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Patton Oswalt Is The Perfectly Nerdy Star For Streaming

Where to Stream

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

From the golden age of film to Vine, each new wave of media has brought with it a new group of stars. However, though we’ve been in the age of bingeable television over half a decade, there are very few streaming-friendly celebrities. Sure, there are several actors who are fun to watch on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but with the exception of people like Will Arnett and Jill Soloway there are few whose brands have been enhanced by streaming’s ability to access hundreds of titles in seconds. That’s what makes Patton Oswalt such an interesting star in 2017.

Oswalt came to be a mainstream name during his time on The King of Queens, but his role as the awkward best friend could never truly capture the comedian’s talent for making geekdom funny. Through his stand up, Oswalt approaches his deep love of all things pop culture — everything from Marvel to Star Trek — with a reverence that bounces between obsessive and self-hating. It’s captivating and hilarious to watch. The comedian’s material is lovingly packed with enough obscure references to make fellow fans giddy, but it’s self-aware enough that people who aren’t part of Oswalt’s fandoms can laugh at both the comedian and the idea of pop culture obsession. Oswalt is a huge, self-identified nerd, which is what makes him the perfect celebrity for television format that prides itself on being a hub for both mainstream and obscure shows and movies.

Prior to this year, the comedian was already a force on Netflix. Oswalt’s first Netflix special, Talking for Clapping, earned the performer both a Grammy and an Emmy, but this year he’s already been more involved in streaming than ever before. So far, Oswalt has starred in two different original series for streaming services. In the beginning of April, Oswalt starred as Uncle Dusty in Hulu and RocketJump’s tongue-in-cheek anthology series, Dimension 404. Last weekend, Oswalt starred in another sci-fi universe and really flexed his nerdy muscles, starring in the Season 11 reboot of the iconic cult series Mystery Science Theater 3000. Both of these roles required the comedian to utilize the same goofy, winking, B-movie energy, something that Oswalt is very good at. But more than that, the success of Oswalt’s two characters in these shows rests largely in his established reputation as a comedian for people who take fiction too seriously.

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In Dimension 404, Oswalt does a good job communicating his role as a crotchety Gen Xer who hates Millennial fads, but it’s a character that’s greatly assisted by Oswalt’s comedy. Oswalt isn’t merely playing this character; he is this man, albeit a nicer version. Through many of his superb specials, Oswalt has made it clear that he doesn’t understand what kids are into, and it’s not for him. In Talking for Clapping mocks many of the trends he sees, including his young daughter’s love of My Little Pony. However, through his criticism, he’s happy that a younger generation has something they’re passionate about that he, as an older man, does not get. That established love and acceptance of all things nerdy makes his role on MST3K: The Return even more delightful. Mercilessly criticizing terrible movies while cheekily paying homage to pop culture tropes is where Oswalt belongs. The fact that he’s playing this part alongside geek goddess Felicia Day just makes the deal even sweeter.

With Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, Netflix has again done what it does best — connecting a niche star with a powerful fan base to a property that compliments him. In the sci-fi reboot, there’s no mainstream audience raising an eyebrow at the comedian’s off brand. If you’re watching MST3K, there’s a good chance you’re already a devoted Oswalt fan. If not, there’s a good chance you’re about to be.

Stream MST3K: The Return on Netflix

Stream Dimension 404 on Hulu

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