Critics Have Seen Conan O’Brien Must Go, And They’re All Saying The Same Thing About The ‘Absurd’ New Travel Show On Max

Critics Have Seen Conan O’Brien Must Go, And They’re All Saying The Same Thing About The ‘Absurd’ New Travel Show On Max

Conan O’Brien made a return to The Tonight Show recently, 14 years after he unceremoniously parted ways with NBC in 2010, but that’s not the reason one of the best late-night hosts ever has been back in the conversation. A viral appearance on the show Hot Ones has fans appreciating the comedian anew, sharing hit best bits from over the years on social media. Well, there’s good news for O’Brien loyalists old and new, as the travel series Conan O’Brien Must Go has premiered for those with a Max subscription, and critics are weighing in on if it’s worth the watch.

Conan O’Brien Must Go is a spinoff to the ex-late-night host’s podcast Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend and features the comedy veteran traveling all over the world to meet fans in destinations like Norway and Ireland. Longtime Coco followers may have an idea of what to expect, given THR writer Daniel Fienberg’s description of the series as “smartly stupid fun.” The critic continues:

Conan O’Brien Must Go is a smartly dumb show — or a stupidly smart show — focused (loosely) on what is essential about travel. It’s a series about arriving in a new place open to meeting new people, learning new languages, tasting new foods and experiencing uncomfortable new circumstances … and then making fun of them, when all the while you’re mostly mocking yourself and the fears people have about stepping outside of their comfort zones.

The comedian’s self-deprecating humor and absurdity sticks out to the critics in the four-episode first season, with Decider’s Joel Keller saying Conan O’Brien’s willingness to put his ego aside and be completely silly is why his brand of comedy is still getting new life decades later. Keller writes:

That sort of self-deprecating, absurdist shtick is what has carried Conan for his entire career and three decades on, it still seems less like an act and more like the way Conan generally lives his life. It’s why it still comes off as genuine and really, really funny, whether you’ve been a fan of Conan since the ’90s or just became a fan in recent years.

Eric Deggans of NPR says Conan O’Brien’s talent is genius in that he can play the fool while leaving no doubt that he’s also the smartest person in the room. This quality is on display in every episode of Conan O’Brien Must Go, Deggans says, writing:

It's all an excuse for O'Brien to unleash his energetic wit, taste for silly absurdity and skill at drawing laughs from sympathetic — if often befuddled — strangers. Whether you enjoy this special will depend on how you feel about O'Brien's style, which can feel a bit like the world's best class clown doing everything possible to make you crack a smile.

Liz Shannon Miller of Consequence rates the series an A-, saying that if Conan must go, we must follow. The host keeps the energy high throughout the series and puts his new friends at ease by consistently making himself the butt of the joke. The critic says:

Whether playing football in Argentina or exploring his Irish heritage on the Emerald Isle, each episode is a playful, immersive delight. (Even the crew is having a good time; you can sometimes hear them laughing in the background.) And it all speaks to O’Brien’s abilities to not just find the funny in any moment, but connect with others.

Meredith Hobbs Coons of AV Club grades Must Go a B, agreeing with the above assessments that Conan O’Brien’s self-deprecation — in addition to his absurd and silly antics — are a joy to witness on screen again. Coons writes:

Yes, Conan stays Conan. He will always be a champion of the silliest, goofiest forms of comedy, with himself as the butt of every joke. It’s tough, when other people are brought into it, to tell exactly how enthused they are about their role in his brand of humor, especially when he’s in a new place and doesn’t speak the language. It’s worth mentioning that the vibes can be a bit off at times, and certain scenes seem to drag, as if he’s willing with all his might to draw comedy from them. But boy is it good to see Conan out there throwing his full, feral self (not just his voice) into the act again.

The critics seem to be in agreement that Conan O’Brien Must Go is a must-watch for fans of the famous talk show host. All four episodes are available now on Max — one of the best streaming services, per CinemaBlend’s staff — and be sure to check out our 2024 TV schedule to see what other premieres are coming soon.