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Review: In FX's 'Chozen,' an ex-con seeks his hip-hop destiny

Television IndustryReviewsArcher (tv program)Danny McBrideKathryn HahnMethod ManSaturday Night Live (tv program)

Now here is this unforeseeable artifact, "Chozen," a cartoon series about a gay white rapper, an ex-con (he was set up) living on his sister's couch at a liberal arts college.

Premiering Monday on FX, it is from people who make that network's spy-toon "Archer," whose visual style it borrows whole, and from people who made HBO's "Eastbound & Down." And it is very much as if they had taken these shows — neither of which puts a great point on taste, sensitivity or modesty — and run them at each other very fast. Some of this fusion works, and some of it doesn't, and even some of what works won't work for a lot of people. Indeed, if you are familiar at all with those series, you should already have a pretty good idea of your tolerance for this one.

As an overgrown child, rising after a fall, with a limited sense of any boundaries but his own, Chozen (Bobby Moynihan, from "Saturday Night Live"), whose real name is Phil, is very much a turn on Kenny Powers, the character Danny McBride (an executive producer and minor voice actor here) played on "Eastbound." He is a sweet person whom prison has turned into a person not less sweet, but more selfish, and ready to use force, or the threat of force, to get his way.

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His immediate concerns are sex, food, "G.I. Joe" on pay-per-view and fulfilling the rap destiny denied him by old crew mate Phantasm (Cliff "Method Man" Smith), now a superstar.

There are weak spots. Chozen, who is emphatically but casually out, may break some stereotypes, but the writers also use more effeminate gay characters to denote silliness or to mock a politically correct attitude. (He is in a kind of relationship with a formerly heterosexual frat boy, played by Ike Barinholtz, from "The Mindy Project," as all but straight — to retreat to a stereotype.) Though the show takes shots at hip-hop misogyny, apart from Chozen's sister, Tracy (Kathryn Hahn), the smartest and most reasonable character, the female figures are mostly around to facilitate sex jokes. There are a lot of these, because it's cable TV, yo.

In addition, Chozen's raps (performed by series creator Grant Dekernion, formerly a writer's assistant on "Eastbound & Down") are quite ordinary; and there is a lot of that kind of humor where men deride other men's manliness, often in anatomical terms, which is just noise to me.

And yet, as with both "Eastbound" and "Archer," if you find yourself inclined to go with the flow, there are things to enjoy and even to admire. Chozen is not a role model, but he is a kind of hero, and a more fully embodied character than the foregoing might imply; the show endorses his positivity but does not deny his absurdity. As old friends and rap mates Ricky and Crisco, who are not tough at all, Michael Peña and Hannibal Buress are very funny working in the rhythms of normal humans.

If you even suspect you won't hate it, it's worth a look.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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'Chozen'

Where: FX

When: 10:30 p.m. Monday

Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)

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Television IndustryReviewsArcher (tv program)Danny McBrideKathryn HahnMethod ManSaturday Night Live (tv program)
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