One Mississippi: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

If you pay careful enough attention to which shows are being green-lit each season, you see patterns. Mary + Jane and High Maintenance both deal with dealing weed; The Exorcist, Lethal Weapon, Frequency, and MacGyver are reuniting from a generation past; and Frequency (a double whammy on this list) and Timeless travel the route of time travel. One Mississippi and Better Things have more in common than the week they were released, but a producer: Louis C.K.

Louie is just the tip of the iceberg. Academy Award-winning writer Diablo Cody produces alongside the star and creator of One Mississippi—Tig Notaro. This trio sounds like a dream team of comedy creators, however unlikely it is they found themselves working on a singular project. Was this an act of fate, a drawing of the three? Or was this an experiment gone wrong, a human centipede of humor? Let’s take a look.

The Characters

Tig Notaro plays herself. That could be the byline for this show—no, that could be the title of the show.

Comedians do what they do for many reasons. One theory is that comedy is therapy: therapy for the comics and the audience. If you’re familiar with Tig’s comedy, you’ll know she subscribes to the therapy theory. She broke hearts and made waves performing, what has been dubbed as, her Hello, I have Cancer set.

The Tig we get here is post-mastectomy, dealing with SIDS, and struggling with the near-sudden death of her mother. The Tig we get here has to go back home to Mississippi to a family she doesn’t particularly enjoy.

Which brings us to her family. Her brother, Remy (Noah Harpster), provides the typical younger brother role in a sitcom: childish and single, always feeling inferior to his older sibling. Remy and Tig get along like I’d expect siblings to get along. Tig had left her home and never looked back, so Remy and her didn’t exactly stay close.

Remy still lives at home with their step-father Bill (John Rothman). Bill can best be described as an android. His movements and speech patterns are not unlike Data—monotone and jerky. Boring and dispassionate he may be, but, upon further examination, Bill has infinite patience and love to give. He just shows it differently than the rest of us.

The Conflict

Tig’s life might just be rife with conflict. She’s got a girlfriend she’s not especially fond of, a serious digestive disease, and a late-mother to make arrangements for. Most of all, she needs to reconnect with her estranged family. Most estranged from herself is Bill. That’s the crux of it. Tig’s Mother and Bill’s ex-wife, Caroline, left a gaping hole in both of their lives. They will need to each other.

The Criticism

One Mississippi can be depressing. It can also be glib, quirky, and blunt. Diablo Cody’s voice peeks through Tig Nataro’s blasé sense of humor. Louis C.K.’s influence even shows through during the more abstract scenes. This show is a perfect blend of the three.

The Conjecture

Tig’s life will (hopefully) continue for a while longer, so she’s got a lot of experience to draw on for her show.

This show can reach depressing levels, though, and it will probably end with Tig’s own funeral. Her cancer will return and overtake her, and she’ll leave behind a family that loved her as much as she loved them. This, when you think about it, is the only happy ending—we just don’t like to think about death.

The Conclusion

Bill makes this show for me. His honesty and capability to appreciate regardless of understanding makes him precious. John Rothman became the pleasant surprise this series needed to make it stand out. One Mississippi made me laugh and cry; I gasped in shock and I nodded in agreement. This season is worth every one of it’s six episodes.

If you’re interested in the series, One Mississippi can be found on Amazon Prime. If you’d like to see what else Cody is watching, you can check his Trakt page to keep up-to-date with all of his shows.

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