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The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale, which started streaming Sunday on Netflix, could have been called The Return of The Soup. McHale stands to the side of a screen, plays clips of silly things, and makes snarky comments about the silliness. It’s the format that made him famous and carried him into Community, the sitcom that made him more famous. In the premiere, he ties the two elements of his past together by featuring a taped bit in which he “accidentally” runs into a few of his former co-stars.
The Soup-y stuff is what dominates The Joel McHale Show, and if you thought you missed hearing Joel make fun of, say, The Bachelor, well, wait until you hear him make fun of The Bachelor now. In his absence from The Soup, we all figured out that we could also make fun of The Bachelor and be just as funny as McHale at it. Indeed, since he left The Soup, McHale’s place in the culture has been taken up by Twitter, which basically turned the internet into a nonstop episode of The Soup, with everyone trying to top everyone else in being snarky about everything.
On his new show, McHale sorts through some very meager pickings. He makes way too many jokes about how a certain South African word sounds like our obscene C word. He shows way too many clips of actors getting run over by cars on Korean TV dramas. (I know, the sheer volume of Koreans being hit by cars is a big part of the joke he’s making, but there’s also a difference between satirizing excess and just being tediously excessive.) And if, on his first week, he’s already stooping to make fun of poor Kellie Pickler, that doesn’t bode well for the future richness of The Joel McHale Show.
The taped segment, in which McHale takes viewers on a tour of Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters, serves chiefly to remind you that Netflix has taken over all of show business. At different moments, he runs into Alison Brie and Jim Rash, both of whom have Netflix series, and pretends to mistake Brie for another Community co-star when he says, “It was great catching up with you, Gillian. I can’t wait for the new season of Love” — Gillian Jacobs being the star of yet another Netflix show.
One good thing about The Joel McHale Show: There are no Trump jokes. And McHale, for all his smirking, remains a smart, likable guy. It’s just that he’s outgrown this format.
The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale is streaming now on Netflix.