As of late, Netflix has been bringing the proverbial house, blitzing its viewers with original content ranging from television shows and documentaries all the way to some really weird Adam Sandler movies. I finished the eight-episode show Easy, which premiered last Friday, in just two days. If you’re a fan of any of Joe Swanberg’s films, you’re going to love this show. Swanberg wrote and directed every episode of Easy and they all take place in different pockets of Chicago, much like his movies. Emily Ratajkowski, Marc Maron, Orlando Bloom, and Dave Franco are just a few familiar faces who you will recognize in various episodes, but I’ll fully admit that it’s not going to be universally loved like a Game Of Thrones or Stranger Things is.
Swanberg is relatively well known for his moves Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas, and Digging For Fire. His movies, and as an extension, this television show, are labeled what critics call “mumblecore.” Mumblecore is merely a subgenre of independent film, wherein the dialogue of the characters is often improvised, the production is low-budget, and a plotline of any kind is sometimes only vaguely there or non-existent. Swanberg focuses on the monotony of everyday life and the struggles that ordinary people go through as they begin to raise families or become homeowners. Most of his movies take place in or around Chicago, so it’s no surprise that Easy eight episodes were all filmed there.
Each episode of Easy has its own theme, and they are all focused on sex and relationships. Unlike Judd Apatow’s Love, where there are two (in my opinion incredibly annoying) main characters and one central theme, Easy gives it’s audience fresh characters with each thirty-minute episode. Each episode stands on its own, usually ending with a moralistic question for the viewer that says more about you, the person watching than it does about the character(s) in the show.
We meet a couple who can see that the end is near for their relationship in one episode, an author struggling to understand millennials in another. Marc Maron had one of my favorite performances alongside Emily Ratajkowski. As with any show, there are some really great characters and a few who are downright insufferable. But what I liked most about this series was the fact that every episode is totally different. You can get a look into what a relationship is like for a couple in their late 30s with two kids or take a glimpse into what it’s like for a 20-something lesbian who is finding it difficult to be herself around a new girlfriend.
A couple of the episodes have recurring characters, but the stories are all different and in a few of them nothing of real significance happens. That is what I like about Swanberg and the stuff that he chooses to direct. Real life is slow and boring. It’s a slog a lot of the time with brief moments of excitement or drama, and I think Swanberg is able to capture this just as well as anyone else that is directing right now.
He’s directed huge stars like Anna Kendrick and Olivia Wilde in his movies, and even though he’s got some pretty recognizable names in this show, it’s important to note that two of the best episodes in this series centered around 2 or 3 people tops and none of them were household names. There’s one episode spoken entirely in Spanish that will leave you shaking your head and wondering if infidelity is a bigger problem in our society than we’re led to believe. I’d compare Easy, with it’s sometimes frustrating characters, obvious improv, and strange stories to HBO’s High Maintenance. Swanberg has a very distinct approach towards directing, and if you’re trying to get into a tv show that is entirely different from the norm Easy is an excellent choice. And at eight, thirty-minute episodes, it’s not like you’re entering into some long, drawn-out period drama. It’s just a fun romp (centered around sex) through some really hip neighborhoods in Chicago.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be happy you watched it..
Image via Youtube