God's Favorite Idiot, review: Melissa McCarthy manages to ruin her husband's sitcom

Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy in God's Favorite Idiot - Netflix/Vince Valitutti
Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy in God's Favorite Idiot - Netflix/Vince Valitutti

The Netflix series God’s Favorite Idiot is a comedy about an unassuming IT support worker named Clark Thompson who is struck by a thunderbolt one night and learns that he has been chosen by God to save the world from Satan. “Oh, no. Really?” says a dismayed Clark, when a visiting archangel lays out the details.

The comedy derives from the fact that Clark (Ben Falcone) is an unlikely man for the job, chosen – as explained by God in a later episode – because he is “sweet and simple like pecan pie”. He lists one of his main hobbies as “having nice conversations”. Clark doesn’t seem to be an idiot, just a shy chap whose life consists of being respectful to his colleagues and looking after his cats.

But a character like Clark needs a counterweight, and that comes in the form of Melissa McCarthy’s Amily Luck (there is a reason why she’s called Amily, and not Emily, but I won’t bore you with it). McCarthy doesn’t star in the series so much as crush it. Occasionally, writers and directors have been able to tease some subtlety out of McCarthy’s performances – she was pretty good in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the film with Richard E Grant – but the creator of God’s Favorite Idiot is Ben Falcone. And Ben Falcone is married to Melissa McCarthy. So he has given her carte blanche to do her schtick of being loud, boorish and generally unbearable, in the mistaken belief that everything she says or does is hilarious.

Amily talks incessantly about taking recreational drugs, rides her scooter along the pavement and yells at people. She is aggressively unfunny. Despite this, Clark is in love with her and they begin a relationship – opposites attract, and all that. So the series is an apocalyptic workplace sitcom - there is a supporting cast of colleagues – with a little romance thrown in.

If only McCarthy dialled it down and we could concentrate on Clark, this would be a fun, lighthearted watch. Some of the details are amusing: Clark’s powers manifest themselves not just in the way he suddenly lights up like a glow-worm, but the fact that the Harry Styles song Sign of the Times strikes up at regular intervals. Then again, for every witty move there is a terrible attempt at getting laughs, such as a running joke about Clark’s bowel movements. I suspect this will be no one’s favourite show.