FX's new comedy Chozen touts itself for featuring "the world's first gay, white, animated rapper," but star Bobby Moynihan says his character's sexuality never defines him.
"It's not what the show is about. It's not very heavy-handed on the politics or anything," the SNL star tells TVGuide.com. "There's a couple lines in the second episode where he wanders into an LGBT meeting and they're asking him if he's gay or bisexual and he says, 'Why are you trying to label us?' ... I feel like it's not such a crazy thing anymore and it shouldn't be."
When the series picks up, Chozen is fresh out of jail after being set up by frenemy Phantasm (Method Man), who didn't appreciate how much the rapper hogged the spotlight in their old group. But in the end, jail seemed to help Chozen, who is now in touch with his sexuality and has a singular purpose in life: total rap domination.
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While Chozen does its best to avoid using the rapper's sexuality for laughs, the series doesn't hold anything back in its skewering of the hip-hop industry. "What's that Biggie video where he's in the hot tub and all the girls are dancing around him in bikinis? ... There is a lot of making fun of those," Moynihan says. "But Chozen's version... is hot dudes in little gold shorts and bear masks."
While the rap culture Chozen satirizes can feel a little stale compared to the bourgeois postmodernism and vulnerability of Drake, Kanye West and Jay Z, there are traces of more current hip-hop sensibilities visible in Phantasm. Unlike his old partner, Phantasm has made a huge career for himself as a rapper, embracing the current nuances of the genre. Even though Phantasm is the one who sent Chozen to prison, the pair somehow becomes the show's Ross and Rachel. "Are they going to rekindle that friendship they had, or are they going to be nemeses for the rest of their lives?" Moynihan says. It's an interesting take on the rap beef and the will-they-or-won't they dynamic, and one that's sure to be drawn out for a while since any reconciliation would give Chozen's rap career a big boost. And where's the comedy in happiness?
Chozen revels in watching its hero fail at his plan to succeed. But no matter what terrible things Chozen says or does in his attempt to be rap's next big superstar, Moynihan says he always has the best intentions. "To me, it's like Eastbound and Down the cartoon," Moynihan says. "There are these crazy. insane characters who are doing these crazy, insane things, but they're somehow very endearing and you want to see them succeed."
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Much like Eastbound's Kenny Powers, Chozen's career journey is counterbalanced by his bizarre, yet banal domestic drama — including fights with his sister Tracey (Kathryn Hahn), reconciling with friends Crisco (Hannibal Buress) and Ricky (Michael Peña) and pursuing a relationship with frat boy Hunter (Ike Barinholtz). Chozen's home life puts a sad perspective on his rap dreams, reminding viewers that he isn't nearly as fabulous as he believes. But don't tell Chozen that. The man's got a hot temper and no filter.
"Sometimes when I'm recording the lines, I'll improvise ... and I go, 'Well I know they're not going to use that because that's too crazy.' And then that's what's in the show," Moynihan explains. "There are some lines when I hear it on Chozen, like I can't believe I said that. My mom's going to kill me."
While Moynihan is excited by Chozen's in-your-face comedy, there is one scene in particular he's a little worried about. "I believe there's a scene, pardon my French, where [Chozen's masturbating] to Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,"Moynihan says. "I was like, 'This guy is going to kill me. I like Guy Fieri. He's been nice to me. I've played him on SNL and he's reached out to me and now I'm doing this. I gotta give this guy a break.'"
To make the situation even more uncomfortable, Moynihan voiced Fieri in the scene in addition to Chozen. "It was a little weird. It got a little crazy that one," Moynihan admits. "I said a lot of things I wish I hadn't said."
Moynihan's voice gets a bit of a break during Chozen's raps, which are performed by series creator Grant Dekernion. Music is a huge part of how Chozen stands out from the slew of other bad-behavior comedy out right now. The songs are embedded in various ways — as performances by characters, fantasies revealing someone's inner thoughts and desires or simply a catchy way to advance the plot. But whenever Chozen gets musical, the show clicks, giving it an organic ease that the dialogue sometimes lacks. But given time to find it's footing, it's likely Chozen can mimic lead-in Archer's success.
Chozen premieres Monday at 10:30/9:30c on FX.