'Chad' And The Sad State Of Review Bombing
It's rare to see innovation on network and basic cable sitcoms nowadays, so when something comes along like TBS's Chad, a show about a teenage boy being played by Nasim Pedrad, it tends to pique your interest. My expectations were low. Pedrad was never my favorite comedic actress -- she was fine on SNL for her five-year stint, not the worst part of Mulaney, kinda just there on New Girl -- and basic cable is where dreams go to die. But most of all, I was prepping myself to be underwhelmed because the reviews were abysmal. (That's kind of the point of reviews - to temper your expectations.) It currently stands at 1.8 out of 5 stars on Google.
But then I actually watched the show, and Chad wasn't the shitfire the reviews made it out to be. In fact, it was great. It was well made. It was funny. Pedrad plays a whiny teenage boy better than most whiny teenage boys. At least Chad should be good enough to get better than a 1.8. (The Last Jedi got a 2.4!) So what the hell happened here? Well, it could be that my taste doesn't jive with 80% of Google users, and that's certainly possible, but I suspect Chad is getting review bombed.
To the uninitiated, review bombing is when a large group of people, usually coordinated, sometimes not, leave negative reviews on a movie, video game, TV show, virtual sexual experience, etc. in an attempt to tank the score of that property well below what it might normally be valued at. What's the difference between review bombing versus leaving a bad review on something simply because it's bad? It's pretty much just the intent and sometimes the scale. If I watch The Last Jedi and write how this joke makes me wish I was standing on the Death Star right as it exploded …
… that's just leaving a bad review. If I don't watch The Last Jedi but post on forums that I'm going to be leaving zero-star reviews from multiple accounts because I have a problem with Asian-American representation in space or something and hope Kelly Marie Tran never finds work again? That's a review bomb. In the second example, I'm not actually reviewing the movie. I'm just using the Tomatometer to espouse my agenda. I'd argue that even if you do see the piece in question, but you watch it only to affirm your own biases as proof that "See, I watched it, and it still sucks," then that's still a review bomb. Review bombs also go the other way. If you boost something without seeing it, like an all-female Ghostbusters, because you want to see more female representation in TV, then more power to you, but that's still a review bomb. (Go see it if you actually want to support it. And just don't see it if you don't.)
So why do I think Chad is being review bombed? Well, the critic scores are one tip-off. As the song goes, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie aaaaand the average critic score has a 60 point differential from the audience score, that's a review bomb." Yeah, critics can be hoity-toity snobs, but we're not watching a French new wave film here. This is a sitcom on TBS, and a TV critic can only raise their pinky finger so high. Something is up.
The other tip-off is when you look at the comments. (Like on this YouTube clip)
A lot of dudes seem really angry that Pedrad is playing a man. One user writes, "This won't have been so bad if they'd cast an actual teenager for this role." Another says, "Her age shows so hard." But I can't for the life of me understand why that matters. In fact, it's the point. This a comedy. She's playing a heightened version of a teenage boy in a way that only she can. Are you're telling me you wouldn't watch a show about a teenage girl played by Danny Devito? Of course, you would. If that's not already in development, then you'd chase down an executive at TBS and pitched this until it was in syndication until the end of time.
But I don't actually care if you like Chad or not. It's going to be for some people. It's not going to be for others. My point is, try not to be the type of person that makes up their mind about a thing they haven't experienced yet and certainly don't be the type of person who doesn't experience the thing but still leaves a review.
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Top Image: TBS