*** SPOILER-ish REVIEW INCOMING ***
In this episode, Hakim gets swindled by an “Immigration Attorney” and Brady mooches off Jun Ho and Mei Lin because he can no longer afford to eat. Hilarity ensues…
After two episodes, I realized what show Sunnyside imitates: Community. Sadly, the stakes are too high, and that’s where I am frustrated. Episode 2 “The Ethiopian Executioner” is definitely a much funnier episode than the Pilot, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I think Matt Murray and Kal Penn needed to turn this concept into a drama.
When sitcoms like Black-ish or Ellen dealt with tragedy or real-world experiences, the “heart” took precedence over the “laughs.” Black-ish famously did this in “Hope,” and Ellen famously did this in “The Puppy Episode.” Both sitcoms set aside their usual programming for “Very Special Episodes” and focused on problems instead of the laugh track. Then there is American Crime Season 3. ABC tackled illegal immigration, and how big business can get away with murder. That felt like the right way to handle a topic this heavy. It can’t be played for laughs, the stakes are too high.
Is this Community for 2019?
In Community, a collection of students at a community college decide they need to work together to graduate. Modi is Jeff, Griselda is Shirley, Hakim is Abed, Brady is Annie or Troy, and Jun Ho and Mei Lin are Pierce. But here’s where things differ – failing out of a community college doesn’t get you deported. Sure, life would be harder without an education from Greendale, but they’d still be in Greendale. I even predict that Modi will probably find out he isn’t a citizen – as unrealistic as that sounds for an elected official – and then he has to go through the same hoops.
Then again, perhaps “discussing this problem” in a digestible format was Murray and Penn’s intention. In other words, instead of creating a world where these six are already friends sipping coffee on a couch, they’re forced to put aside differences for one common goal. Then viewers will learn “we aren’t so different, so make changes and be better!”
At the end of the day, I commend Murray and Penn for attempting this as a sitcom, they easily could have just done 22 minutes of siblings Jun Ho and Mei Lin learning to be poor after living a life of affluence. I would definitely watch that. With lines like “What’s your jet size?” and “We have 3 chefs,” I would smile the whole time. I definitely wouldn’t learn anything or be outraged.
In today’s world, we can no longer put our heads in the ground, and if that’s the point of Sunnyside, I’ll keep watching.
In my review of the Pilot, I shat on the episode for a running gag related to Griselda.
This was not mentioned once in the episode, and it helped with the flow. One other thing to note, in the Sunnyside-verse, the Fast & Furious franchise has a new 3D movie. It’s only cars and there’s a sex scene. So, if you want to hear Kal Penn mention Corvettes and Ferraris 69-ing (seriously), don’t miss out on “The Ethiopian Executioner” – brought to you by Squarespace.