Roush Review: Cringe-Inducing ‘Chad’ Isn’t Your Typical High-School Nerd

Review
TBS

Boys will be boys. And then there’s Chad, a wired basket case of raw adolescent anxiety, reeking of the need to belong, fit in and be liked.

Wouldn’t want to be him, barely want to know him, and yet in Chad, Saturday Night Live veteran Nasim Pedrad almost makes you want to hug him — if that would stop him from being such a heartbreakingly hilarious fool.

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Plus, how the awkward, klutzy Chad 'is not far from how I remember myself at that age.'

Pedrad’s uncanny and gender-blurring transformation into this 14-year-old train wreck nails every mood swing: the giddy delight at being in proximity to the high school bros he hero-worships, the petulance and irrational despair when he fears being denied access to their insular world. In the premiere, he makes a typically awkward first impression as freshman year begins by humble-bragging to cooler upperclassmen about sex, a subject on which Chad is obviously far from expert. As the lies escalate, he’s finally asked: “Why are you telling us this?”

Chad’s simple yet profound answer: “It’s called panicking.” His desperation to be noticed is as pathetic as his gratitude when he is. In nearly every episode, as you’d expect, being the center of attention is a recipe for disaster.

“You just try so hard and it never works,” observes his unflappable and inexplicably loyal best friend, Peter (Jake Ryan). His indulgent mom (Saba Homayoon) and adoring Uncle Hamid (Paul Chahidi) also stand by him, as befits their Persian heritage — which intrigues and repels Chad and gives the show some of its best, most original material. (One episode involves an antique sword, presented to Chad as a gift from his absent dad in Iran, which he takes to school to show off. Bad idea.)

Alexa Loo Nasim Pedrad Chad Jake Ryan

Liane Hentscher/TBS

The squirm factor often becomes too much as Chad amplifies every social and emotional miscue with public tantrums. His remorse after each meltdown is genuinely affecting but ultimately shallow, because by the next episode, he’s at it again.

Kids these days!

Chad, Series Premiere, Tuesday, April 6, 10:30/9:30c, TBS