Feel Good: A Near-Perfect Dark Comedy – Netflix Review

Mae Martin writes and stars in this comedy exploring how messed up life can be.

I love a good dark comedy and I especially love a comedy that’s aimed at trying to explore real-life issues. This show is the middle of that Venn diagram. Mae Martin, who you may have seen in their Netflix stand-up special, plays Mae, a character who is blatantly based on them. Mae is an English-Canadian comedian who is living in England and meets a young English woman named George (Charlotte Ritchie). The two quickly hit it off and begin dating. Eventually, they move in together, only for each to discover that the other one is hiding something. Mae has not admitted to George that they are a recovering drug addict while George did not tell Mae that she is still in the closet out of fear of her proper English family.

There are cute moments.

A lot of the series’ humor is derived from the fact that these two are both broken individuals, albeit in very different ways. George can’t be open about her bisexuality, to the point that she is constantly lying to her parents and friends about having a boyfriend. She can’t ever be her real self around anyone but Mae. Meanwhile, Mae is still a recovering addict who is not only ashamed of that fact but often bordering on being in denial. Their parents, Linda and Malcolm (Lisa Kudrow and Adrian Lukis), are a bit distant with her but also try to be supportive. They previously kicked her out when they were younger, leading them to live with an older man for a while, something that haunts Mae. Mae’s attempts to go through the steps of recovery often seem insincere because they sometimes seem unconvinced that recovery is real. 

A pet funeral.

Watching the pair grow both together and separately through the series is interesting. Mae and George are an adorable couple, but they also are bad for each other as often as they are good. Both of them are often selfish and their attempts to “help” the other one are really just thinly veiled excuses to further their own ends. The show isn’t just a story about how these two get to their happy ending, in fact it’s possible it won’t end that way, but it does manage to balance some of the nihilist and cynical moments of its characters with moments of emotional growth or warm honesty. 

Watching Mae deal with PTSD is tough at times.

Overall, really a great show. I recommend it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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END OF 2020 FILMS (Death to 2020, Yearly Departed): Laugh So You Don’t Cry – Netflix/Amazon Prime Review

If you missed these, we’re almost a month into the next year and it’s time to set the last one on fire.

SUMMARY

Death to 2020 – Presented as a mockumentary about the last year and how completely and ridiculously unbelievable it was from an objective viewpoint, this special has performances by Samuel L. Jackson as a reporter, Hugh Grant as a historian, Lisa Kudrow as a conservative pundit, Leslie Jones as a behavioral psychologist, Joe Keery as a millennial, Kumail Nanjiani as a tech billionaire, Tracy Ullman as Queen Elizabeth II, Cristin Milioti as a “Karen,” Diane Morgan as a British person, and Laurence Fishburne as a voice. 

Shut the f*ck up, Karen.

Yearly Departed – Presented as a complicated funeral for the year, a group of female comedians (Rachel Brosnahan, Sarah Silverman, Natasha Leggero, Tiffany Haddish, Patti Harrison, Natasha Rothwell, Ziwe Fumudoh, and Phoebe Robinson) all give hilarious eulogies about various things that “died” in 2020.

Like most of us watching this, she’s not wearing pants.

END SUMMARY

2020 sucked. There was a lot of death, a lot of loneliness, and a lot of my neighbors planning an insurrection to overthrow the US government unless their candidate won (HEY, FBI, THEY’RE NEXT DOOR AND THEY HAVE A LOT OF GUNS). However, through it all, we found out that there is a lot of shit in this world that really isn’t necessary (working in an office building for many jobs) and a bunch that is more necessary than we could ever have imagined (teachers, nurses, and other people we don’t pay well enough). These films are a testament to the insanity that was the last year. What’s funniest, I think, is how many of the things in these films you will have forgotten about because other, crazier things happened afterwards. 

Remember how people were quickly cancelling cop shows and films?

If I had to choose between them, and I don’t really because they’re both fairly short, but if I did, I would say that I enjoyed the mockumentary format of Death to 2020 more than the fake funeral of Yearly Departed. Viewing last year through a semi-objective lens and just reminding us how much shit actually happened during it feels almost like a self-parody. Like when the movie Airplane! just lifted lines directly from the film Zero Hour and that made it apparent that Zero Hour was itself a terrible and ridiculous movie. However, I did appreciate that Yearly Departed focused almost entirely on female comics, giving it a distinction that most specials don’t have. They each essentially give different comedy monologues and they are all amazingly funny, it’s just that the format gets a little old eventually.

Plus, only Samuel L. Jackson is capable of expressing the frustration of 2020.

Overall, I recommend checking both of these out to help you move forward into the new year strong.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Friends: “The One With All The Thanksgivings” – HBO Max Thanksgiving Special

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving surrounded by Friends.

SUMMARY

Ross (David Schwimmer) complains that he is getting divorced and evicted and therefore having the worst Thanksgiving ever. Chandler (Matthew Perry) counters that his parents announced they were getting divorced on Thanksgiving when he was a kid. Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) says that she has the worst Thanksgiving story, but when pressed she tells a tale of her losing an arm in the Civil War, revealing that she’s talking about a past life. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) doesn’t reveal his own worst Thanksgiving, instead having Phoebe reveal that Joey once got his head stuck in a turkey when he tried to scare Chandler. Monica (Courteney Cox), who needs the turkey, works with Phoebe to get it off, but they do end up scaring Chandler.

It was a thoughtful turkey prank, as you can see.

Monica tells the story of her worst Thanksgiving, when she and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) were High School Seniors and Chandler and Ross came to visit from college. Monica had a crush on Chandler, but overheard him calling her fat, hurting her feelings. In the present, Chandler apologizes and Monica accepts, only for Rachel to reveal that to not be the worst Thanksgiving Monica had. Instead, she reveals that Monica lost weight just so she could have a chance to seduce Chandler and humiliate him for revenge. In the process of trying to act sexy with a knife, she cuts off Chandler’s toe. To make matters worse, she forgets to bring the toe to the hospital, leaving Chandler with only 9 tootsies. In the present, Chandler becomes angry at Monica, so Monica comes over to his apartment wearing a turkey on her head. She adds a fez, glasses, and a funny dance, leading Chandler to inadvertently admit he loves her for the first time. 

Imagine losing a toe… in that outfit.

END SUMMARY

In some ways this is the anti-Thanksgiving special because it’s about people focusing on their worst experiences as opposed to on the traditional themes of family, togetherness, or overeating. It also has everyone bringing up all of the bad experiences which can happen when you are dealing with loved ones over the holidays, including the revelations of divorces or resentment. However, it also ends with one of the most memorable moments in the show’s entire run and it stands out all the more because it’s contrasted by the other lousy memories. Maybe that’s part of the point of the episode and the holiday: It allows us to view the rest of the year and be thankful that all of the crappy things that happened to us are already over. In this, the Year of our clearly-very-pissed-off Lord 2020, it seems only appropriate to spend this holiday recognizing that we have at least survived the past year… so far. Hard to believe the year that started with massive wildfires on three continents and a possible war with Iran somehow did not get better from there.

Although our Friendsgivings are more digital this year.

This episode is one of the more prominent flashback episodes of Friends and has possibly the best gimmick ever with showing Chandler and Ross trying to be cool in the 1980s. In the first flashback, Chandler has an A Flock of Seagulls haircut, a thing that DID actually exist, kids. Fun fact: Mike Score, the guy who had the now-infamous hairstyle, was a hairdresser. The person who did Chandler’s hair was definitely not. In an even more deep-cut, the episode takes place in 1987, the year after A Flock of Seagulls dissolved. When we see Ross and Chandler a year later, in 1988, they’re dressed like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice, which was at least still airing at the time. However, they both still look completely ridiculous in their Italian sports coats over t-shirts. We also get a flashback to Rachel before her nose job and Monica before she lost a lot of weight, but those had been done before and, honestly, don’t age great.

Ross went with a pornstache which also doesn’t age well.

The most memorable part of this episode is likely still the image of Monica dancing with a turkey on her head, but it’s almost overshadowed by the absolute cuteness of Chandler admitting his love to her. It’s a thing that you may have done in a relationship, where you just have that moment that perfectly encapsulates what you find amazing about the other person and you express your feelings completely naturally.

That’s how you get the ratings, baby.

Overall, I still love this episode and I look forward to it every Thanksgiving. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Space Force: It’s Out Of This World… Okay?

Steve Carrell stars as the first commander of the US Space Force.

SUMMARY

Four-star General Mark Naird (Steve Carell) is appointed by the President to be the first head of Space Force, a newly-created branch of the military. His only directive is that he is supposed to have “boots on the moon” in the near future. With that in mind, Naird moves his family, including his daughter Erin (Diana Silvers) and his wife Maggie (Lisa Kudrow) to Colorado. A year later, Naird and his chief scientist Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich) are ready to finally start launching stuff into space, but it turns out that rocket science is… well, rocket science. Despite the usual government incompetence, Naird’s team, including Captain Angela Ali (Tawny Newsome), scientist Dr. Chan Kaifang (Jimmy O. Yang),  and his social media advisor F. Tony Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz) needs to shoot for the moon.

My god, so much talent in this image.

END SUMMARY

I admit that I had low expectations of this show, because almost any media that is based on something topical like this is likely to be rushed. Remember that show based on the Geico cavemen? You probably don’t, because it only aired six times and the ratings on it dropped so fast that it dented the floor of the ABC building, but that WAS a thing. However, since I honestly think Steve Carrell could read the phone book in a way that would make me laugh, I gave it a shot. 

So many medals.

This show is extremely hit-and-miss. Some of the jokes and performances are laugh-out-loud funny, particularly some of the scenes with John Malkovich. However, those scenes are often punctuated with long bouts of unfunny attempts to take shots at the current state of America. I get why they wanted to do them, but that kind of humor ages poorly and really doesn’t lend itself to scripted comedy that well, outside of topical shows like SNL or late-night TV. Saying “haha, this politician we’re parodying is a dick” isn’t a joke in itself, and the show tends to just say that and then not actually come up with a real joke. The best scenes are the ones that are based around the actual difficulties related to getting people into space or about the difficulties of dealing with how insane politics can be, not the ones where you can feel the screenwriters shouting “see, we made the female representative AYC, like AOC, get it?” 

Oh look, she’s holding an orange and asking angry questions. Funny!

However, since this is Netflix, the show probably does a great job of being really easy to follow and binge while also posting on Instagram or browsing a blog weighing the merits of various taco chains. The leads are all solid, there are a few funny running gags, there’s a monkey at one point, and some of the recurring actors, like Fred Willard (R.I.P. you funny genius), Jane Lynch, Patrick Warburton, or Kaitlin Olson manage to take even some mediocre lines and turn them into solid gold because they can go all-out. 

This isn’t from the show. I just really miss Fred Willard.

Overall, I would recommend not putting it on top of your list of must-see-TV, but if you just want something in the background, it’s a good choice. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.