28th Apr2020

‘Middleditch and Schwartz’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

The adverts billed this new Netflix comedy series starring Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz as a new improvised show where everything you see on the screen has been made up on the spot and in the moment – which really excited the theatre nerd In me! The new show Middleditch and Schwartz was extremely entertaining but sadly ran out of steam before it could really gain momentum!

Middleditch and Schwartz follows the traditional format of any classic improvised show, opening with a short chat between the two comedians, and then the performance development process would begin. The comedians ask for suggestions about things that scare or excites them and also ask for any important people that should be included in the scene. Seeing the audience not only have such an important role in the show process; but also the audience chatting with the performers on stage is something I have never seen on a mainstream television show. It really helps everyone to feel included in the show, yet in a controlled way. Seeing the process come from nothing to a complete performance is fantastic and is great to watch as a viewer. Even when things in the show goes wrong – such as the actors forget names or ideas – these scenes are included in the Netflix show. This adds to the idea is the audience watching the show grow in front of their eyes and offers a realistic representation of what improvised theatre is really – like instead of an idealised version that is often shown!

Both Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz are clearly insanely talented actors and performers as well as amazing comedians as they demonstrated all their skills in Middleditch and Schwartz. On top of their talent, it is clear that these two performers are great friends as they possess incredible on-stage chemistry as they work together flawlessly. The series was a demonstration of how well these two performers work together as they switched roles and characters throughout Middleditch and Schwartz to help craft the overall show which was not only hilarious at times but also a sign of the connection between the two.

Each episode of Middleditch and Schwartz runs 45 minutes and due to the improvised nature of the show, at times, this did make the show feel slow and at certain times it did make it drag – though this is only a minor issue in certain scenes in this series. The name itself, Middleditch and Schwartz, is also a little awkward; any people who find this show scrolling through Netflix will know nothing about the show and have no idea what it’s about; and while I understand this is simply the actor’s last names it is a little awkward. The biggest issue I had with the show was that it was only three episodes long… which I was personally outraged by as I was really enjoying the performances!.

Overall Middleditch and Schwartz was a great show that shone a light on improvised theatre, which is something that is never really showcased on mainstream television. I do wish that there were more episodes to this series as it gained my interest enough to make me want to see them live, but not enough to make this a fantastic series to follow. I really hope that more episodes are developed in the future and/or they tour near my location after this lockdown is over as they are insanely talented performers!

***½  3.5/5

Middleditch and Schwartz is available to watch on Netflix now.

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