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'Second Generation Wayans' Premiere Episode

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating
User Rating 3 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

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Second Generation Wayans
Photo courtesy of BET

The Bottom Line

Second Generation Wayans is a feeble effort to sell Wayans family nephews Craig and Damien Dante as the next big things in the long-running comedy dynasty.

Details

  • Stars Damien Dante Wayans, Craig Wayans, George O. Gore II, Tatyana Ali
  • Created by Damien Dante Wayans, Craig Wayans, George O. Gore II
  • Airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. EST starting January 15, 2013, on BET

Review

Give Damien Dante Wayans and Craig Wayans credit for one thing: Rather than putting together a reality show about their Hollywood struggles, as so many has-been/wannabe showbiz players have, they’ve bothered to come up with a scripted comedy that attempts to build characters and storylines and tell actual jokes. Unfortunately, the pilot for Second Generation Wayans isn’t much better than a reality show on the same topic, and sometimes seems nearly indistinguishable from that approach. For an alleged comedy, it’s not particularly funny, and the two Wayans have very little self-deprecation or even self-awareness about their situation. It’s hard for the show to be an effective Hollywood comedy when its creators take Hollywood so seriously.

The whole pilot is built around the idea that Craig and Damien can’t get any respect in Hollywood because everyone compares them to their more famous relatives (Keenen, Damon, Marlon, Shawn, Kim, even Happy Endings’ Damon Jr.), but there isn’t nearly enough humor to offset the massive amount of self-pity. Damien goes into an audition and is annoyed to see pictures of Marlon on the casting director’s desk; Craig interviews for a writing job on a sitcom and gets frustrated when the producer asks if one of his more famous relatives could guest-star. But then Marlon himself actually shows up a few scenes later, completely undermining the idea that the two should stand on their own (he’s also one of the show’s producers). Even worse, the scene with Marlon is essentially devoid of jokes, and features him giving canned advice that would have been completely at home on a reality show about the same subject.

In the real world, Craig and Damien’s biggest claim to fame is co-writing, producing and directing the 2009 critically lambasted dance-movie parody Dance Flick, which wasn’t exactly a huge box-office success. Damien has more experience as an actor, but neither one is a particularly compelling screen presence (Craig’s acting can be pretty wooden at times). The supporting cast features actor George O. Gore II (of the Damon Wayans sitcom My Wife and Kids) also playing himself, as well Tatyana Ali as the main duo’s assistant. As the only series regular not playing herself, Ali comes off as the most accomplished actor in the bunch during the few scenes she has, and generally seems like she deserves to be in a better show (sadly, her post-Fresh Prince of Bel-Air career hasn’t exactly taken off).

With its mix of comedy and drama, plus its gratuitous celebrity cameos (in a bit of BET synergy, Kevin Hart of lead-in show Real Husbands of Hollywood also makes an appearance in the pilot), Second Generation Wayans seems like it wants to be the BET version of Entourage, but its characters aren’t appealing enough, and basic cable doesn’t allow for the kind of excess that helped Entourage grab attention even when its storytelling was weak. Damien and Craig bed hotties, party in a nightclub and hobnob with famous people, but the whole thing is completely lifeless, and the seeds of little relationship dramas (Damien’s efforts to get back with his ex, played by the underrated Regina Hall; Craig’s conflicts with his crazy baby mama) don’t offer much promise for future episodes. If Damien and Craig really want to kickstart their Hollywood careers, they should try creating a more entertaining show for themselves.

Disclosure: A review screener was provided by the network. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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