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
This 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 well—as 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.