Tiffany Haddish and Tracy Morgan starring in a new TBS comedy together? It seems like a match made in heaven, and fortunately, the show lives up to expectations.
“The Last O.G.” follows Tray (Tracy Morgan), a man fresh out of prison, determined to get his old life back. When he gets out, he discovers that Brooklyn is not what it once was, and even worse, Shay (Tiffany Haddish), the woman he’s in love with, is now married to a white man and has two kids — children he finds out are his own. Motivated now more than ever to get Shay back and build a relationship with his kids, he starts to alter his life for the better.
The first two episodes of the season, which screened at South by Southwest, are promising, and the premise is very strong. Having Morgan star as Tray is perfect; he brings personality to the role in a way only he can. Since the end of “30 Rock,” the world has missed a Tracy Jordan character in our television lineup. Tray is no Tracy, but the resemblance between the two is there. The character is just as fun and silly to watch as Jordan ever was, except this time, we have much more of a reason to root for Tray and his goals.
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The newly released Tray is out of touch with the times, which opens up opportunities for a lot of generational comedy that feels somewhat fresh. In the second episode, he goes on a job hunt, with an old suit and an old style of thinking about how to interact with customers. After being reprimanded by a rather controlling coffee shop manager, he probably won’t change much, but it’s fun to watch that dynamic.
Haddish, the break-out comedian from “Girl’s Trip,” has been having a good year, but here, she really keeps the fire going. She is a hilarious stand-up comedian, and she was excellent in “Girls Trip” as the wild member of the friend group. But in “The Last O.G.,” her acting versatility is displayed. Her character is still funny, but she’s definitely more sensible. In fact, compared to Tray, she’s one of the more practical characters in the story, and Haddish plays the role wonderfully.
Sometimes comedies can be a little slow to start, with some of the pilot jokes not exactly hitting the mark. But “Last O.G.” is genuinely funny in a way that makes you belly laugh, or at the very least ask yourself, “What the heck just happened?” It’s a fun watch, and though it’s a half-hour comedy, the show has a serialized structure, and the end of each episode leaves you wanting more.
The quality of storytelling is one of the show’s great strengths. We get glimpses into other’s lives briefly, but only through Tray’s perspective. It’s his story, and we’re following him the entire time. So, we move at his pace. In the first episode, he gets out of prison and finds Shay. During the second episode, he looks for a job. Both of these stories are simple in nature, but they give the world and the characters room to grow, and the audience room to laugh.
It will be exciting to see where the rest of the season goes. There’s a lot of setup and material to work with in the coming episodes. So far, the show has established characters we can love, along with comedy that hooks us.
“The Last O.G.” premiered at South By Southwest on March 12. It will premiere on TBS on April 3. Grade: A-