In a world where the adult animation genre is littered with gems like ‘Bojack Horseman‘, ‘Rick & Morty‘, ‘Big Mouth‘, ‘South Park‘, and ‘Family Guy‘, an average comedy with next to no significant story development is a hard pill to swallow. Anything less than an animated sitcom that delves into the darkest, most outrageous form of offensive humor to bring out the chuckles while also making you “think”, could just be classified as something you watch once for fun and then forget about.
‘Hoops’, the newest Netflix Original series to join the ranks of adult animated sitcoms, is created by Ben Hoffman (who also serves as an executive producer alongside the main lead Jake Johnson). ‘New Girl‘ star Jake Johnson plays the potty-mouthed protagonist Ben Hopkins, a highly inept basketball coach at a high school headed by a morally questionable principal (played by Cleo King). Read on to find out what we thought of the first season of ‘Hoops’.
Hoops Season 1 Recap
‘Hoops’ is set in a small town in Kentucky. Ben Hopkins (Johnson) is a foul-mouthed, acerbic, and highly inappropriate high school basketball coach who’s also drowning in daddy issues. He teaches at Lenwood High School, coaching an underdog team that has no aptitude for shooting hoops and shows less than zero potential for improvement. Coach Hopkins is infamous for frequently blowing off his lid (mostly at referees at games) and having very public, very spectacularly hilarious meltdowns. Hopkins also displays undisguised hostility towards his dad Barry Hopkins, who is a famous former pro basketball player and steakhouse owner. Ben’s blatant daddy issues are among the funnier tropes in the show.
The highlight, however, is Ben’s weird (not to mention unhealthy) obsession with his “many dicks”. He constantly refers to his genitalia as inadequate, size-wise. Even his dreams and deepest desires of being rich and famous and to own an infinity pool end in people sucking his “so many dicks”. Yes, Ben Hopkins is quite crass that way. Perhaps the most accurate description of Ben is when a student calls him a “crazy-ass teacher with zero boundaries”.
Then there is the school principal Opal Lowry, a no-nonsense black woman who is sort of a friend of Ben’s and a BFF of his ex-wife’s. Opal is weirdly fixated on oral sex (even singing heartfelt songs about it). She smokes pineapple marijuana and we’re not entirely sure she’s suited for her job, but all her scenes are hilarious so it’s okay.
Ben’s foremost relationships (apart from the team) are with his ex-wife Shannon (Natasha Leggero), who he is technically still married to because he refuses to sign the divorce papers, and his father Barry (Rob Riggle), who never fails to tell Ben what a disappointment he is as a son. And there is also Ben’s best friend and assistant coach Ron (Ron Funches), who is seeing Shannon but Ben is, for the most part, cool with Ron sleeping with his wife.
The most endearing bunch of characters are, of course, the kids who play on Ben’s basketball team – the Lenwood High Colts. According to Coach Hopkins, the Colts are the shortest team in the league and he often attributes their abysmal play to bad genes rather than lack of skill or failure to train.
Ben goes to outrageous lengths to get the tallest kid in school – the 7-footed Matty – to join his team so that they can start winning matches. He even makes the other kids give up their allowances to hire a prostitute for Matty, as a kind of bribe to sweeten the deal (don’t worry, the police catches them before anything happens). So you know from the get-go that Coach is passionate about basketball but he lacks the talent for it and has to depend on ludicrous tactics, which mostly end in self-destructive ways.
Seeing all the Coach’s efforts to try and get him to join, awkward Matty decides to play on the team. Then there is DJ who is constantly called “fat” by Coach but in a non-shaming way. There’s Scott, who is gay and the only one who kind of plays okay, and Marcus, who is a “nice guy” in the truest sense of the word (he advocates a real connection over just “bangin'” and he loves school and he loves his parents). There is also “Time Bomb” (we’re not sure if that’s his real name, the show doesn’t tell us) who is a juvenile delinquent, and Jewish kid Isaac, who Coach tells that he is ugly and hateable. This ragtag bunch manages to win one game after Coach riles them up with “daddy hate”.
The first season of ‘Hoops’ is majorly just Coach Hopkins being utterly farcical and trying to get his team to win matches (by doing everything apart from actually practicing basketball), trying to win back the affections of his ex-wife, trying to step out from under the shadow of his dad and rubbing his dad’s nose in, in the process, and trying to get recruited for pro league sports (so that he can eventually get an infinity pool and then people will suck his so many dicks). It’s mostly just dick jokes, with very little plot.
Hoops Season 1 Review
Our verdict – ‘Hoops’ is fun to watch if you’re looking for some mindless comedy, but it squanders its chance to send a deeper message through proper character and story development. The season ends like how it begins, with the characters not having shown much growth at all, and the plot seriously lacks any nuances of any kind.
Coach Hopkins is profanely hilarious and will crack you up for sure (if you can handle the colorful language), but he is very one dimensional as a character. For fans of ‘New Girl’, it will probably just be like seeing Nick Miller move to Kentucky and get a job as a basketball coach. Because Johnson’s Hopkins is the same kind of grumpy and irritable (just much more foul-mouthed) as Johnson’s Miller from ‘New Girl’. The show fails to give depth to any of the characters and they don’t form any real connections amongst themselves.
For the most part, Coach seems not to care about the kids (no, he really says many times that he doesn’t care about their problems). He only shows that he cares (very deep down inside) in this one scene when he verbally rips apart a gang of gay guys who are bullying Scott for playing basketball and having slept with girls before realizing he was gay.
It’s frustrating at times when ‘Hoops’ misses an opportunity to display more nuanced storytelling, maybe show Coach form a deeper connection with Matty who is always in need of a father figure. But the show does leave a lot of depth unexplored, and that’s the case with almost all the characters. An adult comedy should have side-splitting and offensive humor but that’s not all it should aim to be. A good sitcom can also force viewers to “think”, and not just chuckle mindlessly.
To sum up, ‘Hoops’ is irreverent, funny, and witty. But it fails to make us care about the characters as much as we should.
Read More: Hoops Ending, Explained