REVIEW: “Hoops” Season 1 is Hedonistic Yet Humorless

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hoops is an original Netflix animated series, produced by 20th Century Fox Television Studios and created by Ben Hoffman. Ben Hopkins (Jake Johnson) is an embittered high school basketball coach whose life has gone to seed. His wife Shannon (Natasha Leggero) has left him for his best friend and co-worker Ron (Ron Funches). His basketball team is comprised of kids who lack the skills to be a winning team. And he resents his father Barry (Rob Riggle) who has parlayed his success as a basketball pro into running a chain of steakhouses. To improve his team’s chances, Ben convinces 7-foot Matty (A.D. Miles) to join the team.

How does he do this? He hires a prostitute to take Matty’s virginity. Yes, the first episode of this show features a basketball coach trying to get a prostitute for an underage student. The entire series is filled with moments like this; the humor is either outrageously crude or thinks that using multiple F-bombs is the height of comedy. (I counted-there are literally over 20 uses of the word “f***” in the first episode.)

It also feels extremely mean spirited. Other animated comedies like Bojack Horseman manage to have outrageous moments that not only are genuinely hilarious, but are grounded in actively developing their characters. Every character in this series can be boiled down to a simple stereotype or character trait. Ben is angry. Ron is black. Matty is awkward. There’s barely anything to get connected to.

This is a disappointment, especially given the talent involved. Johnson is no stranger to playing world-weary men, as seen in New Girl or Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. However, Ben Hopkins is a far cry from Nick Miller or Peter B. Parker; he is perpetually pissed off and refuses to grow even an iota as a human being. Say what you will about Family Guy but even Peter Griffin had heartfelt moments with his family. There’s nothing like that here.

Ben’s awfulness extends to his relationship with others. He constantly stalks and invades his wife’s personal space, despite the fact that they’re separated. He engages in criminal behavior constantly. Spider-Verse‘s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also serve as executive producers on the series; their ability to twist genre conventions is sorely missed here. I often wonder what would have happened if they took a more hands-on approach with the series.

However, one of the bright spots is Matty’s character. I related so much to Matty; I too had a growth spurt in high school, wasn’t into sports, and was awkward around others. One of the bright spots comes in Episode 2, “My Two Dads,” where Matty struggles to bond with the team. The others think he thinks they’re better than him; Matty manages to actually talk with them after they go to his house and convince them otherwise. It’s a nice moment and I wish the show had more of that rather than mutilating dead horses or finding new ways to insert curse words into their sentences.

Hoops is a series that mistakes blue language and shock value as genuine humor, failing to give its characters any heart or personality. Given the talent involved, I was expecting a far better execution and I would not be surprised if this series doesn’t make it to a second season.

Season 1 of Hoops is now streaming on Netflix.

Hoops
  • 2/10
    Rating - 2/10
2/10

TL;DR

Hoops is a series that mistakes blue language and shock value as genuine humor, failing to give its characters any heart or personality. Given the talent involved, I was expecting a far better execution and I would not be surprised if this series doesn’t make it to a second season.