TV

It's No Joke: Why We Need 'Take My Wife'

Rhea Butcher stars in the semi-autobiographical Take My Wife. (IMDB)

As Seeso shuts down, this excellent series is in need of a new home.


Take My Wife

Cast: Cameron Esposito, Rhea Butcher, Zeke Nicholson
Network: Seeso
Amazon

When fledgling Comedy network Seeso announced it would be shutting down earlier this week, it was quick to also mention that several series had already found a new home. Noticeably absent was Take My Wife, a semi-autobiographical show chronicling the lives of its co-creators and writers Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher. A married couple, who frequently perform comedy together, their series marked a sharp delineation from the overwhelming amount of content created by and featuring white, straight, cisgender, male voices. That they may no longer have a home for their creative, funny, and critically acclaimed show is unthinkable.

Esposito and Butcher offer an honest portrayal of their relationship and their struggles as comics working in Los Angeles, peppered with appearances from fellow comics, including Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, and Ron Funches, among others familiar to comedy fans. The authenticity of their experiences, both individually and as a couple, are relatable, sometimes frustrating, and often hilarious. More importantly, there’s never any sense that there’s a false note in the story they've chosen to tell.

Season one of Take My Wife focused on Butcher’s attempts to leave behind her job in order to pursue comedy full-time while dealing with the financial implications of that decision for her relationship. Meanwhile, Esposito's comedy career is on an upturn. They live their lives in pursuit of a creative calling, while surrounded by other artists, both successful and struggling. Whether interacting with their eccentric artist neighbor, Frances (an excellent Laura Kightlinger), or meeting movie stars who live up to every horrible Hollywood stereotype, or trying to adjust to bombing while on a potentially career-changing comedy tour, Esposito and Butcher present nuanced observations that illustrate just how fully they inhabit this world, as well as offering a perspective rarely given a voice on television.

As the save-the-series Twitter campaign that's currently underway -- wholeheartedly endorsed by Esposito and Butcher -- makes its case, they've emphasized the purposeful way they’ve approached creating Take My Wife, namely in offering as much representation possible to those frequently underrepresented on television. In resolutely seeking out cast, crew, music, and product placement from women, queer folks, and people of color, they've managed to achieve what is regularly trumpeted as impossible: a truly diverse set and series. Their commitment to bring to the fore those left on the fringes or completely left out helps to bring to life a story that puts those same character-types at the center.

Sadly, Seeso is no more. The good news is that season two of Take My Wife has already been completed. Now it's only a matter of time to see who manages to snatch up this gem of a series.

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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