When you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, what comes to mind? Bodybuilder? Former Governor of California? Beloved action star? This man has worn many hats throughout his 75 years of life. There was a period though when Arnold Schwarzenegger transitioned from pure action to an action-comedy hybrid. It’s in that arena in which Netflix’s newest series FUBAR resides.
This series, which is produced by Skydance Television, is the first scripted live-action series for Schwarzenegger, but could easily be one of his best. FUBAR is created by Nick Santora, who previously wrote 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, as well as for series such as Law and Order, Prison Break, Lie to Me, and Scorpion. With his long list of credits, is FUBAR another hit for this powerhouse of Santora and Schwarzenegger? Let’s see just what you can expect from Netflix’s FUBAR.
[Warning: light spoilers and impressions from FUBAR are below!]
A father-daughter dynamic at the center of this new Netflix series
Life is never easy in suburbia and Luke Brunner (Schwarzenegger) is a testament to that. He’s a divorced middle-aged man that is still hopelessly in love with his wife. He has old-school morals, such as no swearing, which he forces upon those around him, especially his children. The light of his life is his daughter, Emma (Monica Barbaro), the epitome of a perfect daughter who can do no wrong in her father’s eyes. He also owns a workout equipment supply company, which is the largest and most successful in the region with his best friend Barry (Milan Carter). Or at least, that’s his cover to the rest of the world.
In truth, Luke is one of the best CIA operatives in the business, however, is looking to retire and live a life of relaxation. That is until the CIA begs him to complete one more mission, saving one of their other agents who may be in a bit of trouble. It’s one thing to put off your retirement for a bit of time, it’s another to find out that the operative you’re looking for is your own daughter.
Quickly, it becomes apparent that both Luke and Emma have been lying to each other for years, a fact that neither one is happy about. The change in their dynamic from a loving father-daughter duo to pissed-off operatives at each other becomes the focal point of the rest of the series. Forced to work together, neither one trusts the other, which causes some mayhem as they, and the rest of their team, learn how to work fluidly together. It isn’t easy, but with time, and a lot of CIA-mandated therapy, perhaps the duo can work together to bring down the wicked Boro (Gabriel Luna).
What works in Netflix’s FUBAR
What I loved about this series is how well it balances the action and comedy so well. I’ll be honest, I didn’t see the trailer for the series prior to requesting it. It sounded like a good premise and it had Schwarzenegger. What else did I need?
That being said, I didn’t realize just how comedic FUBAR was going to be. This elevated the series from a basic action series to something more memorable. It reminded me a lot of films like Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All the Way, that allowed Schwarzenegger to break out of the action chains a bit and showcase a funnier side than Terminator.
Not all of that is tied to Schwarzenegger, but a testament to the smart writing and the supportive cast that shines in the comedic bits. Honestly, the show is brimming with hilarious jokes and witty banter, providing moments for each cast member to shine.
While many people may be drawn to the series because Schwarzenegger’s face is in it, they’ll stay around for the strong cast that surrounds him. Monica Barbaro shines as the quick to anger Emma, who is a spitting image of her father. Barbaro plays the duality between Emma’s “day life” and real job so nicely, especially as she grows as both an agent and a human. She was easily one of my favorite characters in this series, especially in the scenes where she and Schwarzenegger played off each other.
Connected to Emma is Carter, played by Jay Baruchel, her loveable boyfriend. It was interesting to see Baruchel playing a love interest instead of the star after playing such a big part in my adolescence, but honestly, he’s perfect as Carter. Carter is the kind of guy everyone should want to end up with and deserves better than what he gets in FUBAR. Carter should be protected at all costs.
Travis Van Winkle was also a standout to me as the lovable, and exquisitely attractive, Aldon. Aldon’s another CIA operative, who gets by on his looks alone when we first meet him. However, throughout the show, he grows to be so much more than the pretty guy, which vulnerable sides that he lets down around the team.
Ruth, however, played by Fortune Feimster perhaps grows the most and has some of the best lines. As an overly-crude operative, who says whatever comes to her mind, Ruth learns that trust isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Her traumas dictate her actions, which is the truth for so many of us, however, there is a ton of backstory and resolution for her character. Which is something we don’t really see in a lot of action comedy series.
The action itself, as well as the story, are some of the best I’ve seen recently. The story was tight, not wasting a moment or looking to fill time. Instead, every scene either furthers the story or the character development, which some scenes serving a dual purpose. I was mildly shocked to see that not every episode was almost an hour, which seems to be the Netflix standard. Instead, it appears that the story dictates the time, and FUBAR uses its time wisely.
As well, the action is fantastic, but what else could would you expect from a project with Schwarzenegger’s name attached to it?
What didn’t work
Those looking for a series all about Arnold might be disappointed with FUBAR. This series is truly an ensemble series, with points and stories that focus on each and every character. Because of this, there are large stretches of this series in which Schwarzenegger is overshadowed by the stories and talent of those around him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great in this series, however, it’s not that drastically different from his other roles.
He’s great for what he does, which is to bring his specific brand of comedy and action to FUBAR. However, if you’re looking for a life-altering performance or show, you won’t find this here. FUBAR is more of a mindless, adult family television show with a little something for everyone.
In addition, I would have loved more of Gabriel Luna as Boro, who at times felt a little one-dimensional, even with a thorough backstory. He’s a villain who only does villainous things. There isn’t as much nuance as I would have liked from my villains, however, Luna does fantastic things with the character he was given. Between FUBAR and The Last of Us, Luna is proving to others what I’ve known since his days as Ghost Rider on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; that he’s filled with massive amounts of talent.
Overall thoughts of FUBAR
For me, FUBAR is worth a watch, perhaps even a rewatch. There is so much to love about this series, that it could easily become a comfort show for me. Something I click on when I want to feel better. Between the action and the humor, it has something for everyone. With the amount of series that come yearly to Netflix, it can be a bit overwhelming to know what to watch, but FUBAR should be at the top of your list.
FUBAR is streaming on Netflix! Are you going to watch it? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of The Mother, another recent Netflix release.