He’s really doing it. Andrew Schulz is really saving America.
That’s barely an overstatement. The comedian’s new four-part Netflix special, “Schulz Saves America,” is a very big deal for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s smart, it’s funny, and it’s fearless. Because Schulz’s special has the increasingly rare combination of those attributes, it’s also a cultural game-changer.
Netflix basically allowed Schulz to leave his hugely popular YouTube program untouched. The special is almost exactly what Schulz’s many subscribers have come to expect on his digital platforms, right down to the visuals, with some flourishes that take the production quality up an extra notch.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This adage clearly informed Netflix’s approach to Schulz. What’s amazing in this case is that Netflix spent the Trump administration premiering and canceling a host of cringefest, leftist “Daily Show” imitations, and it’s Schulz’s self-made format that finally worked.
Like John Oliver, Schulz centers each episode largely on a single topic, breathlessly winding his way through the dark forest of our politics and culture, cutting down corrupt so-called elites along the way with total abandon. Unlike neoliberal political comedians, however, Schulz’s subject matter reveals interests and concerns that are far more in touch with his audience.
His arguments and delivery are much more in touch too. Rather than forcing another spoonful of resistance Boomer medicine down our throats, Schulz leaves that task to Stephen Colbert and Sam Bee. If John Oliver is your professor, Schulz is the guy who makes him look dumb despite never doing the reading, only attending half the lectures, and usually smelling like weed.
He’s crude and anti-establishment. His style is new and different. His rants are dizzying, but effectively so. While Netflix should have known years ago to greenlight a project like this one, it wasted time developing lukewarm offerings from the likes of Hasan Minhaj, Michelle Wolf, and others—projects that cater to an audience Hollywood executives believe to be bigger than it is.
Here’s where the “saving America” part really comes into play. Netflix’s interest in Schulz signals that corporate media can be convinced to host organically successful, anti-establishment content, rightfully aware there’s a market for scrappy, politically incorrect commentary that spits in the face of cultural elites. By creating a great product, Schulz is proving that can be done.
Before Schulz’s special was announced, Ben Domenech and I included him among the “New Contras,” a band of contrarian thinkers leveraging new self-publishing platforms to undercut the corporate media monopoly. Many of the New Contras dwell in news media, but as a comedian, Schulz may actually end up being the most powerful given his mounting cultural influence. In an interview for that article, Schulz explained his success to Ben by quipping, “The tastemakers didn’t have good taste.” The Netflix deal indicates he might be changing that.
“Comedy was in a really bad place recently, regarding MeToo and political correctness,” Schulz told Ben. “I feel that if it is successful, it will prove this comedy has a marketplace. All these corporations act all woke, but what they really want is the dollar. My goal is not to work entirely outside of networks and traditional avenues and the like.”
The corporate establishment’s narrowing of thought boundaries is at the heart of our cultural decline, creating blander art, sowing immense political discord, and mainstreaming radical nonsense. Schulz may not be single handedly saving the free world, but his success on his own, and now with the blessing of a major corporate platform could help reverse that destructive trend.