By Samuel M Acosta
I am a huge fan of Marvel and am pretty open to all kinds of entertainment. There was a lot of controversy leading up to “She-Hulk”s release that did cause me to worry about its quality. After sitting down and watching the first two episodes I can say this: “She-Hulk” is fun. It is not deep and not terribly impressive, but it still is a fun show to watch. While I wish there were some changes made to the show, I believe it could’ve turned out far worse than it did seeing that it is Marvel’s first sitcom.
The first two episodes of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” really set up the rest of the story for us. Jen Walters is a brilliant lawyer who simply wants to do her job, but after getting in an accident with her cousin, Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk), she gains incredible powers. While she wants simply to ignore them, Bruce pleads for her to learn to not only control her powers but accept the responsibility that comes with them. While she does train for a bit, she eventually leaves, still refusing the responsibilities of being a superhero.
These responsibilities follow her, however, as an enhanced individual threatens a jury in a courtroom and Jen steps in and uses her power to stop her. This gets her fired from her law firm. After striking out on multiple job interviews, Jen is finally offered a job as a lawyer for her rival law firm’s new superhuman law division. Her first client is Emil Blonsky, aka The Abomination, and a rival of Bruce’s. Not only does Jen have to struggle with this history, but she also has another issue: Emil has broken out of prison, threatening his chance for parole.
First, I want to acknowledge what “She-Hulk” is doing right. Tatiana Maslany is a strong lead for this show and does a good job of keeping the audience engaged. She is incredibly expressive which helps for both a comedic show and one where she is CGI half the time. I enjoy watching her struggle between the lawyer Jen and the She-Hulk.
This is another aspect of the show that I feel is being well played. Seeing Jen have so much pride for her intellect and hard work as a lawyer and all that be tossed aside so easily by the world because of her powers has an odd sense of realness for a sitcom. I truly feel bad for her each time that her passion is being pushed aside because of an event that she never asked for. Yet, they don’t let this realness weigh down the show. It creates a special blend of comedy and reality that is fun to watch.
The comedy, however, is one of the struggles of the show. That is not to say that it doesn’t have funny moments, because there are, but it feels as if it is trying too hard to make them happen. They have Jen break the fourth wall frequently, something that She-Hulk does often in comics, but it feels very Deadpool-esque rather than something unique to Jen. They also make a lot of feminist jokes, which I’m not necessarily against, but they feel so forced and disingenuous that it turns some characters more into caricatures. For example, a lawyer associate of Jen’s appears a couple of times in the first episode, making sexist comments in each. On one occasion, he mentions to Jen how he sees an attractive woman in a bar going “to go talk to it”. While I can completely believe that this is how some men behave, the circumstances and setting of the scene just made it feel super fake.
Another struggle of the show is its pacing. They jam so much into the first episode that it is hard to engage. I didn’t really feel a desire to focus on something because it would only have lasted a few minutes anyway before the next thing would’ve happened. It just felt like there was so much more depth that they could’ve added to things if they had just slowed down. Episode two was the shortest episode Marvel has ever done and you could feel it. It just felt like half an episode’s worth of content.
These types of issues just create a show that fails to land sometimes. It never is necessarily bad, but sometimes it just feels to be necessarily good either, creating this mediocre experience. It is an odd combination of original ideas and copies of more successful ones.
That all said, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” still is entertaining. It is fun to watch and see how the Marvel world continues to unfold, including all of the extra characters that they are bringing into the MCU. If you are a fan of anything Marvel, then it’s time to boot up Disney+ and start binging this show.
I give the first two episodes of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” a 6/10
Sam Acosta is a Senior Theatre Comprehensive Major and the Arts and Entertainment Editor for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper and writing plays.