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Hulu’s satirical ‘Reboot’ gets it right the first time

Rachel Bloom and Paul Reiser in "Reboot."Michael Desmond/HULU

If you’re looking for a comedy that is going to cold-bloodedly skewer the stubborn reboot trend, “Reboot” probably won’t satisfy you. But if you’re happy with an affectionate satire of TV and Hollywood, mixed together with a workplace comedy that has some rom-com flourishes, the new Hulu series may well hit the spot.

From Steve Levitan of “Just Shoot Me” and “Modern Family,” it’s cleverly written, with laugh-out-loud bits and a regular stream of amusing meta humor (including references to Hulu). The story takes place on the set of the reboot of an old laugh-track sitcom called “Step Right Up,” and at every turn there are jokes about idiotic studio honchos, actors desperate for relevance, Peak TV, ageism, and, in a theme that made me think of “Hacks” a few times, older and younger coworkers in a writers’ room riven by generational tastes in comedy.


And it’s well-cast, with Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer, Johnny Knoxville, and Calum Worth as the members of the original “Step Right Up” cast who get pulled into the reboot. They also need to reboot themselves personally and professionally, to some extent. Rachel Bloom is the millennial indie filmmaker hoping to modernize the “Step Right Up” story; Paul Reiser is the original showrunner who prefers old-school punchline humor and locks horns with her. Each of the characters has been given backstory and personality, and the actors do a nice job of fleshing them out.

Again, “Reboot” never goes for the jugular, and as the eight half-hour episodes proceed, the writing becomes less focused on spoofing the industry and more on the relationships among the characters. There are old wounds to heal, and new relationships to pursue. But it’s a likable series that I’m hoping will return for another season.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.