Hi, I’m a millennial without cable who’s hijacking my older cousin’s Verizon subscription for masochistic shits and giggles.
OK, more specifically, I’m attempting to watch the 25-hour commercial-free Angie Tribeca marathon on TBS. What the hell is that, you ask? After The Office, Steve and his wife Nancy Carell reteamed with Rashida Jones on a LA-based buddy cop parody that’s about to air its entire 10-episode first season. Which means, theoretically, I could watch the series five straight times. Which means, implicitly, I could be stupid enough to pull this off.
Around me are two of my older male cousins, a couple empty bottles of Bulleit Bourbon, six empty beer bottles of Guinness, five boxes of 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, and three half-eaten orders of large fries. They’re feasting. Me? I’m sipping on a sugar-free Red Bull. And yes, maybe also a glass of bourbon.
Since my cousins aren’t insane, just sensitive, they insist I move to the living room to watch the show uninterrupted, as they drunkenly rent Sleepless in Seattle on Amazon and commiserate over troubled love lives.
The marathon’s 9:30 scheduled time hits, and host Deon Cole kicks it off. More than Tribeca’s hype man, Cole’s a detective on the series whose whole shtick is partnering up with a driving detective dog. We’re expected to believe he’s spending these 25 hours with us. I’ll later find out that these “live segments” play over and over and over and over again. I’ll also find out that in order to get around blatant commercials, the Ford logo and website URL arbitrarily flashes throughout the first season.
Seconds in, the marathon feels like a QVC show/telethon-for-charity hybrid, except sick children nor the Amazon rainforest are benefitting here. Callers are only encouraged to phone in compliments to the variety of cast and random celebrities (Ian Harding and Lamorne Morris, among them) that man the lines.
The series kicks off with Detective Angie Tribeca (Jones) and her 237th partner J. Geils (Hayes MacArthur) tackling a case on the mayor, who’s being blackmailed with compromising photos of his stupidly tattooed physique. Lines like “I’m Going to Burp…” and “My Ex Gives Great Headaches” cover his pasty dad-bod. Gary Cole and Lisa Kudrow cameo as witnesses and suspects, respectively.
Immediately, you know WTF you’re in for: the show will test your threshold for silliness. If the idea of Date-Movie-meets-Naked-Gun-on-crack makes you cringe, you’re screwed.
And damn am I screwed. Each episode relishes in its meta-humor so much that you’re basically watching it jerk itself off. Unlike The Office, Brooklyn 99, and other like-minded comedies, there is no subtlety here. In Episode 2, a flashback to Tribeca’s past reveals her boyfriend (James Franco) was killed in a tunnel explosion he deliberately threw himself into. In Episode 5, Tribeca’s boss Lt. Chet Akins (Jere Burns) comments on a frustrated Tribeca’s ‘panties in a bunch,’ as the camera cuts to underwear hanging out of her slacks. In Episode 8, Tribeca and her team are tasked with tracking down a killer on Air Jordan airlines. Not to mention, throughout the show, there’s one character whose entire purpose is to throw up at crime scenes. His name? Vomit Cop.
The only reprieve comes in the form of celebrity cameos and guest stars, which make it seem like Carell called in his entire rolodex of Hollywood friends. Alfred Molina (who recurs as the team’s forensic scientist), Adam Scott, June Diane Raphael, John Michael Higgins, Keegan Michael Key, David Koechner, Cecily Strong, Danny Trejo, Amy Smart, that old white guy who plays a racist in all his movies, and more prolific actors who look super familiar but whose names you can’t recall all make appearances throughout the season.
In fact, the savior of the series is the king of random appearances: Bill f*cking Murray. The legend steals the show in Episode 7 as Tribeca’s Carly Rae-quoting pseudo-love interest Vick Deacons, the manager of the Paper on Rolls Department at the grocery store, who’s supposed to show Tribeca what it’s like to have a life outside of work.
If that isn’t enough, TBS, in place of sponsored ads, spends its breaks peppering in trailers from its upcoming comedies, and having its stars stop by the live event. Search Party’s Alia Shawkat, The Detour’s Natalie Zea, and more stop by the studio, each with a confused, if not slightly annoyed, look on their face that says it all about the spectacle they’re (probably) contractually obligated to participate in.
By the end of the season, at about 1:30 in the morning, the idea of restarting the series recalls feelings of going to the gym just because you made a New Year’s resolution to. It’s awful and you’re lazy, but it’s too early too give up! Maybe a few more views will give me that runner’s high.
False. As Episode 5 replays again at 4 AM, I’m checked out scrolling through Tinder, refilling my bourbon, and hallucinating text message conversations I never had. (Of course not, Tara, Jessica Jones isn’t even a real person.) At some point, the program starts rotating the guest appearances it played for the live broadcast, which completely warps my sense of what’s real.
Around 8:30 AM. I wake up with a dead laptop on my chest, as Episode 6, an almost-30 minutes about illegal pet ferrets invading California, replays for the third time.
At this point, I already feel like I’ve cheated the whole process. Add a long weekend of bar-hopping and drinking during NFL playoffs to my early onset hatred of the show and my determination’s shot.
Thus, I go about my morning feeling like a failure, while I keep Angie Tribeca playing in the background as I make my coffee, engage in small talk with my hungover cousins, and figure out how the hell I’m going to craft this piece.
By 4 PM. or so, as the Air Jordan episode gives way to Episode 9, which is all about infiltrating a gang of British bank robbers, I get a text message from a girl I’ve only recently begun seeing, asking if I want to get dinner. I’m conflicted, because even if I hadn’t been paying full attention to Angie Tribeca since whenever the hell I fell asleep between 5 and 8 AM, I’ve allowed it to follow me around all day. But then, I think back to last night, during the many moments I dwelled on having no life, losing a sense of reality, and commiserating with my family about relationships lost, and I decide…screw it. A funny, beautiful girl who wants to spend time IRL vs, well, a TV marathon I only challenged myself to watch because I had nothing else going on in my life at the time? C’mon. I’m not that stupid.
’Til season two, Angie.