Season 1, Episode 1
You know what, James? You adjacent as a motherfucker.
Once Hood Adjacent started playing on my television, I asked myself “Do we really need another comedian led, topic based talk show? Like really need?” The answer is no; We don’t. But Comedy Central is bound to give any and every comedian a version of The Daily Show. It’s a tiring format -- comedian says something irreverent, focuses on one or two things and moves on. However, it can be as effective as it is funny. Not Safe with Nikki Glaser stood out because it utilized who Glaser was as a comedian with no shame in talking about sex with her parents. Moshe Kasher’s Problematic is anything but as it introduces harsh topics that talk shows usually run from. Even Jim Jefferies’s series proved itself as a hybrid standout. These are just the shows to air on the network in the past television season. These will definitely not be the last.
So what is James Davis to do? He has to find his way through the slog that is Comedy Central’s comedy talk shows. He has to find his niche. The Snapchat star goes above anything he could’ve done on an app with Hood Adjacent. It brings a much needed focus to an area Comedy Central hasn’t focused on much. Can you imagine Jordan Klepper or one of those Crank Yankers going to the hood? It just wouldn’t work week after week. But, if Davis can manage to make each episode as entertaining as the premiere, he just might find his footing.
Hood Adjacent is Davis’s exploratory take on all things ghetto, which he grew up just blocks from. He aims to paint the picture of a life many but also not many have/get to live. He walks out confidently like any other host as his DJ calls out “James Davis is officially in the building!” The entrance is boisterous, the crowd is cheering. But do they really know who this guy is? When Samantha Bee walked out on her Full Frontal stage for the first time, that crowd knew who she was. The same thing can be said for John Oliver and Trevor Noah.
Beyond the mildly funny host-to-crowd interactions, Davis’s remotes are way better than the show’s attempt at being the Chappelle’s Show. He has a talking head with himself explaining what’s going on in the next few clips. There’s animated writing accompanying anything that needs defining mid-clips. The editing isn’t as obnoxious as it was in Problematic. The best part had to be during the initial hood pass segment when some random guy that actually lived in that part of the hood interrupted the show only to allow them access to shooting in the hood. Moments like this help Hood Adjacent stand out.
Davis also takes a look at Trap Kitchen where young men sell home cooked meals in the hood. It’s a topic that’s already been explored on the likes of VICE’s network and this segment doesn’t add much. At least Davis forces the guys to cook chitterlings and then promptly trashes said chitterlings. No one likes those things. A smattering of other segments make their way into the show like a trap remix of the national anthem for some reason that doesn’t play well with the crowd (although the 808 Mafia label, ad libs, auto tune, and Obama name chanting are classic references to modern hip-hop and made me laugh hysterically). This was followed by a Ruin Your Life game where Davis tried to get white people to say nigga and something called #DoDopeShit where he wants viewers to perform cool feats. It’s all overwhelming as the host jumps to and fro these topics. Perhaps the show would do better with more focus.
Should you watch Hood Adjacent?
For all the good things that occur in the first episode, there’s a handful of bad things. Hood Adjacent, while ultimately funny, feels like an MTV reject that was granted more money than it’s worth. Host Davis would help the show by taking a more focused, nuanced approach to looking at the hood. Drop the crowd, keep the energy and segments. Make it something different and worthwhile.