CHAMPIONS has a lot of charm. The setup is classic. Vince (Anderson Holm) is living the fun bachelor life with his brother and roommate Matthew (Andy Favreau) when their lives are turned upside down by the surprise arrival of Vince’s 15 year old son Michael (J.J. Totah) who needs a place to stay in NYC in order to attend a performing arts high school. With a 2018 twist, Michael is also openly gay, proud and fabulous. The two brothers are force to adjust their single guys in the city lifestyle to raise the lad.
In a time of tv reboots, think of CHAMPIONS as a modern day MY TWO DADS, just without the question of paternity.
While Matthew quickly takes to his new role as an uncle, Vince, at first, struggles with the idea of being a father. Vince and Matt eagerly accept that Micheal is gay and the comedy comes from the mania involved in raising a teenage boy and trying to understand his pop culture references. The story is less about Michael fitting into Vince and Matthew’s world and more about them fitting into his. The three leads have great chemistry with Favreau stealing his fair share of scenes.
Where the show tends to fall flat is when the guys leave their apartment for Vince and Matt’s gym. The characters are mostly forgettable with Fortune Feinstein playing the same character we’ve seen her as in other shows like LIFE IN PIECES and THE MINDY PROJECT. The gym employees are their to give Vince, Matthew and Micheal a “family” but it doesn’t work and needs to be reworked.
Co-creator Mindy Kaling pops in occasionally as Michael’s mom Priya. Kaling’s DNA is evident from the opening credits to some of the manic scenes that play more like sketches rather than a fleshed out story.
I’m rooting for a season 2 of CHAMPIONS. All in all it’s a fun show. I knew J.J. Totah would get his own show when I saw him in an episode of 2 BROKE GIRLS a few seasons back. He gives a lively performance and gives every adult he’s in scenes with a run for their money. In a recent episode he revealed to Vince and Matthew that he doesn’t have any friends. I like to see that explored more. There’s also a lot of material to be mined from his father and uncle giving him dating advice when the time comes.
CHAMPIONS isn’t perfect but with it’s charm it could have a long run.