Mr. Schwarzenegger, I think it’s best to address you directly.
You’re the “Terminator.” You’re “Conan the Barbarian.” You’re a cop stuck with a classroom full of kindergartners, Danny DeVito’s twin and the former governor of California (and that last one isn’t even fictional). You’re a grown man, 75 years old. You’ve had a long career in Hollywood and politics. People don’t need your last name to know who you are − there’s just one “Arnold.”
So knowing all that, I have to ask: What were you thinking with your atrocious Netflix series? “Fubar” (now streaming, ★ out of four) is what would happen if we asked artificial intelligence to write an Arnold Schwarzenegger show, but in the worst way possible. The series is all cliché, followed by painful cringe and then rounded out by dumbfounded confusion. There are humans talking, but I don’t believe humans wrote the dialogue.
Arnold interview‘Fubar’: Arnold Schwarzenegger, 75, is still in the action, even if he’s ‘sore the next day’
However much Netflix paid you for this, it wasn’t worth it.
Created by Nick Santora (“Reacher”), the excruciating “Fubar” follows an about-to-retire CIA agent, Luke Brunner (Schwarzenegger), who’s lured back into service to help a fellow agent. The catch? That other agent is Luke’s daughter Emma (Monica Barbaro), and he doesn’t know it until he runs into her in the field − while they’re both working undercover.
Something that’s meant to pass for humor transpires after this as Luke and Emma attempt to work together, despite Emma’s deep resentment of her father’s absenteeism during her childhood and Luke’s complete misunderstanding of his daughter. But don’t worry, the CIA has figured out how to fix this: Luke and Emma are forced into therapy sessions together. With puppets.
A few other characters/walking stereotypes populate the series. There’s a tech guy (Milan Carter), other agents (Travis Van Winkle and Fortune Feimster), Luke’s ex-wife and Emma’s mother (Fabiana Udenio) and Emma’s nervous and soft-spoken boyfriend (Jay Baruchel, and I’d also like to ask what he’s doing in this).
Let’s just say for a second that I could get over the intuitive leaps required to believe that the CIA would allow a father and daughter to go on a mission together, let alone force them to attend therapy sessions. What is even remotely appealing about that story? Is it the jokes they make about Luke pretending to want to sleep with his own daughter as a cover story while on a mission? Is it watching a former screen titan fight over a malfunctioning office chair? Is it for the “comedy” that Feimster and Van Winkle are trying to inject with their slapstick roles? Is it to watch the yawn-worthy action sequences that are bad, but not so bad that they’re good?
Strip back the worst parts of “Fubar” and all you’ll find are more bad parts. Barbaro, a scene-stealer in “Top Gun: Maverick,” is reduced to a whining punchline. Schwarzenegger (or rather, his stunt double) limps through his heists and fights and offers line readings that verge on self-parody. And each 45-minute episode feels like it’s never going to end.
It didn’t have to be this way. Other icons of 20th-century cinema have gone on to make great television in recent years, from Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie” on Netflix) to Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren (“1923” on Paramount+). But for every gem, such as Steve Martin and Martin Short in Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” we also get a dud like Sylvester Stallone’s Paramount+ series, “Tulsa King.” (At least “Tulsa” had a few good jokes.)
The series’ title is a profane acronym suggesting something is broken without hope of repair. It is all too apt in this case. “Fubar” seems like Schwarzenegger messed up far beyond all recognition.