Feel Good (Netflix)
If any TV show seems perfectly titled for The Current Moment, it's the new Netflix comedy-drama Feel Good. Yes, please, how did you know that's exactly what we want?
In London-based Canadian comedian Mae Martin's semi-autobiographical series, Feel Good isn't a promise or an instruction – more like a goal her character is perpetually working toward. Quite a lot of the time she makes a complete mess of it but that's what makes it relatable.
Technically this is a rom-com, a story of love against the odds. "I'm recently single," Mae begins one of her stand-up bits in the first episode, "Is anybody single? Give me a cheer."
"Woo," one person in the front row cheers, not quite enthusiastically enough for an exclamation mark. Her name is George and the bad news is she's straight or, at least, she's never dated a woman before.
"Would you say that you've ever kissed a girl?" Mae asks during an intense post-show drink which may or may not be a date. "I mean, yeah," shrugs George. "I'm not Mormon."
Mae has an anxious energy and flat, awkward delivery, which sometimes makes it hard to tell what's a joke and what's not. She's either doing some amazing acting or not acting at all. Does it make a difference which?
This jarring normalcy is what helps the show ring so true, so often. After Mae's emotionally distant yet hypersensitive mum (Lisa Kudrow, always so good at playing mums) puts her foot in it during a Skype call, asking her daughter if she's found a new Narcotics Anonymous meeting (surprise!), Mae tries to put George at ease. "I had a problem," she stresses, "now I have you."
Swapping out one unhealthy connection for another your whole life isn't the key to feeling good, even if it is probably something we all do a little bit. It's certainly the one thing all the chaotic characters at Mae's NA meeting have in common.
"Just staaaay busy," suggests Maggie, a manic mum figure who becomes Mae's new sponsor. "I bake, I kayak, I weave my own clothes on a loom." Maggie's character may have seemed a little over-the-top before but has taken on new layers of relatability in the past couple of weeks.
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More eternally relatable are the inevitable questions that begin to arise in Mae and George's relationship, after their five-minute honeymoon period (five minutes is plenty in TV time). "How come I've never met any of your friends?" Mae wonders one day. "God, why do you have to be so intense?" wonders George.
Staying on the path to feeling good can be intense business sometimes. It's probably fine. But the same principles apply in TV as in life – always good to mix it up.
Feel Good's six episodes (still the perfect series length) strike an extremely watchable balance between intensity and levity, the two often blurring together to create some sublime moments of television. Just wait until Lisa Kudrow is on a haunted house ride at a bleak Blackpool amusement park, you'll see.