FUBAR Review: A Spy Comedy Series That Doesn’t Know It

Every Netflix subscriber knows the company loves to pump out as much content as possible to keep users from switching to another streaming service. While most Netflix originals aren’t great, once in a while, one of them turns out to be quality entertainment, like last year’s Wednesday or the worldwide phenomenon Stranger Things. Unfortunately for Netflix and Arnold Schwarzenegger, FUBAR isn’t one of those series. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Luke Brunner in episode 101 of FUBAR. Photo Credit: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix © 2023

FUBAR follows Schwarzenegger as CIA Operative Luke Brunner, who is about to retire from the job. But after he discovers his perfect and delicate daughter is also a highly trained CIA Operative, the two begrudgingly team up to stop a potential nuclear threat. When his daughter Emma, played by Monica Barbaro (Top Gun: Maverick), also discovers her father’s secret, she realizes why her parents’ marriage fell apart and that their relationship might be heading in the same direction.  

As a concept, FUBAR seems like it would make for a tight thirty-minute adult spy comedy series about this unlikely father-daughter CIA duo. Sadly, that’s not the choice the writers went with. Most episodes of FUBAR have a runtime of 50 minutes+, which would be fine if they could justify it. Episodes are filled with repetitive story beats about failed marriages, family trust issues, and tired subplots about the other members of their CIA team. Fortunately, in between all of this are some great moments of comedy and banter, usually with Luke and Emma. This is where the show, and Schwarzenegger, really get to shine. There should just be way more of it.

(L to R) Cailin Stadnyk as Will’s wife, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Luke Brunner, Patrick Garrow as Will, Monica Barbaro as Emma Brunner in episode 102 of FUBAR. Photo Credit: Netflix © 2023

It’s not breaking any new ground to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been celebrated for his dramatic acting abilities. That’s just one of the reasons he embraced his comedic talent in movies like Jingle All The Way and The Kindergarten Cop before he decided politics was his thing. It would have been much more enjoyable if FUBAR had embraced that cheesy and comedic tone throughout its entirety. Instead, it takes itself too seriously, making the ’90s camp feel out of place and the dramatic moments meaningless. 

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For comparison, FUBAR isn’t nearly as unwatchable as Mike Myers’s Netflix show from last year, The Pentaverate. But at least that show knew what it wanted to be. With thisthe elements of a great spy comedy are there. Yet, creator Nick Santora frustratingly overcomplicates a simple premise. This results in a sometimes funny, entertaining, but mostly bloated and dated spy dramedy. FUBAR feels like a show out of time, and the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the star of it only emphasizes it.  

Monica Barbaro as Emma Brunner in episode 105 of Fubar. Photo Credit: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix © 2023

The rest of the cast does a fine job with what they are given, particularly Monica Barbaro, who does everything she possibly can to distract from the fact that she doesn’t feel like Schwarzenegger’s daughter. Seriously, she acts circles around everyone. Hopefully, she gets the rest she deserves after carrying this whole show on her back.

It’s slightly disappointing that, like Mike Myers and The Pentaverate, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long-awaited return to the screen in a starring role and first-ever scripted series is as mediocre as it is. Again, this is especially disappointing as it had everything it needed to be great — everything except passion and a strong vision. Like most Netflix shows, FUBAR provides the audience with enough story development and intrigue to get you to click on the next episode. This may make it a good option if you need something easy to binge over the weekend. However, you probably won’t remember it once the last episode ends and you’ve moved on to something else.

All episodes of FUBAR are available to stream now on Netflix

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