Why You Should be Watching ‘The Grinder’

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on January 22, 2016

in Television

One of the following statements is true:

Rob Lowe is 51 years old.

Rob Lowe is a Jedi.

Stumped? They’re actually both fact. At some point between Thursday’s Child and the DirecTV ads, Rob Lowe became the Best Human. If you missed his gradual evolution, don’t be ashamed. In many ways it was sudden. For me it was sudden. But rest assured his ascension to Best Human has been ongoing since the early 80s. Many of us take his greatness for granted, and have never lived in a Lowe-less world. I’m convinced we never will live in a world without Rob Lowe. Let me explain:

Rob Lowe, like all Jedi and magical humans, gets better with age. He’s literally unstoppable. I can only assume that Death foolishly came for him at some point in his past (most likely during the Brat Pack era- where cocaine flowed as freely as orange Hi-C at your grade school roller skating parties) and he told her something like “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” and what we’re seeing now is a sexy Force ghost with a sharp jaw and incredible delivery.

For all of his individual perfection, what makes Lowe great is that he goes with everything. Political dramas, ensemble comedies, commercials featuring progressively out-there and outrageously hilarious versions of himself – Lowe is incredible in all of them. But The Grinder features Lowe in his best pairing yet, with flawlessly cast and wholly exasperated straight-man Fred Savage.

Savage and Lowe are the 2015 Bluth brothers, a FOX duo I never thought another pair would prompt me to make favorable comparisons to. One can only hope they elevate Steve Little’s Todd to Buster-level plot involvement, because he certainly has it in him (Eastbound & Down fans know what I’m talking about). Not that I’m already tinkering with the formula and fantasy booking the Sandersons into the Bluths, but one can’t help but make the comparison.

Full disclosure: I fall in love easily, and when I fall, I fall hard. After one season I comfortably declared FOX’s New Girl one of the 50 best sitcoms of all time. It’s still a hell of a show, but I’ll admit I tend to optimistically project full bodies of work based on too-small sample sizes. Remember that time you sampled a 2oz. cup of chipotle-caramel-cheddar popcorn at Costco when you were starving and ended up checking out with a 12lb. bag of it? That’s me with TV shows. Give me a strong pilot and three decent follow-up eps and I’ll pre-order the season 2-7 dvd sets. So I’ll make you a deal: for now I’ll hold off on predicting that The Grinder becomes the best sitcom on television and stays on top for the next 6 years. But what I can do hyperbolize about the first 6 episodes, which have been the funniest thing on television this season.

The mark of a great show for me, is that it always seems to be ending just as you start the episode. The Grinder is the fastest half hour on television, but none of its 22 minutes are devoid of humor or purpose. It’s extremely well-written, acted and directed, right up until the signature hard cut into the production stamp. It’s not okay to look at your phone during Grinder, and you only do yourself an disservice by giving half attention to every scene and interaction. Sadly, you do the world a disservice, because you miss most of the rapid-fire jokes and visual cues, which affects your opinion of the show and your likeliness to keep watching, which hurts the show’s ratings. If we lose this show before at least 5 seasons, it’ll be a colossal misstep of Arrested Development-level depth all over again, and the fact that it’s FOX is merely coincidence. I was glad to see FOX order more episodes of Grinder, but this show is damn good, and it deserves all the accolades it gets.

Maybe a more appropriate headline here would have been “I Hope You’re Watching The Grinder, and I Hope You’re Watching it Right”. Either way, it’s admittedly selfish. I hope you’re watching Grinder because I hope it never dies. Kind of like Rob Lowe.

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