The rakish comic explores trauma, gender, and habit with humor as foolish as it’s reducing in top-of-the-line LGBTQ TV exhibits of the yr.
(Editor’s observe: The next evaluation incorporates spoilers for Season 2 of “Feel Good,” together with the ending.)
It’s no secret that comedians are among the world’s most traumatized individuals, maybe rivaled solely by queers. Humor as a coping mechanism for trauma is a story as previous as time, and all it takes is a fast look at any first rate comedy lineup to see that the cool queer youngsters virtually rule stand-up nowadays. It stands to purpose that Mae Martin, a queer comic, would have some humorous issues to say about trauma. Which, as their fictional agent says in Season 2 of “Really feel Good,” Martin’s semi-autobiographical darkish romantic comedy on Netflix, is all the craze nowadays.
After all, merely being queer and a comic doesn’t magically confer greatness. Far more vital than any label one might foist upon Martin is the truth that they’re each brilliantly humorous and courageously sincere, a killer mixture for explosive, incisive, and compelling tv. If Season 1 of “Really feel Good” launched Martin as a pointy wit with a singular perspective, Season 2 marks their glow up into full-blown comedic truth-teller within the vein of Hannah Gadsby or Michaela Coel. The second season of “Really feel Good” is fiercely — generally frighteningly — courageous, complicated, and painful, however all the time rattling humorous. Heralding the arrival of a really singular artistic drive, it’s top-of-the-line queer exhibits of the yr.
The six-episode second season begins following the climactic finale of Season 1, which left Mae (taking part in a fictionalized model of themself) relapsing into drug use. (The character makes use of she/her all through the present, however embraces a non-binary id within the finale.) Season 2 opens with Mae again dwelling in Toronto, getting dropped off at rehab by their well-meaning however emotionally distant mother and father, performed to odd couple perfection by the good Lisa Kudrow and Adrian Lukis.
Whereas an extended, extra drawn-out model of “Really feel Good” (the type favored by American exhibits; “Really feel Good” first aired on Channel 4 within the UK) would have remained at rehab at the least into the second episode, delving deeper into the wacky roommate and tough-love habit counselor, “Really feel Good” opts out of this and packs all of its punches right into a concise six episodes. Earlier than the top of the primary episode, Mae escapes rehab in a match of panic into the arms of an previous pal named Scott (John Ross Bowie), who triggers one thing darkish in Mae. Out of the frying pan and into the hearth.
Again in London, Mae’s English rose George (Charlotte Ritchie) is nursing her heartache with new fling Elliot (Jordan Stephens), a so-called enlightened polyamorous bisexual who fails to see the irony in mansplaining ladies on emotional maturity and internalized misogyny. Evidently, it doesn’t take lengthy for Mae to win George again, and the 2 make quick work of a delightfully ridiculous roleplay montage that entails gender-bending knights and closely accented plumbers. Whereas not its sole mission, the sex-positivity that permeates “Really feel Good” is a large breath of contemporary air. It’s in all probability the one TV sequence ever to indicate queer intercourse in all of its creativity, fashion, and playfulness — whereas nonetheless being fairly rattling scorching.
It appears virtually foolish to single out the intercourse when “Really feel Good” is navigating so many different points. In truth, there are such a lot of issues “Really feel Good” will get proper it’s a marvel how seamlessly all of it comes collectively, with out a single difficulty outweighing one other. Sure, it’s a darkish comedy about one particular person dealing (or not dealing) with trauma and habit, nevertheless it’s additionally a young love story about two individuals studying the way to be collectively in a wholesome approach.
Underlining all of that is Mae’s fluctuating relationship to gender, which pops up as a operating joke all through however is finally dealt with with simply as a lot care as another subject. “OK, so do you assume I’m trans?” Mae asks their agent flippantly, as a hilarious marker of the panicked ambivalence that pervades every thing of their life. When requested how they determine, Mae solutions glibly: “Kinda like an Adam Driver or a Ryan Gosling, I’m nonetheless figuring it out.”
Mae’s silliness pierces via even probably the most intense moments, breaking the stress with usually poetic poignance. After receiving a analysis of PTSD, Mae asks the physician: “Do you assume you would simply take a look at if I’m stuffed with birds or one thing?”
“Really feel Good” accomplishes a lot in its tight six episodes that it’s each a blessing and curse that it leaves the viewer wanting extra. Raised in Toronto however residing in London, Martin has adopted the British method to comedy, one of the best of which embodies the Shakespearean notion that “brevity is the soul of wit.” With such an extra of TV readily available, and resolution fatigue so dangerous it’s tempting to surrender on the entire endeavor fully and simply learn a ebook, Martin could also be onto one thing with this jam-packed brief season. Moreover, it’s so rattling good you might wish to watch it another time.
“Really feel Good” is at present streaming on Netflix.