To kill him starts with a pitch. It’s the first in a long series because that’s just life these days, the show posits. Add another sitcom to his resume after Office, Ghost and his beloved Brooklyn nine-nine guest spots, Craig Robinson keeps his first name as a Miami bank security guard with big aspirations — if he can muster the start-up funds. His vision: to own a saw palmetto farm and live the American dream, because he believed his father when he was told as a child that hard work and persistence always pays off in the United States. For $20,000, he plans to buy land in the Everglades and then sell the fruit to pharmaceutical companies, which will use it in prostate drugs for the lucrative health market.
Craig must first convince his branch manager to give him a loan. So when this satirical new series of B99 co-creator Dan Goor and executive producer Luke Del Tredici kicks off his ten-part debut season, his lead polishes his spiel, certain he’ll soon be rewarded for his efforts. But rejection comes quickly, unceremoniously and amid racist comments, while someone who breaks the rules comes along and grabs a rich payday. It is a contrast that To kill him repeats over and over again, just like his skillful speeches of ordinary people trying to seize opportunities. The dreams seen are modest – not having to work nine different jobs is another – but there’s always someone above them who plots or steals their way to success, and is celebrated for it.
To aspire to a better life, to style one’s hair to meet society’s expectations, to be brutally trampled: it is To kill him. It’s an insightful and cleverly funny series about aiming for a bright future to escape the swampy present, but getting stuck in a circle no matter what you try. Or, like Craig’s low-level criminal brother, Isaiah (Rell Battle, Superior Donuts) says after watching his brother’s legitimate efforts fall apart time and time again, it’s about how the world is “just snakes to the end.” Capitalism breeds snakes that eat other people’s stories if they’re lucky and devour their own if they’re not, the series suggests. That said, To kill him is still a comedy and sees kindness and camaraderie as the antidote to the reptilian status quo.
Yes The right place was set entirely in Florida and followed lucky people chasing glory by killing pythons, that would be the end result. What it takes to be a good person – and what’s the point of even trying in a world where the odds are on your side – is a question to work on. B99 has inspired twice now, given that The right place was also born to one of the co-creators of the cop-focused sitcom. This should come as no surprise as the power given to law enforcement in America has recently become a key topic of debate. For eight seasons, Goor has helped elicit hearty laughs through the antics of likable characters from a highly privileged profession. Today, he unfolds the stratifications of American society by targeting ordinary people who sometimes find themselves on the other side of the line, and rarely by choice.
To kill himSnakes are indeed literal, too, and a ladder to cash in on. After being knocked down for the loan, Craig ends up in an Uber driven by Jillian (Claudia O’Doherty, Our flag means death), a talkative Australian who makes a pit stop to nonchalantly swing a hammer at a python. It’s a profitable business, she reveals. Plus, there’s a contest awarding $20,000 to whoever kills the most. Craig is hesitant to join them, but as more misfortunes creep his way, he soon has few other choices. Giving up on his dream isn’t an option — and he’s also desperate to show his ex-wife Camille (Stephanie Nogueras, Switched at birth) and daughter Vanessa (Jet Miller, Young Dylan) that he is someone they can rely on and be proud of.
Clubbing critters and reducing class inequality might not seem like an intuitive duo, but To kill him proves otherwise. Another of the series’ crucial questions: what drives someone to spend their days brandishing a nail gun at reptiles, or earning a pittance to help the ultra-rich avoid taxes? , or filming their snake-hunting exploits? The latter is courtesy of Brock (Scott MacArthur, The mic), who makes videos with his teenage son Corby (Wyatt Walter, NCIS: New Orleans), amassed 150,000 YouTube viewers and yearned for social media stardom. It is To kill himis the most cartoonish outsider, but also distills his essence perfectly. In a world where one-percents and influencers reign supreme – getting off scot-free, fetishizing manual labor without dreaming of doing it, and treating the financially less like jokes, brands or pets – there is no He’s not ashamed to dive in headfirst, but he also fights constantly.
Sure, To kill him offers no insight that hasn’t been covered in other “eat the rich” dishes in recent times, such as The White Lotus, squid game and Succession. But looking at the divides that have become an accepted part of Western existence, acknowledging the struggle for anyone who wasn’t born rich or faked it until they did, and giving the whole situation a cleverly comedic twist works devilishly well here nonetheless. It helps that the series knows when to lean into absurdity, when to let its tender heart beat loudly, and how much cynicism to incorporate into its story. There’s ridicule, cuteness, and sadness in every episode, even if putting the show around the 2016 US election seems pointless.
Robinson was to thrive in a comedy like this, and unpacks the swagger that has long been baked into his on-screen persona in the process. Always a pleasure to watch, Australian comedian O’Doherty (Love, Sarah’s Channel) is just as well cast as the tireless but beleaguered Jillian, and gets most of the series’ best lines and deepest moments along the way. They form an odd duo, because To kill him draws eagerly from a familiar formula, but their performances have a lot to say – and broach – about simply trying to get by in unforgiving climates. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s easy to slip in and laugh with the sitcom’s snake-filled first season in one sitting, and buy everything it offers.
Check out the trailer for To kill him below:
The first season of Killing It is available to stream in Australia via Stan.
Images: Alan Markfield/Skip Bolen/Peacock.
Posted on April 14, 2022 by