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TV review: 'Reno 911! Defunded' finds laughs in Kyle Rittenhouse, Proud Boys

1/5
Wendi McLendon-Covey returns in "Reno 911! Defunded." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Wendi McLendon-Covey returns in "Reno 911! Defunded." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- One silver lining of most controversial current events is that great satirists will at least produce cathartic comedy inspired by them.

Recent tragedies involving police violence have inspired Reno 911!: Defunded, premiering Friday on Roku Channel, uses its characters to mock aggressive police, but fortunately they're the butts of their own jokes.

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Early half-hour episodes in the 11 episode season involve a wellness check gone wrong, the Reno Sheriff's Department coping with limited funds, and factions of Proud Boys and Antifa in Reno, Nev.

Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver) even gives a hilarious recreation of the viral video of a police officer crying in a McDonald's drive-through.

In light of the George Floyd protests, the Reno Sheriff's Department characters feel even more aggressive, but they always were comically over-aggressive. The genius of Reno 911! is that it always makes them look bad, and no one really gets hurt.

The defunding creates new situations for good improv between the characters. Now that they've lost several vehicles, four officers have to share a patrol car.

You've simply never had four cops in a car before. This allows Reno 911!: Defunded to play with new group dynamics, and complicates interactions with funny perps. Guest stars, both new and returning, get in on the fun, too.

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As a new supervisor, Jamie Lee Curtis gives Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon) a run for his money with short shorts, and Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey) with her cleavage.

Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash) has nothing to worry about on the booty front. Curtis also proves a formidable scene partner in her one on one evaluations with each cop.

Reno 911! Defunded also adds new fake public service announcement and endorsement ads by the Reno Sheriff's Department. These also reference current events like Kyle Rittenhouse and Black people's comparative lack of safety when dealing with police.

In addition to responding to calls about Antifa or Proud Boys, Deputy Jones (Cedric Yarbrough) responds to a White woman calling 911 on her Black neighbor. Reno 911! Defunded recreates the sort of Karen videos we've seen on social media, but with an unexpected twist.

The episodes also are full of just plain physical comedy. Even with pointed satirical targets, Reno 911! Defunded is not above slapstick silliness.

It would appear the Reno gang took after the worst offenders in recent police scandals. Fortunately they are more absurd and much funnier than the tragedies that inspired them.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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