(Wrote this about a week ago, but it went unposted due to blog problems, now fixed.)
My Network TV, the grouping of stations formed by the leftovers from the WB/UPN merger, has been flailing about for a reason to exist. Last week, they secretly snuck into the sitcom business, launching Under One Roof. If you want to keep people from realizing that you’re entering the field, a good way to do it is to use a title that will seem familiar because it’s been used for multiple failed series in the past.
Then, for content, you can do something that just seems like some past sitcom – let’s say a streetwise African American (get a rapper to play that) goes to live with his upper-class, tight-ass, sweater-wearing and bow-tie wearing relatives with the sexy, stupid daughter. But if you’re thinking that this boils down the being The Fresh Flavor Flav of Bel-Air, then you’re expecting a show with more subtlety and class than this has. This show is played broader than that, less grounded in any sort of reality, and more grounded in, well, pretending every type of ugly stereotype that one can yank up is funny. In fact, if you think prison rape is funny, then you’re going to love this series, because the entire first episode (streamable over the web, which is how I watched it) is one long prison rape gag! Because nothing is funnier than violence and sexual degradation.
There’s a lot of racial stereotype humor here; the lead characters are either the ugliest vision of black folk (Flavor Flav is a bling-laden ex-con with a string of babies left in his wake from one-night encounters) or a vision of being divorced from your black roots. But the most insulting aspect of this show is that it presumes that this sort of crap is what an African-American audience wants. Lucky for the world, this is My Network TV, and they’ve been amazingly efficient at finding things that viewers do not want.