The Real Star of 22 Jump Street Is Jillian Bell

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
June 14 2014 10:09 AM

The Real Star of 22 Jump Street Is Jillian Bell

450407936-actress-jillian-bell-attends-the-premiere-of-columbia_1
Workaholics' Jillian Bell steals the show in 22 Jump Street, as she always does.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

22 Jump Street, the better-than-expected sequel to 2012’s better-than-expected franchise reboot, is another Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill lovefest and a continuation of the first film’s “goofy pseudo-thriller” shtick. But it’s got something else, something—or, rather, someone—even funnier: Jillian Bell.

Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord smartly play it coy with her character, Mercedes, at first, but a clever twist sets up her real star turn and one of the film’s best scenes: an all-out brawl between Bell and Hill. They duke it out for several minutes, writhing on the ground, before their signals get crossed and Mercedes can’t tell if Schmidt wants to kill her or have sex with her. Throughout, Bell overshadows Hill, who has said in interviews that he is intimated by her talent. “Jillian makes me want to quit show business and realize I am a complete fraud,” Hill has said, “because she is the funniest person I have ever met in my life.” And she does, in fact, steal the show.

Advertisement

Fans of Comedy Central’s irresistibly crude hit Workaholics won’t be surprised. Bell consistently outshines the three leads—the show’s creators—Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm. As Jillian Belk, the neurotic yet charming office manager and assistant to TelAmeriCorp regional manager Alice (Maribeth Monroe, who is also terrific), she anchors the show.

Whereas the show’s stars rely largely on shock value and physical comedy, Bell’s appeal is her straight-faced delivery of wildly varying dispositions—she can be aloof one minute and in your face the next, with no apparent explanation. Belk constantly misses social cues and no one can figure out what’s rattling around in her head. And yet Bell makes her one of the more relatable and fleshed-out characters on the show, one I never tire of watching.

As in 22 Jump Street, Bell’s Workaholics character often serves as the impetus for whatever trouble Blake, Adam, and Anders find themselves in. Take “Man Up,” a Season 2 episode, which sees Jillian drop her awkward rambling and threaten to snap a bouncer’s  “ding-dog into two pieces”—demonstrated with a chicken strip—after he dumps a beer on Adam’s head. The trio then spends the rest of the episode attempting to heal their bruised egos, but they eventually come back to Jillian. She is, after all, the gang’s unofficial fourth member.

Recently, Comedy Central announced that it has picked up Bell and Charlotte Newhouse’s web series Idiotsitter for a series order. You should tune in.

Dee Lockett is Slate's editorial assistant for culture.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 8:38 AM An Implanted Wearable Gadget Isn’t as Crazy as You’d Think Products like New Deal Design’s UnderSkin may be the future.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.