By Liz Shannon Miller
The slacker bro has had a rough time of it lately. The slacker bro is made fun of, set up as an object of ridicule — he’s not seen as a great person. Which is the one powerful element of “Deadbeat,” featuring Tyler Labine — he’s actually a nice person.
“Deadbeat” stars Kevin Pacalioglu (Labine), a hoody-wearing slacker with the ability to speak with the dead. Unlike Haley Joel Osmont in “The Sixth Sense,” he’s turned this into an opportunity for profit — and also, unlike Haley Joel Osmont in “The Sixth Sense,” he’s not that good at it. But he’s still trying to help the spirits, especially if there’s money to be made as a result.
“Deadbeat” is thus exactly what you’d expect from the title — a show about a guy talking to the dead, and not that into it. But it has charm, thanks to Labine, who has an established career (including “Animal Practice,” “Reaper,” “Boston Legal,” and a few great episodes of “The X-Files”) but has never had the chance to take a lead role until now.
And as Kevin, he does — Labine provides an anchor to the more supernatural elements, while also driving a lot of the comedy. Cat Deeley, as Camomile, is a fun foil to his more lackadaisical approach; whether or not she believes him isn’t as important as whether or not she is as good as him, and the conflict is not only enjoyable, but potentially a great source of conflict.
The production quality is stellar — totally on par with the network-produced single-camera comedies it shares streaming space with — and Labine is a fun lead, totally owning his role without compromising the more ridiculous elements of it.
Does “Deadbeat” hit the level of quality that, say, “House of Cards” or “Arrested Development” does? Nope. Does it need to? Not necessarily. Instead, it’s an entertaining series that’s totally in line with other Hulu programming, with a strong lead, funny moments and an interesting premise.
The only major difference is that the actors all speak with American accents, and you haven’t seen it anywhere else. And that, for the record, is a good thing.