Bread With Butter

Jenny Slate as 'Catherine' in "Catherine" (S1)The Jenny Slate love-fest continues with Catherine (2013), a 12-part web-series the actress co-wrote with her husband, Dean Fleischer-Camp, who also served as director/editor, helping to keep the piece on track, tonally. The best way I can describe this brilliant anti-sitcom is that it plays like an episode of The Office reimagined by David Lynch*. There’s a deliberate banality to the dialogue, stories, and settings that suggests something more unsettling happening beneath the surface, despite the seemingly low stakes… and despite a total absence of jokes (in the traditional sense), there are still plenty of laughs to be had here. There’s a even a little titillation thrown in for good measure, when Catherine changes clothes before going out on a tepid date (in ep #1.7)… I know a shot of Slate’s naked back (and side-boob) isn’t particularly gratuitous, but considering how uber-beige and buttoned-up the rest of the episodes were, it felt practically pornographic! I don’t really understand why she chose to be topless for that scene, or why the camera lingered on her for so long… but I’m certainly not complaining, either!

Brandi Austin as 'Samantha' in "Catherine" (S1)Meanwhile, the (fully-clothed) supporting  cast included Autumn Withers and Raquel Bell as innocuous co-workers, and Brandi Austin as Catherine’s (almost) office-nemesis, ‘Samantha’.

Fun fact: In an interview with Splitsider, Slate admits that she was “super stoned” when she first came up with the idea for this series… which makes me flashback to her colleagues on Kroll Show (cast and creatives alike) casually mentioning their own recreational cannabis consumption, in the between-sketch segments. It seems that a lot of my fave American comedy peeps like to get stoned on the regular… and are free to indulge quite openly, as long as they can claim a qualifying medical condition! While researching the topic for a script (no, really!), I found a recent article in The Telegraph which outlines the potential financial and social benefits that could result from legalising cannabis in the UK… though they don’t touch on how it might effect this country’s (currently rather blah) comedic output.

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* Apparently Slate was also watching a lot of Twin Peaks at the time, so clearly it had an influence…

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About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action.
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