In the pilot episode of Chozen, we were introduced to a bunch of characters who were introduced to help Chozen achieve his goal of becoming more popular than his enemy, Phantasm. Yet since the show has been completely disinterested in focusing on the Chozen vs. Phantasm battle, these minor characters haven’t really had much to do. This has led to episodes where they have been stuck babysitting, playing video games or trying to lose their virginity since there isn’t any larger point to most of them. With “I’m With the Contraband,” Chozen succeeds greatly by having all of its characters united in a plot where everyone has their own goals. As a result, the episode comes together in a way the show rarely does.
“I’m With the Contraband” has Chozen reaching an epiphany that college for a freshman isn’t that much different than prison for a new inmate. Both can be hell, but with a little bit of contraband, things can get much better for everyone on the inside. Troy is tired of not being allowed to go to college parties and drink, so Chozen decides to start a makeshift club for freshmen as a way to meet the demand of the younger college students.
By doing this, Chozen plans on building his enterprise the way Jay Z did, by building a business in illegal activities until it is successful, then rapping about how successful he’s become in said activities. Chozen smartly has everyone else get involved for their own reasons, uniting everyone with a common goal—this time basically just getting money. Tracy wants a nicer living area, Crisco wants a motorcycle, Ricky wants gold grills, and well, Jimmy wants to snort a line of coke so long that he’ll feel like a jet plane ready to take off. It’s a bit flimsy, but at least it brings everyone together.
These plans are being thwarted by the school’s security guard, who wants a cut of the profits, and frat guy Thatcher Brooks, whose parties are becoming noticeably more empty since Chozen started throwing his own parties. Will Greenberg, who voices Thatcher, is really cornering the frat bro stereotype this week, having played the incredibly obnoxious Stan Halen on this week’s Workaholics, as well.
I’ve stated before that Chozen works best when it focuses on Chozen trying to rise to success, yet “I’m With the Contraband” proves that the show can succeed without the larger story of the series being the main plot. Chozen’s use of his prison smarts to achieve success works well for the show, and his past usually isn’t integrated as well as it is in this episode. It’s also just nice to have everyone in the cast have a purpose, rather than just doing random stuff because there’s nothing else for them to do.
When Chozen utilizes all of its characters in a way that doesn’t feel disposable, it becomes a fairly interesting and funny show. Let’s hope it does this more often.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.