amie Foxx’s transition from one of TV’s most colourful stars (part of the ensemble sketch comedy show ‘In Living Color’ and then headlining the mediocre sitcom ‘The Jamie Foxx Show’ which managed a five-year run) to becoming an Oscar-winner for Ray, is a very distinct trajectory for a working actor of that time. Now, Foxx is a legitimate movie star, being nominated more times for his work on dramas like Collateral and Dreamgirls, and lending his voice to the lead on Pixar’s Soul most recently. So, his return to a multi-camera sitcom which, at best, feels like a 90s sitcom pre-dating In Living Color, that too for Netflix, makes little sense to me.
I’ve seen more than a few interviews of Foxx in recent years where he talks about being a dad to two daughters (especially Corinne, who had to endure her father dating girls close to her age). The stories are genuinely hilarious if you can get past the cringe. It’s Foxx’s ability to paint a hilarious picture of whimsical characters and odd references from his real life. I’d like to think that this is what Netflix executives (and Corinne, who serves as Producer on the show) were going for on paper. But no amount of the Foxx charm can save this generic comedy from being a damp squib.
What is the story about?
Jamie Foxx plays Brian Dixon, who is forced to cohabitate with his estranged 15-year-old daughter after the death of her mother. Dixon runs his mother’s cosmetics company in Atlanta, the city which is also home to his thriving dating life. Meanwhile, his daughter Sasha is just trying to be a teen, attempting to keep her dad’s embarrassing antics at bay.
Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! is a lost cause from scene 1. The show opens with Brian and Sasha in therapy. The therapist refers to her notes and speaks to the two like they’re a couple with adjustment issues. The joke can be played out with insight into their relationship, a father and daughter who have never been given the opportunity to connect, now forced to understand each other. Instead, the therapist refers to them as “Whitney and Bobby,” and then tries to seduce Brian into a threesome. A few moments later, we are in a flashback of Sasha’s first arrival into the Dixon household, which is at the same time as Brian resisting the charms of a young employee. He refers to her as “jerk chicken,” looks towards the camera and says, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” I’m not sure what kind of humour the showrunners are going for, but the usually buoyant tone of a classic sitcom from the 90s is marred here due to severely politically incorrect humour. The show has also adopted the canned laughter route and I don’t need to write a thesis on why that’s an absurd addition to a comedy made in 2021.
Single-parents comedy really picked up in the early 2000s and lasted for more than a decade, with some terrible attempts towards the end of that era. With Netflix and other streaming platforms, there are some genuine attempts to spin the genre into something fresh, contemporary and relevant. Nothing about Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! Feels like that. Most of the gags come from Foxx up to something which no man his age should be attempting while his daughter rolls her eyes and tells him to stop.
Foxx plays a host of characters on the show including a flamboyant reverend and a barkeep. He often breaks the fourth wall as himself and talks to the camera. This is even done for Kyla-Drew, who plays Sasha. Both these actors are pretty charming and multi-faceted. But having them resort to such antics in a straightforward sitcom dilutes any effort to make the emotional core of their story seem fathomable. Sasha’s character is also pretty one-dimensional. As are the host of characters that surround the duo, like Chelsea (Porscha Coleman) and her white boyfriend, a cop named Johnny (Jonathan Kite).
Music & Other Departments
Nope. It looks and feels like it was made to be aired on television at least two decades ago.
While this isn’t much of a highlight, the show does try to dabble into several social issues across the eight episodes. One is about Sasha’s conflicting views on religion, while the finale tries to question racial profiling by the police. Points for effort?
But at the end of the day, Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! is an incredibly dated effort at making anything resembling a contemporary sitcom. Characters just don’t stop spelling the joke out for the audience, like Sasha spelling out the homophone “thot” to that therapist. The show is confused about what it really wants to be so it stuffs in every style that has ever existed in the genre, just making it too heavy and overreaching for its audience.
Did I enjoy it?
If you use ‘boredom’ and ‘enjoyment’ as synonyms for each other.
Do I recommend it?
Single parenthood is done lightyears better in shows like ‘Better Things,’ ‘Younger’ and ‘Dead to Me.’ If you wanna see Black people go to therapy, watch ‘This Is Us.’ And for generally great comedy, watch ‘Black-ish’, ‘Insecure,’ ‘Grown-ish,’ and/or ‘Dear White People.’