No spoilers! I promise. So if you haven’t yet started the incredible “Lady Dynamite,” or you’re only a few episodes in, no fear.
Thank you, Netflix, for the gift of “Lady Dynamite,” because this show would not and could not have found a home anywhere else. With major broadcaster CBS passing on “Nancy Drew” for being “too female,” and then ABC axing the two female leads of “Castle” before ultimately cancelling it, mainstream broadcasting doesn’t seem like a happy home for women-driven shows.
And this show is complete in it’s uniqueness. But before I wax poetic on the art of this show — and I’ve got my poetry wax standing by and ready to buff — this show is great comedy. It’s steeped with genuine, clever humor and shouldn’t be missed for that reason alone.
But it is so much more than that.
About a fictionalized (?) version of comedian Maria Bamford, played by the actual comedian, Maria Bamford, this show is layered art. While you can watch it purely for the tart, satisfying comedy, you can tell, watching the first time, that a rewatch will yield even more.
Bamford has Bipolar II disorder, and the show explores the impact of that diagnosis on her life. And here’s its brilliance: it does it in a surreal way, leaving you pondering what is and isn’t real, what did and didn’t happen. This feeling expands in a meta direction, because you can’t help wondering, after watching, how much of it reflects Bamford’s journey.
And you just can’t know for sure. Giving those of us without experience with Bipolar 2 insight into what it’s like to live with the disorder, which can cause hallucinations.
As I said. It’s genius.
Yet it’s utterly relatable for anyone who has had trouble navigating the grown-up world of life. Which is pretty much everyone.
Netflix took a huge risk with this show, because it’s not like anything else. And just as I love it so much I want to make it wear doll clothes and have pretend tea with me every day, no doubt there are people who will have a visceral negative reaction.
There is nothing middle-of-the-road about it. Very little television strides boldly in the direction of its conviction; many things get watered down to appeal to as wide a swath as demographics will allow.
Not “Lady Dynamite.” It is entirely itself as television can be, and it’s beautiful.
In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, Me Inside Me Presents: “Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28 in Donny’s Skybox Theater. Tickets $13; Students $11 SCTC Students: $7 Click here for tickets.
Check out my full-length novels, Her Cousin Much Removed, The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!