S1: Dark comedy which makes it a hard show to always 'like', although Shawkat and her character make it work
It was by chance that I heard about this show, and in retrospect I am surprised that it was well received and comparatively popular. The reason for this is that it is incredibly dark in what it is doing, plus what it is doing is very much not the part of the show that makes it engaging. On the surface it is a murder mystery, however this is mostly a frame for a biting satire on a generation – indeed the conclusion of the mystery also comes around to being that too. I understand that this will make the show a hard sell, and indeed it does spend most of its time essentially showing us the worst stereotypes of millennials – in particular those in large cities growing up into an image of life that they don't appreciate is either a fiction, or required a lot of work to get to.
As such we have characters who take pride in the vapid, are narcissistic in the extreme, lack any form of self-awareness or shame, or just feel a total void in their lives while they superficially have a lot in place. This is a dark place to put your characters, particularly when few of them progress from those points (which is part of the point). I did find this difficult because I disliked all the main characters for who they were, who they insisted on being, and how they confirmed my general views of a generation raised on pictures of themselves, whole systems of affirmation by others, and their lives being presented as an image as opposed to lived. I don't say that in a condescending way, because it is not, but rather it is one of relief that I did not grow up with such things as I think I would be precisely this person, or profoundly depressed, but most likely both. Kudos to the cast that they play these characters in depressingly convincing ways.
The exception to these characters is the main one of Dory, who is allowed room within herself – mainly because she is lost as to who that is. Shawkat is tremendous in the lead; she has a great range, shows so much with so little, and fleshed out her character so well. Her lost soul is engaging but yet never better than who she is. She seeks meaning, she seeks more, and develops value from these things rather than herself. The end of the show will frustrate many but I felt it was brilliant as it brought the actual main thread (Dory) to a close as she is forced to confront yet another example of who her peers are, and by extension, herself – she was as caught up in her mystery as Elliott was in all of his self-important crap. She is a great character, easier to like even if the end she is as much of the satire as the more obvious jokes of Portia and Elliott.
The presentation is pretty cool too; it looks and sounds good, has plenty of well-known cameos doing good work, and has a cool soundtrack which reminded me of how well the theme music of Channel 4's Utopia worked. It is a show I enjoyed, even if the strength of it does make it harder to 'like' since the characters are generally meant to be hard to like. It balances this well though with the mystery element, episode structure, but most importantly, by making Dory the standout character and getting Shawkat to match it with a standout performance.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this