Every year, TBS a channel that relies heavily on sitcom reruns, sports and Conan O’Brien, releases original content. Sometimes it’s good (Angie Tribeca, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), sometimes it isn’t (Outback Jack) and sometimes it’s a little in between (Man at Work, which was a personal favorite, that apparently I was the only one watching). Their newest comedy, People of Earth, falls into the last category.
People of Earth, created by David Jenkins, has a lot of comedic powers behind it. Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation) and Jeff Ross are executive producers, it is produced under the Conaco (Conan O’Brien’s) label, and stars Wyatt Cenac.
The show is about journalist Ozzy Graham (Cenac) who attends a support group called Starcross, for people who believe they have been abducted by aliens, all the while dealing with the aftermath of a strange car crash that he endured the day before.
People of Earth is relatively diverse in terms of cast (Oscar Nunez plays a priest) — even though their writing room could use some work. So much so that lead actor Wyatt Cenac went out of his way to call out the network to do better — his twitter account is no longer active.
The first two episodes, “Pilot” and “Sponsored By,” are funny in the way a you’d expect a TBS show to be. Cenac gives us his dry sarcastic humor that is similar to his stand up. Funny moments include Ozzy’s boss’ drivable desk, and the banter between the aliens (yes, you get actual aliens!).
Despite its sarcasm, the show has some heart to it, and the direction of the show seems to be headed toward exploring how these abductions relate to deeper issues in each of the characters’ lives.
However, People of Earth jumps into the thick of things prematurely and doesn’t give the viewer time to know or care about the characters before diving into their abduction stories. And though it has heart, something about it falls flat. Ozzy’s transition toward belief is kind of drastic, to the point where it’s close to being unbelievable.
My main concern is that their supporting characters might be put into stereotypical corners since there are so many of them, including Yvonne (portrayed by Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who is a large black woman and whose character could easily go that route. This, of course, could easily be fixed by Wyatt’s request to diversify the writer’s room.
People of Earth will be at its best when it leans into it eccentricities and hopefully that’s something the writers will realize. So if you love aliens and quirky people, or are a fan of Wyatt Cenac, check out the show! It premieres Monday October 31st at 9PM EST on TBS.
Stephanie Francis is an aspiring journalist with a TV addiction. She has been published in a multitude of small papers including the Gloucester Times, the Salem News and the Boston Globe. You can find a collect of her published work at adventuringsomewhere.wordpress.com. And her live tweets @stephsfrancis.