In the first episode of “The Detour,” Nate Parker (Jason Jones) accidentally gulps down some fresh urine after having a bottle of the warm stuff tossed in his face by a Good Samaritan who thinks he and his wife, Robin (Natalie Zea), have kidnapped their own two children. She thinks this because the young twins, Delilah (Ashley Gerasimovich) and Jared (Liam Carroll), grew bored on a road trip and put up a sign claiming they’d been abducted and needed immediate help.
The TBS show’s fourth season debuted this week, and things have only gotten more outrageous since then. The long and short of it is that the family went on vacation, unintentionally found themselves on the run from the law, and things just escalated from there — a plot far too twisty and convoluted (for comedic effect) to spell out entirely. Just know what began as a road-trip comedy now spans the globe and involves battle tanks in place of urine jars. When Zea hears that a reporter has binged the new season in two sittings, she quips, “That’s a lot of ‘Detour’ at once. Are you OK?!”
Pro-family … really it is
That might make the sitcom sound like shock comedy along the lines of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or “South Park,” but it’s actually one of the most pro-family stories that exists in a television landscape peppered with murdered women, disaffected sex and ruthless power-grabbing. Every horrid situation that arises — from faked deaths to so many bloody noses to a cavalcade of broken international laws — is, in the end, about the Parkers attempting to remain the close-knit family they are.
“The family has this loving bond, and they can fight and bicker, but that fab four are kind of unbreakable,” Jones added. As it happens, it’s a family-run show — co-created and written by Jones and his wife, Samantha Bee, with whom he has also worked on “The Daily Show” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”
Delilah on the run
The new season finds Nate, Robin and Jared looking for Delilah, who, sick of the family’s antics, has run away and become a social media star, posting videos of herself dancing at various locales around the globe. Her family chases her from Paraguay (where they stumble upon a drug cartel’s hideout ringed with heads on sticks [cue the laugh track]) to Tibet (where Nate falls down a mountain and a now-teenage Jared falls for a local girl who he doesn’t realize is 10 years old) to Japan (“We don’t talk about what happened in Japan”).
Though it may sound either dark or dumb, “The Detour” is one of the funniest shows on television. Strangely, it’s also one of the more introspective ones, tackling everything from abortion to disability to the finer plot points of “The Perfect Storm” in its own twisted way.
“I think if you have an honesty and respect for character, in this case the character being the family, you can go anywhere with them,” Jones said. Added Zea, “It is sometimes offensive. It sometimes crosses a line in term of what people are comfortable with. But it’s also the truth.”
That’s not to say making it is always a breeze, especially since it involves two child actors. When they come up with their more outlandish ideas, the first conversation is “always awkward,” according to Jones.
In the end, though, it always comes back to family. “I always saw the story of Nate Parker similar to the story of Job,” Jones said. “About what he’s willing to do for his family.” Even if that makes taking a few lumps (and losing a few teeth) along the way.