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Fairfax: Season 1 Review – IGN

Fairfax: Season 1 debuts Friday, Oct. 29 on Amazon Prime Video.

It takes a few minutes to get into the full groove of Amazon’s new animated satire Fairfax, but once it clicks, and hits you with a near-perfect blend of heart and venom — or as its vibe is default-described in a later episode, “tasteful, yet obnoxious” — Fairfax turns out to be a lovely and hilarious surgical strike skewering of L.A. Gen-Zers clamoring for clout and social media influencer status.

Fairfax is filled with niche jokes and a sort of contemptuous cleverness, but it also has a warm heart fueled by friendship, camaraderie, and acceptance. You might think you’d never root for self-centered middle-schoolers who dream of nothing in life but follower counts, swag drops, and being the dopest crew on the streets, but the series is smart enough to make the cares and concerns of these kids feel important, because it’s not just them who care about getting verified on Instagram or snapping the sickest selfie — it’s their entire community. It’s their school, their peers, and their neighbors too. It’s a Los Angeles bubble entirely obsessed with all things streetwear-centric and internet-integral.

At its core, Fairfax is simply a human story. Set anywhere else, in any other era, it would just be about different parameters of cool, and that show’s tweenagers would just be chasing that specific version of style and swagger. And, also to its credit, Fairfax laces the material superficiality its heroes crave with a healthy dose of lessons learned, true sentiment, and great inside-baseball gags to make it feel special and well rounded. It’s legitimately laugh-out-loud funny and it wouldn’t be able to achieve that if it was just an exercise in meanness.

Ultimately, Fairfax’s secret weapon is the character of Dale (The Righteous Gemstones’ Skyler Gisondo), a new-in-town kid from Oregon who comes without a shred of purposeful irony. Dale enjoys the outdoors, loves his parents, and carries with him an actual set of practical skills from his years as an Eagle Scout. Dale’s existence completely baffles Fairfax Middle School’s sneaker dealer Benny (Peter S. Kim), activist-in-training Denica (Zack Snyder’s Justice League’s Kiersey Clemons), and aspiring filmmaker Truman (Only Murders in the Building’s Jaboukie Young-White), who at first glance think this fresh-faced Pacific Northwest tween is doing some sort of normcore bit.

Once the trio discovers Dale doesn’t do anything outwardly showy and genuinely enjoys things, exploring interests on his own terms, they’re utterly fascinated and adopt him into the crew. What follows is a terrific season in which Dale becomes sporadically seduced by the cutthroat image-focused Fairfax Ave. world while the other three absorb various altruistic values (doing unseen charity, helping your parents, etc.). All of it, of course, is spiced up with R-rated acerbic wit and charm.

Outside of the main quartet, voices are provided by Yvette Nicole Brown and Rob Delaney (as Dale’s do-good parents), Pamela Adlon (as a crusty old diner waitress), Ben Schwartz (as a prank-fluencer), Zoey Deutch (as a classmate crush for Dale), and the combo of JB Smoove and John Leguizamo as two blinged-out pigeons who offer up occasional meta-commentary.

The cherry on top here is Billy Porter as Hiroki Hassan. As the Willy Wonka of the Fairfax realm, Hassan is the reclusive mastermind behind LATRINE, a fashion house that creates subversive must-have style-of-the-minute bits of ironic junk for everyone to lose their minds over. The season itself, like the classic Roald Dahl Chocolate Factory tale, culminates with a contest that offers up an inside tour of LATRINE as its prize. Fairfax isn’t at its best when it leans more into blatant parody, but the Hassan stuff works well.

So brace yourself for first-day-of-school red carpets, a class celebration for Blue Check verification, a “Littercore” rapper named Yung Polluter (who performs at the awesomely and ironically toxic Chernobylfest), a seventh-grader getting catfished by a juice company’s marketing team, wallpaper that tastes like In-N-Out, and an Orca rescue from the L.A. river. The story with the most sting here, though, offering up a seasonal highlight, is Episode 8, “Dale Hates His Dad,” in which Dale smashes headfirst into the internet’s trolling contrarian nature. It’s a perfectly executed and wonderfully funny take on social media madness.

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