My Brother, My Brother, and Me Review
“The McElroy brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed.” This is a weird way to start a show that purports to be “an advice show for the modern era,” but to describe My Brother, My Brother, and Me as just an advice show would be doing it quite a disservice. My Brother, My Brother, and Me (known by fans as MBMBaM, pronounced “muh-bim-bam”) started out seven years ago as a weekly podcast on the Maximum Fun network hosted by brothers Justin, Travis, and Forbes’ 30 under 30 media luminary Griffin McElroy, where they answer a litany ridiculous questions found on Yahoo! Answers. Their answers are often just as absurd as the questions they’re answering, devolving into nonsensical tangents and regularly forgetting the original point of the question by the end of the episode. Now, NBC’s online subscription service Seeso has decided to let them bring this beautiful mess of a program to streaming television.
My Brother, My Brother, and Me the TV show is a weird and delightful Dear Abby-meets-Comedy Bang Bang, but entirely unscripted—episodes have a loose plan as to the direction in which they will go, but as with the podcast, things tend to quickly fly off the rails. Each episode, the brothers dedicate themselves to answering a question submitted by a fan of the podcast, along the way roping citizens of their hometown of Huntington, WV into whatever adventures they’ve devised.
There’s no pretense that this show was made to please anyone other than die-hard fans of the MBMBaM podcast, but the good-natured, silly humor of the brothers McElroy is fairly accessible to uninitiated viewers willing to give them a chance. In what may be my favorite episode, the brothers are asked a question about padding one’s résumé, which leads them on a quest to obtain as many job titles as possible—including (honorary) Mayor of Huntington for “a short, but powerful” minute. The acting mayor of Huntington, Stephen T. Williams, is a charming guest star in almost every episode: the brothers meet with him in Portlandia-esque segments where they ask for his help in their ridiculous schemes, and he looks at them the way a character looks at the camera on The Office. Other notable cameos include HGTV’s the Property Brothers, who teach the McElroys about interior design, and Youtubers Hank and John Green, who teach the them how to relate to teenagers.
The show’s biggest strength by far is the enviable chemistry the brothers have with one another; they clearly love each other very deeply, and this can be seen just as much when Justin and Griffin are comforting Travis after he lets a tarantula “rancho” walk over his hand as when Justin and Travis are ribbing Griffin for being dressed like “a carpet f—ked a nerd.” The brothers McElroy aren’t particularly good actors—despite two out of three having majored in theater, they spend a lot of time laughing at their own jokes and at each other—but it’s hard not to love their candid sincerity. Between holding a séance in a dorm room, a retelling of “The Miracle on Wood,” feuding over resources in Safety Town, and founding a secret society, there’s never a dull moment in any of the six episodes in the season. They don’t succeed in solving most of the problems they’re tasked with, but it’s all about the journey rather than the destination, even when they’re being terrorized in a Blair Witch-style sequence featuring the terrifying “Clown Box.”
If you decide to watch the show and find yourself as enthralled with the McElroy brothers as I am, you don’t have to wait for another season to get your fix. The McElroy family of products is positively massive; among many others, each brother has a podcast with his wife, and the MBMBaM podcast has over three hundred hours of content alone. And don’t forget to play the ARG (alternate reality game) mentioned in episode five, which does actually exist. The McElroys have done a **GREAT JOB**, and I sincerely hope they get to make a season two. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying the MBMBaM blooper reels Seeso has been posting every Monday since the show aired on February 23rd.