Samantha! is now streaming on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
Brazilian Netflix Original Samantha is a by-the-numbers comedy that fails to draw up solid laughs or compelling characters through its seven episodes. Samantha! begins with its unlikable child-turned-adult star and as the season progresses, we see her involved in increasingly elaborate schemes to try and rekindle past successes. This forms the crux of the show, and while this alone is a simple enough premise to hinder on, Samantha is such an unlikable character it makes it difficult to conjure any empathy for most of the show’s runtime.
After an impressive opening tracking shot which introduces us to young prima-donna Samantha (Emanuelle Araújo), the series skips forward in time to show this child prodigy clinging to her childhood fame as an adult with little in the way of career prospects for the future. We’re introduced to Samantha’s two children and ex-con husband Dodoi (Douglas Silva) around this time too, and as the series progresses, each of these characters has their subplots play out in the shadow of Samantha’s increasingly elaborate schemes to try and grasp the success she experienced as a child.
While the plot itself is serviceable enough, with twists and turns along the way to make it worth watching all the way through, as a comedy Samantha! fails to deliver anything beyond a few slightly humorous anecdotes. Perhaps some of this is as a result of differing styles of humor in each country; Brazilian humor may be a lot more toned down to that which we’re accustomed to here in the UK. Even so, Samantha’s comedy feels very lackluster and mediocre, relying on jokes we’ve seen play out hundreds of times before in other sitcoms only Samantha! plays out much closer to a dramatic comedy than an outright slapstick offering.
There may be some that empathize with Samantha’s journey and view this as a literal depiction of the mental health problems endured as a result of the entertainment industry but Samantha! never feels clever enough to draw on those comparisons in a way that makes it feel self-aware. Still, there’s about enough here to see you over the finish line and although Samantha! is unlikely to turn many heads.
Ultimately, Samantha! is likely to be a show that divides opinion. There will inevitably be those that find some redeeming features here and enjoy the easy-going nature of watching such an original show.
I give Samantha! a D+.