Admit it: Sometimes you wanted to cut through all the drama and seriousness and watch Sawyer slip on a banana peel with a slide whistle soundtrack. Enter TBS’ new series Wrecked, about a group of plane crash survivors who are stuck alone on an unknown island with no hope of rescue in sight, and death looming around every corner. It’s hilarious! We all loved ABC’s megahit Lost, it’s TV fact.
From newcomers Justin and Jordan Shipley, Wrecked, which premieres Tuesday (TBS, 10/9c and 10:30/9:30c), is a loving and silly homage to Lost, despite the fact that producers have deflected Lost comparisons. I mean, the pilot episode is titled “All Is Not Lost,” which isn’t a coincidence.
Your sarcastic inner monologue might be thinking, “Oh, a Lost parody; that’s timely,” but it works, nevermind that Lost debuted 12 years ago. I don’t know about you, but my friends and I still talk about Lost more than most current shows, whether it’s debating the quality of the divisive finale (it sucked; #sorrynotsorry) or praising its groundbreaking structure. Lost‘s impact and importance can’t be understated, and for many, it’s vaulted into the upper echelon of genre programming for good. Dharma Initiative cosplayers can still be seen at Comic-Con today, and will be for the foreseeable future.
The more accurate thought should be, “Why not a Lost parody?” And Wrecked dives into flattering imitation from the get-go, from its basic tropical location (the show was shot in Puerto Rico, versus Lost‘s Hawaii) to more specifics. A close-up shot of Danny (Brian Sacca), the show’s chubbier, beardier version of Matthew Fox’s Jack Shepherd, kicks off the pilot and mirrors that of Lost‘s opening close-up shot of Jack. Crane shots of survivors walking through tall brush is recreated from scenes just before Charlie’s infamous, “Guys, where are we?” line. And the pilot’s rugged, handsome leader bears a striking resemblance to someone we’re familiar with.
The feeling of deja vu works well, though, because Wrecked is just as likely to do something to disrupt the similarity for comedic effect. For example, Wrecked‘s second episode re-creates the burning of the dead bodies of Lost‘s second episode, only with more puking. Lots more puking. Stand By Me levels of puking. And Danny has a ghost dad on the island, just like Jack did, but instead of breaking down into tears like Jack did, Danny works up the courage to slap the crap out of his dad.
But there’s more to Wrecked than just digs at Lost. The show’s crass sense of humor can be best described as if the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia found themselves stranded on a deserted island. Cast member Zach Cregger, who plays flight attendant-turned-reluctant leader Owen, aptly describes the seriousness of the stakes to which the motley crew is subjected as “Lord of the Flies with morons.”
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And as far as characters go, there are a few standouts, including Will Greenburg’s Todd, a primo a-hole who’s more obsessed with “winning” than helping others survive or forming a community. He’s got Jin’s Season 1 misogyny and Sawyer’s insults, and Greenburg nails it. And the series’ most recognizable actor, Flight of the Conchord‘s Rhys Darby, does that naive shlub thing he does so well with his character Steve, whose legs are turned to pretzels by plane debris. But overall, it’s a string cast of relative no-names who won’t stay no-named for long.
Wrecked lines up nicely with the new strides TBS has made under the guidance of former Fox boss Kevin Reilly, who demanded more focus on “awesome and in-your-face” comedy. Yeah, that’s a pretty boring “business-y” sentence, but it’s important to note that Wrecked follows the network’s other new comedies Angie Tribeca and The Detour, which have already proved that TBS is over traditional sitcoms of the pre-Reilly era, like Men at Work, Sullivan & Son, and Ground Floor, all of which fit into the recent cultural conversation somewhere between Friendster and Scott Baio.
As comedy becomes a force in the era of Peak TV, broad comedies involving traditional romantic bungling or 20-somethings hanging out in an apartment they realistically couldn’t afford are becoming a dying breed, and niche comedies — specifically “genre comedies” — are getting hotter. If TBS continues to move toward comedies like its impressive trio of 2016 releases, it might be known as something more than the place to watch Big Bang Theory reruns.
Wrecked premieres Tuesday at 10/9c on TBS.