Another stand-up comedian gets another sitcom, except this particular television show is anything but yet another familiar half-hour comedy. Lady Dynamite explodes any genre restrictions. Once again, Netflix is breaking new ground in entertainment by collaborating with Stephen Colbert’s favorite comedian, Maria Bamford, and her bizarre sense of humor.
The delightful Bamford digs into her personal life for the story of #LadyDynamite, breaking narrative rules and experimenting with the standard sitcom format. From episode one, the storyline shifts from the past to the present in creative ways. Bamford’s real life struggle with mental illness takes center stage. She turns her pain into comedy as she recollects her time in mental hospitals and journey to having her own show on Netflix.
Bamford teamed up with South Park’s Pam Brady and Arrested Development’s Mitch Hurwitz to bring her story to television. These are hugely successful comedies that broke new ground themselves. With this level of talent behind #LD, the future looks bright.
The series premiere kicks off with Bamford’s daydream as the star of an infomercial for hair products. This hilarious skit-like opening sets the stage rather well, hinting at the promise of what’s in store. There’s the cheese-factor of the retro aesthetics and the satire of today’s focus on celebrity, plus the ironic wink to the camera. To top it all off, Bamford throws back to civil rights activist Sojourner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech. Many laughs are open to interpretation. There are layers ripe to decipher upon multiple-viewings.
A lot of the charm comes from how self-aware the show is. Bamford will often address the audience directly in a clever way. Filming will even halt production mid-episode so actors can talk about what to do next. For example, the pilot episode talks of how to transition into the past without confusing the audience. They joke about Breaking Bad and how much viewers learned about storytelling from watching it. Next thing you know, there’s a hilarious homage to that iconic show.
From pop culture, to how we connect with each other, LD explores so much territory. The most refreshing aspect is the unpredictability. It’s not only edgy and controversial, but it’s also filled with such a variety of laughs to enjoy, from satire and dry sarcasm, to spoofing commercials and physical comedy. There’s even some trippy animation and 70s Grindhouse movie flair with the title sequence.
Most importantly, the positive vibes from the playful Bamford are extremely infectious. Her happiness is contagious. Her creativity has already attracted some notable Season 1 guest stars from the comedy world including Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, and Jon Cryer. With a recent announcement of renewal for another season, more celebrities are sure to join in the fun.
Aside from the hilarity, there are also some important thematic elements. Bamford’s story focuses on mental health unlike any other show out there. Despite the mature comedy, there is a different kind of maturity shown with they way it tackles psychology. This show isn’t heavy-handed or preachy, it actually deflates the negative stereotypes and shows the human side of mental illness by making light of the seemingly forbidden topic.
#LD won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. With something so flavorful like this, it’s certain to split the audience. The series has a 7.8 rating on IMDB, and a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Meanwhile, the audience rating on Netflix itself is only 2 stars. This divisive reaction doesn’t indicate quality as much as it demonstrates breaking new ground. It’s almost like there’s a learning curve to get accustomed to this eclectic style of comedy.
Have you already binge-watched Season 1? What’s your favorite part of the show? Do you like the more skit-based elements? Are you intrigued by the way #LadyDynamite deals with mental illness?
Subscribe to stay tuned about next season’s premiere. You will receive an automatic email when the release date is announced.