(Photo courtesy of http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4341500/)
Even before the TV show premiere on July 31st, the movie “Wet Hot American Summer” embodied American comedy at its best.
The original satirical movie bombed in every way when it was released in 2002. Its 32 percent on Rotten Tomatoes epitomizes the “success” of the movie. The movie frequently used sarcasm to poke fun at trending events, which is a popular topic used in movies. It didn’t get WHAS very far in this case, though. So it was surprising after this that the creators decided to make a spin-off series. They didn’t lose enough money when the first movie bombed, so they decided to jump in the deep end and leave it up to chance.
This same humor is used in the new prequel series, ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’, except this time the humor was received exceedingly better by viewers. It wasn’t because the humor was different or improved. It’s because comedy has moved more in this direction in the years since the movie’s original release.
It doesn’t hurt the series’ credentials that the returning actors are comprised of academy award winners, hit TV show stars and multi-millionaires such as Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper. This is what made the series a hit in just the first month after its release.
The entire cast from the movie returned for the series. This time, things were different because the actors weren’t new to the business anymore.
The plot of the show is a teen angst movie, except it’s all a continuous joke. They over-dramatize, add crass unexpected lines and do whatever they want. Nothing is off limits in this show.
Among the constant jokes there is one underlying one: the series is a prequel to the movie made 13 years ago. Meaning they are supposed to be younger in the series, yet they are actually old and some are fat. This isn’t exactly a written joke, but more of the cherry on top for the series. The show has very juvenile, sappy, cheesy scenes that 40+ year-olds are acting out. Let’s just say these scenes are really interesting and awkward to watch. The series is truly a different take on the redundant teen angst shows we typically see, most recently in John Green movies/books. It’s a nice breath of fresh air to see something a little less mainstream.
You may wonder why the concept failed so badly in the first place.
The reason that the first movie was so unsuccessful is because the type of humor isn’t for everyone. Many people don’t understand humor that isn’t Jim Gaffigan funny and is, instead, more of a Daniel Tosh kind of funny. It’s the type of comedy used frequently in The Californians on SNL and new shows such as “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. If you don’t like that type of humor, then you’ll probably hate the show. If you hate that type of comedy and you still watch the show, stop lying to yourself, you bandwagon hopper.
“Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” is definitely a funny show. It is subject matter that a lot of people can sit down and laugh to until tears are in their eyes. Still, for some the show will leave them glazed over in boredom and/or disinterest. In short, it’s a show for an acquired taste. This isn’t a groundbreaking discovery, either. The show’s creators know this, and that is why they didn’t bother changing a thing. It doesn’t make sense to jeopardize their creative integrity to humor those who don’t understand their writing. It makes more sense to cater to the people that do, and that is just what they did with the new series. Although this time around they have received more interest than before, using their now household name actors to gain recognition. Now we all can say, most of us at least, that we know what “Wet Hot American Summer” is.