As with any obsessive fan of niche interests, the sneaker fanatics of “Sneakerheads” spend much of their time defending their diehard love. Their hunt for the perfect sneaker, the rarest edition, the sentimental favorites that got away isn’t about the shoe itself, really. It’s about the thrill of the chase, and anyone or anything that gets in their way is just another obstacle to their ultimate satisfaction of reaching the finish line. But as “Sneakerheads” proves, both accidentally and on purpose, the thing about treasure hunts is that finding the treasure rarely means the end of the hunt. There will always be that temptation, that sense that there must be something else out there that’s bigger and even better, dangling just out of reach. Over six breezy episodes, Jay Longino’s new Netflix series plays out this dynamic over, and over, and over again. Recovering sneakerhead Devin (Allen Maldonado) left his collecting days behind him after getting married to Christine (Yaani King Mondschein), but a run-in with his former partner-in-crime Bobby (Andrew Bachelor) quickly finds him falling right back into his old habits. The pilot is a self-contained story about Devin trying to find a pair of old favorites in his size, but from the second episode on, “Sneakerheads” is about Devin and friends trying to track down a mythical pair of AirJordan “zeroes.” Their winding path to victory includes linking up with sneaker tycoon Nori (a sharp Jearnest Corchado) and clueless wannabe Stuey (Matthew Josten), a spontaneous trip to Hong Kong and crashing the enormous compound of Mark Wahlberg (played with a hefty wink by “Antiques Roadshow” host Mark L. Walberg). It’s all fun enough, but by the fourth time Bobby’s schemes go awry and Devin says he’s done with the whole thing, “Sneakerheads” has really wrung every drop of inspiration from its exhausted premise. We get that Devin misses his old life and wishes his new one were half as interesting. We don’t need to see him go through the same frustrating cycle several times in a row without anything really changing. It doesn’t help that while the sneakerheads get a few ounces of character development, Christine remains a total, bland mystery. Not even a late-breaking attempt to give her an arc does much to distinguish her from any other beleaguered sitcom wife, which is an issue when Devin apparently gave up everything he loved in order to be with her. What ends up setting “Sneakerheads” apart more than its subject or circular writing is Dave Meyers’ directing. Meyers comes from the world of music videos, working with artists like Britney Spears, Janet Jackson and Missy Elliott to make maximum impact with minimal time. Given six full half-hours with “Sneakerheads,” Meyers proves a perfect match for a series set in the bleached alleyways and glossy nooks of underground Los Angeles. With an eye for detail and a willingness to push even the most banal shots to a more interesting place, Meyers brings a fluid, elastic quality to the show that keeps it moving even when the narrative is stuck in neutral. “Sneakerheads” premieres Friday, September 25 on Netflix.
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