Andy Daly’s Review is a beautifully, heartbreakingly hilarious mockumentary series, one that openly questions and studies one’s moral sanity and worthiness of redemption far more than your average Comedy Central series. That it airs directly after Tosh.0 (which, for the record, is perfectly fine for its crass, half-assed, gross-out [limited] ambitions) is perhaps the greatest, richest irony the Viacom-owned could bestow. Daly’s Forrest MacNeil earns more rightful comparisons to Breaking Bad‘s Walter White than, say, anyone on Workaholics, and that’s what makes him such a morally fascinating, giddily tragic figure; he’s an intellectual doofus who can’t see what’s best for him, due to the “important” commitment of his diligent, persistent and “necessary” life reviewing.
With our abbreviated third season already painfully close to next week’s series finale, our second, middle episode, “Co-Host; Ass-Slap; Helen Keller; Forgiveness” is — as the long-winded title would quite rightfully suggest — a bit of a doozy. But is Review ever less than deeply, horrifically uncomfortable to watch? Sadly (but also thankfully) not. As glib and ignorant as ever, MacNeil blindly lets his (possibly sadistic) loyal audience find ways to completely wreck his feeble life on a daily basis. But things start pretty easy for Forrest at first. He’s tasked to literally stand around and do nothing as he reviews co-hosting, while his actual co-host, the effortlessly adorable A.J. Gibbs (Megan Stevenson), is requested, in light of Forrest’s absence, to review “ass-slapping.” It’s a newfound responsibility that A.J. takes on gleefully, while the intensely-concerned Forrest meanders around the set trying to figure out how to preoccupy himself away from his usual job duties (while also, you know, actually performing his appointed duties).
While talking to random P.A.s and various different backstage personalities, like the wardrobe department, Mr. MacNeil peaks his way into A.J.’s “surprisingly spacious” make-up room, catching fleeting glimpses into A.J.’s previously-unseen real life. It’s an informative opportunity that should teach Forrest about how much his preoccupying work has fractured him away from a healthy, functioning everyday life, yet Forrest’s nebby need to be reviewing, even sometimes as monumentally silly as “ass-slapping,” leaves such needed enlightenments on hold. Instead, MacNeil is simply flabbergasted to discover A.J. simply “didn’t do it.” Meaning, she decided it wasn’t in her best interest to walk up to a random stranger and slap him on their unaware behind, even if the viewer requested it! She came to this decision in a rather responsible manner, by asking her boyfriend, yet Forrest won’t stand for this disgrace. For him, there is no bigger slap in the face than to refuse the very professional obligation the viewer dutifully requested. It’s not merely an “ass-slap;” it’s about the principle, and Forrest is the one left bruised.
Meanwhile, Forrest bravely embarks on his next two reviews: Being Helen Keller and Forgiveness. Of course, neither go according to plan. Rather than veto either, especially since Forrest has (upon his lawyer’s request) received limitless vetos, Forrest disastrously decides to give them both a spin. The former finds him temporarily blind, deaf and mute, of course, which doesn’t go well when he’s required to give his own testimony for his murder case outside of her own awareness or understanding. But it ultimately works out, since he’s shockingly acquited, as he’s basically considered too incompetent to pull off such a heinous crime. Although, to Forrest, it’s because his work is simply too important to leave him locked up in jail for the rest of his miserable life.
But Forgiveness, naturally, leaves him locked away from the love of his life, his frustrated ex-wife Suzanne (Jessica St. Clair), who chews Forrest out due to his misunderstanding of “forgiveness.” In lieu of such closure, Forrest decides to seek forgiveness from his menacing producer, Grant (James Urbaniak), who is now paralyzed from the waist down due to Forrest’s outburst at the end of season 2.
With a million different options laid for Forrest’s departure, Review leaves an interesting window. There’s the equal possibility of Forrest finding happiness or misery; Review is often a tragedy, but it could end on a rare upbeat note. Or, of course, it could end just as horrifically as it always usually does. When your main character is given as many chances as Forrest to save themselves, only to fall down the rabbit hole again and again, perhaps the only way for Forrest to learn is to make the ultimate sacrifice? Or maybe he’ll finally make his peace and learn what’s best for him? Eh, probably not. But in a show that asks the bigger (and often sillier) questions in life, anything is possible.