You have to watch this painfully bleak show I’m binging. The episodes are about an hour long, and the themes are pretty dark. It’s a parable for the decline of the American empire, with a lot of heavy-handed commentary about the alienating effects of social media and the hypocrisy of neoliberalism.
I think it’s the first great sitcom of the decade.
Yeah, I said “sitcom.” It’s definitely a comedy. A character smirks or makes a pop culture reference in almost every scene. And it’s set in the present day. Dramas take place in the past; comedies take place in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods where dysfunctional adults vape and have identity crises at dinner parties. As they say, tragedy plus time!
Well, “funny” is subjective. The main character processes her emotions through bad, sincere karaoke. Does that answer your question?
I’d say my favorite episode is the one that’s completely divorced from the rest of the narrative, made up of absurdist vignettes where the joke is that there is no joke—the kind of thing you have to be stoned out of your mind to not find agonizingly dull. Truth be told, I didn’t “get it” at first, but once I realized it was trying to be pointless, I was like, now this is humor.
Oh, I see. You like The Large Bang Theory and Updated Family or whatever. This is a little edgier than those shows. It’s dry. It doesn’t make you laugh, it makes you think, and sometimes cringe, and then nod your head and say, “How ironic.” Don’t start it expecting Recs and Park. No offense, those shows are a little… simple. Entertainment is supposed to be exhausting.
But, okay, maybe you’ll like this other show I’m into, an animated series so ugly and garish that I physically cannot watch more than two episodes in a day. It’s equal parts juvenile and explicit, mixing bodily functions with gory violence. The disturbing sexual fantasy sequences have kept me awake through the night on multiple occasions. And the entire voice cast is gender- and race-swapped, which makes me very uncomfortable. That’s sitcoms for ya.
It’s also the most realistic, heart-breaking depiction of substance abuse I’ve ever seen. The second season arc about intergenerational trauma made me genuinely worried for the writers. It should come with a trigger warning: “The following program is bitingly brilliant!” And also one with the phone number for a crisis hotline.
I follow the showrunner’s Twitter and it’s… rough.
Rumor has it, he got the premise from an upsetting doodle he found in a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces someone left in the Harvard Lampoon Castle. And he took a really creative approach to staffing: hiring up-and-coming journalists who, by their own admission, don’t watch much television. To be a fly on that room’s wall!
His next project is about a support group after the climate apocalypse. The trailer made me so anxious I threw up. Start engraving his Mark Twain prize now, right?
Uh, listen, it sounds like maybe you just aren’t into television. But I saw a great movie recently, an existential exploration of what makes life meaningful, whether you can ever truly know another person (turns out you can’t), and the basic worthlessness of love in a chaotic universe where all forces tend toward entropy and decay. It devastated me. I’ve been on Zoloft since.
Of course it’s a comedy. It’s from Pixar!