Streaming shows are in such abundance these days that not only is it tough to find a show you’ll enjoy, but then you’ve got to figure out which platform you spend the time searching one out. It’s easy to see then why a series like The Outlaws Season 1 on Prime Video could have slipped by you, but I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely worth a watch.
The show was created and co-written by Elgin James and Stephen Merchant, with the latter also serving as the Director while also playing one of the characters. Talk about multi-tasking! The Outlaws features an eclectic group of seven people charged with completing community service hours after being caught breaking various laws. While most of them are trying to keep their heads down and get their hours finished, they unknowingly get pulled into a complicated situation when one of the members is dropped into the middle of a highly dangerous drug war. The show features the talents of Rhianne Barreto (Rani), Gamba Cole (Christian), Stephen Merchant (Greg), Christopher Walken (Frank), Eleanor Tomlinson (Lady Gabriela), Darren Boyd (John), Clare Perkins (Myrna), and Jessica Gunning (Diane).
Co-produced by the BBC and Amazon Studios, it’s easy to see why The Outlaws has already been given an early renewal, and this rag-tag group of offenders will be back for a second season full of hijinks. It has a very distinct The Breakfast Club vibe, with the characters coming from vastly different walks of life forced to work together while cleaning up a derelict community center. While the story has a somewhat predictable format on a larger scale, the show lives and breathes in the contrast of its character grouping. The interactions that come from this create some brilliant comedic moments. Anytime you have a talent like Merchant involved, the humor levels are never far behind. However, what surprised me most was the comedian’s talent as a writer and director and his ability to tap into those more profound moments of human connection. While the show is chiefly a comedy, the sub-plot of this series hides a lot of real pain and emotion for all of the characters in various ways. This paring is nothing new by any means, but it has to be relatable on both parts, with strong characters arcs to really leverage the best kind of story.
I was incredibly surprised to see Walken included in this ensemble, but what astonished me most was his ability to adapt to the situation, and his comedic timing is on point. British comedy can be jarring, and the American style doesn’t always mesh well, but Walken comes into this show like an absolute professional and shows the man can be included on any set and act his arse off. It’s unexpected, but damn, it works so well.
The series is predominantly led by two young wonderful actors, Barreto and Cole, whose characters come from two very different backgrounds. While this disparity exists, the show delights in spotlighting the exchanges between them simply enjoying each other’s company and trying to make the best out of a tough situation. For that brief moment, they can forget the baggage of the past and just be themselves.
Barreto does a brilliant job in playing a teen struggling under the weight of expectation from her parents, who both underwent traumatic life events of their own just to be able to give their daughter these opportunities. A daughter of an Asian mother whose family was massacred and a Polish father who fought to escape the communistic rule, she lives a far more privileged life. Still, she lives under constant supervision and expectation to achieve brilliant things. Early on, you can sense this friction within her character, and she does such a wonderful job of conveying a young woman who’s bursting at the scenes to just express herself without judgment. While on the other end of the spectrum exists Christian, who, while living in an overpriced and drastically underserved apartment, must provide for himself and his younger sister. Christian’s story is such an agonizing experience to behold, as he shows that given the opportunity, he’s a fantastic young lad, but life is rarely ever that kind.
At times, the story’s pace falters, feeling a little lengthy, and with a six-episode season at close to one hour apiece, Merchant and James could probably afford to tighten up some of the plot points and reduce the run time just slightly.
If you love shows with a brilliant ensemble of misfit characters that come together under comedic and oftentimes strenuous dramatic moments, then you should absolutely give The Outlaws Season 1 a watch. Stephen Merchant delivers on his unique style of humor, but he also packs in an unruly amount of relatable character-driven emotion. An incredibly funny and surprisingly heartfelt story, and I can’t wait to see what Season 2 brings.
The Outlaws Season 1 is available now exclusively on Prime Video.
The Outlaws Season 1
- Rating - 8/108/10
If you love shows with a brilliant ensemble of misfit characters that come together under comedic and oftentimes strenuous dramatic moments, then you should absolutely give The Outlaws Season 1 a watch. Stephen Merchant delivers on his unique style of humor, but he also packs in an unruly amount of relatable character-driven emotion. A surprisingly funny and heartfelt story and I can’t wait to see what Season 2 brings.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.