On Tires, is Shane Gillis playing himself? | CBC Arts (2024)


TV critic Angie Han and entertainment writer Jackson Weaver discuss why the Netflix sitcom is so popular, and whether it qualifies as anti-woke comedy.

TV critic Angie Han and entertainment writer Jackson Weaver discuss the popular Netflix series

On Tires, is Shane Gillis playing himself? | CBC Arts (1)

Amelia Eqbal · CBC Arts


On Tires, is Shane Gillis playing himself? | CBC Arts (2)

The controversial comedian Shane Gillis leans into his public persona in his new hit series, Tires, set in a struggling auto shop. But is he making fun of his character, or just being himself?

Angie Han is a TV critic with The Hollywood Reporter. Jackson Weaver is a senior writer for CBC Entertainment News. They join host Elamin Abdelmahmoud to get into why the Netflix sitcom is so popular, what it signals about sitcoms today, and whether the show qualifies as an anti-woke comedy.

We've included some highlights below, edited for length and clarity. For the full discussion, listen and follow Commotion with Elamin Abdelmahmoud on your favourite podcast player.

WATCH | Today's episode on YouTube:

Elamin: I'm interested in that idea because I've seen some corners of the internet frame Tires as an anti-woke comedy. And as I was watching the show, I was like, I just don't think that's the thing that I'm watching. I think this is a thing that is trying to be satire, and is it sometimes working? Yes, sometimes no. But I think its failures, Angie, to me actually have to do with the fact that it's a very young show. Comedies in general take a while to develop their voice.

I was watching the show and I was like, I would hang out with these people, you know? I think the show is kind of generally structured to say, "These people are not meant to win." They make their jokes, and they're offensive, and then everyone who they joke at the expense of ends up winning the interaction. They're not meant to be heroes. They're not meant to be people that you root for. And so in that way, I don't understand the framing of this show as an anti-woke comedy. But maybe that comes to who Shane Gillis is. What's your read on the way that this show is being framed right now?

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Angie: If I just saw Tires in a vacuum, I don't think it's anti-woke. I think a lot of that perception has to do with Shane Gillis. As someone who was "canceled" — he faced a consequence, he got fired from Saturday Night Live — there's a certain segment of the population that really champions him like, "Now we're on his side because we like that he said something offensive and think it's an outrage that he was canceled." So I think that he does have a faction of fans who like him for that, or people in general who see him that way. But I don't think the show itself is trying to be anti-woke or trying that hard to needle.

WATCH | Official trailer for Tires:

I think it's actually trying really hard not to take a stance. I think it's trying to be all things to all people. I think it's a show that if you want to see it as satire, and you [can] be like, "All these guys seem kind of charming, their humor is offensive but they're making fun of it because they're clearly aware." And if you are the kind of person that's like, "I like that these jokes are kind of offensive," then you can watch it as being straightforward. I think it's not trying to take a stance at all.

Elamin: I'm interested in the fact that, Jackson, this show was renewed for a second season before the first episode even dropped. It's been out for a while, but it's still in the Netflix top ten. Do you think most people watching this show are asking themselves whether it's sending up the culture or just being it, or are they just kind of there because there are some jokes on television and that's nice?

Jackson: The biggest argument for it being the last option is that if Shane Gillis was trapped in a room and forced to listen to us equivocate on the morality of his show, he would be pulling his eyes out of his face. He doesn't care. That's what happened to him. He was initially doing these jokes where he's trying to play into some sort of argument or movement, etc. and when he gave up on that, he became kind of the only guy that's funny and also just does not have a stick in the game, in his mind.

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He's not Jerry Seinfeld, making the worst comedy ever while also trying to push how men should be men. He's not any of these millions of shows like Roseanne or Last Man Standing that have this barbed edge in them that they're trying to push across and alienate people. He's just a dude making jokes — which shouldn't excuse him. I can equivocate about what I don't or do like, but if I'm doing that, I'm not the target demographic, and that target demographic is, like, 90 per cent of people who never log onto Twitter.

Elamin: Right, or just aren't interested at all in the political leanings in either direction. They just want to be entertained as they watch a television show, because that's who you make TV shows for.

You can listen to the full discussion from today's show on CBC Listen or on our podcast, Commotion with Elamin Abdelmahmoud, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Panel produced by Jess Low.


On Tires, is Shane Gillis playing himself? | CBC Arts (3)

Amelia Eqbal

Amelia Eqbal is a digital associate producer, writer and photographer for Commotion with Elamin Abdelmahmoud and Q with Tom Power. Passionate about theatre, desserts, and all things pop culture, she can be found on Twitter @ameliaeqbal.

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    On Tires, is Shane Gillis playing himself? | CBC Arts (2024)


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