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Invariably, modern TV shows set in the 1980s are almost obligated to include a few things as visual cues: teased hair (see, The Goldbergs); Members Only jackets (see Stranger Things); and increasingly, robots that serve drugs, at least if the show’s on cable or streaming.
They say it takes three examples to make a trend, which means the arrival of the cocaine-serving robot in Showtime’s Black Monday is not yet a formal declaration that blow baristas are suddenly about to replace podcasts as the thing producers have to put on the air. But the motorized nose candy dispenser does follow in the tracks of the robot in GLOW, which scoots around Bash Howard’s parties welcoming guests with uppers, downers and a few things in between. So while these sugar booger servants aren’t exactly a TV trend yet, they do prompt a very important question: Which one is better? Let’s dig in.
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We’ll start with the robot in Black Monday, who has a name. Not only does he have a name, but Mo (Don Cheadle) converses with him, as we saw in the first episode. “Kyle, want to do some cocaine?” Mo asks, prompting Kyle to blink either in the affirmative or because Kyle is already so high he can’t see straight. GLOW‘s robot, on the other hand, has the tragically uncreative name GLOWBot — a truly disappointing moniker considering the inventive nom de plumes of the lady wrestlers on the show. So, two points for Kyle, for having a name and being able to converse with humans.
Black Monday‘s Kyle: 2, GLOW‘s GLOWBot: 0
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Next, there’s the matter of selection. Kyle, poor guy, apparently only carries California corn flakes, which Mo consumes before work, at the office and then when he gets home (which, by the way, is a very terrible idea, especially for the high-strung Mo, who is at serious risk of making his heart explode.) GLOWBot, on the other hand, has a veritable charcuterie of narcotics, including conveniently pre-rolled joints, and he (she?) has cigarettes on deck, so vital during a bender. GLOWBot gets two points, for selection and amenities.
Black Monday‘s Kyle: 2, GLOW‘s GLOWBot: 2
GLOWBot’s spreadPhoto: Netflix
Finally, there’s the not insignificant matter of crisis management ability — an absolute must-have requirement of anyone (or any almost-sentient being) that’s around when people are getting hammered. Babysitting people when they’re simply knocking back drinks is dicey enough — we all have that one friend who insists on getting naked in public/almost arrested/in cars with people they just met after knocking back a few — but add drugs to the mix and things get even more complicated. And dangerous. Drugs, after all, are illegal, and can cause all manner of medical emergencies. In the event of such a complete buzzkill as a knock on the door from cops or the horrifying possibility of having to call 911, somebody has to be cool, rational and focused. So, how do Kyle and GLOWBot match up here? Well, according to Mo, Kyle understands English. They have a bond, he says, because Mo followed the user care instructions to talk to Kyle like a person, and one time Kyle even threw away Mo’s caviar (“fish jizz,” as he calls it) and replaced it with, what else, coke. GLOWBot on on the other hand, totally freaked out when a drink got spilled on him one time, started spazzing and then speaking Spanish (a great skill to have, mind you, just not in this moment). Plus, GLOWBot has a phone inside of him, and while that’s practical and everything, it’s also way too easy to be an instrument of surveillance and high people do not need anything else to be paranoid about. Kyle is the drug robot who can not only get the party started but also not harsh the buzz, giving him one crucial leg up over GLOWBot.
Black Monday‘s Kyle: 3, GLOW‘s GLOWBot: 2
And there you have it. Kyle is the reigning coke robot champ, at least until another one arrives. P.S. Don’t do drugs.
Black Monday airs Sundays at 10/9c on Showtime.
(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, Showtime’s parent company.)