So I’ve decided to get back into recapping with Hulu’s new show, Reboot. Reboot is a comedy about a group of actors rebooting their early 2000s sitcom Step Right Up. It’s releasing episodically, but I have some catching up to do before episode 6 comes out on October 11th. I’lll be releasing the first 5 recaps between now and then, and then I’ll fall in line with the release schedule to get you the latest as soon as a new episode comes out. Enjoy this first installment!
The show opens in a waiting room, where a woman we’re soon to learn is named Hannah (Rachel Bloom) is sitting across from a beautiful young actress. The actress knows that Hannah is a writer because writers don’t need to get dressed up, and Hannah is definitely not dressed up. We find out that Hannah is also an anxious sweater, and her grey shirt is soaked through.
Honestly, this has to be the most unrealistically relatable part of the show so far, because as I can tell you, anxious sweaters know better than to ever wear a grey shirt to an important event. Nonetheless, the actress gives Hannah her blazer, and Hannah rolls into the meeting safely covered up.
The meeting, it turns out, is with Hulu, who wants to hear Hannah’s pitch for a new show. She wants to reboot Step Right Up! with the original cast, a show which our favorite analytics, software engineer turned tv show producer / guru Elaine Kim (Krista Marie Yu) helpfully shows us is a sitcom about a family with three parents– presumably a nuclear family who got divorced plus a stepfather– and one child. The producers are a little confused because they thought Hannah is supposed to be edgy, but she successfully reverse psychologies them into greenlighting the edgier, more fucked up version of the original.
It turns out the cast didn’t exactly go on to do great things. Reed Sterling (Keegan-Michael Key) is too obsessed with making his roles mean something. Bree Marie Larson (Judy Greer) had a tough time in acting and married a Duke to become a Dutchess. Clay Barber (Johnny Knoxville) has had an alternating career of stand up and drug arrests. The kid, Zack (Calum Worthy) has starred in a series of straight to TV teen movies and, it turns out, hasn’t really grown up at all. Since reboots are all the rage and the cast is free, they decide to do the show.
When Reed breaks the news to his girlfriend, she’s not exactly thrilled by the news that he’ll be going back to work with Bree. They had an off again on again relationship for the entire time the show was filming, but this time around Reed has a dark secret and he’s fully bought into the reboot, so he doesn’t really care what his girlfriend has to say. He says he’ll come back to visit her on off weeks before sticking his foot in his mouth to say that they’ll be fine because Bree is married… and because he’s in a committed relationship.
In the opening episode, it appeared that Reed would be the narrator of the show. He takes us through set the first time, and we hear the most about his backstory immediately. As we continued though, the show gives equal time to most of the characters and allows them to each develop as individuals, something which I found pleasantly surprising.
We meet Clay for the first time when he jumps in front of Reed’s car, pretending to be hit to get a reaction. “Are you going to quit again to pursue a career in the cinema?” he teases, hinting at the fact that that’s why the original series ended in the first place. Zack rolls up and nobody remembers him, and then Reed goes off to talk to Bree in private since he hasn’t spoken to her in 15 years. Unfortunately, she’s stuck in her dress and needs someone to unhook her bra and get her out of it, asap.
Reed yells about his previously mentioned committed relationship multiple times, and Bree stands with her boobs out before covering them with her hands unabashedly and putting on a robe. Their conversation is awkward, with both of them flexing their seemingly perfect lives. Bree says that her husband the Duke is perfect, and oh so devastated that Bree is on set. But she wouldn’t let everyone down, not like Reed would by quitting to be on a movie that nobody even saw.
Reed doesn’t care about that though, he wants to talk about their relationship. Bree went off and got married when they were broken up, but Reed had just assumed they’d get back together. They have a spat about who is the better actor, which Bree wins with an iconic switch into complimentary flirtation, getting Reed to almost kiss her before she laughs and announces that she was acting that whole time.
On the set, Zack forgives Clay for not ever reaching out after the show ended. As an adult, Zack has realized that he shouldn’t have expected his fake-dad to act like a real dad, even if he was a cute kid. Unfortunately, not a single one of the other actors thought that he was cute, at all.
When Hannah goes up to meet the actors, Reed gushes over Hannah’s writing so intensely that she says “If I had you instead of my father I could have saved thousands on Xanax and rehab”, a fact which I didn’t really think much about at the time but will become very relevant at the end of the episode. Hannah gets a call from Elaine, and rushes off to hear what she has to say.
The cast of the show gathers around to recreate one of their old photos for a new poster. While Zack is just happy to be there (and excited to talk about his soon to be self published memoir about his ADHD), Reed doesn’t want to pose the way he did in his old photo because it’s too “sitcomy”. The problem is soon to be resolved, however, because they’re called into the showrunner’s office.
When they arrive, Hannah is sprinting out of the office and Gordon (Paul Reiser), the former showrunner, is there instead. He’s rife with good ideas for the show. Reed’s receding hairline, Bree being a grandma, and a new kid for Zack. The actors are not happy, and Reed is ready to quit. The dynamic between Sterling, Greer, and Knoxville is comedy gold. They uplift each other in every scene that they’re in together, from their casual teasing to the facial expressions they make in the background.
As Reed marches them out of the office, they all open up about how much they need this show to work out. Step Right Up is quite literally their last chance. Bree got cheated on and is getting a divorce, Clay is out of control with his drinking, Reed’s last job was over a year ago, and Zack got fired from his last role. They had good memories together on the original (crucially, without Zack), and Reed’s about to go in and admit defeat when Connor the PA (Kristian Flores) walks by and says that he’s headed to Hannah’s house.
Bree screams out for Reed to stop, and they decide to go to her house too.
They knock on her door and tell her that they need the show. She doesn’t want to work with Gordon, and they don’t either; they’ll be in her corner no matter what. Hannah’s in, because she wants to infuriate– her dad.
That’s the big reveal of the first episode of Step Right Up, and it’s also the big reveal of the first episode of Reboot. Hannah’s plan is to write herself into Step Right Up and right the wrongs that were done to her when Gordon abandoned her in real life and in his TV show writing.
The pilot does a great job of leaving us with so many questions for how the show is going to go. We know that the reboot will most likely run, but we have all of these unexplored relationship dynamics that I’m truly excited about. Bree and Reed, Gordon and Hannah, Clay and himself, Zack and Everyone. The pilot is meta in that it’s the same as the pilot in Step Right Up, and I am going to be on the lookout for more similarities as we continue through the season.