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‘Three Busy Debras’ Review: Bite-Sized Absurdist Comedy Upends Suburban Boredom, but It Needs More Zing

The cheeky Adult Swim series, packaged in 15-minute episodes, will appeal to fans of the similarly themed "Greener Grass."

Three Busy Debras

“Three Busy Debras”

The suburban enclave of Lemoncurd — “a charming town full of charming people leading charming lives and eating charming food” — is surely home to many delightful residents, but only three of them really matter: a trio of Debras who, as the title of the bite-sized Adult Swim series tells us, are very busy indeed. Busy with what, you may ask? Only upending the social order, taking aim at the patriarchy, and engaging in all manner of crimes along the way (in pristine white outfits to boot).

Created by and starring the eponymous Debras — Mitra Jouhari (“High Maintenance”), Sandy Honig (“Isn’t It Romantic”) and Alyssa Stonoha (“Rules of Cool”) — the series is a canny fit for Adult Swim, which has long trafficked in off-kilter programming populated by fresh faces. The trio, all members of the Upright Citizens Brigade improv and sketch community, first started working together in 2015 when they teamed up to perform for a weekly UCB show. What would become “Three Busy Debras” was born during their very first performance together, and the comedians soon turned it into both a one-act play and then a web series.

That the fledgling series, debuting its first episode of six planned quarter-hour offerings this Sunday, finds its humor somewhat muzzled in its pilot episode will likely disappoint fans of its source material, while drawing in new viewers curious about what else is to come in its meticulously arranged world. Fans of Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe’s similarly themed “Greener Grass” will vibe to what the trio are throwing down, however, and will no doubt enjoy another twisted journey into the heart of suburban darkness. It’s just not quite dark enough just yet.

Admirers of the trio’s early endeavors will likely be pleased to see the ladies elevated to network TV, complete with bigger sets (including the most darling police station you ever did see) and, hopefully, a deeper worldview. Though some of the trio’s most biting jokes haven’t yet made the crossover to the series — to say the gals’ work gleefully dabbled in the profane is to put it very mildly — the series does at least open with a murder and continually threaten forced “tube-tying” on its stars.

Traces of the ladies’ cock-eyed sense of humor do appear in fits and starts, particularly in a standout sequence in which Jouhari’s Debra (seemingly the most industrious of the Debras) attempts to shove a dead body into a purse while screeching to the victim, “Israel or Palestine? No wrong answers!” And, yes, she is trying to shove a dead body into a purse, further exemplifying the series’ strong sense of visual humor, weaving Debra-issued madness into a zippy problem.

Elsewhere, Stonoha’s Debra cleverly flips the script on a classic costume switcheroo and Honig makes a meal out of a well-placed censoring “blur.” Scenes like that point to the myriad possibilities inherent to scaling up their comedy creation, and hint that Jouhari, Stonoha, and Honig are keenly aware of how (and when) they will retrofit their out-of-the-box comedy for greater consumption. Go bigger, Debras, and keep busy with your madness, the world needs it now more than ever.

Grade: B

“Three Busy Debras” premieres Sunday, March 29 at midnight ET on Adult Swim.

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