Maria Bamford’s new Netflix series Lady Dynamite is great. It is what Arrested Development fans have been crazy since that show went off the air. The pilot is a bit all over the map, but once you get past the first episode, the series really takes off. It is funny, surreal, and like nothing you’ve ever seen. Seriously, there’s nothing like this. If I were to try to explain it to somebody it would be like this: Lady Dynamite is an R-rated version of Arrested Development meets Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show with a dark, manic tone.
First of all, Bamford is a comic genius. She’s one of finest stand-ups working (just check out her experimental The Special Special Special in which she does stand-up for an audience of two: her parents), and she’s a great actress. Then you have Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz helming the project. Now add in a little Pam Brady (Hot Rod, South Park), and you have one really funny, smart show with tons of character. It’s dark at times, often very surreal, and always quirky.
The best way for you to get a good idea of the show (besides just watching it) is for me to describe a few scenes. The pilot, though a tad shaky, does a pretty good job setting the scene of what you can expect. About halfway through the episode Maria is approached by Officer L’Amour (Patton Oswalt) about the new community bench she installed. He talks to her for a bit, tells her that she is going to need a permit, then breaks character to speak to Maria as Patton Oswalt. Patton tells her that she can’t have stand-up in her show because it is overdone and cliché, citing Seinfeld, Louie, and Chappelle’s Show. Then Maria and Patton, assuming the role of the comedy police, discuss Breaking Bad and using time jumps in her own show, only to be cut off abruptly by a one-eyed pink teddy bear floating in water.
The show continues like this while tackling race, representing mega corporations in nation wide holiday ads, dating, and mental illness. And it’s very funny while doing it. One of my favorite scenes comes at the end of episode two when a bearded Japanese woman shows up then the set is moved to reveal Maria and her bisexual former meth addict boyfriend are on a game show called Pussy Noodle. The host says, “Shane here wants to have Pussy and Noodle, but there must be a decision. Maria: will you offer pussy to Shane?” I won’t ruin her decision, but I’ll say it absolutely delivers and ties back to an earlier joke (a la Arrested Development).
I highly recommend watching this show if you are any sort of alternative comedy fan. If you like the Comedians of Comedy or Arrested Development or even Tim & Eric, this show is for you. Many were disappointed by Arrested Development’s fourth Netflix-exclusive season – I was not one of them – and this show might just scratch that itch for you. It’s not quite the same as that show, but it definitely has a similar sense of humor.
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