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As we’ve come to learn from Forrest MacNeil, the fanatically dutiful critic of life experiences at the center of Comedy Central’s Review, played by co-creator Andy Daly, anyone who takes analysis and critique as their profession must be willing to give a part of themselves, and their personal life, to said work. MacNeil, of course, goes beyond the call of duty, as anyone who witnessed the dissolution of his marriage and several other fallouts of his work in the quite funny first season will attest. As his return to the job at hand in the first episode of Season 2 proved, however, you can’t keep a good critic down (or a foolish one, for that matter) and his jump back into the world of experiential reviewing yielded insights worth considering for any woman or man looking to live a full life.
This is not to say that MacNeil is any kind of role model (again, see Season 1 for reference) but his desire to experience every physical and emotional feeling that life has to offer, whether disturbing and painful or joyous and resonant, suggests an appetite for wisdom that makes him a sort of modern-day Argonaut. His first set of ventures in Season 2 continued his odd and unpredictable quest for wild enlightenment, and brought on a handful of lessons that are worth noting, if not exactly going through yourself. For the uninitiated, I thought it would be worth going over what can be gleaned from this inaugural set of excursions in Review Season 2, if only in the hopes of lessening the amount of attendees to the emergency room at hospitals nationwide.
1. Always Have An Out
I know it sounds counterproductive to have an option to wriggle out of exploits after underlining the satisfaction and intimate know-how that comes from such things, but to quote nobody at all, everything is not for everybody. That’s the main reason that Forrest introduces the Veto Booth in Review Season 2, which allows him to opt out of any experience he thinks might be too damaging to him or his loved ones. That being said, there’s no guarantee that MacNeil’s foresight is sharp enough to conceive of the immense trouble that his doings may cause, such as…
2. If You Must Fight, Don’t Fight Strangers
In a perfect world, the rule would simply be not to fight anyone, unless you’re paid a hefty sum to do that in a ring with onlookers cheering you on or hoping for your ultimate downfall. This is not a perfect world, unfortunately, and, well, high school still exists, so fighting will always be a part of life in some way. What you should not do is sucker punch a stranger at an ATM, as MacNeil did in an incident that concluded with our hero getting shot and going into a coma. Sure, this also leads to him meeting and falling for Marissa, a sweet-hearted nurse played by Fargo breakout star Allison Tolman, but finding your true love should not involve you decking random people in the street just for the kick of it.
3. If You Must Blackmail, Only Blackmail Strangers
Now, this one’s a bit tricky. Unless you’re part of the Mr. Robot team, gathering peoples secrets tends to be something that can only be done through intimate connections to people, which is why people are often blackmailed by family members; at least that’s what I’ve gathered from Law & Order. So, when a fan asks MacNeil to try blackmailing, he naturally goes for Marissa, who has a stash of several high-grade painkillers, stolen off her patients. This also ends with him being threatened with a gun, and this encounter with Marissa strikes at the difference between societal law and personal passion, the collision of which is the percolating subtext of much of Review. MacNeil is left heartbroken, and without much in the way of money from the blackmail to after consolation. So next time, just try to get a few hundred off of your co-workers who was indulging in some afternoon delight in the supply closet behind their spouses backs. It will be for the better, I assure you.
4. Glory Holes Are Pretty Fantastic
Look, not every man yearns to insert his, er, member into a roughly cut-out hole in a men’s bathroom stall. That’s just a fact. The curiosity of such an act, however, is hard to deny, and it explains why MacNeil enthusiastically accepts the assignment from a fan. After some extensive Internet research into the best local glory holes, MacNeil finally finds one and quickly becomes an ecstatic fan. His obliviousness to the fact that he’s being pleasured by men – a local groundskeeper-janitor is the only confirmed partner – reflects a healthy openness to all sexual experience, no matter how not-ideal the environs of such happenings may be. For a man who has been left by his wife, shot by a stranger, and nearly shot again by a woman who loves him, the glory hole is a welcome respite from his troubles. Take note, recent divorcees.
5. Enjoy The Mysteries of Life
As great as MacNeil’s experiences with the glory hole are, he becomes too attached to the pleasure and simplicity of the act, to the point of borderline addiction. His inability to consider the fact that it might be a man on the other side leads him to believe that a random, kind woman is the person on the other side of the graffiti-strewn stall. Rather than just be happy that he’s found this mildly scandalous bit of fun, he feels the need to form a relationship with the person on the other end, and it essentially ruins the alluring enigma of the act; it also costs him a bit of his dignity, but he never seemed bothered by that. It’s a hysterical bit of punctuation to MacNeil’s first round of Season 2 excursions, and it underlines a very real issue in reviewing: the want and need for satisfactory endings and cohesiveness. But, as Review so often exemplifies, life is never that simple and experiences tend to end in far more complex and ambiguous ways. So, the next time you find yourself at a glory hole, or preparing clock that guy in front of you at the ATM, it’s sometimes best, if not always easy, to enjoy that moment for what it is.
New episodes of Review Season 2 premiere every Thursday at 10/9c (Tonight!) on Comedy Central, and you can watch new and old episodes of the show anytime on the Comedy Central App.