CHOZEN Review: Mixing ARCHER and EASTBOUND AND DOWN Is a Good Thing

     January 13, 2014


On Chozen, FX’s new animated series, the title character’s sister describes him as, “a boy, trapped inside a man, trapped inside a wifebeater.”  “You forgot violent and sensitive!” he sputters back.  Chozen is indeed all of these things, and more: a gay white rapper who has just emerged from prison, he has a new outlook and a huge chip on his shoulder that are fueling his desire to become the most famous rapper in the world.  But an old foe stands in his way.

Chozen is the brainchild of several Eastbound and Down writers and producers, and is animated by Floyd County Productions, which also handles Archer.  The connections are obvious, not only visually, but in the show’s overall style.  Chozen (Bobby Moynihan) channels Kenny Powers’ self-absorption, love of excessive innuendo (or no innuendo at all), speaking style, and single-mindedness when it comes to fame.  Hit the jump for more.

chozenFresh out of jail after serving time for crimes he was set up for by his former friend and current nemesis, Phantasm (Method Man), Chozen heads to find his sister Tracy (Kathryn Hahn), who is a college sophomore.  Chozen moves in and basically wrecks her life as he tries to get his back on track, calling his old rap collective buddies Ricky (Michael Pena) and Crisco (Hannibal Buress) to help out.

Chozen also picks up two new friends, the nerdy Troy (Nick Swardson), who has a crush on Tracy, and a creepy photographer who says things such as, “It’s like having a fist fight at a bukkake party, and the dicks won.”  The line of dialogue pretty much sums up Chozen‘s feel, and the weekly adventures are broken up with rap interludes that have hilariously on-point parody lyrics, and occasionally surprising rhyme schemes (like the inclusion of “turd cutter,” to name but one).

chozen-posterThat last bit leads us to the topic of Chozen’s homosexuality, which is as overt as it is unmentioned.  There’s no ambiguity regarding what Chozen prefers sexually, though he tells an LGBT group on campus that he refuses labels, because “I am just a sex person.”  The decision to make Chozen gay also subverts the place of homosexuality in the rap scene — it’s here, and it’s very queer.

Ultimately though, Chozen is a story of redemption, with Chozen himself battling it out with Phantasm on a meta level, but dealing with episodic problems week to week that (much like Eastbound and Down‘s seasonal arcs) all play up to the ultimate goal of fame.  The show’s college campus setting provides a great backdrop for plenty of gags (of all kinds), and nothing is off limits (though its favorite thing is showing cleavage — both breasts and butts — of men and women).

In this and in all ways, Chozen is an equal-opportunity offender, much like Eastbound and Down and Archer.  We would have it no other way.

Chozen premieres Monday, January 13th at 10:30 p.m. on FX (*not FXX, as was originally advertised)