Kroll Show Did Bravo Better Than Bravo Did Itself


Tuesday night marked the final episode of Kroll Show, comedian Nick Kroll’s enjoyable three season series that covered such pop culture hallmarks as Degrassi (with the highly charming Wheels Ontario) and CSI (Dead Girl Town). And perhaps amongst the show’s greatest strengths was Kroll’s lampooning of reality television.

Among the best parodies was Publizity, a recurring sketch that co-starred Jenny Slate and was modeled off of Bravo network reality shows like Millionaire Matchmaker, Gallery Girls or Flipping Out.

Publizity—it’s based on their names—captured the perfect reality TV mix of unlikable, soulless protagonists and outrageous behavior. With its silly sound effects and perfectly timed talking heads, it was also a triumph of editing. Most importantly, as with any successful Bravo franchise, it also led to several spin-offs.

Among them, Armond of the House:

Ice Dating:

And Dad Academy:

Kroll also mastered the reality TV world outside of Bravo with VH1-esque spoofs like Nash Rickey’s Rock’n’Roll Reunion:

And the History Channel homage, Pawnsylvania:

As the seasons progressed, Kroll Show‘s reality TV universe got crazier and crazier (the Illuminati, a murder and a baby born in a toilet all become key plot points) while still managing to resemble the genre it was mocking. It was Bravo pushed to its limits—or maybe not. Existing in our current TV landscape where reality shows are cheap to make and people will continue to watch them no matter how strange, sad and trashy they get, nothing on Kroll Show ever seemed that beyond the realm of possibility. Dad Academy is no more outrageous than VH1’s Charm School, Pretty and Ugly Liz are no more shallow or cloying than anyone on Vanderpump Rules and Pawnsylvania is basically a more interesting Pawn Stars.

What really sets Kroll’s reality TV parodies apart from the real thing is that Kroll Show is fun. It’s made by a group of friends who seem to adore working with each other (writers regularly appear in the series) and while sketches are frequently mocking in tone, there’s little malice in them.

Whether or not Kroll Show will ever be ranked among other great sketch series like The State or Mr. Show, I’m not sure, but regardless of its place in the pantheon of comedy, we can fully appreciate it as a dependable source of good humor that never seemed to take itself too seriously and reminded the rest of television that it shouldn’t take itself too seriously either.

Image via Comedy Central.

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