FUBAR review: Spy-adventure series fails on many fronts

Netflix’s spy-adventure comedy series, FUBAR follows Luke Brunner and daughter Emma Brunner learn that they’re both CIA operatives before having to work together to take down an international terrorist.


Luke Brunner has been a CIA operative for 40 years, but before his retirement, he’s thrown into the field once more, this time to rescue another operative stuck inside the organization of an international terrorist, Boro Polonia, the same person who Luke helped with his education growing up, after killing his terrorist father.

Boro takes over his father’s organization and when Luke reunites with him, he also meets the operative he’s to rescue, who’s none other than his daughter Emma Brunner. Both of them realize that they’ve been lying to each other for so long.

However, they have to work together now to take down Boro, and they do with great difficulty at first, as all their grievances surface, while Luke tries to get back with his ex and Emma feels conflicted about his relationship with Carter and Aldon, who keeps hitting on her.

She eventually messes up and Carter breaks up. Meanwhile, Luke manages to attract Tally but when Emma reminds him he’s doing the same mistake as always, he grows cold feet and bails out, upsetting Tally, who decides to marry her boyfriend Donnie.

Meanwhile, the hunt for Boro intensifies and the CIA operatives finally manage to nab him, only for things to go south as his briefcase nuke goes off, seemingly taking Boro with him. However, he returns and stops Tally’s wedding to take her hostage and make Emma and Luke shoot each other.

However, the Brunners persist and manage to kill Boro for good, before fleeing to safety after their identities, bank accounts, and other crucial details are exposed and shared with numerous dangerous men around the world, as FUBAR season 1 comes to its end.


Arnold Schwarzenegger, though far from his athletic prime, delivers a mostly believable performance as the 65-year-old spry, quick, and strong operative. However, certain instances do tend to test the suspension of disbelief quite a bit.

Monica Barbaro is great as Emma Brunner, a daughter leading two drastically different lives and contending with the fallout of the issues that emerge from it.

Jay Baruchel is pretty offbeat and peculiar with his performance but makes it work weirdly enough. Other than that, FUBAR doesn’t have any standouts in terms of performances all of which range from severely adequate to good enough.


Strip the central characters of the extraordinary circumstances, and their problems become quite relatable and certainly inspire sentiments against the working class and how the daily capitalist endeavors within the work culture deprive ordinary families of quality time.

Emma and Carter’s relationship troubles are interesting to follow, as there’s an adorable dynamic and romance that gets crushed by the crazy stuff that goes on in the periphery. Meanwhile, one can’t help but root and feel sad for Tally as well, who has spent all her life wishing for the ideal life with her ex, only to never get it.


The CGI, whenever used, is atrocious and an explosion towards the end of the final episode of FUBAR is just an eye-sore to look at.

The series can often come across as a CIA recruitment program, while none of the bazillion serious criticisms levied against the institution are ever addressed.

It’s certainly not the best taste watching CIA operatives as the peppy, wise-cracking fools with golden hearts killing the “terrorists” who have the lousiest written motivations, i.e., sell weapons of mass destruction, earn money, and bask in the glory of being the mustache-twirling evil maniacs.

There are digs at governments but given the history of the allegations against the CIA fiddling with governments, it all feels even more egregious and hard to watch, leaving one wondering why even have CIA is the central institution this spy-adventure series revolves around for its moral/ethical tenets.

The comedy in FUBAR is just abysmal and jokes landing is a sight rarer than blood rain. Meanwhile, the non-white actors seem to be relegated to the nerdy tropes and clichés, and the gay character of Roo is handed all the frat boy and toilet humor.

There seems to be little regard given to these characters and to make their storylines and personalities a little less goofy, all the while reserving the main character tropes and serious narratives for the white characters.


FUBAR doesn’t work as a comedy, nor does it work as an action series, and in the midst of the myriad of problems it has, the characters at the center and the supporting lines of the show deserve a whole lot better than what the script or the direction provides them with.

Rife with competent actors, the series fails to make the most out of their skills and even Schwarzenegger’s charms can’t help breathe life into this mundane mess.

FUBAR review: Spy-adventure series fails on many fronts 1

Director: Phil Abraham, Holly Dale, Steven A. Adelson, Stephen Surjik

Date Created: 2023-05-25 12:30

Editor's Rating:

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