In its first few episodes, Chozen introduced a variety of characters to help the show’s main character reach hip-hop stardom. However when the show diverts from this ultimate goal, there’s rarely been anything for this large team to do, yet Chozen keeps trying to cram in unnecessary stories for everyone. “Family Weekend (or How Gary Got His Groove Back)” gracefully keeps things simple, focusing mostly on Chozen, Tracy and their parents, and bringing about one of Chozen’s best episodes.
“Family Weekend” brings Chozen and Tracy’s parents to college, and we get a good look at the unusual parents responsible for the siblings. Brenda, played by Jennifer Irwin, is a slutty middle-aged woman that Tracy has had to compete with her entire life. Chozen’s sister decides to take her down her mom once and for all now that Brenda is on her turf. Gary, voiced by JK Simmons, is a boring father who, with little else in his life to get excited about, delights in his company car and phone.
Tracy’s attempts to take on her mother fail, since Tracy knows who she is and Brenda’s embarrassing actions are a way for her mother still trying to figure out who she is. Meanwhile, Chozen tries to bring some excitement and revenge for his father by kidnapping Gary’s college enemy and putting him in Gary’s company car. When the car gets stolen and they find the crashed car later covered in blood, the two believe their actions have led to their hostage being killed. However their believed murder brings Gary closer to understanding the weird, white rapper who loves KFC that his son has become.
For the first time since “Beef,” “Family Weekend” feels like a complete episode of television, rather than just a silly idea with a ton of characters thrown in. Not only is it actually funny and well structured, it gives us a look into the pasts of Chozen and Tracy, filling us in on how they got to become who they are.
Credit goes to the hilarious writer and comedian behind this episode, Shelby Fero, who doesn’t let the show fall into the usual gross humor or frivolous gay jokes, and for once makes an episode about who these characters are. There’s no need to bring in Ricky, Crisco, Troy or any of the many other supporting characters, and when Jimmy appears, it makes sense to the story instead of just giving him something to do. This is the sort of outline Chozen needs to utilize from now on.
Thanks in part to the narrowing of focus to only a handful of characters, “Family Weekend” works as one of Chozen’s most well-rounded episodes, mixing fine jokes, character development and even an attempt at an emotional resolution.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.