Best of 2020: Chris Gethard on The Mandalorian

The comedian, actor and podcaster on the show that has "saved his childhood" and brought him joy in these darkest of times.

Between the nostalgia and the fact that I think it’s just an entertaining, watchable, well-made show, I really love The Mandalorian. I feel bad because it’s so on brand for me, and it’s such a cliché to look like me and to have grown up how I did and to say this, but I just think it’s a legitimately great show. I wish I were into French cinema, that I knew more about prestige movies and TV shows which would make me look a lot cooler, but I am what I am, and I can’t sit around and apologize for it. The Mandalorian is just very good.

I think we all agree that the Star Wars output has not been very good since the relaunch. I actually really liked The Revenge of the Sith, but I know most people didn’t. And I get the sense that cultured film nerds really like The Last Jedi, but I didn’t. (I talked about this once on the Blank Check podcast, and they all yelled at me on the internet.) I don’t think Star Wars should be something that’s divisive, though. It’s a fairy tale. It’s literally something where the good guy wears white and the bad guy wears black, and the guy who you aren’t sure about wears a white shirt with a black vest.

Rogue One was pretty incredible, though, and made me so happy, and for all of us who grew up exactly when I did, The Mandalorian is finally what we all were hoping would happen if the Star Wars universe was rekindled back to life. It’s what we all thought it should have been like, these tangential adventures that explore grimy corners of the world. Let’s see the fallout of the war and all the inner machinations and bureaucracy of the New Republic – that’s what we want!

Look, I’m 40 years old. I was born in 1980, two days after The Empire Strikes Back was released. The fact that I know that off the top of my head tells you a lot about me. I want Star Wars to be good, and The Mandalorian is crushing it. Now there’s finally something that feels cool set in the Star Wars world again. It makes me feel good.

The Mandalorian is also just the kind of fun we need in 2020. It’s like an old school Western, it has that Monster of the Week feel – set it up, knock it down. It’s comfort food, it’s a warm blanket of my youth, and that is very welcome right now. I think I’d be enjoying The Mandalorian no matter what, but it just feels so good when you get to see a live-action Ahsoka Tano appear with two white light sabers and wreck shop.

If anybody’s out there mad at The Mandalorian, I think they’re probably just a cynic or really enjoy being contrarian. It’s fun and it’s good. And Nick Nolte did a voice in it – what can you be mad about with that?! It also has IG-11, which made me ask, “Does this presuppose that there’s 77 IGs between IG-11 and IG-88?” That’s the exact type of nerdy thing I want to sit around and think about. Who was making these IGs? Do they get a cut every time one of them succeeds in getting a bounty? Robots shouldn’t need bounties, so is there some scheme where someone controls all the IGs and they get kickbacks?

Every once in a while, when he’s completely worn me out, I’ll just grab my 18-month-old son, put him on my lap and we’ll watch Clone Wars together. It has stories about how a trade blockade is leading to the development of a black market – that’s what we all want to Star Wars be! We don’t need more Death Stars blowing up, I want the minutia of how a chaotic post-war world leads to the outer rim territories having limited trade routes. That’s what I’ve always wanted. Thank you! That’s entertainment, baby.

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to introduce my son to the Star Wars movies. At maybe three or four months old, I held him as I watched A New Hope, so technically he’s already seen that, but I think by the standards of modern parenting, it’s a little too violent for him for a while. I also have 10,000 Marvel comics from my youth, which are now sitting in the basement of my house in New Jersey, and I’m psyched that someday when my son is old enough to like Marvel, I can say, “Oh yeah, well there’s 10,000 comic books downstairs. Have fun!” When I talked to my dad about this, he said, “I hate to break it to you, but your child will like nothing you like. I was obsessed with Star Trek and DC Comics and all you ever liked was Star Wars and Marvel Comics!” So there’s now a part of me that’s not too worried about exactly when or what order my son should watch the Star Wars movies in, because he might just turn around and say, “I want to go play sports, you geek! I’m not sitting in the house with you – I could be playing lacrosse right now!”

Chris Gethard is a comedian, actor, and author based out of New Jersey. He’s the host of the Beautiful/Anonymous podcast, the former host of the underground cult classic The Chris Gethard Show, and the writer and star of the HBO special Career Suicide. As an actor, Chris has been seen in television shows such as Space Force, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer, and a lot more. He’s been in films like Don’t Think Twice, The Other Guys, The Heat, Anchorman 2 and Ghostbusters. Chris is the author of three books. He’s had a number of pieces appear on This American Life. He also travels the country both with Beautiful/Anonymous and his stand-up comedy, performing to sold out crowds all over America and much of the rest of the English-speaking world.