Purveyors of quality television have been relying on singular personalities not only to star in shows but to create them and be their defining voice. Some of the best TV of 2015 - FX's Louie starring Louis CK; Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer; and Netflix's Master of None, written by Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari, but starring Ansari and relying heavily on his already established comedic voice - are a few of the offerings of this auteur TV.
It's an exciting movement. TV tends to be thought of as a medium created by a group, but these shows solidify the artistic voice of each around a creator's point of view and image, rather than just using his or her name as a marketing hook.
So where does that leave Real Rob, Rob Schneider's new Netflix show, which premieres all eight episodes Tuesday? Since his Saturday Night Live days, Schneider is less known for his own work than as a part of Adam Sandler's cabal (Sandler himself will release his controversial western, The Ridiculous Six, on Friday on the same streaming platform).
In Real Rob, Schneider plays a slightly fictionalized version of himself. He's Rob Schneider, working on a sitcom, who happens to have a hot Latina wife, Patricia, played by his hot Latina wife, Patricia Azarcoya. Schneider has tried to mine his own life before, namely in Rob, a short-lived sitcom in which his hot Latina wife was played by Claudia Bassols.
If anything, Real Rob proves not all voices deserve their own platforms. The show itself tries to trade on both the smaller, more naturalistic moments that defined a show like Master of None - where the experience of a thirtysomething second-generation immigrant who falls in and out of love over 13 episodes was drawn out in visceral reality - and Schneider's own brand of, well, fart jokes. The contrast doesn't work out so well.
Whereas CK was given a television show and revealed an incredible untapped talent through his authorial hand (he writes, directs, stars, and edits Louie), Schneider does not have that same natural deftness. The show features narrative moments, snippets of his stand-up, and talking-head interview segments that would feel more at home in a mockumentary (think The Office or Parks and Recreation), all coming together into a hodgepodge that makes no sense.
But the true test is whether it's worth spending time with Schneider, who at once plays a classic sitcom husband with a considerably more attractive sitcom wife, and, well, kind of a jerk, berating his incompetent assistant, Jamie (played by Schneider's real-life buddy Jamie Lissow). It's Schneider's show, but there's no real impetus to want to learn more about the real Rob, especially when there is a host of other talented creators using their points of view and voices to show their audience what's it like to be them and see the world through their eyes.
We don't need to see the world through Rob Schneider's eyes.