HOLLYWOOD—I recently stumbled upon a comedy series that literally had me binge watch an entire season in one-day, granted the first season was only six episodes, I found myself thoroughly intrigued by the Starz series “Survivor’s Remorse.” The series follows Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), a pro basketball player and his family as they reach the heights of living the American Dream.
I was beyond stunned to discover the series was created by funnyman Mike O’ Malley. Malley has some series writing chops for a series that I think is a hidden gem that so many people should know about. Its witty, it’s funny, it’s heart-warming, dramatic, blunt and at times a bit of an eye-opener. Some might suspect the show is strictly catered to the basketball arena, but that is not necessarily the case. Basketball is the focal point of the series, but there is so MUCH more going on its hard to spill my excitement on paper about this show.
Watching the premiere episode, all I could think was that basketball, basketball is going to be the highlight and I couldn’t have been more wrong. The show took careful steps to introduce the primary players, include our protagonist Cam Calloway. Usher brings a charisma, a naivety to a character that I hate to say, might resemble plenty of up and coming basketball stars nowadays.
They have this entourage who want to reap the benefits of one’s success, without full understanding that if you’re not smart with the choices you make, the downfall can be epic. What is so exciting about Cam’s character is while a young man, he has these fits of a toddler having a temper tantrum; it’s funny to see the character have to reflect back and realize that he made a bad choice or he blew things out of proportion. This brings me to his ride-or-die, best pal, his cousin Reggie (RonReaco Lee). Reggie is a hustler, he’s a savvy businessman, he might not have the college born education many others have, but he knows what’s best for his cousin. I mean he’s his manager, and he seriously would lie on a sword to please his cousin. At the same time he’s not afraid to call him out on his BS and to make him THINK about choices that can be costly.
I mean I was beyond thrilled to see this serious tackle the notion of how so many athletes frivolously spend money without realizing, it’s here today, but can be completely gone tomorrow. That’s where I have the feeling that producer LeBron James sprinkles a bit of his past-life into the series. We hear these horror stories about athletes who go broke before the age of 30 and have nothing to show for it because they were attempting to help ever single family member possible. While Cam’s entourage isn’t massive, he still has to deal with his sharp-tongued mother Cassie portrayed by Tichina Arnold.
Arnold brings that home roots feeling to the TV screen. She says what she wants, when she wants and makes very little apologies for her outrageous behavior. I mean she blurted to the world that she spanked her son with all types of outrageous objects, without realizing in the public sphere those things can’t be shared so publicly. It’s apparent of the strong bond Cam and Cassie share; is he a momma’s boy, without a doubt.
His relationship with his sister, Mary Charles aka M-Chuck portrayed by Erica Ash, is even stronger. They are siblings and like all siblings they have rivalries. It doesn’t hurt that the series tackles a subject that is taboo in the African-American culture of having a gay relative. The family openly accepts that Mary Charles is a lesbian and they stand behind her fully when she faces an injustice because of her sexuality. What I love about this series is that it’s not afraid to be blunt and to punch the audience in the stomach a few times during episodes.
When Cam attempts to pump the breaks on the families spending, M-Chuck unleashes a tirade about her looking out for her brother, protecting him from being assaulted and not once asking for anything in return. It’s important to note, the argument wasn’t about the money, but his sister stating a principle; she gave up a lot to stand by her brother’s side; he should respect the sacrifices she has made just like the ones he has made. Rounding out the family dynamics are Missy Vaughn (Teynah Parris), Reggie’s wife and Uncle Julius (Mike Epps). Missy is like that voice of reason in the bunch, while she is someone who grew into wealth and his highly educated she doesn’t come across pretentious or like a know-it-all. She makes the family think twice about making a decision before making it.
Funnyman Mike Epps is like that burst of comedy when moments strike the core at times. He presents his opinion in way that is likely to hurt your feelings at times, but he does soften the blow. I can go on and on raving and discussing how poignant such a series is in today’s society, but I feel I’ll just exhaust TV lovers. If you’re looking for a show that delivers laughs, tears, a taste of reality, a bit of drama and unique characters “Survivor’s Remorse” can’t be missed. “Survivor’s Remorse” airs Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. on Starz.