Review: Blockbuster (2022)

Did you by any chance catch the story about the elephant and the woman in India? If not, the short of it is that an elephant basically killed a woman and then went and terrorized the woman’s funeral. Like, just straight up and did a one elephant stampede to dishonor the woman and make sure she was dead. Netflix’s latest original series Blockbuster feels a little bit like that, except longer and overall less funny.

To start, Blockbuster is not a bad show, and perhaps that is its problem. The conceit and concept behind the series is sound: a workplace comedy set in the last Blockbuster in existence. The discourse and conversation about the fall of the company and the space that physical video rental stores held in communities and the larger film and television industry is constant and consistent. There is a substantial social media and cultural presence from the former company’s demise. There have been documentaries, podcasts, books, and even, for a time, an ongoing news cycle about the Last Blockbuster in existence. Essentially, there was something potentially there in the idea to mine for a well developed, interesting, and engaging story. Unfortunately, the show is just another workplace comedy that is virtually indistinguishable from any other one.

Really it is basically a paint by number put together by an algorithm network comedy show. It has the affable, everyman, lead with a bit of arrested development (played superbly by Randall Park). He is accompanied by the smart, hard working friend/coworker/love interest who is overqualified for her position but is also incapable of doing pretty much anything else while suffering from major personal problems (played by the talented Melissa Fumero). They are joined by a colorful and diverse cast of misfits including the young, uncaring, new media obsessed newest gen person who secretly harbors a lot of affection for everyone and the store; the older, seasoned worker with quirky interests who doesn’t understand current trends; the naïve, simple person from modest means who takes frugality to a foolish degree; the aspirational employee who has big dreams and is just at the right age to perhaps make them happen but is scared of potential fallout; the new girl who is the better, more logical love interest for the lead but won’t work simply because the original girl must be the love interest; and so on and so forth. Even the story is the same with a failing business barely hanging on with the employees constantly coming up with ideas on how to fix that issue only to end up in the same spot every episode mostly due to the shenanigans of the boss.

So, yeah, Blockbuster is not a bad show but it is so ordinary to the point of being unappealing simply because it does not stand out in any way or manner that would justify engagement or interest. Maybe it will improve in the second season, but the odds of a second season being given are not in its favor.

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