TV review: 'Obliterated' delivers action, gross-out comedy

Ava (Shelley Hennig) goes undercover at a Las Vegas party in "Obliterated." Photo courtesy of Netflix
1 of 5 | Ava (Shelley Hennig) goes undercover at a Las Vegas party in "Obliterated." Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Obliterated, streaming Thursday on Netflix, combines gross-out comedy with hardcore action. The unlikely combination proves exceedingly effective at both genres.

Ava Winters (Shelley Hennig) leads an elite, anti-terrorist team on a mission in Las Vegas. McKnight (Nick Zano) is the blond, stubble-faced tough guy hero.


Lerner (Kimi Rutledge) is their tech genius. Gomez (Paolo Lázaro) is their sniper. Yung (Eugene Kim) flies the helicopter.

The team thinks they've foiled a bomb plot, so they are officially granted leave and decide to celebrate the victory before their next assignments. Their wild party includes alcohol and drugs -- from marijuana to Adderall and ketamine.

Then they get intel that the bomb they foiled was a decoy. There's still a real bomb in Las Vegas, and now they're back on duty, inebriated and in some cases hallucinating.


Episode 1 of Obliterated establishes the team and sets up the plot. The cast has a real rapport as if they've been on hundreds of missions together. They rib each other's foibles and hang-ups.

Many fill action genre roles like McKnight as the rogue bad boy, Winters as the by the books leader frustrated with the wild card, Yung as the monogamous married man and Lerner as the desk agent with a crush on McKnight.

There are some twists, though. Trunk (Terrence Terrell) inadvertently comes out to McKnight during the party so that is something with which they have to deal throughout the intense circumstances. Not in a homophobic way, learning some major news about your friend and colleague can be distracting on a mission.

The action scenes are exciting with hardware blasting terrorists and Winters outsmarting large, bad guys in fights. The show satirizes the tradition of the bomb squad expert (C. Thomas Howell) disarming the bomb at the last second.

Filming on location in Las Vegas gives Obliterated the look of a crisis occurring in a real place. That tops most action movies these days which film most of their action in front of screens.

From Episode 2 on, the team is back looking for the real bomb and coping with the side effects of their partying. This is what leads to gross-out comedy in action movie scenarios, like people getting sick in a helicopter because of what they've consumed.


Those gross-out jokes pay off. It's not just vomit, farts and poop. Those bodily fluids impede the team's ability to do tech and field work.

Trunk has the munchies all night, which is a fun, running joke in every episode. The effects of the drugs intensifies the later the night goes on as they wouldn't be at their maximum potency immediately.

Like many raunchy comedies, Obliterated is full of gratuitous nudity. In a magnanimous example of fairness, there is just as much male nudity as female.

Obliterated introduces a fun team of heroes whom it would be nice to see have more adventures in subsequent seasons. Contriving another scenario in which they are obliterated may be a stretch, but not impossible, and they would be fun to watch sober, anyway.

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 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.


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