Published on May 29th, 2017 | by Ian Goodwillie0
Comedy Central’s show Detroiters is a hilarious send up of the ad agency and Detroit itself, featuring people like broadcaster Mort Crim and Kevin Nash.
Networks like Comedy Central have a habit of churning out random shows that either hit a home run or foul off into the bleachers and hit a kid in the face. Shows like South Park, Reno 911, The Daily Show, Broad City, The Colbert Report, Another Period, Chappelle’s Show, and @midnight are obvious home runs. Then there are other programs, the ones that you would definitely prefer the aforementioned baseball to the face at high speed rather than watching.
I’m looking at you, Too Late with Adam Carolla. Yeah. I remember.
But the benefit is a lot of odd and interesting programs that might not otherwise get a shot. It’s a bit different these days with streaming services providing alternate venues for offbeat programs but cable networks still provide more of a driving force in this area than some people want to admit.
Enter Detroiters. Season one of this Jason Sudeikis and Lorne Michaels produced comedy recently came to a close with season two greenlit. It stars Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson as two wannabe ad executives who inherited Tim’s father’s agency, now called Cramblin-Duvet, in Detroit when said father went batshit crazy. Tim and Sam are earnest and mean well but barely know what they’re doing, frequently taking deeply personal offence to simple questions from their clients. They also tend to follow their zen with incredible zeal.
One episode finds a simple miscommunication leading Sam to question his whole reality and become a prostitute.
But the other side of the boys is their passion. They believe in their abilities as advertisers but also love the city of Detroit, in part due to both real life and fictional Tim and Sam being from Detroit. Keeping in mind that the style of comedy is exceedingly different, there is a reverence for Detroit in Detroiters similar to what you find for Portland in Portlandia. Visual representations of this reverence are featured throughout the series in the form of locations and landmarks but also through including Detroit personalities. Rick Mahorn, who picked up an NBA Championship with the Pistons in 1989 and still works for the team, is featured as is a major WWE Superstar we’ll get to in a bit.
The most Detroit thing about the series might be including retired news anchor Mort Crim. He was on the air with the Detroit NBC affiliate from 1978 through 1997. A well known broadcaster, he was reputedly a huge part of the inspiration for the now infamous Will Ferrell TV news anchor character Ron Burgundy. On Detroiters, he appears as a news broadcaster seen on TV frequently but definitely a more comical version of the serious role he played for 20 years.
Both Rick Mahorn and Mort Crim are actually huge cultural touchstones for me. I have never been to Detroit but cable TV first popped up in my home in a small Canadian Prairie town around the point that Mahorn was winning his championship. These were some of the first NBA games I watched on TV. And I, as odd as it sounds, tuned into evening news broadcasts with Mort Crim, mostly because what I was looking to watch was on after the news. Still, these are names I became familiar with at a young age and I grew an affinity for Detroit because of them. It’s fun to see them on this series.
Tim and Sam are the key to the whole series. They are business partners, friends, and brothers-in-law, with Tim married to Sam’s sister. And more than any of that, they are each other’s top enablers. They frequently push each other to new levels of absurdity in their pursuit of advertising glory. Tim is a rage filled man who makes wild assumptions and flies off the handle. Sam is more laid back but ludicrous in very different ways. They complement each other perfectly.
Newcomer Leilani Ledesma is equally important to the series as Lea. She plays the only person at Cramblin-Duvet with any common sense or idea of how the job should be done. She is the voice of reason that consistently ignored.
Lea asks Tim and Sam to buy a van to get gear to shoots.
They buy a motorcycle, double up on it, and cruise Detroit.
One of the best episodes was the return of Tim’s dad, “Big Hank” Cramblin. And he lives up to his insane reputation. What makes it an amazing episode is that “Big Hank” is played by Kevin Nash, pro-wrestling legend, actor, and Detroit native. Nash has to be twice the size of his on screen son and his character is five times more charming than Tim’s, all of which plays beautifully into the gag. Nash and Robinson have surprising chemistry. Plus, I’m a big pro-wrestling/sports entertainment fan so seeing Nash in this series is a win for me.
Detroiters is a funny, inventive love note to the city the series derives its name from. It’s definitely a home run for Comedy Central, straight out of Comerica Park.