Lady Dynamite is the new Netflix exclusive surreal comedy created by Pam Brady and Mitch Hurwitz. At center stage, we have Maria Bamford starring in the role she was born to play… Maria Bamford. In a mix between events loosely surrounding her life, and a giant fantasy crafted from the depths of her mental disorders, Lady Dynamite centers around Bamford moving back to Los Angeles, California after recovering from being hospitalized with bipolar disorder. Hoping to rebuild her entertainment career and her own personal life from scratch, she seeks the help of her manager Bruce (Fred Melamed) and her closest friends to help find her direction in life once again.
I’ll be perfectly honest about Lady Dynamite; at first, I didn’t like it…at all. I didn’t quite know what to expect out of the show from the get go, but what we received with the pilot episode was both perplexing and nonsensical to the point of annoyance. However, after watching a few more episodes, I began to realize that this show making such little sense was the entire point. Sure, it may take a few episodes for the show to have finally gotten its groove, but once Lady Dynamite and Bamford found their niche, the series becomes hilariously over-the-top with just enough narrative heft to root for the characters.
There really is no formula to how each episode will play out, and I absolutely love that about this program. Sure, they have their stories to tell and the mental illness issues to address, but one moment can show Maria going on a date with her newest boyfriend, and the next second she’s crying into a sponge in her shower. One moment she’s sitting in her bedroom talking to her loyal pug Bert, and the next the two are playing guitars together singing about life and love. Lady Dynamite, and the creators behind the wheel, truly aren’t afraid to throw anything and everything they can in the script to see what sticks. Thanks to the sheer silliness of it all, most of these out of nowhere gags land fairly well.
However, that doesn’t excuse the fact that this program really isn’t designed for everyone. I can guarantee that some people won’t understand a shred of the praise this show is receiving, as it even took me some time to finally get into Lady Dynamite‘s wacky design. Some jokes don’t land quite that well, especially within the first episode or two; but the issues it addresses with bipolar disorder and social anxiety are a much appreciated backbone and scope into the mind of Maria Bamford (who also suffers from bipolar disorder.) Not every person is going to appreciate what this show tosses their way in terms of gags and narrative turns out of nowhere, but if you can get past the surrealist approach some episodes take, Lady Dynamite may prove to you how much of a Netflix gem it can be.
When all is said and done, Lady Dynamite isn’t the perfect run from beginning to end, thanks to its aforementioned mediocre pilot; but once it’s got that running start this is a comedy that can’t be stopped. If you can imagine yourself getting into a show that isn’t afraid to resemble the trippiest parts of your dreams, Lady Dynamite is just for you. And even if you don’t, I still recommend watching a few episodes (Episode 5, “I Love You” is one of my personal favorites) to at least get a glimpse of the oddball genius Bamford has to offer the world. Beyond everything, Lady Dynamite‘s fuse may take some time to ignite, but when it finally triggers, it’s an explosion of surrealism and whimsy that many will find incredibly funny.