Doll & Em

HBO aired the full 6-episode season of this show in 3 weeks, which means it’s all over before you have a chance to decide if you truly like it.  It premiered in the UK on Sky Living in February

doll-and-em-first-season.21771This show has both women playing themselves, or versions of themselves.  I recognized Em (Emily Mortimer) right away, because she is on the Newsroom, and she’s excellent in it. She’s been in a lot of other things as wellas is Dolly Wells, but I didn’t recognize her at all.

I wonder about the people who make these pseudo-real life shows/movies, where they are playing a spoof of themselves. On the one hand, the audience gets to see the truth behind cameras and how things tend to work in Hollywood (a satire can reflect the truth pretty accurately).  And there has to be some cathartic value in playing a mean version of yourself, or getting to yell at your best friend in a fight for the cameras.  On the other hand, wouldn’t it screw with your head to portray yourself interacting with your best friend portraying herself.   Seems like lines would become really fuzzy, and a la Inception, you might start to lose track of whether you’re being yourself or portraying a version of yourself.  My head hurts if I think about it too much.

This particular show has Doll breaking up with her boyfriend and heading out to visit Em on location for a movie in L.A. To keep her busy and have her around, Em offers to pay Doll to be her personal assistant for the duration of the shoot. Always a good idea–working for your best friend in one of the most demeaning possible roles.  Look, I just don’t get personal assistants. I understand work assistants–you’re helping to accomplish something. Personal assistants are just…helping someone control their own life? I get that certain people, actors, world leaders, etc., don’t have a lot of time. But I don’t think I’d ever be so busy that I’d make someone go out and get coffee for me or pick up my dry cleaning.  She makes Doll drive her too and from work every day.  Why?! What is she doing that she can’t drive? I just don’t get it. Being a personal assistant is predicated on the idea that your boss’s life is more important than yours. Unless you’re personal assistant to a world leader, I don’t buy it. So maybe that’s why this show sometimes left a bad taste in my mouth. Em was a bit spoiled and unsympathetic. Doll wasn’t perfect either.

The final blowout between them, predictable from the 1st episode, is depressing. I will say, though, that the final episode reeled me in again. Most of the show saw the two women competing against each other–for male attention, for professional success, for sympathy about their dead fathers. Women do this, no denying that, but it’s not particularly fun to watch. Most of the show is about this competition and the petty jealousy that springs up between them.  Until the last few minutes of the last episode. Seeing them communicate genuinely and support each other at the end made me much happier than all of the other episodes combined.

The show also boasts some impressive celebrity guests playing themselves – Susan Sarandon, Ben Chaplin (hopefully not as big of an asshole in real life as he was during he scene in this show), John Cusack. There was also a bonus cameo at the very end from Noel Fielding, which (despite lack of goth makeup) I recognized immediately as Richmond, from The IT Crowd.



5 responses to “Doll & Em

  1. I don’t have much to say on this, having never seen the programme in question. One thing that did interest me is that you recognised Noel Fielding from The IT Crowd. While people in the UK would be aware he did that, I think most people would probably put that last in the ‘where I know him from’ list after The Mighty Boosh, Never Mind the Buzzcocks (first as a guest, then as a team captain) and more recently from Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. They might think of his Richmond appearances ahead of the last one but certainly not the other two. I guess The IT Crowd is the only one that was a success across the pond?

    • I wouldn’t call The IT Crowd a success over here, no. A certain segment of the computer nerd population knows it, but it’s not widely known. The other TV shows you mention — I haven’t seen them. I’ve heard of Never Mind the Buzzcocks and The Mighty Boosh, but that’s it. The IT Crowd is on Netflix Instant, so that’s how I started watching it originally.

  2. Fair enough. 🙂 For some reason I’ve always found it interesting how a person can be extremely famous in their own country and yet completely unknown elsewhere, even in places that speak the same language – who is this Ryan Seacrest I hear referenced on American TV shows so often? Then there’s the people (like Noel Fielding and previously Robbie Williams) that suddenly become famous abroad for one thing they’ve done and are therefore identified with that in the other country, despite being known much better for other things in their own country. Perhaps it’s not unexpected that this would be the case but I still find it interesting.

    • blech. you’re not missing anything if you never find out who Ryan Seacrest is. I agree that is the case, though. E.g. Jamiroquai and Robbie Williams are both only known here for ‘that one song’ they did. And, not really known much anymore even for that, since those songs were popular ~15 years ago.

  3. I was coming on here to write the same thing! Not know Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh or NMTB?! Outrageous! He’s also been pretty great in his appearances on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year (Fair warning: You will have to listen to Jimmy Carr’s insufferable laugh. A lot.)…In any case you must rectify this immediately.

    ALSO: I just obtained HBOGO and saw this was on there. Intriguing….but now I think I’ll give it a pass. It sounds dreary, and I would prefer to watch Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon do it better anyway! 🙂

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