Jon Glaser’s go-to character is a loud, arrogant know-it-all, but one whose nasty sense of humor makes him fun as hell to watch. He may have perfected it as Councilman Jamm on Parks And Recreation, but that character’s limited screen time didn’t give Glaser time enough to explore every ugly, hilarious nuance. (For a more in-depth examination of this character type, see Glaser’s Adult Swim series Delocated.) If Jamm fans spend enough time with the new Jon Glaser Loves Gear—and more importantly if they can get their heads around what exactly it is—they could find something to love. But that’s kind of a big “if” considering Gear mashes up genres and tones with such unusual flair in its first two episodes.
The title (and some of the advertising) make Jon Glaser Loves Gear out to be a reality show about buying stuff, and the enjoyment of that stuff. In a limited way, that’s true: The first episode especially—which is about a camping trip—spends plenty of time in a store, with Glaser and his sidekick (whom he calls his “spert,” short for “expert”) picking out various pieces of equipment to take on a trip with their wives. Each item, as it’s quickly introduced, is greeted with an onscreen graphic with its details: a particular watch, for example, or a jacket, each with their manufacturer listed. Is this clever product placement? Is this how a show as weird as Jon Glaser Loves Gear actually funds itself? Or is it just taking the idea of this fake reality show to its logical, realistic conclusion?
It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that Jon Glaser Loves Gear, like Delocated before it, is sort of a fake reality show. Or maybe it’s a behind-the-scenes look at a reality TV show. Or maybe it’s a sitcom about a guy who’s making a pretty shitty reality TV show. At one point, about halfway through the second episode, it becomes a short film about the last bike messenger in a post-apocalyptic world, who must deliver a vial of sperm in order to save the world. (Janeane Garafolo and Michael Shannon guest star.) It’s epically, fantastically ridiculous. This fake film-within-the-show, it should be noted, was apparently written by Glaser’s digital assistant, a hyper-intelligent Siri knockoff whose voice is supplied by John Hodgman, and whose name is Gear-i Fonzarelli.
In case it’s not clear: The gear is not the point of Jon Glaser Loves Gear. The show is about the playfully obnoxious, morbidly overconfident character “Jon Glaser”—along with his put-upon wife (face blurred, in a nod to Delocated), the actress then hired to play his wife (Eva Solveig, who’s funny and game, especially when she looks at Glaser in disgust), and the various real-world people he encounters. At first, the show feels like a bit of a mess, but that’s probably because it’s trying to build something new and original from parts that by all logic shouldn’t really fit together. But when it finds a balance and rhythm with those parts, it’s a joy.