Television

Rebel Yells, But You're Likely to Yawn in Response

New ABC show wastes Katey Sagal’s massive talents.

|

  • Rebel. ABC. Thursday, April 8, 10 p.m.
  • Home Economics. ABC. Wednesday, April 7, 8:30 p.m.

Disney holds monthly search-and-destroy meetings to root out the apparently endless amount of racist material in its old movies. If only the company could make a fraction of that effort to eliminate the brain-dead drivel in its captive ABC network, TV critics could all whistle while we worked instead of putting lit cigarettes out in our eyes, which I'm sure will take a major uptick in the CDC statistics after this week's screeners get around.

Not since the U.S. Army Air Force and the RAF last visited Dresden have two such fearsome bombs exploded at the same time as ABC's Rebel and Home Economics, and there aren't even any Nazis around to blame it on.

Like Dresden, Rebel has an awesome mortality rate, the most tragic fatality being the career of Katey Sagal. Sagal is an astonishingly versatile actress, hopping between eccentric dramatic roles—a homicidal motorcycle hoochie in Sons of Anarchy, a 14th-century Welsh witch in The Bastard Executioner—with astounding power. And she started it all by brilliantly reworking (or maybe bitch-slapping) the smiley-faced June Cleaver/Harriet Nelson suburban housewife archetype with her gloriously deviant portrayal of the slothful ("the laziest bitch in Chicago," as she bragged in one episode) and promiscuous Peggy Bundy in the sitcom lampoon Married…With Children.

But in Rebel, Sagal is trying to animate a character whose bellicosity and smug populism obliterate everything around her, including plot, characterization, and credibility. That's Rebel Bello, a political activist disguised as a paralegal, who litigates not with evidence and witnesses but by unleashing mobs on the country clubs of defendants. ("She's not a lawyer, she's just loud," observes another character with deadly accuracy.)

She's fond of saying—well, shrieking—things like "I keep hoping one day I'll wake up and the world will have saved itself!" and "I bring the CEOs of multinational corporations to their knees!" This apparently keeps the class-action plaintiffs rolling in, though it's a little rough on Rebel's husbands—three and counting. By the way, saving the world apparently pays pretty well: One of Rebel's regular complaints is how her ex-husbands wind up with all her money. You'd think the Savior of the World and Slayer of Multinational CEOs could find a decent divorce lawyer. But she's too busy drumming up class-action business for that.  At the moment, she's seeking victims of a sleazy manufacturer's defective heart valves, which bring on death in outlandishly lurid and jury-pleasing ways.

If the concept of a belligerently trashy blue-collar paralegal substituting emotion for evidence as she attacks a purportedly murderous corporation sounds familiar, keep an eye out as Rebel's credits roll for an amazing coincidence: Erin Brockovich as executive producer! If you change those heart valves for contaminated water, Rebel's plot is a virtual clone of the 2000 film about the real-life paralegal Brockovich. That one at least had an engaging story, even if it was almost entirely fictionRebel is merely a boorish bore.

Home Economics is also from a familiar genre, that of the dysfunctional family forced back together by hard economic times. This has produced some pretty good sitcoms, though not a one of them has survived more than a single season.  Audiences who are working in miserable pinch-penny circumstances seem not to enjoy seeing it on TV at home, too.

That won't be a problem for Home Economics, which fails entirely on its own demerits. It's about three siblings—one boundlessly rich (he just bought Matt Damon's house), one grindingly poor (she can't afford Damon's movie tickets, much less his home) and one going down fast (his last novel sold five copies, one of them to the rich brother).  No worry—they're all brought together by mutual peevishness, spite and jealousy. After extensive and determinedly unfunny airing of grievances, they conclude that, as the rich brother declares, that "we're all screwed up." And, he adds: "What a relief!" Speak for yourself, buddy.

NEXT: Matt Gaetz Story Shifts From Child Sex Trafficking to Consorting With Sugar Babies

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Rebel Yells, But You’re Likely to Yawn in Response

    Yeah, between Sagal in this role and Queen Latifah in her role as The Equalizer, can we officially declare the girl (cougar?) power moment over?

    50 yr. old men don’t cut it as fiery young upstarts, why anybody thinks women do is beyond me. A 50-yr-old overweight black woman hobbling around in her role as an action star is an utter failure of television.

    1. A+. You just can’t suspend belief THAT much.

      1. JOIN PART TIME JOB FOR USA Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earningsDD are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
        on this page…..VISIT HERE

    2. Join now this jobs and start making extra dollars online by follow instruction on the given website.visit here more detail………..USA PART TIME JOB.

    3. The women, some of whom were performing court-ordered community service in the department, say Michael Harvel grabbed them, sexually propositioned them, forced them to look at or touch his penis……………MORE DETAIL.

    4. Not since the U.S. Army Air Force and the RAF last visited Dresden have two such fearsome bombs exploded at the same time as ABC’s Rebel and Home Economics, and there aren’t even any Nazis around to blame it on…………….MORE DETAIL.

    5. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple jobGTR to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

    6. LIFE CHANGING OPPORTUNITY BE an Internet HOME-BASED real Earner.I am just working on facebook only 3 to 4 hours a Day and earning £47786 a month easily, that is handsome earning to VG meet my extra expenses and that is really life changing opportunity. Let me give you a little insight into what I do….. Visit Here

    7. LIFE CHANGING OPPORTUNITY BE an Internet HOME-BASED real Earner.I am just working on facebook WQER only 3 to 4 hours a Day and earning £47786 a month easily, that is handsome earning to meet my extra expenses and that is really life changing opportunity. Let me give you a little insight into what I do….. Visit Here

    8. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy andMKI simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

  2. They still need some content for broadcast television. Where broadcast television may still have had some cachet before the pandemic, I suspect we’re looking at a fragmented media audience these days. The people out there who are still watching broadcast television may actually like vapid shit–like truck drivers in the south want greasy, greasy food at the truck stop.

    Back in the 1980s, they used to have vapid shows like Alice and Momma’s Family, and you’d struggle to watch a whole episode. On the other hand, there were big fans of those shows. They went into syndication! The people who like those kinds of vapid shows may be the only people who are still watching broadcast television. The rest of the audience is streaming, and they aren’t watching things that are toned down enough for broadcast television.

    I got a free week’s preview of AMC+ via the Roku channel, and I used it to watch Gangs of London ten episode series, which is going to the opposite extreme for a streaming audience. Gangs of London is made by Gareth Evans of The Raid fame from ten years ago. Like The Raid, Gangs of London is incredibly gory and violent. I’ve seen less violent and gory slasher movies–but I think you need to go to extremes to stand out in a crowded streaming environment.

    The broadcast television audience is still out there, and there are more than 100 million of them out there. They watch reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger because they love it. Compare this show, Rebel, to everything else on broadcast television. How’s it stand up against Walker, Texas Ranger or old reruns of Bonanza? I think the old movie cliché had it, “Will it play in Peoria?”. This is like reviewing a show that only plays in Peoria for audiences in New York and Los Angeles.

  3. Her massive saggy talents

    1. Hmmm….used to be her two breast friends.

  4. Katey Sagal’s massive talents.

    Is that what we’re calling them now? It used to be her “two supporting actors”. Also her “incredible screen presence”. So many euphemisms.

  5. “…there aren’t even any Nazis around to blame it on.”

    Nazis are everywhere. It is known.

  6. “Disney holds monthly search-and-destroy meetings to root out the apparently endless amount of racist material in its old movies. If only the company could make a fraction of that effort to eliminate the brain-dead drivel in its captive ABC network”

    But the former demands the latter.

  7. One of Rebel’s regular complaints is how her ex-husbands wind up with all her money. You’d think the Savior of the World and Slayer of Multinational CEOs could find a decent divorce lawyer.

    I always know I’m reading a Garvin article without checking the byline. Well done, sir.

  8. ABC and ESPN are owned by Disney which is a racist corporation.

  9. Are we sure that the name “Rebel Yell” isn’t encouraging Confederate sympathizers to insurrection?

  10. best as Turanga Leela.

  11. promiscuous Peggy Bundy

    Salacious? Flirtatious? Seductive? Maybe. But promiscuous? Nope. The Bundys were in a very committed relationship. They never strayed. They TALKED about it. But never, ever acted on it. As dysfunctional as they were, they were a rather traditional marriage.

  12. Agree that “Disney holds monthly search-and-destroy meetings to root out the apparently endless amount of racist material in its old movies. If only the company could make a fraction of that effort to eliminate the brain-dead drivel in its captive ABC network”

    But the former demands the latter.tivo mini setup!

  13. Jared Kesso Height

    Jared Kesso has a very fit body weighing 1.60lbs and stands in at a height of approximately 5feet and 10 inches. Jared Keeso has an athletic body as he used to play hockey.

  14. Jim Belushi

    Jim is an American actor and comedian. Jim’s full name is James Adam Belushi, he is widely known for the role of ‘Jim’ he did on the sitcom ‘According to Jim’. He started working with the Chicago theater group. He made his television debut in 1978 in the show named ‘Who’s Watching the kid’ with a small role but his first known significant role was in Michael Mann’s Thief.

    Jim is also started to get involved in the film industry in the year 1978.
    He won the Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema for Retroactive in 1998. His brother John Belushi is also quite popular.
    Jim’s son Robert Belushi is also an actor.

    In 2006, Jim released his first book named “Real Men Don’t Apologize”.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.