Netflix’s Turn Up Charlie offers next to nothing but marginally interesting entertainment


Sunday, the day known and beloved for its lazy, deliciously laid-back nature, was the day I began Netflix’s sitcom Turn Up Charlie.

Boredom that I hadn’t had the pleasure of feeling in a while beckoned my fingers to tap on the sitcom, and thus, the show contented me for my day in an admittedly subpar daze.

Turn Up Charlie follows the story of one-hit-wonder Charlie Ayo (Idris Elba), now struggling to scramble back onto the mount of success and fame after blowing through the riches of his 90s glory.

At one of his hopelessly insignificant DJing gigs, Charlie runs into his childhood best friend, David (JJ Feild), now an A-list movie star and half of a golden-clad celebrity power couple. Through a classically sitcom-esque, eccentric series of events, Charlie winds up with the job of nannying David’s intensely bratty daughter, eleven-year-old Gabrielle (Frankie Hervey). Now, Charlie must navigate the supposedly comical but troubled waters of handing Gabrielle’s antics and putting the pieces of his career back together.

I think that it’s safe to say even just the plot screams mediocrity. I knew that just from the Netflix description, and that’s certainly what I got. For one, the show is advertised as a comedy, yet never reaches that pinnacle of hilarity, let alone a single joke worth a barely-satisfied puff of air out my nose.

That’s its fatal flaw. It’s painfully average; it fails to excite or intrigue or even amuse. ”

The characters themselves are not quite endearing, either. Gabrielle’s cuteness never quite shakes me of my abhorrence for her attitude, and her parents are underdeveloped and too dull for my liking. The title character is fairly likable, but I’d like to chalk that up to Elba’s good looks.

More than just my personal preferences, the characters had narrative flaws and mishaps; like in all shows, the characters, of course, had expected arcs and transformations. But within that, there’d be conflicts in the linearity of those arcs. For example, Charlie was always said to be a selfish, sleazy had-been, yet everything we see on screen contradicts this.

Just in general, the characters’ lives and the show’s storyline lack any semblance of relatability or realism. The characters and settings encapsulate the luxurious, celebrity lifestyle most viewers have no tether to; even the “lowest” of characters, namely Charlie, are those who reside just outside the glamor but are in the vicinity, nonetheless.

As for reality, a power couple who is still relatively in love with an eleven-year-old who effortlessly knows all about Hollywood and all its drugs of choice is far from plausible.

On the flip side, Turn Up Charlie did have some saving graces. Most notably, the acting was commendable. Elba, of course, is a Hollywood favorite and has the abilities to match that. More impressive to me, however, was the acting prowess of Hervey in spite of her age. At just nine years old, she portrayed her distinct, eleven-year-old role with ease and talent beyond her years— well enough to sustain my distaste for Gabrielle through all eight episodes of the season.

Overall, Turn Up Charlie, is admittedly entertaining— enough. But it just barely earns that title, and that’s its fatal flaw. It’s painfully average; it fails to excite or intrigue or even amuse.

It was simply a harmless, unremarkable show fit to consume me on a harmless, unremarkable Sunday.