What Would Diplo Do?

James van der Beek holds up a new comedy as a shallow DJ full of self-doubts.

I guess I’m not down enough with the kids to be especially familiar with Wesley “Diplo” Pentz, record producer, DJ and indie record exec, but I have James van der Beek for bringing me up to speed.

The former Dawson’s Creek star plays a successful, if shallow, American identity in the new SBS VICELAND comedy What Would Diplo Do?

This is a backstage single-cam comedy that aspires to all things Entourage and while there’s a feeling of having seen it all before, it holds it together across its 30 minute outing.

Diplo hangs out producing successful music and staging sell-out raves but as he pushes 40, he harbours feelings of emptiness, marked by a “stream-of-consciousness-voiceover” debating Buddha, Jesus and American culture.

He is surrounded by equally vapid dudes, including a foul-mouthed friend Jasper (Dillon Francis), German-born assistant Kröner (H. Michael Croner) and his hard-working personal assistant Karen (Dora Madison Burge).

In the opening episode Diplo mistakes Karen’s nephew Jackon (Emjay Anthony) for a terminally-ill youug boy whose dying wish is to spend the day with him.

The two hang out at a games arcade and shoot hoops whilst Kröner tweets replies on his behalf in a Twitter war with DJ & record producer Calvin Harris. It’s a race to the bottom with 140-character insults, adding to Diplo’s already-questionable contribution to society.

Van Der Beek fits the brief rather well here, with enough light and shade to flip between vacuous reality and introspective doubts, several of which are personified in the form of Ninja assaults on him that nobody else can see.

Croner’s German accent may not be a highlight, but Dora Madison Burge as Karen provides some grounding to these ego-driven lads in a show where the punchlines go for the jugular rather than the funny bone. The moral compass in the first episode comes from an unexpected guest.

VICELAND hasn’t stumped up very much in the way of scripted content so far and What Would Diplo Do? is crammed with western culture and white lives, but if it ticks a box as youth culture then so be it.

Without Van der Beek this would probably be pretty forgettable, but it passes the first test.

What Would Diplo Do? airs tonight 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND.

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