By the time Rob Schneider has his pants around his ankles and is caught in a compromising position with an elderly grandmother on his new CBS sitcom, “Rob,” you won’t be surprised. You may be horrified and nauseated, but definitely not surprised.
Even only about halfway through the pilot, the scene seems the natural direction for “Rob,” the offensively unfunny series premiering Thursday night. Schneider (of “Saturday Night Live” and “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” fame) plays a bland, obsessive-compulsive landscape architect who just so happens to sweep beautiful, bubbly Maggie (Claudia Bassols) off her feet when he stumbles into her dress shop. Maggie is apparently so taken by his utter averageness that she marries him six weeks later.
Turns out, she eloped mostly to take a stand against her controlling parents. But to differentiate “Rob” from so many other comedies where Mom and Dad instantly hate the new son-in-law, Maggie’s family happens to be Mexican American. And if you don’t know where the show is going from there, you must have never seen a Rob Schneider film.
As soon as Maggie warns
family-gathering-averse Rob that “Mexican families don’t work that way,” the ethnic punch lines fly fast and furious. Rob remarks, “I feel like I’m at a Julio Iglesias concert” upon meeting his new wife’s extensive family. Maggie’s father talks about his carwash company employing many immigrants, and laughs, “Between 100 of them, I think they have, like, three Social Security numbers..”
Like an uncomfortable stand-up routine that keeps getting worse (“You’re Latino? Or Hispanic? Which one is offensive?”), “Rob” spirals downward as Rob tries to make a good impression on his new in-laws (Cheech Marinand Diana Maria Riva). Appropriately mortified by a son-in-law who says things like, “Big family — now I know what’s going on during all those siestas,” Maggie’s parents seem to think things can’t get worse, until — well, see above with the sequence involving Maggie’s abuelita (Lupe Ontiveros).
Presumably, the rest of the show will entail the so-called hilarity of Rob, a man who maybe sees his parents every other Christmas, adjusting to life with close-knit relatives, with all sorts of “comedy” about Mexican American families. Plus, the curious storyline of Uncle Hector (Eugenio Derbez), the family member who is visiting from Mexico, if visiting is defined as being a permanent houseguest.
Still, it’s a comedy on CBS, which has had huge success with tasteless jokes on shows such as “Two and a Half Men” and “2 Broke Girls” — so no one is really expecting a meaningful take on classism or blending families or relationships. It would help, though, if the punch lines were just a little bit funny. Even when the traditional sitcom group-hug ending comes around at the end of each episode, the show has already lost all its goodwill.
In the end, some people will be very offended by what they see on “Rob,” although given the mind-blowing popularity of the aforementioned comedies, some may find it just what they’re looking for. A better solution, however, would be to just close your eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist.
(30 minutes) debuts Thursday
at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.