|WORK IN PROGRESSREVIEW|
Abby McEnany knows there are not a lot of people who look like her on TV. She knew it 30 years ago, when the character of Pat, a chubby nerd whose inscrutable gender was the scene's only punchline, appeared on “Saturday Night Live.” Here, finally, was someone who did look like Abby on TV. There was just one problem: Pat's sole reason for making it to screen was so that people could laugh at their appearance.
Nearly three decades after Pat's “SNL” debut — thanks to McEnany and her co-creator Tim Mason — another androgynous, heavyset, nerdy, butch lesbian has miraculously made her way to television. She's glorious, she's hilarious, and she's definitely having the last laugh.
The show is called “Work In Progress,” and it wraps a superlative first season this Sunday. In just eight 30-minute episodes, “Work in Progress” has radically reshaped what queer stories can look like on TV, blowing the competition out of the water with its sharp black comedy, lovable trans characters, and refreshingly unfiltered take on mental illness, body image, and gender non-conformity.
The series follows self-identified fat, queer dyke Abby McEnany, as her plans to commit suicide are complicated by an unexpected romance with adorable trans man Chris Theo Germaine, who's 20 years her junior. The developing relationship challenges her to open up about her obsessive compulsive habits, suicidal ideation, self-loathing, and sexual hang-ups. If that doesn't necessarily sound like the stuff of side-clutching comedy, that's exactly what makes it so damn brilliant.
“The thing about our show is it's not all palatable queers,” McEnany told IndieWire during a recent interview. “For middle America or whatever America, I'm not a palatable queer. Right? I'm this fat, loud, gray-haired, masculine, queer dyke who's a mess. But the goal of this show is, hopefully — for folks out there that feel isolated — to show that there's a life out there without shame, and just stick in there.”
The show works because it is coming directly from McEnany's perspective, with Mason's help. The writing duo Mason directs every episode as well have been doing improv in Chicago for over 20 years, and they understand how to seamlessly weave comedy into every scene.
“I think honestly I wouldn't have been ready for this 10 years ago or five years ago. I've just been steadily kind of working, and performing, writing, improvising, and acting,” said McEnany. “I think I'm just one of those people that keeps on trying and does stuff at her own pace.”
In addition to Abby's...
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...