In the season finale of Peacock’s Kills it, the incarnated swindler Isaiah (Rell Battle) sums up his view of the world. “There’s nothing but snakes all the way down,” he insists on the protests of his more straight-laced, kind-hearted brother Craig (Craig Robinson). And based on what we’ve seen on the show, Isaiah is not necessarily mistaken: its ten-half-hour episodes are a tour through all sorts of American outrage, from the intimate to the institutional, the technically legal to the wildly illegal.
But through his welcoming sense of humor and compassion for his characters, Kills it (from creators Luke Del Tredici and Dan Goor by Brooklyn Nine-Nine) makes a sympathetic argument for choosing to be kind anyway – taking care of each other when we can, even if it does not solve everything in the long run. After all, there are a lot of snakes out there.
The bottom line
A funny, funny take-down of the American dream.
Including some very literal, since Kills it centers on Craig’s efforts to win a snake hunting competition sponsored by the state of Florida. This is not his first job choice. At the start of the series, he barely comes; at the end of the second episode, he has lost both his job and his house. His only way out of this hole, as he sees it, is to kill enough snakes to win the $ 20,000 cash prize and invest it in the million-dollar idea he keeps trying to give to everyone else. So he reluctantly joins forces with Jillian (Claudia O’Doherty, Love), an Uber driver who is even more excited about cash than he is, and heads out to the Everglades with his nail gun in tow.
From there, Kills it winds its way through a plot that is half crime, half comedy comedy, all capitalist criticism. Between the competition’s high financial stakes and Craig’s affiliation with Isaiah, who makes a living from all the illegal schemes he is capable of making, Craig and Jillian soon find themselves in a web of criminal intrigue that starts with a fire and quickly grows out. . control from there. (It’s clear that the most diligent investigator in the case is not a public servant, but a guy working for a private insurance company who really would rather not pay out a policy.) And that’s when they do not stumble upon a beginner snake- hunting error, as when Craig accidentally strikes a snake on his own hand in episode two.
But they also find in each other a surprisingly meaningful friendship. Kills it‘s comedy only rarely rises to ridiculous levels, but the dynamic between Jillian and Craig gives an airy ride. Robinson’s innate charisma allows him to play Craig as the stable, decent, mostly pragmatic straight man without sacrificing interest in the stranger, wilder characters in his midst. Meanwhile, revealing Jillian, who at first both for Craig and for us seems like a total lunatic – a relentlessly optimistic chatterbox thinking that 16 was a great age to make her father die – reveals deeper, softer, sometimes more sad layers during the season. O’Doherty delivers some of the season’s most bittersweet moments as well as the funniest.
At first, what really unites the two is an obsession with the American dream. For that matter, it’s what brings pretty much everyone together Kills it, as characters talk about the idea in explicit phrases from first paragraph to last. For those at the bottom – including Craig, Jillian, aspiring YouTube star Brock (Scott MacArthur) and his more skeptical son Corby (Wyatt Walter) – it is the belief that their hard work will be rewarded with riches. For those at the top, like motivational speaker Rodney LaMonca (Tim Heidecker), it’s a rationale for the wealth they’ve already accumulated – often from true believers like Craig, who postpone hundreds to attend Rodney’s “Dominine” conference, so-called because its participants do more than dominate (“domin-eight“).
And from start to finish, the show shows how empty that dream is. Kills it is sensitive to the endless indignities of inequality in America. It’s not only that Jillian works on half a dozen concerts at once and is still so shattered that she lives off the mobile billboard she drives behind her Uber; that is, in exchange for meager TaskRabbit salaries, wealthy clients like Sloane (D’Arcy Carden) feel entitled to treat Jillian like a pet and her dating life like a game.
And it’s not just that Rodney has amassed wealth by doing little more than asking other people to work harder; it is that he simultaneously fetishes the birth to the point where he claims he wished he had grown up in a sweatshop. “I’m jealous that those kids are developing a work ethic,” he tells his colleagues. “The only thing I did at that age was try to figure out which pillow I should fuck.”
These personal injustices are reflected on a larger scale in the program’s framework: It takes place around the 2016 election, with an episode even put in an hour-long poll. Kills its choice to put its story a little in the past sometimes gives it the feel of a series from, well, a little in the past. As compelling as its comments may be, it has also been very much covered over the last many years, in everything from Play squid to Stuepige alone in the last year. The series does not say much about capitalism we have not heard before, sometimes with deeper analyzes or greater emotion.
Then again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes and for the time being. Society has not evolved to the point where these ideas are no longer relevant. Kills it is stuck in his awareness that hard work alone is not going to save the world’s Craigs, no matter what he himself so desperately wants to believe, and it is not really trying to offer any systemic solutions that can. But instead of surrendering to the grim realities, the series finds heart and humor in the struggling underdogs who find it self-evident to care about each other in a world that doesn’t care about them – and tell some beautiful funny jokes along the way.