Stream it or skip it?

We know next to nothing about cars; we can change our windshield wipers, refill windshield fluid and change headlights when a bulb burns out. But we love watching car shows, especially ones where a shop tweaks a car to make it run better and/or faster. A new series follows a high-profile racing family as they not only work on client projects, but coordinate and perform spectacular stunts on film sets (yes, this family does both).

Opening shot: A close up of Sammy Maloof putting on a helmet before doing a stunt.

The essential: Drive Hard: the Maloof method is a reality series that shows Sammy Maloof and his family – wife Jennifer, son Trevor, nephew Joshua and daughters Kaitlyn, Meghan and Hannah – running their multi-faceted business. The Maloof family is famous in Southern California for tuning cars and engines for racing, but Sammy is also a stuntman, having worked on big movies for a quarter of a century.

Episodes will feature projects entering their engine shop, usually tied to a race. For example, a guy from Texas arrives with his Mustang; he’s been challenged to a race by a well-known street racer, and he wants to make sure his Mustang is up to it. His budget is limited, but he promises to split the $10,000 purse with the Maloofs if he wins. According to Jennifer, who runs the business side, projects like these don’t make a lot of money, but they carry Maloof’s name.

Hannah, Trevor and Joshua are working on the tweaks they need to make to the car to make it more solid and responsive, like lowering the suspension, adding sticky tires and stiffening the roll cage. On the practice track, Sammy gives the customer advice on how to overtake his rival, even if his car is a bit slower.

On the stunt side of the business, twins Kaitlyn and Meghan, both apprentice stunt performers, will help their father do a stunt in an independent film. Maloof has his own stunt coordinator and they organize and plan the whole stunt, which consists of twins chasing his SUV down hilly dirt roads, then the SUV launches sideways into a bus, with lots of explosions.

Drive Hard: the Maloof method
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

What shows will this remind you of? The shape of Drive Hard: the Maloof method is similar to that of other project-based reality series, such as American Pickers and Southern Survival. A good comparison show is American chopperbut without all the explosive family arguments.

Our opinion : If you love cars, you’ll love it Drive Hard: the Maloof method. There are plenty of scenes of people tightening things up with ratchets, and people using their automotive know-how to tweak already bloated cars to go even faster. On the stunt side, Sammy and his stunt team plan and perform some pretty spectacular stunts, and the producers seem to know it’s best to end each episode on a stuntman, to see if Sammy gets hurt or not.

It’s also fun to watch Sammy Maloof teach his kids and nephew everything he knows, especially as he seeks to leave the business to them. The dynamic within the family seems to be more loving and supportive than anything else, which doesn’t really promote reality drama (the American chopper), but it also doesn’t feel semi-scripted (like on Star pawns).

Look, we know the plans are in place; people don’t just email Maloofs and randomly enter. Sammy Maloof is a great stuntman, but not exactly a good actor. In one episode, a racer who took his car to another mechanic after the Maloofs worked on it comes to the shop, and there’s supposed to be a dispute. But Sammy and Hannah’s lack of acting talent is evident; it’s something that, if real, was settled a long time ago and is being recreated for the cameras.

We’re also not sure if the stunts are for any particular film project. Why would a filmmaker accept that the best stunt of his film is broadcast in a Netflix series? Again, it’s okay that these stunts are actually for the show and not a movie project, but the forgery is pretty obvious and takes away how awesome the stunts are.

Sex and skin: None.

Farewell shot: Sammy jumps out of the SUV and crashes into the bus, which his team has modified to escape into the section it’s supposed to hit.

Sleeping Star: We’ll give that to Hannah Maloof, as she’s both an expert mechanic and an excellent race car driver.

The most pilot line: When the client’s car leaked oil during the test, Hannah says the car “supposedly drove through Texas.” Let’s just say this: at least you can’t accuse the Maloofs of honing their personalities for the camera.

Our call: SPREAD IT. Although there isn’t a ton of conflict in Drive Hard: the Maloof methodthere are lots of races, lots of spectacular stunts and lots of other things to make gearheads happy.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he’s not fooling himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon,, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.

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