Hulu’s brand-new sitcom This Fool made its series premiere on August 12, 2022, instantly earning rave reviews for its irreverent humor, realistic depiction of Mexican-American culture, and well-drawn characters living in East Los Angeles. The late-blooming coming-of-age story follows Julio (Chris Estrada), a wayward 30-year-old still living at home with his parents as he tries to navigate his personal and professional endeavors, including working at a non-profit gang rehab center.
While This Fool may not yet feature actors who are household names, many will recognize the primary players from a slew of popular movies and TV shows in the recent past.
Chris Estrada – Comedy Central Stand-Up Routine
A relative newcomer, Chris Estrada plays Julio in This Fool, a shrinking violet with a heart of gold who manages to help everyone in his life except himself. His arrested development keeps him at home with his parents into his 30s, and he has been dating the same girl on and off since high school. While some may recall Estrada from his only feature film cameo in Keeping Company, most will remember Estrada from his stand-up comedy routine on Comedy Central.
In many ways, the brand of humor and self-deprecating sensibilities Estrada voices in his stand-up is echoed in This Fool, giving a very specific and hilarious account of his time as a blue-collar worker, even using the term “fool” as a colloquial term of endearment that shines through on the show as well.
Frankie Quinones – The Dress Up Gang (2020)
In This Fool, Frankie Quinones plays Julio’s cousin Luis, an ex-con fresh out of jail who has a wild bullying demeanor and needs to rehab his image. As such, he attends therapy to get in touch with emotions, leading to a hilarious dynamic with his cousin. With just a few mainstream credits since 2015, most will recognize Frankie from his role in The Dress Up Gang.
The Dress Up Gang is a surreal comedy that chronicles the awkward pairing of Donny and Cory, a quasi-father-son pairing navigating quotidian life in Los Angeles. Lending the same raucous and irreverent humor as he does on This Fool, Quinones shines on the show as Frankie, a wild ex-con friend of the two who likes to party and makes Donny and Cory’s life hell when he serves a house arrest sentence at their house. As such, Quinones casting in This Fool is spot on!
Michelle Ortiz – Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Double Agent (2015)
Michelle Ortiz plays Maggie on This Fool, Julio’s on-off girlfriend that he’s known since high school. When Julio gets depressed on his birthday, he calls Maggie for solace, showing the profound love-hate kinship the two have developed over time. Ortiz recently played Riley Stone on the Vudu original Mr. Mom but most will identify her from her role as Sam on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Double Agent, an MCU side-character who should become a main figure.
The self-reflexive series follows a P.A. who infiltrates the set of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to obtain intel on future episodes. Ortiz plays a much different role than as the bitingly comedic Maggie, as Sam is a very serious character who warns Alex Mind about the need deliver production schedules and attend rehearsal. As a MADtv alum as well, it’s good to see Ortiz return to her comedy roots in This Fool.
Michael Imperioli – The Sopranos (1999-2006)
Michael Imperioli plays a rare comedic role as Minister Payne on This Fool, serving as the founder of Hugs Not Thugs, the gang rehab center Julio works at and Luis enters. A tragic figure who only gets more obscenely absurd by the minute, the playful performance is a far cry from Imperioli’s iconic role as Christopher Moltisanti on the all-time great HBO show The Sopranos.
While the landmark series follows Tony Soprano and his professional and domestic challenges, much of the story has to do with Tony’s nephew, Christopher, a young man struggling with drug addiction who has a hard time listening to directions. Imperioli has been a great actor since the days of Goodfellas, but it’s really exciting to see him play such an eccentric and genuinely funny character in Minister Payne on This Fool.
Laura Patalano – Gentefied (2021)
In This Fool, much of the comedy derives from Julio’s relationship with his mother, Esperanza (Laura Patalano). While she cares for her son unconditionally, Esperanza knows Julio must make life changes soon or else he’ll end up like Luis. With acting credits dating back to 1985, Patalano’s most recent substantial role came as Beatriz in the severely underrated Netflix comedy Gentefied.
Set in a similar world as This Fool, Gentefied takes a sympathetic look at three Mexican-American cousins doing all they can to achieve the American Dream by running their family’s taco store in Los Angeles. As Beatriz Morales, Patalano gives a heartfelt turn playing the protagonists’ grandmother whose hard work ethic as a seamstress inspires them to do better. Despite playing similar maternal roles in both series, it’s great to see Patalano continue to get roles that reflect her Mexican nationality, a woefully underrepresented culture on TV.
Julia Vera – Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)
While Julio’s dynamic with his strict tractional mother is one thing, his kinship with his freewheeling grandmother Maria (Julia Vera) is quite another on This Fool, proving how different generations can relate to one another. Luckily, Julia Vera has plenty of experience playing loving matriarchs, including Down For Life, All She Can, After School, and most visibly, Ant-Man and The Wasp.
The Marvel superhero movie continues Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) adjustment to life as a crime fighter and first-time father, teaming up with the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) to undergo a perilous new mission. Vera plays Luis’s (Michael Pena) grandmother, a Morrissey-loving restaurateur whose angry memory Luis conjures after being injected with truth serum. While there’s enough nuance to differentiate each individual character, Julia Vera is cornering the market on lovable abuelas on the big and small screen.
Jamar Malachi Neighbors – Keanu (2016)
One of the funniest characters on This Fool includes Chef Percy Williams (Jamar Malachi Neighbors), a reformed gangster who now works at Hugs Not Thugs by wearing a pink apron and baking cupcakes for strangers. Playful yet caustically witted, Percy is the perfect middle ground between the straight-laced Julio and wildcard Luis.
While Neighobors has appeared on Black Jesus and The Carmichael Show, most fans will recognize him for his hilarious appearance in the movie-length Key & Peele sketch comedy Keanu, in which he plays a hardened gangster named Stitches who scares the daylights out of Clarence and Rell by putting out a cigarello on his hand. While more refined and rehabilitated in This Fool, Neighbors continues to defy stereotypes by showing the softer and funnier side of street gangsters who deserve redemption after making positive changes in life.