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Jim Brockmire is a fitting TV hero for America in 2017. He's a famous baseball announcer who disappears from public view after an on-air meltdown, then attempts to resurrect his life and career as the voice of a struggling minor-league team in a dying rust-belt town. Brockmire's longing for a quaint rose-tinted past that never existed and his vulgar means of getting what he wants are an apt reflection of the country right now. But that doesn't mean Brockmire is a good TV show.
In 2007, Brockmire (Hank Azaria) is the beloved voice of the Kansas City Royals, famous for his old-timey-announcer delivery and affectionate sign-off, in which he alerts his wife, Lucy, he's on his way home. His circumstances change when he walks in on her having an orgy. An expletive-filled tirade followed by a bizarre press conference where he strips off his clothes makes him persona non grata. Ten years later, after a stint broadcasting cockfights in the Philippines, he's back in the USA to try to get back on top. His road to the majors begins as the PA announcer for the Morristown Frackers.
Brockmire seems unaware of anything that's gone on during his absence—he's horrified when his new teenaged assistant, Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams), shows him that his long-ago tirade has since become a viral meme, to the point that "going Brockmire" has become a colloquialism for having a meltdown. The prospect of never living down his lowest moment makes him contemplate ending it all, but Jules (Amanda Peet), the team's owner, convinces him to stay with the promise of unlimited booze and a place in her bed.
Each episode of the show's eight-part first season (it's already been renewed for a second) begins with a flashback to some incident in Brockmire's past. Whether it's the time he betrayed a fellow broadcaster or was put down by his father as a young boy, these vignettes lay the groundwork for missteps he continues to make in his present life. He's a crude, self- satisfied failure incapable of learning anything from his mistakes. Still, he's beloved by the hicks who attend the Frackers' games, and he's landed the prettiest girl in town.
The unrelenting cynicism and darkness of Brockmire, particularly when he's off-mike, often sounds like what the average American is exposed to on the evening news in 2017. Gathering the town together to watch a network interview he's just given, Brockmire muses that rich people are just poor people with money; the only worthwhile thing in life is to be famous. A smug jerk who gets everything he wants while doing next to nothing to earn it is apparently the kind of hero TV executives believe we need right now. But why should we root for such a man?
Brockmire Wednesdays at 9 PM on IFC