“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” Superhero Sitcom Needs a Smarter Approach

“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” Superhero Sitcom Needs a Smarter Approach

Los Angeles lawyer and cousin of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). A spaceship caused car accident in the premiere has her accidentally infected with his gamma-poisoned blood.

They share unique genetic markers that enable her transformation to She-Hulk. Walters doesn’t have anger issues and can switch to the green behemoth at will. She gets a job managing the superhero division of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway (GLK&H).

The rushed initial episodes, “A Normal Amount of Rage” and “Superhuman Law”, has Walters as She-Hulk and lawyering away in a flash. She loses her job as an assistant district attorney after a She-Hulk courtroom encounter with super-powered influencer, Titania (Jameela Jamil). Walters takes her sidekick paralegal, Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga), along for the ride at GLK&H. She struggles as a single millennial woman with her newfound fame. Walters dating life improves as she hits the Tinder circuit as She-Hulk. She’s assigned her first case, arguing for the parole of Emile Blonsky (Tim Roth) aka the Abomination.

She-Hulk Aims for a Mix of the ’90s

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law aims for a mix of the ’90s hit Ally McBeal and naughty British comedy Fleabag. Walters breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to the audience. She acknowledges being in a sitcom and reacts to various scenes. This isn’t cleverly done and makes little sense in the context of the show. Someone at Marvel Studios thought this was a good idea, but it hasn’t added any more laughs or insights at the half-way mark.

Episodes three and four, “The People vs. Emil Blonsky” and “Is This Not Real Magic?”, has the series on much better footing. Tim Roth steals the spotlight as a contrite Blonsky. Subplots about his pen pal prison wives and a Megan Thee Stallion impersonator case are hilarious. MCU favorite Wong (Benedict Wong) gets ample screen time suing a former Kamar-Taj apprentice, Donny Blaze (Rhys Coiro). He unleashes nasty little demons with his hack magic skills. My hopes were elevated as we see the show at its best potential.

Episode five, “Mean, Green, and Straight Poured into These Jeans”, brought expectations crashing back down. Titania trademarked “She-Hulk” and launches a line of goofy beauty products under the brand name. She sues Walters for infringement, who has reluctantly embraced her media-appointed title. Walters countersues on the basis that she was already established and known as She-Hulk. She wins the case by parading her dating losers in court as witnesses. They were only interested in Walters as She-Hulk. A dumb subplot has Nikki finding an arrogant and temperamental superhero tailor, Luke Jacobson (Griffin Matthews), to style up her drab bestie. This is a lame Edna Mode knockoff from The Incredibles franchise.

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She-Hulk’s Target Audience

I understand what showrunner/head writer Jessica Gao and primary director Kat Coiro are trying to achieve. She-Hulk targets a millennial and Gen Z female audience who aren’t obsessed with superhero storylines. Walters is a career woman with everyday problems that got exponentially more complicated. There’s no need to focus on big action set pieces, visual effects, or a complex antagonist. She has to navigate useless men, vile social media, and a difficult job with strong determination. Walters essentially is Ally McBeal with extra baggage.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law needs a smarter approach. There’s nothing wrong with being lighter and slapstick comical. It just strays into stupid territory too often. Tatiana Maslany is an exceptionally talented actress. She has the chops to play the character as nuanced and sophisticated. At mid-season, she’s purely reactionary and stumbling along with wacky cohorts. Imagine if Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote She-Hulk. It would be funny, razor-sharp, and more realistically pertinent to female travails.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a production of Marvel Studios. New episodes premiere Thursday on Disney+. Four remain in the first season.

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