If you happen to be a provocateurophile – one who takes great amusement from watching people publicly behave like deluded megalomaniacs – then Grass Roots is right up your alley.
Created by and starring TV writer and producer Aaron Hilliard, it’s the political lackey/campaigner version of Curb Your Enthusiasm with some of The Office mixed in. The majority of the thus-far six episode series features Hilliard’s Miles doling out unsolicited and useless advice to cohort Harry (Kirby Heyborne, who in many ways steals the show as the Stan Laurel-esque sidekick).
If you boil it down, Hilliard’s formula is as follows: Miles tells Harry how it’s done in the real world, as Harry reluctantly takes it in, Miles then figuratively bashes his boss or a prospective voter over the head with his hard sell while Harry meekly attempts to save them from Miles’ bull-in-the-China-shop schpiels, only to have the proverbial door slammed in their faces.
As they go around campaigning for Jim Clarkson (Nick Kroll), who’s running for ‘state legislature,’ Miles frequently assaults Harry with not only his clueless insight into success in politics, but also his homespun charmers such as “winners aren’t whiners,” and “it’s called ‘work smarter, not harder.’ Ever heard of it?”
In a case of turning up the heat all the way to Larry David, Miles drags Harry to the office of ‘one of five black voters in the district.’ And Miles, who after introducing himself adds that they’re “trying to get out the black vote, per se,” then proceeds to laugh in the prospective voter’s face in disbelief that he could somehow be a black republican, as Harry channels distress and cringes simultaneously.
Once they’ve gotten kicked out of the office the usually mild-mannered prospective voter Frank, it’s still not over. In a counter-intuitive ploy, Miles has left one of his shoes in the office, which Frank dutifully returns as they’re still idling in the parking lot, so Miles can have one more go at a schpiel, or at least make up.
Now it’s one thing to be so neurotic and narcissistic that you think and act like everyone either hates you and/or is out to get you, a la Mr. David; it’s quite something else to simply be an oblivious idiot who barrels over people willy-nilly. In the recent annals of comedy writing, David Brent may be able to turn his misguided lack of tact into dry and occasionally dark humor; Miles isn’t quite there yet. Hilliard’s acting, it must be said, is solid, though Heyborne, who often bears an impressive resemblance to Luke Wilson, is quite brilliant, and brings enough warmth and humility to keep many from clicking away.
Check it out at WatchGrassRoots.com.