‘White Famous’ pales in comparison to ‘Californication’


Tom Kapinos has jumped back in the Showtime saddle for the first time since his Golden Globe and Emmy winning show, “Californication.” The only question is, will “White Famous” be as successful as his previous work?

Showtime is the place to go if you want raw, unadulterated entertainment. The network has produced such shows as “Dexter,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Weeds,” “Shameless” and as mentioned before, “Californication.”

“White Famous” is the Showtime newbie, featuring a talented young stand-up comic, Floyd Mooney (Jay Pharoah), who is on the rise in the industry, forcing him to navigate the treacherous waters of maintaining his credibility while crossing over into becoming “white famous.”

His agent, Malcolm (Utkarsh Ambudkar), wants him to do whatever it takes to succeed. On the other hand, Floyd’s roommate, Ron (Jacob Ming-Trent), remains the voice of reason amidst the chaos of the lifestyle change he is undergoing. Floyd’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his son are in the picture and acts as the love interest he can never have but desperately wants. The comedy is based on the personal experiences of Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, who serves as an executive producer on the series.

Let’s talk “Californication” for a second.

For me, this is “my” TV show. I’ve watched the entire series about five times all the way through. With David Duchovny (X-Files, Aquarius) at the helm of a great cast and a fantastic storyline about a bad boy novelist who is just trying to keep it together while falling apart, how could you have a terrible show? So naturally, when I heard that Tom Kapinos was back on with a new show I had to check it out.

Showtime released the “White Famous” pilot episode Oct. 15. The series begins with Floyd Mooney being offered a part in a movie where he is asked to play the role of a woman. Mooney is reminded of his father telling him not to sell out like Eddie Murphy and become another black man in Hollywood who dons a dress just to become “white famous.” Mooney berates the director and leaves the interview where he then proceeds to fire his agent, Malcolm for even thinking he would play a role like that.

Mooney then has a run in with Stu Beggs (Steven Tobolowsky), a movie producer and “Californication” regular character. Stu mistakes Mooney as a valet at a fancy restaurant which sends him into a tirade, accusing Stu of being a racist. Mooney’s roommate, Ron, recorded the entire ordeal which he posted online. Overnight, the video goes viral bringing a lot of attention to Mooney and Stu.

Beggs requests a sit down so he can apologize to Mooney in which he offers him a part in a movie a that he is producing, starring none other than Jamie Foxx. Since Stu needs the world to not see him as a racist and seeing that Mooney needs his big break, the two come to an agreement.

Mooney goes to set and meets Jamie Foxx. The role Foxx wants him to play is the same role that required him to dress as a woman, which he already declined. Mooney declines Foxx’s offer and leaves, staying true to his beliefs. Foxx ends up being so moved by this that he decides to still offer Mooney a major part in the movie with the exception of not wearing a dress.

That’s all that I will say about the pilot.

Tom Kapinos came into “White Famous” with the same style and character development that I loved from “Californication.” I especially enjoyed getting to see and hear references to some characters from it as well. It’s pretty cool that Kapinos is expanding on this universe of his, and I’m excited to see what other references he will bring on throughout the rest of this first season.

Despite the things that I love about it, I just don’t think that It will fare as well as its older sibling. “Californication” was a fantastic original storyline and sometimes you just get it right the first time. Spin-offs can be cool but they don’t always meet the mark.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)