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Peacock’s new satire on American life is not to be missed

“Nothing but snakes all the way.”

You might not get the reference when To kill him star and executive producer Craig Robinson utters the phrase in the final moments of his new Peacock series. It’s a paraphrase of the saying “turtles all the way down,” which refers to the mythological world turtle that carries the Earth on its back. If such a being existed, on what ground would he walk? Could it be another bigger turtle? And then another below that one, and so on?

“Turtles All Along” is about the futility of trying to answer big universal questions about life and existence. To kill him cleverly rephrases the saying around snakes for its 10-episode satire of life in 2016 in America. The dog-eat-dog sociopathic capitalism of American society is teeming with snakes, the series claims. Peel off as many layers as you want, it doesn’t matter. Nothing but snakes down below.

There’s a surprising level of cynicism in this premise given the pedigree of the show’s creators. Dan Goor and Luke Del Tredici come to Peacock after their eight-season run with Brooklyn nine-nine (where Robinson memorably appeared in a recurring role as the lovable Doug Judy). Although the police comedy has lasted longer than it probably should have, it has always been driven by a heartfelt sincerity that initially seems strange to the world. To kill him immerses us in.


Credit: Anna Cook/NBC Universal

We’re supposed to cheer on Robinson’s Craig Foster, and we do, but there’s no doubt: he’s just as much of a snake as anyone else. Craig is a perpetually struggling Florida entrepreneur whose latest plan hinges on $20,000 he doesn’t have. But a chance encounter with a rideshare driver points him in a potentially lucrative side hustle.

Jillian G. (Claudia O’Doherty, aka Mary Bonnet of Our flag means death) is that driver, a struggling Australian emigrant who lives off her car carrying billboards. She supplements her income by killing Burmese pythons, an invasive species of snake, for money. And Craig just so happens to meet her at the start of an annual snake-whacking contest with a $20,000 prize.

The two are an amusing mismatch right away. Craig is serious about chasing that big American dream, but his overall demeanor screams “get-rich-quick hustler.” Meanwhile, Jillian’s sunny disposition and tendency to overshare belies a painful loneliness; she’s clearly unhappy, and she’s just as clearly never confronted with that fact. However, Jillian is not a snake. She is an outsider and her perspective is the lens through which all other snakes are revealed.

It’s not so much a case of “opposites attract”—Craig is torn apart by unaddressed loneliness, grief, and loss in his own way—but it’s a commercial marriage of circumstance and convenience. He teams up with Jillian to kill snakes for money in an act of desperation, and she’s on board for the same reason. But as the season progresses and the two co-stars face an increasing number of hardships together and apart, a tender friendship is formed.

There’s a deep sweetness that guides every major player in the “Killing It” cast.

On a meta level, each episode feels like a satirical exploration of a different aspect of life in modern America. It starts off in a pretty down-to-earth place, with the first episode centering on Craig’s failed attempts to get a bank loan. He endures a gauntlet of encounters with older white men who defensively refuse his candidacy while pretending not to be racist, professing their appreciation for Jamie Foxx’s work as a kind of proof.

Each new episode intensifies the absurdity. There’s the half hour we spend with Craig at the “Dominine Con” conference, a scam networking event where: “They don’t just teach you how to dominateeatthey teach you to do homenine.” A few episodes later, a TaskRabbit job turns into a deranged take on Cyrano de Bergerac when a house sitter, Jillian, invites a man over, prompting the mansion’s “woke” socialite owner (D’Arcy Carden!) to insert herself into the situation using high-end home surveillance equipment. high technology.

Along the way, Craig and Jillian encounter a colorful cast of characters that shape their journey together in ways big and small. Brock (Scott MacArthur) and his son Corby (Wyatt Walter) make regular appearances as a competing team of snake hunters who also happen to be budding YouTube influencers. Craig’s brother, Isaiah (Rell Battle), is a petty criminal who is perfectly comfortable taking advantage of his older brother when the opportunity arises.

There’s also Camille (Stephanie Nogueras), Craig’s deaf ex-wife — he learned American Sign Language for the role, and the two use it regularly to communicate — and their daughter Vanessa (Jet Miller). They both live with Camille’s new boyfriend, Marco (Arturo Del Puerto), a constant antagonistic presence in Craig’s life. And that’s not even mentioning a string of one-off appearances from Carden, John Early, Amy Davidson, Tim Heidecker, Lily Sullivan and others.

A picture of Peacock's "To kill him." Brock sits at a table looking at a laptop screen while Corby stands next to him, also looking at the screen.


Credit: Anna Cook/NBC Universal

It’s hard to say much about either of these roles without revealing the qualities that make them To kill him so special. But much like the unique perspective we get from Jillian’s understanding of the world, all of the characters we meet along the way highlight and intensify the underlying exploration of modern American life. All are snakes in their own way, even Craig’s sweet and well-meaning daughter, Vanessa. You’ll love some and hate others, but they’re all bound together by the societal forces that have shaped their position in life.

That’s not all, however. For all the basic cynicism that fuels this story, Goor and Del Tredici didn’t leave their tender hearts behind on the set of B99. There is a deep sweetness that guides every major player in To kill himis the cast. Craig and Isaiah, Jillian, Camille and Vanessa – for all the missteps they make, it’s abundantly clear that they’re all doing their best as the world tries to bring them down time and time again.

That’s really the point here. The journey from rags to whatever comes after Craig’s rags is never really in regards to the $20,000 he wants to spend on starting a business. The journey itself is what matters. Craig purposely reads like a con artist. This is an essential setup for the eventual reversal that brings us into his corner. There’s trauma in Craig’s past, Isaiah’s past, Jillian’s past, Brock’s past.

We realize over time that none of these people are inherently evil. They just fight to survive in a world where being good often feels like an impossible dream. To kill him throws new hurdles to success in each episode, and each is a systemic byproduct of life in America. It’s a place where even happy endings leave you a little broken. Snakes upon snakes, far below as far as the eye can see.

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