Chris Estrada is a rising stand-up comedian, and like many, he draws upon the humor of his own personal experiences in his routines. He has been able to parlay his unique brand of comedy into a TV series, This Fool, that premieres later this week on Hulu.
The story follows 30-year-old Julio Lopez who lives in the working-class neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. Despite having a steady job at the local non-profit Hugs Not Thugs, which rehabilitates gang members into contributing members of society, he still lives in his mother’s home and has a consistent on-again off-again relationship with his high school girlfriend. His professional and personal life collide when his older cousin Luis (Frankie Quiñones), an ex-gang member, moves in after being freed from prison and enrolls in the program at Julio’s work.
The biggest highlight of This Fool is the characters. Estrada’s Julio is your typical loveable loser type. Not only does he live in his momma’s house, but he sleeps in a twin bed and he only receives generic texts from companies on his birthday. However, he’s a layered individual who is devoted to his family, friends, and especially the people who participate in Hugs Not Thugs. He is invested in helping them make a change and is acknowledged for his hard work.
Part of the reason he is so good at his job is his codependency towards other people. He is so focused on assisting others, that his personal life suffers. It’s an interesting dynamic seeing this unfold throughout the season and how this affects his decisions and his inability to take chances. Although it is a bit disappointing that by the end, his circumstances have changed, but he still is pretty much the same person with limited growth. I know it’s a lot to expect development in a half hour comedy, but shows such as Ted Lasso and Mythic Quest demonstrate it can be done.
The other breakout role from This Fool is Luis. There is an odd couple feel between the cousins and Quiñones gives his character man child energy. He’s an entertaining big kid that, in spite of his gang banger life and being locked up, has an innocence to him.
The show delves deeper with some insightful analysis. The reason behind Luis’ immaturity is because he was locked up at a young age and didn’t mentally develop properly. The laughs make his experience more palatable, but it can be so sad to see how much the world has passed him by while incarcerated. You root for him to get his life together and his analogy of his life to Austin Powers will make you never see the Mike Myers film in the same way again.
The storylines of this season are entertaining. This Fool might have a Mexican feel due to the setting and the characters, but it covers universal themes from growing up to romantic relationships to religion. The series also finds the humor in everyday life, and it takes those situations and pushes them over the top. You might not understand how things escalated so quickly but you go along on the ride because it’s so fun.
Early on, there is even a magical component that brings a level of charm and raises it above a typical comedy. The unlikely or impossible become possible somehow. It’s a shame the show moves away from the enchantment until the very end. The finale also works well since it has several callbacks to the pilot and serves as a pleasant way to bookend the season.
This Fool is a funny slice of life series anchored by the amusing odd couple dynamic between cousins Julio and Frankie.
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