Paul Asay

TV Series Review

When we look at the sitcom ¡Rob! we’ve got to give CBS credit for landing on a multilayered title. After all, it references Rob, the main character. It name-checks Rob Schneider, who in this sitcom makes the dubious move from perennial Adam Sandler sidekick to network star. And it effectively describes what CBS is doing to viewers: robbing them of their time … and perhaps a few brain cells too.

The setup is (of course) simple: Rob falls in love with a beautiful Mexican-American woman named Maggie, and after a six-week whirlwind relationship the two run off to Vegas and get hitched. Shortly thereafter, Rob discovers that when he married Maggie, he was marrying into her close-knit family with a culture quite different from his own.

Alas, hilarity doesn’t ensue. Instead, perhaps hilarity should sue for giving it a bad name.

Though the sitcom is loosely based (very loosely, I hope) on Schneider’s own experiences marrying Patricia Azarcoya Arce in 2011, it feels tone-deaf. The pilot serves up paltry punchlines involving Mexican food, illegal immigration and sex-filled siestas. Rob says Maggie’s extended family must be so big because they’re Catholic … and you can almost hear the crickets. Clearly, these jokes aren’t so much racist as they are insensitive and dumb.

“There can be no question that Latinos, the nation’s largest ethnic minority group, are underserved by and under-represented on network TV,” writes Robert Bianco of USA Today. “So yes, what a shame that the comedy Rob … plays less like a gift meant to appease these neglected viewers [than] as a weapon meant to silence them. It’s as if CBS were saying, ‘Keep complaining, and we’ll give you more shows like this.'”

Admittedly, Rob himself takes it on the chin more than his in-laws do. And we see early hints that his show might transcend the exploration of stereotypes and more fully celebrate the family—the joy and frustration that comes with having fathers and mothers and brothers and grandmothers and second cousins all intimately involved in one another’s lives.

But hints and mights don’t make for a sure thing, and I can’t say that I’m very optimistic. Because beyond the stereotypes, ¡Rob! employs much of the same crude humor Schneider was so adept at in his Sandler projects: crass language, tawdry sexuality and gratuitous guffaws at others’ expense.

Episode Reviews

Rob: 1262012

“The Pillow”

In an effort to feel more at home in Rob’s house, Maggie buys a yellow throw pillow. Control-freak Rob naturally hates it.

“It’s fun and cheery!” Maggie says.

“So is the cast of Glee, but I don’t need them sitting on my couch!” Rob insists.

Maggie’s mother says the spat is over more than the pillow: Now that she’s married (Mom says), Maggie can never lose another argument (for her husband’s own good). Ever. Dad, meanwhile, advises Rob to never argue. Ever. Rob argues that he should grow a pair of testicles—using a less polite word. And, for emphasis, variations of that phrase are heard throughout the remainder of the episode.

Rob and Maggie scrap all the bad advice and make up, thanks to their ability to apologize and compromise. Rob, after booting the pillow from the house, recants and gets another just like it. Maggie says she’d rather buy household goods together, starting with a set of coasters. That’s good stuff. But in the midst of it all, we hear God’s name used inappropriately several times, hear rude references to sex and see Rob and his father-in-law do a series of tequila shots. There’s some mild bathroom humor.

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Paul Asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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