When everyone takes their turn being the joke, laughing at someone isn't a bad thing. It's the quickest way to share amusement, and Joel McHale might be the best at striking this everyone-can-get-it balance.
The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, Netflix's reboot of E!'s reality-TV/pop-culture riff program The Soup, resurrects McHale's hilariously messy pursuit of making fun of anyone's mess --even his own. As a result, the program creates a safe place for everyone to laugh, together.
The show is a facsimile of his old E! show; McHale stands in front of a green screen and says funny things about reality TV and internet clips. In the first episode, he takes on a white contestant of The Bachelor: Winter Games who awkwardly professes his sexual desire for all shades of women. It's a mess.
Sloppiness is compelling, and that can bridge a lot of cultural gaps. Just follow the inaugural McHale Show episode, where he talks smack about the above-mentioned German Bachelor contestant, black people in New York, Afro-Latina people in Miami, and a white polygamist family in Las Vegas.
Later on in the episode, McHale lampoons outrageous YouTube and TV show clips from South Africa, obscure South Korean dramas, and The Today Show. Then McHale, capably as ever, gives a SportsCenter rundown of the best mess sports has to offer this week.
No matter who they are, whoever racks up a triple double in crazy gets airtime.
McHale's laughter reminds us all that, like life and death, the difference between chillin' and looking an absolute fool is slimmer than we think. Like death, looking dumb happens to us all. McHale's sharp wit, equal parts outwardly cutting and self-flagellating, levels anyone who deserves it -- which ends up being everyone. He makes relating with every kind of person seem as simple as thinking about being embarrassed.
McHale, who hosted The Soup from 2004-15, immediately returns to lovable asshole form, picking back up as a Blind Mess Uniter. Under the resource-rich Netflix banner, McHale's new show can also stretch its legs a little. He relentlessly makes fun of how bloated Netflix is, pokes fun at himself for being what the network resorted to after “running out of ideas,” and mocks cross promotion with every Netflix cameo.
The reason McHale and the new show are so good is that both live by the creed that we are all messy. Let's all just have a laugh. When anyone, even the host, is at risk of humiliation, humiliation isn't a risk anymore. It becomes common ground.