‘Killing It’: Before it kills us!

One of the most trenchant recent critiques of late capitalism is Killing It, a droll television comedy show about killing Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades.

Craig Foster is a solid believer in the American Dream. He aspires to become an entrepreneur. If he could only get a chance, Craig knows he would certainly become successful.

It would seem that the closest Craig Foster (comic actor Craig Robinson) would ever get to large sums of money would be his job as a bank security guard. But one afternoon, as Craig is trying to use his place of work to nail down a loan from the bank, his brother Isaiah robs that very bank. Craig fails to get the loan. Instead, he is fired.

Craig’s determined optimism seems undermined at every turn. He loses his apartment when he unwittingly sublets it to pornographers. He can’t even get to his next loan interview as his car is destroyed. Abandoning his car, he tries to use Uber to make his presentation. On the way, his Uber driver Jillian Glopp (Claudia O’Doherty) suddenly stops, jumps out of the car to kill a huge snake by the side of the road. Unfortunately, the snake is not dead and tries to devour him! Craig shows up at the interview covered with blood. Again he is unsuccessful.

Jillian tells Craig that she is supporting herself by killing invasive species snakes to win contest prize money. The desperately impoverished Jillian’s unflagging loyalty is a perfect match for the irrationally optimistic entrepreneur Craig. Jillian has been living in a sandwich board which she tows around behind her car. The already evicted Craig takes up residence in a 24 Fitness Center. Together they set out to achieve the reptile wrangling reward.

To enhance their quest, Craig and Jillian attend a get-rich-quick self-improvement conference. They discover that the main purpose of the conference is to make its sponsors rich at the expense of the participants. As they return to the snake hunt, they uncover illegal snake breeding, accidentally kill a friend, commit arson and are exploited by a family of Christian influencers.

The characters encountered, humorous set pieces, and all too familiar shakedown artists, have melded together to yield up a critically and popularly successful entertainment. Lead actors Craig Robinson and Claudia O’Doherty energetically render Craig and Jillian as painfully earnest, comically gullible consumers of failed schemes that systematically further impoverish them. Their good-hearted determination sets them as targets, exploited by a class system they are sorely ill-equipped to deal with. Could further education have led them to better choices? Would more regulation protect them? Why should they even be subject to the spirit-crushing machinations of vicious petty capitalists?

As Killing It mixes its pathos and comic romps through the travails of Craig and Jillian, we are forced to ask ourselves, Why should such a system even exist?! The Burmese pythons are not the only invasive species that should be eradicated.

Killing It is available on the Hulu platform. The trailer can be viewed here.

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Michael Berkowitz
Michael Berkowitz

Michael Berkowitz, a veteran of the civil rights and anti-war movements, has been Land Use Planning Consultant to the government of China for many years. He taught Chinese and American History at the college level, worked with Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org. with miners, and was an officer of SEIU.