Watching Problematic on Comedy Central is like staring into the black abyss where you’re pretty sure comedy fell and died, but it’s too black and obfuscated to know for sure.
The title of this late-night talk show gives the false impression it will be an assault on political correctness and offense-taking, a hallmark or good comedy. Instead it seeks to solidify and reinforce PC culture. Multiple media outlets are labelling the show “deliberately problematic,” yet it deliberately toes the line of the orthodox college campus liberalism.
Based on the first episode about cultural appropriation, you can get a feel for the format of the show. First the host, Moshe Kasher, sanctimoniously lectures the audience about the social justice issue de jour, mixed with toothless jokes. Then he has guests on who basically agree with him, but actually have to dial back his smug liberalness, with lines like, “I guess it depends on the situation.” Then they do some kind of skit or bit, which isn’t funny but further explains why you need to accept the host’s specific stance on the given topic.
The show reaches levels of unfunny that have not graced the airwaves of Comedy Central since The Situation bombing at the roast of Donald Trump.
With such hilarious lines as:
“You know it’s appropriation season when you hear the mating cry of the appropriator, rolling through the Coachella Hills, pounding like a Native American drum beat. I’m not racist, I’m not racist.”
And in reference to Kylie Jenner’s dreadlocks…
“The issue under the issue is the power differential.”
The problem with Problematic is the essential premise is a lie. It bills itself as a “problematic” discussion about touchy social issues, when in reality it’s a didactic lecture attempting to browbeat the viewer into agreement.
In an interview with LA Weekly, Kasher said, “I’m not trying to make my show a vehicle for the left. [John] Oliver’s the best that’s been doing this version of [a] show.”
Well, that’s bullshit. Problematic goes to depths of pedantic lefty explanation even Oliver would shy away from.
The only whisper of dissent on the show came near the end when an audience member suggested that it’s maybe not a big deal if a bunch of white guys own a taco truck.
“Hire Mexican American employees,” replied one of the guests.
In the same LA Weekly interview, Kasher explained where the name of the show came from. He was called out on the Tumblr blog “Your Fave Is Problematic” as a result of some ethnic jokes he made in his standup special. So he claimed he decided to double down on the problematic label and “own it.”
Well, based on the first episode he didn’t double down on being problematic. He created the only show in Comedy Central‘s history the Tumblrinas would not call problematic.
Problematic is instead a sanctimonious comedy graveyard, which is about as entertaining as reading a Jezebel article or attending a freshman gender studies course.