The new Netflix comedy, starring, and executive produced by TV veteran Jamie Foxx follow single Atlanta entrepreneur Brian (Foxx) who suddenly has to father his teenage daughter Sasha (Kyla-Drew) after her mother’s untimely death, much to their mutual wariness. Brian’s eagerness embarrasses Sasha, Sasha’s stubbornness frustrates Brian. Despite some strategic TikTok references and every episode title taking the form of a hashtag, there’s not much about “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!” that anchors it to 2021 beyond the fact that it is executive produced by Foxx and his real-life daughter, Corinne Foxx.
Inspired by Foxx’s relationship with his daughter Corinne (who serves as an executive producer), it’s a well-worn plot of a womanizing dad trying to bond with his daughter after she moves in with him following her mother’s passing, as he turns to his younger sister Chelsea (Porscha Coleman) and his weed-smoking dad (portrayed by Foxx’s former In Living Color co-star David Alan Grier, despite him only being 11 years older) for help as they all live under the same roof. Everybody speaks in cliched bad ‘90s sitcom Esperanto to the point where at times it feels like a spoof from WandaVision.
The rest is a mix of racial comedy – the kind that’s a staple of American humor but often sounds lazily regressive. Brian’s best friend, for instance, is a buffoonish white cop who hangs around at Brian’s while on duty, but the topic of police racism only comes up belatedly and ineptly. A running joke about too-tight trousers might be a sly reference to Bill Cosby’s infamous “pants down around the crack” dig at young Black Americans, but if so, it is pretty oblique. Besides, let’s face it, Foxx isn’t all that embarrassing: he can’t help but pull off the most flamboyant outfits, and even his ‘“dad-dancing” has an unerring rhythm.
Like the Dixon home, what ‘Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!’ lacks is character. The series dabbles in everything from issues-based humor, to warmhearted comedy, to farce without ever finding a groove. The shifts in tone and subject matter are telegraphed; the second episode, “Godastamaste,” announces Sasha’s conflicting feelings about religion so plainly that it might as well be called “Crisis Of Faith.” Similarly, Foxx dons multiple wigs and bald caps to flex his sketch comedy muscles once more but doesn’t create anything memorable. The series isn’t entirely without its charms; Foxx and Grier are game for whatever the roulette wheel of premises calls for at any given moment. Nickelodeon TV alum Kyla-Drew is a bit more self-conscious, but she does manage to capture the teenage combination of naiveté and world-weariness. The Brian-Sasha dynamic is reminiscent of the central relationship in UPN’s One On One, which ran from 2001 to 2006, which is also the period time from which 'Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!' appears to be drawing its humor.
Foxx is multitalented, so we see him sing, do impressions, and even play different characters. In my opinion, though, neither Foxx nor his eye-rolling daughter is what makes this show stand out. For that, I give credit to David Alan Grier, who’s sporting a Harry Edwards look these days and is channeling another Foxx, namely Redd, in his role as grizzled old Pops. Grier can take lines like, “Three death-row inmates requested my gumbo as their last meal because I cook it real slow,” and extract full hilarity from them, not an easy thing.
With only eight episodes for its first season, “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!” wastes little time dealing with the aftermath of its emotionally wrought premise. Sasha’s mom is mostly a footnote; we have no idea how she and Brian met, who she was as a person, or what her and Sasha’s life looked like before she died. Most of this first season feels like a second season for how quickly it dives into Sasha and Brian’s new life together.
“Dad You’re Embarrassing Me!” works because of the specifics, namely it's an easy way with topicality. It feels both old and new. It has a charm that doesn’t go out of style.
Final Score – [5.5/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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