One of TV’s Best New Shows Is a Self-Help Infomercial

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 21 2012 4:35 PM

One of TV’s Best New Shows Is a Self-Help Infomercial

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Michael Ian Black as Randall Tyree Mandersohn on You're Whole

YouTube/Adult Swim

Tired of staying up at 4 a.m. flipping through the same old infomercials? Weep no more: Comedian Michael Ian Black has delivered his very own brand of infomercial in a new parody series on Adult Swim, called You’re Whole! And if you act now, you can watch it all right at your own computer, for free. You heard that right: Free!

Let me tell you just some of what You’re Whole has to offer. In a witty send-up of American self-help culture, Black plays New Age guru Randall Tyree Mandersohn, a multi-hyphenate professional of such varied practices as lecturing, intramural volleyball, birdcalls, glassblowing, and worshipping with all religions. With easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions and memorable acronyms—to lose weight, just use the SPC diet: smoothies, pumpkins, and cookies!—Mandersohn teaches his devotees how they, too, can be whole. And he does it all “while being totally blind!”

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Black, who gives a wonderfully committed performance, has pretty much every common trope of the self-help craze covered. You name it, he’s satirized it. Perhaps the most scathing treatment is given to the way many American gurus appropriate foreign rituals for Western audiences. The expert, a self-described follower of the “Orientals,” vows to impart upon us all the “ancient Chinese secrets” that lie waiting for discovery—like intense massaging of the buttocks and his very own “Oriental” music.

Black’s project for the network comes after a previous failed attempt by comedians David Cross and Jon Benjamin to get a similar parody series off the ground, called Paid Programming. But unlike Paid Programming, which used only unknown actors and would have been listed with little to indicate that it was a parody, You’re Whole is already finding some success—at least three episodes of the series already aired. (“Finger Puppets/Saxophone/Fish Tank” and “Tools/Drawing Comics/Spin Class” are the other two.) It is unclear whether we can expect more installments, but don’t wait to get started! There’s never been a better time to get your fill of You’re Whole.

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture blogger for Brow Beat. Follow her on Twitter.