The Overhead Compartment

I have within the last day or two, finished watching two television series. 

In both cases, it wasn't so much an undertaking.  One of them was a six episode season, the other was a four-season run, six episodes per season - all 30 minute episodes.

So I don't want you to think I am some TV watching zombie, although... I kind of am.  Even for me, that is some serious binge-watching. 

The first one I plowed through was Shrill.  It stars Aidy Bryant, features Julia Sweeney and Daniel Stern as her parents, and Lolly Adefope as her roommate.

The premise of the show is that Annie Easton (Aidy) is fat.

That's pretty much it.  She's a writer for an independent weekly.  Her boss is an asshole.  She has a "boyfriend".  He's an asshole.  Her parents are lovely, her roommate is lovely.  But she's fat, so she thinks that she doesn't deserve to be treated well.  So she has a breakdown/breakthrough, and she herself becomes kind of an asshole.

Here are the things I liked:

- Annie's roommate and the roommate's brother (Fran and Lamar)

- Her parents (Bill and Vera)

- Her "work husband" (Amadi)

- Her dog (Bonkers)

- Her clothes (more on that in a second)

- The pool party

- One scene where her boyfriend babysits the dog and is high on mushrooms, and draws the dog's portrait

What I didn't like:

- The way she treated other people in general, even before her "awakening"

- Her reasonably upscale lifestyle considering she is a staff writer at an independent weekly and her roommate does hair in their little cute Portlandia House.

- The fact that she not only endures having a crappy boyfriend, she SEEKS HIM OUT repeatedly

- The fact that, despite the belief that her weight shouldn't matter, we're devoting an entire series to that exact thing

- The last five minutes of the final episode.  I love Beck Bennett, but this did NOT work for me

Now, let's talk clothes, for a second...

I like some of the things both Aidy and Annie wear, but none of them are off-the-rack. Which feels like a missed opportunity to me.  What if I want a rainbow sequin dress, dammit?  Where is my costume designer?

I would prefer a lower neckline, but otherwise, perfection.


Also, I read and article about Aidy that states she is a size 18.  First of all - who cares?  Second of all, really? Ok - maybe she has a few pieces in her wardrobe that are 18.  That's about the skinniest I can get down to, and that's easily another 20-30 less than I am now.  I'm a few inches taller, and I can't objectively say I'm not as big as her, but I will say, I think I carry my weight differently.  That's not a value judgment.  It's my perception of spatial reasoning.

It's like the time that Chrissy Metz girl on This is Us reported that she was a size 20, maybe 22?  No. I wear 20 and 22, and I am a decent bit smaller.

And I'm most irritated with myself because WHY DOES IT MATTER?   Why do I care if someone fudges their dress size - it's not a measure of their worth, or mine.

Moving on.

The second series I finished late last night.  This was the final season, so I'm done.

The show is Catastrophe.  And it's delightful.  It's a meet-cute about two very flawed people who decide to commit to her unplanned pregnancy and dig in for the long haul.  This one is going to stick with me for a lot longer, I think.  Even without kids, the theme of "marriage is hard and sometimes you want to kick your spouse in the teeth" rings reasonably true. 

I used to think that because from time to time I got completely frustrated in marriage that I was a bad person, a bad spouse.  And I'm not saying I'm not.  But I think we have to remember - we're all flawed.  You just need to find someone whose flaws dovetail nicely with yours.

Some of the things they struggled with as a couple are pretty universal.  He's stuck in a job that is killing him.  Their parents and siblings are complicated.  They themselves are complicated.  Money is tight sometimes.  The housing market is expensive and unpredictable.  There's mental health to take into account.

Some of the couple's friends feature heavily into the mix.  The husband, Rob, befriends Chris, the husband of one of his wife's frenemies.  The Rob and Chris relationship is one of my favorite things about the whole series.  They go to movies together, and dinner, and coffee.  Chris is probably the sanest person in the mix, and even he is a mess. 



Without getting too spoilery, the final minutes of the final episode are cryptic.  I have chosen my take on it, but I'm glad to learn, in talking with others, that they also had to decide.

When I was in college, studying television, neither of these shows would have been possible.  Not on network TV, and cable wasn't big into creating its own episodic dramas, comedies.  And of course, NetHuMazon didn't exist.

So, it's an interesting time.  That's also probably all the binge-watching I have in me for awhile - hockey play-offs notwithstanding.

Be young, be foolish and be happy.

Be yourself.

ae




Comments

I really enjoyed Lindy West's book Shrill, which I understand is the basis for that series--primarily the fact that she emphasizes that she's fine with her body, and even confronts her boss, who just happens to be Dan Savage. And she has an essay about meeting, in person, an internet troll who tormented her, which is moving and enlightening. She's also very honest about herself. Anyway I had higher hopes for the series than what it seems to be delivering.
The other sounds intriguing enough to make me think investing in Prime would be worth it. Of course Good Omens is already seriously pushing me in that direction.