Conservatives hoping “In the Know” hammers NPR’s extreme bias are likely in for a letdown.
Public radio’s liberal hypocrisy? That’s another matter.
Early reviews for the six-episode Peacock comedy, debuting Jan. 25, suggest the show avoids NPR’s relentless cheerleading for the Left. Plus, co-creator Mike Judge is known for his gentle brand of satire. His mockery isn’t mean-spirited. He finds the humanity behind the flawed characters, be it Hank Hill, Erlich Bachman or Butt-head.
The show still skewers liberal hypocrisy in ways rarely seen across pop culture.
Show co-creator and lead voice artist Zach Woods revels in that approach.
Woods, who broke out as Gabe on “The Office” and later played Jaren on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” spoke about his new series via The Daily Beast’s “Last Laugh” podcast, hosted by Matt Wilstein. The actor/writer plays Lauren Caspian, an unctuous host at an NPR-like radio show.
Woods spoke about the power of comedy and how integral it is for both the Left and the Right to laugh about themselves.
“When [Mike Judge] does satirical stuff, it’s both totally unsparing and cutting in a way, but it’s also kind of warm,” Woods said. “The satirical point of view is not on-high looking down. It’s lateral. Instead of, ‘aren’t these people a**holes,’ it’s like, ‘Aren’t we all such a**holes.'”
“I don’t think I’m any better than the people who are virtue signaling. I’m probably one of them more often than not,” Woods added, tipping off his personal ideology. “We wanted to understand the core needs, wounds, desires that motivate people to act in cringey ways and to give each part equal due, both the obnoxious behavior and then the kind of more sympathetic, recognizably human, flawed, lovable thing that’s underneath the surface of the ocean, the part of the iceberg you don’t see that’s most of it.”
The show’s press materials feature quotes from the creative team about its mission statement – take down liberal hypocrisy.
We’re privileged, well intentioned, guilty hypocrites. We buy ethically-sourced dog treats and have them delivered by people who are penalized for bathroom breaks. We put “No Justice No Peace” signs next to our home security lawn decals. We’re sanctimonious doofuses who should be ridiculed more.
As we get more isolated in our respective echo chambers, we’re desperate to connect with people who are different from us through honest conversation and humor. We try to provide both on the show. (And even if you think our comedy is literal trash, we hope you’ll enjoy the gorgeous animation from the stop-motion geniuses at ShadowMachine.)
Woods also shared with Wilstein an early inspiration behind “In the Know,” one dating back to 2020.
The George Floyd riots/protests were in full swing, and the Defund the Police movement took hold among the liberal elites. (Said movement is now all but dead following the staggering rise in crime rates in big cities nationwide).
Back then, the notion got the attention of both Hollywood and California liberals.
Woods recalled that era, specifically an affluent Los Angeles neighborhood’s take on the protests.
“I saw on somebody’s front lawn there was a sign that said, ‘Defund the Police,’ then next to that sign was an ADT security decal that mentioned that they had armed guards,” he said. “‘Defund the Police,’ but also we have armed mercenaries to protect our Audi SUVs.”
That’s precisely what “In the Know” hopes to explore, Woods noted. And it comes from personal experience.
“The distance between the person I would like to be and the person I am is vast, particularly when it comes to ideological stuff,” he said. “Is this all just cosmetic? Are the things that I believe just a kind of rouge I’m powdering my face with or is it something I’m prepared to walk the walk on? It’s an ongoing question.”