Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

The Vince Staples Show review – this joyously weird comedy is ludicrously suave
Culture TV and Radio

The Vince Staples Show review – this joyously weird comedy is ludicrously suave


In a quote attributed to Sidney Poitier, he described his role as bearing “a great weight”. As the most prominent Black actor of his time, he believed that he carried “the aspirations and desires of an entire people”. However, in 2024, with the rise of Black talent such as Will Smith, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Quinta Brunson in the TV industry, the burden on Black talent seems less daunting. It’s evident that musician, comedian, and actor Vince Staples does not feel the need to conform to the respectable role model image that Poitier felt obligated to portray. This is evident in his self-titled sitcom, where he freely embraces his unique persona.

In his newest venture, Staples embraces the unconventional with a surreal comedy bearing his name. The main character must navigate through a dream-like world that is unsettlingly real. Staples portrays a fictionalized version of himself – a confident and accomplished performer whose surroundings are filled with dark, Lynchian humor. This version of Vince resides in a stylish home reminiscent of mid-century modern design, located in a strange iteration of Long Beach, California simply known as “the Beach”. Each episode begins with a disclaimer similar to those in the style of Fargo, stating: “This is a fictional work. Any resemblance to real events is purely coincidental.”

The initial installment depicts a short stay in prison due to a traffic infraction, where even the prejudiced law enforcement officers cannot deny Staples’ charm. The rest of the episode follows our incredibly relaxed protagonist on a journey that includes obtaining small business loans, navigating tense family gatherings, reuniting with childhood foes, and the daunting task of finding something palatable to eat at an amusement park.

Although the scenarios are minimal, the performance is delightful. Staples effortlessly handles both bank robberies and personal dilemmas with an absurdly suave demeanor. He portrays himself as the consistent serious character, unbothered by the bizarre events surrounding him, and even using dry humor during a bank robbery (“You do a heist, you’re George Clooney. You rob a bank, you’re Queen Latifah”). To further emphasize his individuality, there are only five episodes ranging from 26 to 18 minutes each.

Staples is a captivating figure with a constantly furrowed brow, a deep voice, and a subtle delivery that allows him to effortlessly deliver punchlines. The dialogue is minimal but impactful. We are not told how the protagonist knows the person robbing the bank they were denied a loan from, but their easy connection is established so effortlessly that we quickly understand their relationship and root for them to successfully escape with the stolen money.

Staples was previously recognized as a member of the California alt hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, which included notable artists such as Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator. However, he has also made appearances in recent films like the remake of White Men Can’t Jump and the coming-of-age indie dramedy Dope. He currently has a recurring role on the popular sitcom Abbott Elementary, where he plays the love interest of Janine. With his diverse career and the imaginative elements of his show, it’s natural to compare it to Donald Glover’s Atlanta. Glover’s success on Dan Harmon’s cult comedy Community and his early music career as Childish Gambino led to the creation of Atlanta. Though the two shows may have their own distinct qualities, they both showcase the creative freedom and unconventional perspectives of Black men without compromising for mainstream appeal.

The show explores both serious topics and humorous moments. It addresses topics such as mass incarceration, gun violence, and the complicated dynamic between Vince and his mother (Vanessa Bell Calloway from Coming to America), who constantly have to bail each other out. However, these issues are presented in the context of Vince’s personal story, rather than being used to make a larger statement about the challenges faced by the African American community as a whole.

The show is produced by Kenya Barris, who previously created the show black-ish, which focused on a successful and loving Black family and reportedly had a viewership that was 79% non-Black. However, The Vince Staples Show is a unique vision from Staples himself. Unlike black-ish, which aimed to explain and perform Blackness for those unfamiliar with it, The Vince Staples Show does not try to make itself more digestible or understandable for the general public. The collaboration between Barris and Staples brings out the best in both of them, resulting in a return to form for Barris and a fantastic display of Staples’ talents. These Black artists boldly take over the screen with a vision that is not burdened by the pressure of being representatives of an entire community. It is now up to the audience to immerse themselves in this world and prepare for an extraordinary and unconventional journey.

Ignore the advertisement for the newsletter.

  • The Netflix streaming platform features The Vince Staples Show.

Source: theguardian.com