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Irreverent ‘Mr. Birchum’ Hammers Woke Culture


Adam Carolla knew we needed “Mr. Birchum” both sooner and later.

The cranky wood shop teacher, created by Carolla to break into LA radio in the 1990s, captured his real-world carpentry chops and no-nonsense style. Today, the character’s bluster is the perfect antidote to our woke, “this is MY truth” society.

“Mr. Birchum,” the new Daily Wire+ animated series, leans into that cultural shift.

Hard.

The show finds Carolla’s character running afoul of a social justice warrior on steroids. In between, Mr. Birchum extolls the value of hard work, manual labor and a job well done.

It’s both refreshing and funny, even if the first episode proves too eager to cement its worldview.

It’s the first day of school, and Mr. Birchum greets his new students with his “take it or leave it” rules. Break any, and you’ll score “Donkey Points” and risk sitting on rough, untreated wood in class.

Ouch.

The character, who resembles a crustier Ron Swanson, comes home to a traditional sitcom family. Wife Wendi (Megyn Kelly, surprisingly solid) finds the sweetness buried beneath Birchum’s exterior, while stepdaughter Jeanie (Brett Cooper) is a chip off dad’s wooden block.

That alone makes “Mr. Birchum” unique. You expect Jeanie to be glued to her iPhone and obsessing over boys and makeup. She might even correct Dad on his misuse of pronouns.

Not even close.

  

The Birchums’ son, Eddie (Kyle Dunnigan,) is an eSports warrior glued to his gaming chair. The fact that he makes money from his social media channel drives Dad crazy.

Life is trickier at work. A new school colleague named Karponzi (Tyler Fischer) is every social justice do-gooder rolled into one. Fischer, known for mocking woke scolds on social media, taps that sentiment to fine effect.

Will Karponzi end Mr. Birchum’s antiquated ways? Or will the wily wood shop teacher have the last laugh?

“Mr. Birchum” offers network TV-level animation along with brisk writing to set the pieces in motion. The first episode is almost too dense with wit, showcasing the key conflicts and character beats.

A sweet subplot has Jeanie and Wendi clashing over a home staging project. Wendi works as a realtor, and she follows the showcasing playbook by painting a mahogany fireplace white. An aghast Jeanie protests the decision, a wry parody of today’s teen activists.

You’d never see that in a mainstream TV show. And that’s partly the point.

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“Mr. Birchum” takes quick jabs at the “Green New Deal” and teachers unions between the school antics. It’s The Daily Wire expressing its brand, and it works.

What we’d love to see moving forward is a little breathing room. The pilot episode has a narrative chip on its shoulder. Still, the show is consistently funny, with both verbal and visual gags to hammer home the themes.

Most TV shows would paint Mr. Birchum as the butt of the joke, a relic who doesn’t understand how culture has evolved. Here, he’s a reminder of what we’ve lost with progress.

Think grown men who need a YouTube primer to change a flat, for starters. Or just watch pro-Palestinian students demanding vegan meals to fill their tummies.

Just seeing a sitcom embrace all-American values isn’t just rare. It’s nourishing.

These culture clashes suggest plenty of fodder for future episodes. So does the rich supporting cast, including Jay Mohr, Patrick Warburton, Alonzo Bodden and Roseanne Barr as the burned-out principal.

The best may be yet to come, but so far, so good.

“Mr. Birchum” debuts May 12 on Daily Wire+.





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