Type keyword(s) to search

Recommended: This Fool on Hulu

Comedian Chris Estrada flips the script on stories about former gang members in his sharp new comedy.
  • Chris Estrada and Frankie Quinones in This Fool. (Photo: Gilles Mingasson/Hulu)
    Subscribe to Primetimer's Recommended newsletter and get our guide to the very best series, movies and specials in your inbox every Friday.
    This Fool | Hulu
    Half-hour Comedy (10 Episodes) | TV-MA

    What's This Fool About?

    Julio, a caseworker at a nonprofit that reintegrates the formerly incarcerated, is helping his cousin Luis navigate life post-prison. As they reenter each other's lives, they find humor in the growing pains of redefining what it means to be family.

    Who's involved?

    • Comedian Chris Estrada created the series based on his own lived experiences. He also stars as Julio.
    • Frank Quinones is Luis, Julio’s cousin who has recently been released from prison and is set up as Julio’s polar opposite. Their common ground as cousins establishes the potential for familial love to grow.
    • Michelle Ortiz plays Maggie, Julio’s ex-girlfriend and his counterpart in a codependent relationship that keeps the viewer in a will-they-won’t-they guessing game.
    • Laura Patalano is Esperanza, Julio’s strict immigrant mother who has a rose-colored appreciation of President Reagan for granting her amnesty.
    • Julia Vera is Maria, Julio’s grandmother, who uses the respect she commands as matriarch of this intergenerational home to get away with some playful antics.
    • Michael Imperioli is Leonard Payne, a minister who works with Julio at his nonprofit.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    This Fool refuses to add salt to the wounds that come with reintegrating the formerly incarcerated back into their communities. Instead, it uses laughter as a balm to inspire hope.

    Machismo has met its match in Julio, who works at a nonprofit called Hugs Not Thugs. For him, emotional vulnerability is a sacrosanct practice that he encourages in his formerly incarcerated cousin Luis, who lives by his doctrine of macho grandstanding. Thankfully, neither act as martyrs defending their approaches to life. Both accept that they have something to learn from each other.

    Common experiences related to life after incarceration are referenced without pulling from low-hanging tropes. After Luis is released from prison, for instance, he breaches the territory of another gang member from his pre-carceral days. He’s challenged to a fight and is ready to round up the men he used to lean on. It isn’t surprising when he learns that some of his friends died while he was doing time. What is surprising is that his friends weren’t lost to gun violence, but to an entirely different epidemic: texting while driving.

    Another friend tells Luis he can’t fight because his sciatica has flared up. Meanwhile, the son of a former gang member is eager to join Luis in the rumble. But he’s not the latest iteration of intergenerational struggle: He’s actually a theatre nerd who wants to live out a musical number from West Side Story. By flipping viewer’s expectations, the series avoids the trauma porn that often characterizes how people of colors’ stories are told.

    It matters, too, that the show is funny. Histrionics that pay homage to the telenovela, a staple of Latine culture, heighten the laughability of the characters’ antics while also lowering the stakes of what could otherwise be portrayed as dangerous situations in gang culture.

    When Maria warns and warns of a storm brewing, for instance, the suspenseful score refuses to let the viewer forget how ominous her predictions are. (Telenovelas aren’t known for their subtlety.). Her agitation grows in sync with the rising tensions between Luis and a local group of neighbors who keep blocking his driveway, taunting him with mess-around-and-find-out bravado. Right when Luis is ready to confront the group in what has been teed up as a climactic altercation, it turns out that the storm Maria warned about is literal. A heavy downpour neutralizes the confrontation, once again defying the viewers’ expectations.

    Even the title gets at how the series navigates these changes in tone: “Fool” is a dynamic term that can communicate familial love just as easily as disrespect. Both meanings are true at once, and this This Fool understands how a community can embody that same dynamism when welcoming back one of their own.

    Pairs well with

    • In The Heights (HBO Max), Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical exploring the importance of cultural heritage and intergenerational love in a Latine community based in Washington Heights.
    • Apart (PBS), a Jennifer Redfearn documentary that follows three mothers confronting the challenges of post-carceral life as they reintegrate with their families.
    • Schitt’s Creek (Hulu), another comedy about reintegration into society, only this time it's a disgraced wealthy family moving to small-town America.

  • This Fool
    Complete first season drops on Hulu Friday, August 12, 2022
    Created by: Chris Estrada .
    Starring: Chris Estrada , Frank Quinones, Michelle Ortiz, Laura Patalano, Julia Vera, and Michael Imperioli.
    People are talking about This Fool in our forums. Join the conversation.

    TOPICS: This Fool, Hulu, Chris Estrada , Chris Estrada , Frank Quinones, Julia Vera, Laura Patalano, Michael Imperioli, Michelle Ortiz