On an old episode of the My Brother, My Brother And Me podcast, one of the hosts lamented that it’s just a matter of time before their listeners realize that they have no right to give anyone advice, and that someone could easily step in and replace them. If Seeso’s My Brother, My Brother And Me TV show proves one thing, it’s that while these brothers might have no right to give anyone advice, nobody in the world could do this as well as they do.
Let’s back up. The eponymous siblings of My Brother, My Brother And Me are Justin McElroy (the oldest), Travis McElroy (the middlest), and Griffin McElroy (the sweet baby). Several years ago, they started an advice podcast as an excuse to talk to each other every week, giving listeners and Yahoo Answers users frequently ridiculous and occasionally heartfelt advice on topics ranging from shitty friends to an unhealthy obsession with putting Garfield’s head on Pamela Anderson’s body. The TV show expands on that basic premise, with the brothers returning to their hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, and attempting to offer practical advice instead of goofy jokes. Basically, it’s like Dear Abby crossed with MythBusters, but without as many explosions as that might imply.
Of course, the practical advice is always just as goofy as anything else, especially in one episode where a fan asks the brothers to help him convince his wife to let him get a pet tarantula. To accomplish this, the brothers try to give the horrible beasts a rebranding, calling them “ranchos” and positioning them as a cool alternative to traditional pets. They visit a marketing expert who suggests they set up a Facebook page, and eventually they put on a quick (possibly unauthorized) parade, complete with rancho floats, a King Rancho, and a marching band playing nothing but “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
That episode also highlights what is easily the show’s greatest strength, which is the relationship between Justin, Travis, and Griffin. These guys are real-life brothers, and while they seem to get along better than a lot of other real-life brothers, their chumminess actually drops away at one point when Justin teases Travis a little too much over his crippling fear of spiders. Travis freaks out and punches Justin in the arm, and that would be the whole joke on a different show. On My Brother, My Brother And Me, though, the joke is that this small act of violence is seen as an unconscionably brutal act that prompts the brothers to interrupt their narrative and apologize for acting unprofessional, with Griffin even tattling on Travis to their dad later during one of his many appearances.
Speaking of, the show features a handful of regular cameos from the boys’ father (comic book writer and radio host Clint McElroy) as well as a few appearances from Huntington Mayor Stephen Williams. Wilson might be the show’s secret best character thanks to his solid deadpan delivery and the way he’s delightfully game for participating in the McElroys’ shenanigans—even if it’s just to begrudgingly make them honorary mayors for one minute or dissuading them of the notion that Huntington is run by a secret society. He’s a perfect foil for the brothers’ goofy enthusiasm, and he’s exactly the sort of good-natured authority figure that these guys would jokingly rebel against.
If anything in My Brother, My Brother And Me doesn’t quite work, it’s the big “Candlenights” season finale. The episode is based around the brothers celebrating an all-inclusive, nondenominational holiday they made up for the podcast, and most of it involves them running through Huntington as they try to wrangle celebrity guests and decorations for a special live show. That stuff is all fantastic, and it includes some very funny narration from Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, but the live show itself is depicted with a montage of the brothers and their audience laughing at jokes that you can only really hear if you download the actual podcast. It’s a bit disappointing, since Seeso viewers don’t get to enjoy the payoff of the funny setup, but that’s just the reality of this being a half-hour comedy show and not a multi-hour holiday special. Thankfully, the episode is saved by its touching ending, which involves Justin getting teary-eyed about how important his brothers are to him while the other two just laugh—you know, like brothers do.
Standard sibling mockery aside, My Brother, My Brother And Me is a very sweet show and an excellent representation of what has made the podcast so popular. It’s weird and absurd, but it’s all done in the name of helping people and trying to make the world a brighter, sillier place. Considering how gloomy and combative things can be these days, it’s hard to overstate just how refreshing something this bright and silly can be.
Created by: Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Griffin McElroy
Starring: Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Griffin McElroy
Debuts: Thursday, February 23, on Seeso
Format: Half-hour advice show
Five episodes watched for review