Ay yi yi! Rob Schneider's new sitcom, whimsically titled Rob, debuted Thursday night, and the reviews were far from kind. The Saturday Night Live vet plays an OCD gardener who elopes with a Mexican-American woman he's just met. When he finally meets her extended family, they predictably loathe him, and racial misunderstandings ensue. Critics loathe Rob even more passionately, with The Daily Beast's Jace Lacob predicting it will be "the worst new show of the year" or, more ominously, the "harbinger of the Fall of Man." Here, four reasons Rob is so bad:
1. It offends on so many levels
Rob is so "deeply offensive" it makes the "stereotype-rich 2 Broke Girls appear culturally sensitive by comparison," says Lacob. There are "jokes" about erecting walls to bar Mexican immigrants from the country, money-grubbing illegal aliens, and, in the pilot's nadir, a sight gag "about raping non-English speaking Mexican grandmothers" that wouldn't be funny "in any universe or language." For a sitcom to successfully tackle race-themed comedy, says James Poniewozik at TIME, it needs dimensional characters and punchlines that reflect the nuances of modern America. Lines like, "I feel like I'm at a Julio Iglesias concert," do not accomplish that.
2. The writing is atrocious
Perhaps if the dialogue was less predictable and each joke didn't "land with a thud," Rob would be more serviceable, says Matt Zoller Seitz at New York. Unfortunately, says Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times, "Schneider clearly doesn't think his audience is sophisticated enough to deal with anything more nuanced than Frito-Bandito slapstick."
3. And so is the acting
Rob dredges up the tired sitcom trope (as seen in King of Queens and According to Jim) in which a "schlubby guy ends up with a hot wife," says Mark Perigard at The Boston Herald. But Schneider and Claudia Bassols, who plays his alluring partner, have zero chemistry, says David Eckstein at Zap2it. And "Schneider isn't strong (or likable) enough to carry a show," says Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post. He falls victim to the same problem that's plagued many a Saturday Night Live alumnus, says David Hinckley at The Daily News. "A setup that might work perfectly well for a two-minute SNL sketch" makes for an abysmal half-hour sitcom.
4. The retrograde laugh track is ceaselessly grating
The canned laughter after every lame joke makes the show come off "more like a parody of a sitcom than an actual comedy" on network TV, says Lacob. And as the half-hour wears on, that laugh track "seems to taunt the viewer with its false guffaws the more overtly offensive the show gets."