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Mary McNamara: The surprising wisdom of 'The Real Bros of Simi Valley'

Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- There are cars in the auto service garage on Moorpark Boulevard in Studio City, and a young man appears to be attaching hubcaps to the wheels one of them. When he tightens the final lug nut, his co-workers, who have been watching anxiously, erupt in cheers and high-fives, the ecstasy of real bros. As in "The Real Bros of Simi Valley."

"Cut," someone yells, and the drill wielder, who is star and co-creator Jimmy Tatro, rushes over to the video village, where the monitors are stacked in the shade of a pop-up tent, watches multicamera replays, suggests some changes in consult with co-creator Christian Pierce and returns to the set to shoot it again.

Here's one thing you should know about the YouTube-turned-Facebook Watch series "The Real Bros of Simi Valley": None of it is shot in Simi Valley. So if you are a fan hoping to go on the "Real Bros" tour of the city that was once home to the Chumash and now is best known for, depending on whom you ask, being the site of either the not-guilty verdict that sparked the L.A. riots or the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum, you are out of luck.

And as the series prepares for its third-season premiere in January, here's another thing you should know: It's very funny.

For the record, I may be the oldest living fan of "Real Bros" who is not related to any of the cast members. The only reason I even knew to watch it was because so many young people told me I had to. It took me a while. Not surprisingly, Facebook Watch skews toward teen drama and reality series, and with so many shows on so many platforms, I confess I rarely gave it more than a cursory glance.

Until I did. And now I'm hooked on "Real Bros," which is a very funny, occasionally pointed and essentially gentle-hearted satire of reality shows and Valley dudes (though it is not shot in Simi, it is shot in the Valley).

 

It's also one of the still-rare shows in which young people sound like young people, instead of some middle-aged writer's idea of what young people should/might/30 years ago did sound like. Which may explain the general kindness of the send-up -- it is people poking fun at their own generation.

The episodes are 20 minutes long, making it easy to watch most, if not all, of them -- Season 1 was just four; Season 2 had 10 -- in one sitting. The first episode of Season 2 got more than 4 million views; subsequent episodes averaged around 2 million.

Life for Xander (Tatro), his posse, which includes Bryce (Tanner Getter), Duncan (Nick Coletti), Johnny (Peter Gilroy) and Xander's actual brother Wade (Cody Ko), and their girlfriends/wives, involves a lot of beer, weed, vaping and romantic relationships conducted mainly via texts. Conversations lean heavily on topic-avoiding sentence fragments punctuated by "dude," and the conflicts are mostly internal and innocuous. (A plotline in Season 2 involved engagement with a group of "Rancho" bros that ended in a truly hilarious white guy rumble.)

But there are also nods at failure-to-launch issues that plague Gen Z -- the high cost of housing, dwindling career paths for men not interested in attending college, and the perils of a culture that prizes the accouterments of youth but not its "sleep until noon and then plan a kick-back" realities.

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