'Baskets': A look at the new FX comedy and the success of the network's original programming

The Zach Galifianakis comedy 'Baskets' debuts on FX on Jan. 21. Galifianakis is known for the films 'The Hangover' and 'Birdman.'

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
'Baskets' co-creators Zach Galifianakis (l.) and Louis C.K. (r.) at the FX Networks Winter TCA.

“Baskets,” a comedy starring Zach Galifianakis that debuts on Jan. 21, is the newest original program from network FX.

The TV show centers on a man named Chip Baskets (Galifianakis), who is working to become a clown and who attempts to woo a singer (Sabina Sciubba) who is marrying him because he will bring her to America but whom Chip hopes he can win over romantically.

Reviews so far are mixed. The program was co-created by Galifianakis, “Portlandia” co-creator Jonathan Krisel, and comedian Louis C.K., who is the star of another FX comedy, “Louie.” 

We’ll see how viewers respond to the show, which New York Times critic James Poniewozik wrote has a “promising first episode [but becomes] a sour, rambling send-up of strip-mall American life” and Time writer Daniel D’Addario found to be “artfully done, but something feels familiar,” though Mr. D’Addario called Galifianakis “remarkable” and Entertainment Weekly writer Melissa Maerz found the show to be “a good mix of highbrow humor and silly, kick-in-the-pants laughs.” 

But the network that airs “Baskets,” FX, has established itself as a source for various critically acclaimed dramas and comedies over the last several years, being nominated for prizes along such heavyweights as HBO and Showtime. The anthology series “American Horror Story” is the favorite with viewers, according to a ratings record set last January, and it does quite well with critics also, with “Horror” picking up such Emmy Awards as best lead actress in a miniseries or a movie (for Jessica Lange) and best supporting actress in a miniseries or a movie (Kathy Bates). 

But their other programs have also found critical acclaim, including the Cold War drama “The Americans,” the show “Fargo,” and the comedy “Louie,” all of which have also been nominated for awards. 

Some shows have struggled more than others – the network’s program “Tyrant” was considered to be far from a sure thing for renewal when the question of a third season came up, but the network announced last fall that a third season will indeed be made. 

But this month’s Golden Globes showed that FX shows continue to be a force in TV, as two FX programs, “Fargo” and “American Horror Story,” scored nominations in the TV movie or miniseries category and singer Lady Gaga won the best actress prize in the same category for her work in “Horror.” 

If these flagship shows like "Fargo" and "Horror" continue to do well, FX will maintain its status as a TV power player.

Of course, it's a busy TV world. Along with previous competition like HBO and Showtime, FX is now competing with increasingly big streaming names like Netflix and Amazon.

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