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    Friday, March 19, 2021

    Smark TV: Smash Mouth Football in Young Rock's Episode 4

    This week's Young Rock saw a big change to what we've been accustomed to in how the show has played out. Just as I was getting accustomed to fictional Future Randall Park's antics, he got replaced by Inside the NBA host and NBA Champion Kenny "The Jet" Smith. While I would've loved to continue seeing Park, Smith's role actually makes sense here because the whole episode takes place during Dwayne's early years with the University of Miami Hurricanes.

    In fact, it felt like a huge shift in terms of storytelling because there aren't any side stories this week. It was all about Dwayne (as it should be) and his struggles during his college years—especially his football career. Dwayne was portrayed as this hilarious and fun-loving teenage athlete with a powerful build. With the way he's being portrayed, it's no wonder he did well in his career in sports-entertainment. However, as with every episode, it's not all fun and games for the Great One.

    I've seen it in other shows, and Young Rock takes a different approach with emotional struggle and depression in general. They do acknowledge that mental health was seen differently then. But the way they handled it in this presentation in 2021 was a safe approach to tackling such a delicate subject. I think that the era-specific nature of the show does give the topic justice. Depression does come in many forms and shapes and, the truth is, losing your first big shot at a career when you're used to being a big shot can really affect your mental state. It takes time to accept this new reality.

    While the show did skim through how easy it was for Dwayne to conquer his emotions, it did show that having someone to talk to and process this with does help—in this case, it was Rocky, his father, who served as the shoulder to lean on. Rocky's relationship with Dwayne shone as he helped him on his road to recovery. Ata being the overprotective mother was just additional seasoning for the episode's material. It makes everything feel like your typical family even if these people are known to be superstars in their own right.

    Meanwhile, much of the humor came from Dwayne's antics with his college buddies. We see the infamous turtleneck and fanny pack combo during the episode, and if you know, you know. Many of the jokes really are a perfect fit to the point that even if some of these instances were fictional, it would be highly likely that he really did or said many of those things. The dancing, the one-liners, the jokes feel infused with The Rock (in real life) that I really felt that his portrayal was as close to the genuine as it could be.

    My problem with all of this is that we don't get to see the pay-off from the previous episode's cliffhanger involving Rocky Johnson and Greg Yao, the shady wrestling promoter played by stand-up comedian Ronny Chieng. The sudden shift in timelines may be a good storytelling style, but as a TV show, I find that a little confusing to follow—especially since we didn't have an episode last week. People who follow the show on a weekly basis may be left to wonder if any previous cliffhanger was resolved. I'm sure they'll tie it all together towards the season finale. But to a casual viewer, it might feel a little deflating and disappointing.

    Overall, it was a good entertaining episode with interesting real-life cameos like Kenny Smith and Dwayne's coach Ed Orgeron and portrayals of Cheech Marin and 2 Live Crew's Uncle Luke. But if the next episode time-skips again, I may lose a little interest. It's a fun show but the era jumps happen too often that it may alienate the regular audience. We'll have to wait for next week, but for now, I'd say my attention span is dwindling a little.

    Show Grade: B

    Screencaps taken from Young Rock


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your resident Young Rock reviewer here at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) Instagramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz), and streaming videogames on Twitch (@the_migz) while he pursues his musical career via his YouTube channel (Migz Llado) and courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxGarageRock). You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE 2K (or any PS4) skills.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark TV: Smash Mouth Football in Young Rock's Episode 4 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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