quickly learns that she’s a fraud and makes an enemy of her when he publicly corrects her at a book signing event.
In the teaser above, it looks like later in the season they will join forces, but based on what I saw in episode one, it’s more likely she’ll just be taking advantage of him. Deeley is ruthless as White, and that’s emphasised by the contrast between her sweet public persona and her ball-crushing private one. Seriously, at one point she grabs Pac by the balls so hard he falls over and vomits in the street.
The comedy of the show plays really well, and the tone is more like an R-rated movie than a typical TV show, which is one of the advantages of online original content.
Deadbeat premieres on Hulu on April 9th. I don’t think it will be for everyone given its unique mix of the raunchy and the supernatural, but it’s definitely worth giving the pilot episode a try.
(via Deadbeat on Hulu)
- I looked at all of Hulu’s upfronts last year and broke down what I was excited about
- I recommended The Wrong Mans on our podcast before it was even released
- At SXSW I also watched the first two episodes of Silicon Valley
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