A couple months ago, my crush on Anne Dudek led me to catch up with her current series, Corporate, a nihilistic workplace comedy set in a shiny/scary multinational called “Hampton DeVille”, which is now in its sophomore season. In many ways it’s a more acidic/sweary reboot of Better Off Ted, with Dudek in the Portia de Rossi role of power-dressing “boss bitch”, though she’s ranked a little lower here and has far less competent/conscientious colleagues around her. Overall, I do enjoy the show, but it’s a little too bleak/sour for me to really rave about… “easy to admire, difficult to love”, as the old saying goes… though ep #2.3 (written by Langan Kingsley) was a brilliant satire of the disparity between how women and men are expected/allowed to appear in the workplace (or the world in general), and the ridiculous time/effort required to create and maintain the illusion of seemingly “natural beauty”. It also provided an excellent showcase for Dudek’s comedic versatility, when her character (‘Kate’) was reprimanded by male colleagues for having a harsh hectoring tone, prompting her to experiment with some more agreeable personas (such as “shy ghost”) to encourage their cooperation.
What finally moved me to put fingers to keyboard this week was a surprise cameo by multi-award-winning actress Kyra Sedgwick as “Mrs. Cowboy” (aka ‘Amanda Calhoun’), the motivational guest-speaker at an out-of-town conference, who whisks four of the main characters (including Kate) away on a margarita-fuelled, Blue-Velvet-riffing odyssey to the very heart of darkness. I don’t want to get into too many spoilers, but I watched the whole thing play out in a state of delirious disbelief, as Sedgwick gamely threw herself into the rootin’-tootin’, heavy-drinkin’, headlight-dancin’, pistol-packin’ antics! Meanwhile, other familiar-faces were attached to Brian George as “The Butler” who got dragged into his employer’s pervy mind-and-body-games, and Elizabeth Perkins as “The Accountant” doggedly trying to get to the bottom (line) of all this bad-craziness (ep #2.5).
This was hands down the funnest/funniest episode of the series so far, and one that I’d heartily recommend to fans of David Lynch or The Coen Brothers, even if they’ve never seen the show before, because the set-up’s pretty self-explanatory… so snaps to writer Jessica Gao for all that, and congrats to her on the new pilot order! My only complaint would be that there wasn’t room for an appearance by Aparna Nancherla as ‘Grace’, the office’s grouchy Human Resources representative… but I did find a great clip of her doing some stand-up on YouTube to watch as a fill-in! Phew!*
* And, yes, the episode (#2.4) about excessive exclamation-mark-usage in e-mails did strike a guilty nerve with me! Sorry!!