Pilot Perception: Red Oaks

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Red Oaks, Amazon in the U.S.

The Pedigree: The pilot was written by Joe Gangemi (Stonehearst Asylum) and Gregory Jacobs (The Knick) and directed by David Gordon Green (Eastbound and Down). The three of them executive produce with Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike).

The Cast & How You Know Them: Red Oaks stars Craig Roberts (Becoming Human) along with Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing), Ennis Esmer (The L.A. Complex), Gage Golightly (Teen Wolf), Josh Meyers (That ’70s Show), Oliver Cooper (Californication), Alexandra Socha (Royal Pains), Richard Kind (Gotham), Paul Reiser (Mad About You), and Alexandra Turshen (Boy Meets Girl).

The Premise: Underachieving college student David gets a job as an assistant tennis pro at a country club in the summer of 1985.

A Taste:


What Works: I liked the funny/serious blend this pilot had right from the beginning, with David’s father’s health crisis, and David himself is a reasonably engaging protagonist. And I always enjoy country club social politics. (In fiction, anyway.)

What Doesn’t: This whole pilot was pretty heavy-handed, and I got the impression that it thought it was a lot more original and funnier than it actually was. It traded heavily in clichés and generally felt kind of tired. Can the actual show become more interesting? Maybe!

Our Favorite Line: “I just hate to see a bright young fellow like yourself throwing away your future for an education.”

You Might Like This if you like comedies set in recent history, like That ’70s Show, or maybe if you’re really into Dirty Dancing. Except without the dancing.

If You’re Interested: The whole first season is now streaming on Amazon, and free for Prime members.

(Photo courtesy of Amazon.)

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