The Austin Chronicle

ATX Television Fest: Survivor’s Remorse Panel

By Kahron Spearman, June 12, 2016, 3:00pm, Picture in Picture

In the course of the panel after the season premiere of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse, moderator and Hollywood Reporter critic Dan Fienberg recalled a line from an upcoming episode – delivered by Teyonah Parris’ character, Missy Vaughn – "Do you want to be who you are, or do you want to be who you want to be?"

The question has never been more appropriate for a show, which is frankly losing its kickstand.

There’s subtle uncertainty around future reception of the show, executively produced principally by basketball star LeBron James and creator/panelist Mike O’Malley. Most of the apprehension is centered on the departure of actor/comedian Mike Epps, who played the hilariously troubled Uncle Julius. Of course, as shown all over ABC’s recent programming, Epps – who’s likely readying for a massive star-turn as Richard Pryor in the upcoming Bill Condon-directed biopic – will lead a network television adaptation of John Hughes’ Uncle Buck.

“It's tough to lose Mike Epps, but at the same time you kind of find out [the other actors' strengths,]” accurately explains the premiere’s director, Ali LeRoi (Everybody Hates Chris, Are We There Yet?).

The weighty season premiere features small, but significant steps forward, quickly establishing arc seeds for each character, locking into the considerable talent of the remaining cast/panelists, which includes Jessie Usher as basketball star Cam Calloway, Tichina Arnold as Cam’s mother Cassie, RonReaco Lee as cousin/manager Reggie, Erica Ash as Cam’s womanizing lesbian sister M-Chuck. (Parris was not present.)

The wonderful chemistry between the characters, but especially Cam and cousin Reggie is palpable. The death of Uncle Julius, going into the new season, becomes growth for all. Usher says Cam “starts to take himself a little more seriously. He demands respect in a way that he didn't before,” while also undergoing something of an existential crisis of identity.

As play-by-play announcer Marv Albert would say, in basketball parlance, the show “is showing signs” of resiliency. Says Arnold: “I think this season is definitely going to kick ass. The audience will find out so much more, because we've found so much more about our characters.”

The ATX TV Festival runs until Sunday, June 12. See for more info, and follow our continuing coverage at

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