Caribbean Sitcom ‘House Out of Order’ is Outta Timin’ (Jamaica/Trinidad and Tobago)

Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer

Plot: A successful newspaper owner sees his newlywed bliss ruined when his ex-wife and mother-in-law move into his apartment.

Review: As a Trinidadian and supporter of Cariwood (the Caribbean film industry, and yes, I am going to make “Cariwood” happen) I am always glad to see my local performers making it big. So I was pleased as peanut punch to hear Trinidadian comedian Rodell “Ro’dey” Cumberbatch and Trini DJs DJ Ana (real name Ana-Leesa Ramnarine) and Ultra Simmo (Jordan Simmons) would be featuring in an LA sitcom. But then I checked out the first four episodes of House Out of Order, and, yeah, I got notes.

Right now all my exes live in Texas. And I think you should join them

To balance the three abovementioned Trinis we have three Jamaican actors: Damian Garth Brown as the lead James King; Alicia Irons as his ex-wife Karyn; and Sardis Robinson as Alicia’s mother Viola. My fellow Trinidadians may get vex with me (my back’s broad so feel free to @ me) but the three yardies are the strongest of the cast. Brown has the best comedic timing and the only aspect of the show that is guaranteed to get a laugh from me was the constant barb throwing with Robinson’s Viola. The insults are not the most inventive but they are delivered well. And Alicia Irons also does well as the sassy Karyn and is never in want of a well-placed jibe for her ex-hubbie.

Sadly things are not so great with the rest of the cast. Of the three Trinis Ro’dey is the only one I know of with stage and screen acting experience and it shows. He has quite a few funny moments as James’s wacky friend Xavier. DJ Ana plays James’s Trini wife Lisa. And while a lovely lady, she comes off extremely flat and sounds like day one of play rehearsals. Day two at a push. And Ultra Simmo, who plays a cop character whose name I can’t remember, seems just there to come in, make a corny joke, and go back out. He feels unnecessary and makes his brief appearances tedious with his ultra bland delivery (you see what I did there, and you liked it!). Rounding off the cast is Tyler Baty as James and Karyn’s teenage son Deon. The kid is an aspiring comedian but his jokes are painfully bad and his acting, while not DJ Ana and Ultra Simmo flat, lacks some believability.

XAVIER: Hold on. I have a very serious question. Who fart?

The show feels like a throwback to 90s sitcoms, which should not be surprising as it was created by writer/producer/director Bentley Kyle Evans who was showrunner on The Jaime Foxx Show and Martin. While I was a fan of both shows (I preferred Martin over The Jaime Foxx Show btw) House Out of Order feels somewhat anachronistic in this modern TV climate. There is a laugh track which I swear is on autopilot as it feels almost random sometimes. And the situation comedy is so paint-by-numbers generic that the plots feel recycled even if they’re not. (SPOILER ALERT) Take Episode 3 where James convinces Karyn to pretend to be his wife and Lisa to pretend to be the maid to impress an old acquaintance. Now I can stretch my believability pretty far but this is just dumb. Or take Episode 4 where James has a sex dream about his mother-in-law and when he wakes up he tells Lisa he was raped. Yeah, that joke would have been troublesome three decades ago and it definitely will not fly now.

Now I’ve only seen four episodes of a reported 12-episode run so I can’t say whether things get any better. And I read Canadian comedian Russell Peters would be appearing as Lisa’s dad, so that might be interesting. The show also goes hard on its Trini and Jamaican references and all the actors speak with their native accents, so it definitely looks and feels Caribbean which should appeal to regional and diaspora audiences. But from what I’ve seen so far the writing and overall quality is still below the standard of even the most mediocre of modern sitcoms. Hopefully House Out of Order gets its house in order.

Episode 1-4 Score: 3.5 out of 10

If you want to check out House Out of Order for yourself it is available on Pavilion+ on the Roku Channel for audiences in the US, UK, and Canada, and on the National Black Television Media on Flow Channel 156. And you can check out more Caribbean comedy content (alliteration bonus!) below:

REVISITING CLASSIC JAMAICAN SEX COMEDY ‘THE LUNATIC’ ALMOST 30 YEARS LATER
COMEDY CRIME DRAMA ‘CHEE$E’ IS A DELIGHTFUL TIME
BERMUDA SHORTS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL IS CARIBBEAN-FLAVOURED HILARITY
B0FC059B-BBEE-47CF-90E4-D588C1BACD93

Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.