Sacha Baron Cohen, the infantile actor who made it big playing "Ali G" and "Borat," has gotten a lot of coverage for his new Showtime show, "Who Is America?" The critics have gushed over his embarrassing "interviews" with former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin and failed congressional candidate Roy Moore, often disguised as a disabled military veteran.
That'd be the predictable take for Hollywood, which clearly despises President Trump and all Republicans.
But one critic — looking at the show without the normal liberal bias, just trying to inform potential viewers whether they should bother to tune in — took a completely different tack, and it wasn't pretty.
Dominic Patten of Deadline completely destroyed the show. With one word, he shredded the new Cohen effort, calling it "boring."
"Full of mild shock, zero awe and a lot of recycled scenarios, the flabby, seven-episode dupe-the-dimwits endeavor from the once blighting satirist certainly provokes a great inducement to change the cable channel," Patten wrote.
While the author called Cohen "the premier provocateur of our time," he said this latest show is dreadful. "Or to paraphrase a true great provocateur, Johnny Rotten: Boring, Sasha, boring."
Though Ali G was genius and Borat was brilliant, the subsequent offerings leading to Who Is America? intimate that the decline and fall of the comedy of Sasha Baron Cohen is almost complete with this pointless and tub-thumping exercise in ritual humiliation.
About as “dangerous” and “cold-blooded,” to quote WiA’s promos, as a multi-colored inflatable pool unicorn, this series is murky on who is being more humiliated, Cohen or his patsies. It is, however, definitive on giving 2016 flick The Brothers Grimsby a worthy rival for the stupidest thing Cohen has ever conceived.
Patten said Cohen does target some heavy hitters, "However, for the most part, Cohen targets an easily pummeled straw dogs selection of well-heeled, Donald Trump- supporting and drink-sipping South Carolinians, gun rights activists like the well-named Larry Pratt, and pliable SoCal art gallery owners. There’s also the expected washed-up politicians, talking heads, and reality show contestants with defecation gags galore, a “Kinder-Guardians” gun-arming child program, sex with a porpoise and a flag menstruation anecdote, the latter which the Clinton Foundation are falsely said to be supporting financially."
Then Patten lowers the boom.
The "shtick" of "Who Is America?" "is simply to watch stuffed shirts fall over on the banana peels placed in their self-satisfied way, again and again. Nothing more, and often less."
Funny once? Totally. Funny over and over and over? Maybe, if the executions are worthy and the subjects slippery enough, as was often the case during Cohen’s Ali Gand Borat era.
However, funny in 2018? When trolled by the Cohen-played characters of a right-wing conspiracy theorist, Mossad officer, a self-loathing, gender-bending, NPR-listening snowflake? Or what about a British convict just out of the joint wanting to share his bodily fluids-created art and apparent impersonation of Tom Hardy as Bronson from the 2008 pic, plus an oil-slick slimy West Coast Euro-millionaire celeb photographer with charitable desires?
No, that’s not funny or shrewd. That’s just a short play at the track, as con-men used to say. And, once you get past the sleight-of-hand and the hype, there’s not much there in Who Is America?, new or otherwise, that isn’t a con job.