Trevante Rhodes fascinates in Hulu’s Mike, but the show loses the fight | TV/streaming

Trevante Rhodes of “Moonlight” stars like Tyson, who doesn’t just tell his own story, he constantly breaks the fourth wall to do so, both in flashbacks of events from his life and on stage in a one-man show. In the first four episodes, Rhodes’ undeniable star power gives “Mike” a propulsive energy through the scale of his achievements, finding the balance between athleticism, fury and stubborn apprehension that made Tyson one of the most famous athletes in the world. Each half-hour episode captures major events in Tyson’s life, starting with childhood and moving through his development under Cus D’Amato (Harvey Keitel) in the second episode, introduction Robin Givens (Laura Harrier) in the third section, blends into the oversized personality of Don King (Russell Hornsby) in the fourth, and then actually hand over narration duties to Desiree Washington (Lee Eubanks) for the fifth episode (and the last sent to press).

If that sounds like a lot, it absolutely is, and “Mike” is the rare streaming-era show that could have been longer. Supporting players in Tyson’s life become perfunctory, especially D’Amato and Givens, though their feel as entities could probably be intentional, as this Tyson is something of an unreliable narrator. But they don’t even feel like the exaggerated versions of significant figures in our lives that memory often creates. Hornsby pushes beyond this weakness in the fourth episode by infusing King with enough charisma that you might wish the show was called “Don.” Eubanks is excellent in an episode that struggles with how to tell the sordid chapter of the Tyson legacy by literally taking its headline fighter out of the ring.

Tyson” constantly, and I think intentionally, draws attention to the story it chooses to tell and who is telling it, and it doesn’t always work. For example, the Givens saga gets to the reported violence between the two, though it softens much of its impact—visualizing a reported altercation between Tyson, Givens, and Givens’ mother in stylized slo-mo drains it of its dark realism. Tyson himself has often seemed hesitant to really reveal the dark energy that often drives him, so it makes some sense that “Mike” would have a similar problem, but it does lead to a sense that we’ve heard this history before and much of it also smelled like shit.

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