Steam It Or Skip It: ‘Obliterated’ On Netflix, About An Elite Special Forces Team Who Tries To Save Las Vegas From A Nuke… While Messed Up On All Sorts Of Stuff

Ever sit down and try to figure out what to watch and just feel completely exhausted at the prospect of having to concentrate on some serious Prestige TV series? Sure there are antidotes to that all over the streaming landscape, but not many of them feel as completely escapist as the new action comedy by the trio that brought us Cobra Kai.


Opening Shot: Shots of the Strip in Las Vegas. The aerial shots eventually come around to a rooftop pool party at one of the hotels.

The Gist: At the pool party, we see a bikini-clad woman serving people in a VIP area, and fending off two seemingly random douchebags in the pool. The VIP she’s serving is a smarmy Russian guy named Ivan Koslov (Costa Ronin).

But she’s not an ordinary server; she’s CIA agent Ava Winters (Shelley Hennig), and she’s leading a task force to bring Koslov, a known arms dealer, down. The two douchebags in the pool are Chad McKnight (Nick Zano), the leader of the Navy SEALs team assisting Ava, and his right-hand guy Trunk (Terrence Terrell). Also on the team is sniper Angela Gomez (Paola Lázaro), and Ava’s NSA protege, Maya Lerner (Kimi Rutledge), whom Chad calls “Tech Girl”. Air Force pilot Paul Yung (Eugene Kim) helms a helicopter called “The Vulture.”

Koslov’s plan is to sell a nuke to some crypto guys, as long as they detonate the bomb when he’s far away from Sin City. The task force thwarts that plan with a lot of shooting, and they eventually end up capturing Koslov and the nuke. They bring in the last member of the team, the weathered, one-thumbed bomb expert Haggerty (C. Thomas Howell) to defuse the nuke, and he does — but only after he finds the proper Michael Bublé song on his phone first.

It’s the end of a long, six-month operation, one where feelings have developed — Ava and Chad have been at each others’ throats, while Maya has been pining away for the perfect-abed Chad for months. To celebrate and blow off steam, Chad and the special ops team decide to throw a blowout in their suite. Everyone shows up, even Ava, who is normally more of a by-the-book person. But CIA Director James Langdon (Carl Lumbly) tells her she needs to take some time off to mourn the death of her husband.

Suffice to say, everyone gets messed up at that party — even tea-totaling family man Paul, who eats a bowl full of guacamole that he has no idea Haggerty has spiked with all sorts of hallucinogens. Ava is drunk and Chad is on MDMA, and the two of them have some surprising sex in one of the bedrooms, just as Maya decides to make an “Ali Larter in Varsity Blues” move on Chad. Chad doesn’t finish with Ava, because a word he regrets comes out of his mouth. Then he sees Trunk in a compromising position he never expected to see.

Just when everyone’s at their peak of being messed up, Langdon calls Ava to tell her that the nuke they retrieved is a fake; the real nuke is still out there, and there’s a threat that it’ll be detonated in 7 hours. So the task force is back on the job, but how well are they going to be able to do it in their state?


What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Obliterated is an action-comedy along the lines of recent examples like FUBAR. Created by the Cobra Kai trio of  Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald, it has a lot of that series’ sense of humor.

Our Take: What Obliterated is trying to accomplish is to show an elite special ops task force can do their jobs while fighting through impairment, including the inevitable nasty hangovers they’re going to get as they race to find and defuse the real nuke. In a lot of ways, the show is along the lines of most action-comedies, with interpersonal strife and attraction being as much a part of the story as the shooting and the chasing. But that extra added layer of having the team be messed up makes it just a skosh more intriguing than other action comedies.

We appreciated that Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald weren’t afraid to get violent and raunchy in the first episode. There’s plenty of theatric bloodshed, including Angela killing two thugs with one bullet, that are both funny and fun to watch. There’s nudity and sex, and none of it is covered up by sheets. The show is raw and crude, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Why? Because being raw and crude will help the audience see how all of these interpersonal situations on the team set themselves up. You’re in close quarters for months on an important classified mission with millions of lives at risk if you fail. If you succeed, no one will be able to know you did it, as Chad complains when a bunch of young women pass them up for a DJ who wears a candy corn mask.

There’s nothing earth-shattering about Obliterated. But given the chemistry that’s already evident between the team members, especially the love-hate situation brewing between Zano’s Chad and Henning’s Ava, it feels like the show is just going to be pure fun to watch.

Sex and Skin: Like we mentioned, there’s a lot of both in the first episode.

Parting Shot: Yung flies the team over Vegas in the Vulture, thinking he’s completely sober. Little does he know what’s about to hit him.

Sleeper Star: C. Thomas Howell kills it as Haggerty. It’s not like he hasn’t been active since his heyday in the ’80s, but it’s still shocking that he embodies the eternally fucked-up bomb expert so well, and he steals every scene he’s in — including the one that shows his state when the team is redeployed.

Most Pilot-y Line: When Ava sees Haggerty snorting a combo of Adderall and ketamine, she asks Chad if they get tested, and he replies, “You know how easy it is to get clean piss? This is America!” She replies, “Well, in that case, keep clean pissing your career away.”

Our Call: STREAM IT. Obliterated isn’t trying to be anything more than what it is, which is a fun show with a lot of action and sex. And it succeeds at that in spades.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.