Two streaming shows you shouldn't miss
When I saw that the winner of the Best TV Comedy at the Golden Globes on Sunday was an original Netflix show called The Kominsky Method, and that one of its stars, Michael Douglas, took home the award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series for the same programme, I was intrigued to see what the fuss was all about.
Well now I know. And having virtually inhaled all the eight half-hour episodes over two nights (it would have been one, but I only started watching the first one at 10pm. Big mistake), I understand why it won over the judges. Although I might take issue with them over the award for Michael, who, good as he is, is, in my opinion, acted off the screen by his co-star and fellow Oscar winner, Alan Arkin.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain that the series is ostensively about the sometimes fractious, sometimes acerbic, but always grudgingly loyal friendship between an ageing actor, turned acting coach (Michael) and his similarly aged agent (Alan). But as well as that it’s about is getting old. And specifically, getting old as a man.
And boy, it certainly doesn’t shy away from the indignities of ageing - there’s a lot conversation about, and examination (at one point hilariously and eye-wateringly literally) of, declining prostates and particularly the effect on urine flow and frequency (Alan Arkin’s character says “I pee in morse code - dots and dashes”, whilst Michael Douglas’s bitterly advises a younger urinal user to make the most of his fountain-like flow) .
Nor does it sugar-coat the inevitable spectre of death as as you get older. Alan’s much-loved wife dies of cancer in the first episode, and his grief permeates all of the gently-paced episodes.
I realise this doesn’t sound like classic comedy material, and certainly there are times when The Kominsky Method is deeply sad and moving. But thanks to the masterly acting of both its main stars and all the excellent supporting cast, and a script that is the perfect combination of searingly honest, and unshowily funny, this is a series that will have you laughing one moment and welling up the next.
I don’t know what I found more refreshing and enjoyable about it - its refusal to sugar-coat the challenges of ageing, but rather to make them real and funny at the same time; it’s presentation of a friendship between two men (think of it as the male equivalent of Frankie and Grace, another successful Netflix show starring masterly older actors, in that case Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin), or its recognition and reflection of all the myriad challenges of the human condition - happy and sad, humiliating and rewarding, infuriating and entertaining.
Whatever its is, the combination is irresistible and not to be missed. So don’t. Miss it, that is.
Another Golden Globe award winner stars in another hugely enjoyable Amazon Prime comedy, that’s also, coincidentally, about a performer whose relationship with their manager features prominently in the plot lines. But The Marvellous Mrs Maisel couldn’t be more different from The Kominsky Method.
For a start, as its title rather gives away, the main character is a woman. Midge Maizel is a young Jewish housewife in 1950s New York who discovers a talent for stand-up comedy, when her previously perfect life crumbles after her husband leaves her for his secretary.
As terrific as award-winner Rachel Brosnahan (Best Actress, Musical or Comedy for the second year running) is in the title role, this is ensemble acting, and writing, at its sparkling best. The dialogue is whip-smart, and fast, and every character is impeccably rounded and brought to hilarious, believable life by the top-notch cast.
Oh, and if you’re a fan of 50s fashion, then the costumes will leave you drooling.
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is already in its second series (it won multiple awards at the 2018 Golden Globes), so there are a wealth of episodes for you to revel in. Lucky you.
What shows have you watched and loved? I’m looking for my next binge!
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