Netflix’s Lady Dynamite: A Real Firecracker

You’ve never seen anything quite like Lady Dynamite. And that’s a good thing.

When Awards Daily TV’s Clarence Moye, Joey Moser, and yours truly revisited Arrested Development‘s Season 4 on the Water Cooler Podcast, we all remarked how we wanted to see more of Debrie Bardeaux, Tobias Funke’s love interest in Method One (put it together) played by the hilarious Maria Bamford.

Well, be careful what you wish for. Because Netflix’s Lady Dynamite almost appears like a continuation of sad Debrie’s story, only this one loosely follows Bamford’s life. Like her character, Bamford has struggled with depression and anxiety and is a comedian. Whether or not she told off a baby on the set of the ill-fated Baby on Board sitcom (about an infant CEO) or dated a bisexual meth addict remains to be determined.

Warning: This show is not for everyone, and while watching the first episode, you may feel like you need Adderall with all of the jokes, time settings, and rat-a-tat pace.

Not many series pilots have the balls to make their “Hello, World!” episode about the installation of a park bench, but Lady Dynamite does (and even features Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath at the inauguration of said bench—talk about audacity). Maria tells her clueless agent Bruce Ben-Bacharach (played by the hilarious Fred Melamed) that she wants to do more with her life. During her emotional breakdown in Duluth, she put together a dream board that consisted of nothing but park benches, and thus, her dream of adding sedentary lifestyle to her neighborhood is born.

The show is at times hilarious, fascinating, and baffling all at once. It takes place in three different time periods: the Past, Present, and Duluth (which is the more recent Past shot in a blue lens). The show perfectly depicts the highs and lows of emotions, presumably mirroring Bamford’s own bipolar disorder. When things seem to be looking up in the Present, the show takes you back to Duluth, where the positive wave comes to a screeching halt. When Maria starts a band with her family (Ed Begley Jr., Mary Kay Place, and Mo Collins), she breaks down on stage at their first show, which serves as a heartbreaking moment of reality on an otherwise surreal show.

You’ve never seen a show quite like this, and I suspect, in the future, we will look back on it as ahead of its time. Lady Dynamite may not be the appropriate title. Maybe Lady Live Wire, because the show’s structure is the equivalent of grasping a live wire and holding on with every fiber of your being.

It’s worth a look, though, because there’s something deeply touching at its core as Maria Bamford lays it all on the line just to make you laugh.

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