Red Oaks is airing its final season later this month but its freshman run was a fun take on life in the 1980’s. Constantly compared to Caddyshack with tennis, the Amazon series follows a rag-tag group of employees at a Country Club in New Jersey and the fierce love for tennis that exists there. “Pilot,” assembles the group while also showing how important tennis is to this group of incredibly unhappy people during their summer vacation.
The pilot opens up with David, the unhappy accounting student, who is playing is father in a tennis match. He attempts to broach the subject of changing his major, his father is struck by an untimely heart attack which seems to be the turning point for his son. David realizes that if he sticks with accounting, a career that his father currently owns, he will lead the same miserable life until suffering from a heart attack due to his stress. His goal throughout “Pilot,” is to work as hard as possible at a Country Club so that he doesn’t have to work at his dad’s firm and to raise money to move to New York City.
Unfortunately, he takes advice from his boss, Nash, to go easy on some of the club members they train and David ends up in a rough spot. After playing with an older gentleman that he chooses to let win in their tennis match, he winds up in a bet for his job. The man turns out to be Doug Getty, the club owner who believes the new employee doesn’t have what it takes to really teach someone tennis. Nash has the unfortunate job of letting his new friend know at their giant employee party, that he’s expected to face Getty again the following morning on little to no sleep.
“Pilot,” has an incredibly fun time showing the face off between Getty and David, both who are taking a Country Club tennis match way too seriously. The latter shows up to the game late, hungover, and wearing sunglasses but prepared to showcase his skills. In an epic battle, David manages to defeat his new boss and earn a tiny bit of respect from him as well as meet a new love interest in the form of Skye. Sadly, his new cursh turns out to be the rebellious daughter of his new boss and it looks like things are about to get a lot more complicated for poor David.
While Red Oaks never allows tennis to be its primary focus the way football is in Friday Night Lights, it is still the center of the storyline. “Pilot” does a good job of introducing all of the characters but only showing a glimmer of how fantastic the first season of Red Oaks actually is. For those who love tennis, the series is incredibly entertaining and an intriguing coming of age story for all of the characters. Of course, the adults are just as fun as the kids, with Getty, Nash, and David’s father are all characters dealing with their unhappiness through ridiculous outlets. Not to mention the 80’s soundtrack is incredible for anyone who misses listening to actual music rather than the stuff on the radio.