Magazine article Variety

One Mississippi/Fleabag

Magazine article Variety

One Mississippi/Fleabag

Article excerpt

One Mississippi/Fleabag


Comedy: 6 episodes (6 reviewed); Amazon, Fri. Sept. 9, midnight

Starring: Tig Notaro


Comedy: 6 episodes (6 reviewed); Amazon, Fri. Sept. 16, midnight

Starring: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford

The best of the current wave of TV comedies function like distilleries. They take a mix of carefully chosen raw ingredients and turn them into intoxicating substances that often have one hell of a kick. Just a little can leave you reeling, even as you marvel at the spiky yet harmonious synthesis of flavors.

"One Mississippi" and "Fleabag" deserve to be talked about in the same breath as small-batch spirits because they, too, are artisanally crafted and almost alarmingly effective. Their cumulative effects may sneak up on you if you're not paying attention - and even if you are.

"One Mississippi" is loosely based on the somewhat recent experiences of standup comic Tig Notaro, who underwent a hellish year that included a breakup, the death of her mother, and a bout with cancer. "Fleabag," on the other hand, is about the owner of a failing café in London, and its sex-obsessed protagonist is more brittle and arch than the laconic star of "One Mississippi." Both programs put middle-class white women front and center, but one is straight and the other is gay, and aesthetically, you wouldn't mistake the laid-back bayou flavor of Notaro's comedy for the jittery, gray London of "Fleabag."

That said, both series use economical storytelling, savage honesty, and tender wit to tell emotionally engaging stories about grief, memory, and the ways that family ties can feel like anchors.

Aside from the thematic similarities, there are structural parallels between the two shows, which premiere one week apart on Amazon Prime. Both do such smart and effective jobs of building up key relationships that the confrontations that arrive near the end of both six-episode seasons pack surprising power.

In "One Mississippi," Notaro plays a music-loving deejay who is known for the stories she tells, and those brief monologues - and almost every other aspect of the show - capture much of what's most magnetic about her standup comedy. Like a good songwriter, she can paint a vivid picture using very few words, finding both the emotional core of a memory and its intrinsic absurdity with disarming detail and admirable grace. …

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