I’m not sure how Delocated flew below my radar for so long. Like Childrens Hospital, it is a live-action series with comedy veterans at its core: Delocated stars writer-creator Jon Glaser, who has written for Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Human Giant, among others. But instead of parodying the medical show genre like Childrens Hospital, Delocated takes the reality show to its logical – and extreme – conclusion.
Delocated is a mock-reality series that revolves around “Jon” (Glaser) and his family, who entered the Witness Protection Program after Jon testified against a Russian crime family. With the aid of ski masks and voice modulators, Jon and his family try to start over in New York City, but things quickly go awry. Their no-frills studio apartment is far from the luxury loft promised by network executives. “Why else would I put my family on camera and risk them being murdered if I wasn’t in a sweet loft? That’s what makes it worth it!” Jon asks, exasperated. With this revelation, Jon’s wife Susan takes their son David to a hotel; soon, the two remove their ski masks and their modulators (the latter, surgically). Jon is left to carry the reality show, his exploits and adventures its sole focus.
Jon is brash, irritating, and self-obsessed: the perfect reality TV star. After separating from Susan, his relationship with her and David is rocky, at best. He melts down at David’s ska-themed Bar Mitzvah and on the set of the TV movie based on their lives (Susan sold the rights). With his family mostly out of the picture, Jon is free to pursue fame and fortune with a series of half-baked ideas, which are typically disposed after each episode, never to be mentioned again. One of these is the Rage Cage, a business that specializes in relaxation through destruction. He meets Kim at the Cage, who soon becomes his girlfriend and the target of his emotional abuse.
Jon might have a new girlfriend and a series of gigs, but the Russian mob is still trying to kill him. Tasked with the assassination is Yvgeny Mirminsky (played by Eugene Mirman), son of the boss and Yakov Smirnoff-esque comedian. Yvgeny is hapless at both, whether accidentally killing Paul Rudd or delivering yet another vodka-based punchline; hanging out with Todd Barry (playing himself) doesn’t seem to help with either. It’s only when Yvgeny’s sociopathic brother Sergei takes over that things get serious: like a lion picking off the weak from the herd, Sergei starts to torture and murder everyone close to Jon.
While Delocated is a parody of the genre, its also a larger satire of the television industry. Jon’s contact at the network, Mighty Joe Jon the Black Blonde (the hilarious Jerry Minor), has also given a reality show to the Mirminsky clan. Mighty Joe Jon: the Black Blonde – always referred to by his whole moniker – is not afraid to get his hands dirty in the fight for ratings.
The comedy of Delocated is served dark and dry. Jon’s lack of self awareness is played for laughs at every turn, even as he literally loses everything and everyone around him. After two seasons and nineteen episodes, the show was renewed for a third season which is filming now. The first two seasons will be released on DVD this fall, so for now, catch a few episodes over at Adult Swim.