The Last O.G.





Paul Asay
Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

They say you can’t go home again.

That’s not literally true, of course. You can go home again, unless your home’s been torn down and replaced by a 7-Eleven, or you’re legally barred from entering your country of origin, or you come from Atlantis or something. It’s just that home—the intangible feeling of home—might’ve up and left before you returned.

That’s the case with Tray, a petty drug dealer who spent the last 15 years in the Big House.

Back in his day, Tray’s neighborhood was a vibrant, gritty, crime-ridden urban paradise for a man like him. Everything was conveniently located within a four-block radius: He could deal drugs on the corner, crack wise with pals on the sidewalk, then walk across the street and watch the first season of American Idol with his boo, Shay. What more could a guy want?

Well, maybe an actual, legal job. Police expressed significant dissatisfaction with his current one.

You Wanna Buy Some Hummus?

But live and learn, right? Fifteen years later, Tray’s ready to do right by society. Show the young, wayward punks in his old neighborhood a better way of doing things. Tell Shay (who, strangely, hasn’t visited him in the slammer even once) that she did the right thing by waiting for him all those years.

But … wait. What are all these white people doing in his ‘hood? What’s with all the smoothie shops? Is it a legal requirement to carry a selfie stick now?

Sure, American Idol’s back, so that’s nice. But it seems Tray’s old haunts have all been gentrified, sporting more hipsters, health goths and carefree Millennials per square foot than a Trader Joe’s parking lot.

And Shay … seems like she’s gentrified herself, too. She’s now with a pasty Caucasian named Josh, who’s apparently helping to raise Shay’s twins. Twins who just happen to be … 15 years old.

Yep, you can go home again, but there’s no guarantee that the home you knew will be there when you arrive.

“I feel like Rip Van Winkle,” Tray says, “and I don’t even know who that is!”

Dirty Rock

TBS’s The Last O.G. (the two letters stand for the hip-hop slang phrase “Original Gangster”) is the latest vehicle for comedian Tracy Morgan—his highest profile effort since he was nearly killed in a car crash in 2014.

But as talented as Morgan is, he’s never exactly been a family-friendly sort of comic, and The Last O.G. might be one of the last things you’d want to flip on with kids in the room.

The show is littered with profanity (The basic cable version may censor the worst of it, but both f- and s-words were unbleeped in the streaming version of the show I watched). Tray and his cohorts mine sex acts and inclinations for a host of jokes, making it a veritable minefield of problematic content. And while most sitcoms tend to go easy on violence, The Last O.G. can have some jarring moments of slapstick mayhem—all played for laughs, of course, but enough to make you suck in your breath before you exhale a giggle.

But even laughter seems hard to come by on The Last O.G. It suffered a difficult birth: Its original cable home, FX, changed its mind while the show was still in development. The pilot was completely rewritten before it found a soft landing spot on TBS, and showrunner John Carcieri bolted after filming wrapped on Season 1. Have all those changes helped? Well, secular critics have been mixed thus far, despite the show’s well-regarded cast.

You can’t go home, they say. But if The Last O.G. manages to find a home on TBS over the long term, you’d be wise not to visit, either.

Episode Reviews

June 4, 2019: “Fight the Power”

Tray and two former convicts and friends, Felony and Jaybird, take Tray’s food truck to a block party. But they unexpectedly encounter real-estate zoning changes that are causing widespread controversy.

A construction worker illegally destroys a food truck, and a fistfight ensues. Police soon arrive, hitting combatants with batons. (Some police offers get hit by them as well.) A police officer is unfairly forced to resign. A truck explodes.

A shirtless man and his wife lie in bed as she runs ice along his torso (more is implied but the camera pans away). A man lies in bed in boxers and a T-shirt. In another shot, his arousal is obvious through his boxers. Women wear short-shorts and sport cleavage-baring tops.

Characters joke about sex, strip clubs and condoms. A food truck is labeled “LGBTQ Friendly.” Other jokes take aim at subjects such as veganism, global warming, racism, urinating and fecal matter.

Women drink champagne, and wine is served at a party. The f-word is heard (in this uncut, online version) four times. The s-word is used nearly ten times. Other profanity includes multiple uses of “h—,” “a–,” “b–tard,” “d–k,” d–n” and “n-gga.” A man says that his friends lives are “jacked up” and comments that it’s hot as “b-lls.”

April 9, 2019: “Git Up Git Out & Git Something”

Tray tries to land a job as a chef. Shay’s level-headed husband, Josh, tries to tell Shay that her temper causes problems.

Josh becomes angry when he hears his daughter and her friend, using the n-word. Multiple disussions ensue over the word’s proper use. Flashbacks show Shay losing her temper and yelling in public after people make racist comments. Tray begins making sugar-filled foods (which is against the rules) for students. As a result, he’s fired.

Multiple jokes are made about male genitalia, arousal, racism, racial sterotypes, a child’s intelligence level and death. A group of men make various death threats in prison. A man walks outside in a t-shirt and boxers.

God’s name is misused once. The f-word is uttered once and the s-word, four times. Other profanity includes one or two uses of “d–k,” “b–ch,” “h—,” d–n” and “n-gga.”

The Last O.G.: Mar. 31, 2018 “Pilot”

Tray gets released from prison and returns to his old neighborhood, determined to reunite with his former flame, Shay. But all his old haunts are almost unrecognizable, and Shay’s with someone else now—a guy named Josh.

Josh is white, Tray calls him a “mangina” and says he “looked like a Duke lacrosse player,” a reference intended to remind viewers of a now-discredited incident in which three members of the team (all white) were accused of raping a black student and escort. Tray makes graphic jokes about gay rape in prison. And Miniard, who runs the halfway house Tray’s staying at, repeatedly uses a euphemism for oral sex in reference to his prison stint.

But Miniard knows few other jokes to tell. “The phallus is the number one piece of universal comedy gold,” he explains to Tray, and he makes several other jokes about that bit of anatomy (in various states of usage) throughout the episode.

Shay wears an evening gown that exposes some cleavage. We see her and Josh exchange a passionate kiss. When Tray and Shay are still together, Tray says he wants Shay’s “booty to get as big as humanly possible.” He makes an extraordinarily crass joke about a prison guard’s mother and announces that, after prison, “I never want to see another penis in my life, not even my own.” He also learns that he fathered two children (twins) before he went to prison.

An old man is hit by a speeding car, and he bounces off the windshield. (Miraculously, he seems OK, despite a trickle of blood from his forehead.) Tray gets arrested for selling (unspecified) drugs. He learns that Bobby, the son of an old friend of his, is now selling marijuana. (They talk about The Godfather extensively, which Tray and Bobby’s father forced Bobby to watch repeatedly when he was a boy.) A fellow resident of the halfway house walks around in his underwear, the bulge of which hovers uncomfortably near Tray’s head. Miniard says that “all women are as petty as f—.” We hear the f-word another seven times and the s-word four. Characters also say “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “h—” and “n–ga.” God’s name is misused twice, once paired with the word “d–n.”

We hear two people discuss spirituality. And Bobby suggests that to get Tray back, he’ll have to start at the beginning. “God?” Tray asks. “No, man, the internet,” Bobby clarifies.

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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.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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