Well, perhaps hatred is a bit strong, and his ill will isn’t only directed at children. The Hustler has got it out for anyone related to former middle school football coach, Bernie Goldman. For Mr. Goldman (Al Brown, aka The Wire‘s Mjr. Valchek) is the man responsible for Travis “Hustler” Hustleberg being cheated out of his coveted middle school football touchdown record.
Revenge is the order of the day now. The Goldman family must be on guard during bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, and other rights of passage. Even the elderly are not immune, as the participants of the Castle Hill Retirement Community’s tennis tournament will attest.
The Hustler is self-consciously ridiculous and very, very self-consciously (and neurotically) Jewish. Given the fixation on revenge and the past, it’s a web series I could imagine Walter Sobchak enjoying, to the point where I can almost hear Mr. Hustleberg utter the phrase, “Three thousand years of beautiful history from Moses to Sandy Koufax, you’re goddam right I’m living in the F@#%ing past!”
So now you must be asking, “What’s the big deal about a middle school touchdown record?” In any normal world it would be a relevant question. Travis Hustleberg’s world, however, is clearly not normal. Middle school was a horrifying time for anyone who wasn’t one of the pretty girls, but most people get overcome junior high angst by leading fulfilling lives knowing their former enemies peaked at age 14.
Not The Hustler. His story took a much different turn. Failure to attain that middle school record led him down a strange path of youthful homelessness and estrangement from his family. But if there’s one thing that The Hustler has, it’s an impeccable memory. And a revenge board covered with all the the important and relevant information of anyone who has ever crossed him. If you’ve messed with Hustleberg, you can bet your name’s up there and he’s coming for you. Bernie Goldman and his family found this out the hard way.
The Goldman family felt the wrath of The Hustler and Joe Meat is next up on the board. Distracted by this new target, however, Hustleberg failed to realize he had spawned a new version of himself that would continue the cycle of revenge, Bernie’s grandson, Danny. Observant and intelligent, the junior Goldman has been trailing the master and learning his tricks, waiting for the proper time to strike.
Patience is a virtue in the world of revenge and it’s also helpful when watching this series. It took me a few episodes to really get into it and I’m glad I stuck with it. The writing and plot are incredibly clever, but it takes time to build up some steam. Once the mix of crude slapstick and wry deadpan humor settles into proper proportions, The Hustler comes into its own. Hell, sometimes it’s just good fun to watch a lambchop-sportin’, Mustang-driving Jew in a leather jacket enact his revenge fantasies on the perpetrators of insignificant affronts.
Check it out on Crackle.com.