Is Reboot based on a true story? Plus plot and cast details of the Rachel Bloom comedy on Disney Plus

What has inspired this hilarious sitcom?

Rachel Bloom, Calum Worthy, Esther Povitsky in Reboot on Disney Plus
(Image credit: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy/Future)

The creator of smash hit comedy Modern Family is back with a meta sitcom starring Rachel Bloom - and we are absolutely here for it.

Reboot is out to poke fun at fame and the fickle way it can bring rapid highs for those who find it, and huge fallouts when the previously famous become obsolete. Modern Family creator Steven Levitan doesn’t just satirise the heady heights of fame in this meta sitcom, but also TV networks themselves, and the often swiftly changing nature of TV shows and what viewers want to consume. Not only is the concept of the series original, but it stars Rachel Bloom - surely one of the funniest women of this generation. Read on to find out if Reboot is based on a true story, along with plot details and who will star alongside Bloom.

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Is Reboot based on a true story?

Reboot isn’t based on a true story, but it is based on Steven Levitan’s collection of memories and people he’s met through years of working in the television industry. 

The show follows the dysfunctional cast from a fictional early-2000s hit sitcom called Step Right Up, when they’re called upon for a reboot of their once famed series by Hulu. Step Right Up is not a real sitcom and speaking to Hollywood Reporter about exactly what the show is, Levitan said “I’d say it’s a love letter, and maybe also a friendly roast”. 

On drawing on real experiences for the show’s concept, Levitan added “I’ve had a wonderful career. I’ve met so many amazing people and some of them were, you know, unbelievably weird and quirky, and that’s what I wanted to capture. Sometimes you can have a room full of very normal people sitting around having a conversation about something absurd and I wanted to capture that, as well”.

What is the show Reboot about?

Reboot follows the former cast of fictional noughties sitcom Step Right Up, when the show gets offered a reboot at Hulu.  

This comes at a good time for all of the cast, who have since fallen into obscurity. Clay Barber is a former addict who needed the structure of his job on Step Right Up to stay clean, and has struggled without it. Bree Marie Jensen was 30 when the sitcom came to an end, and instead of the glittering career she hoped would follow, work dried up for her and she is glad for this second chance. 

It’s also a similar story for Reed Sterling who left the show thinking he’d make it in the movies - who obviously then did not. He’s spent the years since appearing on Step Right Up auditioning for bit parts. Former child star Zack Johnson has never really grown up. He’s had steady work since the show ended, in kids movies and attending fan events, but is nonetheless happy to see if the reboot will give his career a boost. 

The cast failed to stay in touch once Step Right Up ended, and the essential premise of the show is them learning to work together again after 15 years apart. Reed and Bree had been a couple during the show’s heyday, and have to deal with the chemistry they still have, even if they don’t want it. Bree also has insecurities about her age, exacerbated by the casting of a young reality show star named Timberly. Writer Hannah wants to refashion the reboot to be less wholesome, and hiring original showrunner Gordon makes for a fraught pairing. Can everyone work through their personal issues and make the reboot work?

Rachel Bloom, Krista Marie Yu in Reboot on Disney Plus

(Image credit: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy)

Reboot: Release date

Reboot is released in the UK on Wednesday November 2, on Disney Plus. A subscription to the streamer will be required. 

A Disney Plus subscription costs £7.99 per month in the UK, or £79.90 for a year’s access. The majority of Disney Plus content is available with the subscription, although Disney occasionally releases Disney Plus Premier Access titles, requiring additional payment. However, such titles are usually added to the catalogue a short time later, where they are free to watch. UK subscribers can stream on four screens simultaneously, and register up to 10 devices - the service will support 7 profiles. 

There is no free trial offered with Disney Plus. When the streaming service launched in 2020, an initial 1 week free trial was offered at the time to celebrate. However, this was discontinued after the first month, and has not been reinstated. 

Rose Abdoo, Fred Melamed, Rachel Bloom (back), and Kimia Behpoornia in Reboot on Disney Plus

(Image credit: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy)

Reboot: Cast

  • Keegan-Michael Key (Toy Story 4, Pinocchio) as Reed Sterling
  • Johnny Knoxville (Jackass, the Ringer) as Clay Barber
  • Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Trolls) as Hannah Korman
  • Calum Worthy (Supernatural, Smallville) as Zack Jackson
  • Krista Marie Yu (Dr. Ken, Last Man Standing) as Elaine Kim
  • Judy Greer (Arrested Development, Kidding) as Bree Marie Jensen
  • Paul Reiser (Whiplash, Stranger Things) as Gordon Gelman
  • Eliza Coupe (Scrubs, Pivoting) as Nora
  • Alyah Chanelle Scott (The Sex Lives of College Girls) as Timberly Fox
  • Lawrence Pressman (Criminal Minds, Totem) as Jerry
  • Fred Melamed (WandaVision, Barry) as Alan
  • Rose Abdoo (Gilmore Girls, Hacks) as Selma
  • George Wyner (Hill Street Blues, Spaceballs) as Alan
  • Kimia Behpoornia (Atypical, Hacks) as Azima
  • Korama Danquah (iCarly, On My Block) as Janae
  • Dan Leahy (Barry, Dave) as Benny

Rachel Bloom and Paul Reiser spoke to Slashfilm about how their on screen characters were developed, and whether they had to work at their chemistry. Reiser said "Yeah, Steve Levitan is, obviously, a really talented, smart guy, and he's assembled a great writing room. So it was all there on the page. But then, of course, you get to play it. And Rachel and I hadn't met. We were both fans of each other, but we hadn't met. And it kind was easy from day one. It felt like, 'All right, we knew this, we know how to do this.'' We both know what it's like to be in a writers' room where you're butting heads with someone else. And then the personal stuff between our characters was really fun to play".

Bloom added "Yeah, I remember the first day, first moment, we acted together was we didn't even have a line, I just had to storm out of your office. And Steve wanted me to get teary, and I was like trying to get to the actory place. And Paul, in character, you were like, 'What? Are you going to cry? It's showbiz, kid,' like helping me prep. And I was like, 'This is going to be awesome'."

Paul Reiser and Rachel Bloom in Reboot on Disney Plus

(Image credit: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy)

Reboot: Reviews   

Reboot has received mixed reviews so far, currently holding an 86% critic score on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, and a 61% audience score. 

Neely Swanson from Easy Reader was impressed with the show, saying "One laugh out loud moment after another, played in front of the curtain of Hollywood and behind the wall of family dysfunction. And it all works!"

Joy Press from Vanity Fair wasn't quite as enthusiastic. Her take was "In the end, Reboot seems caught between wanting to skewer the old ways and desperately missing their simple satisfactions. There are twists in the series opener that came as a genuine surprise, but nothing is so messy or nuanced that it can’t be settled by a good punchline. The show wants to have its meta-cake and eat it too. As former child star Zack says at one point after almost getting in trouble: 'See? It’s TV— things always work out''."

One audience member said "This is actually a fantastic show and I'm not sure why people don't love it. The acting is great as is the writing and it's always fun to have a bit "meta" going on. It's funny, entertaining, light and easy to watch and I finished and wanted more and hope more are going to be Produced. It may not be as good as 30 Rock, but it's well worth your time."

While another was of the opinion "Warning: Sports metaphor incoming. Imagine being able to take your pick of any classic NFL players you want. Your offense consists of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Dwight Clark and a Hall of Fame caliber offensive line built on pass protection. Then, you pick a sub par coach who makes a terrible game plan and decides to do nothing but run the ball all game. And when that doesn't work, you run the ball some more. That's what Reboot is to sit-coms. Sounded great on paper, some amazing talent. But so poorly executed while telegraphing most of their scenes, it's hard to watch." 

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.