“I wanna tell the story of your fucking life in binge-able fucking installments,” says agent Karen Grisham to a baffled Maria Bamford. “Here’s how we do it: minority directors, all-female crew. You will shoot for four hours a day, eight hours of napping. Twelve cameras — six will be on dogs.”
Many shows attempt a sort of meta self-awareness, but Lady Dynamite does it best. Maria Bamford’s series is one of the most joyful, innovative, poignant and relevant shows being made today. Needless to say, its second season does not disappoint.
Lady Dynamite is a Netflix original starring standup comedian and the personification of a beam of light, Maria Bamford. The show follows a fictionalized version of Bamford’s life. A comedian named Maria Bamford deals with familial ties, romantic relationships and friendships, her often unpredictable career and her own mental health. All of this is displayed through a surrealist kaleidoscope filled with bright colors, talking dogs and constant genre switches.
A standout pillar of Lady Dynamite that carries into season two is the show’s tendency to weave together storylines from different points in Bamford’s life. These scenes from Bamford’s past, present and future are complementary, giving each other a unique sense of depth.
As Bamford deals with her current romantic relationship, you soon learn how lessons from her parents may have affected these decisions. You’re then transported into the future, where Elon Musk has his own Netflix-type streaming service (“Muskvision”), and where Bamford is still caught in the throes of romantic and professional mishaps.
In the best way possible, Lady Dynamite season two continues to feel like a cult-classic experimental web series that was somehow given extraordinary amounts of Netflix money. Lady Dynamite is unabashedly strange, not always necessarily easy to follow, but a joyful ride nonetheless. Its jokes range from the very simple (Bamford saying “corn” at the end of the intro in a funny voice) to the fairly complex (Bamford stopping the show to do a meta-critique of season one in which she speaks directly to the audience and lists ways in which the show itself could have improved).
Lady Dynamite‘s cast is phenomenal, a season-two standout being Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who plays Bamford’s partner Scott. The show features a variety of great comedic actors, including Ana Gasteyer as the harsh Hollywood agent Karen Grisham and Fred Melamed as Bruce Ben-Bacharach, Bamford’s bumbling manager. Season two also features comedians in a variety of guest roles, including Andy Samberg and Judd Apatow, both playing themselves.
But the person who continues to truly make Lady Dynamite a stunning success is Bamford herself. She carries the show with a refreshing presence, one that is dependably funny but also unafraid to deal with difficult truths. She is a joke-telling artisan whose comedic timing is always perfect, and who has mastered a range of voices and facial expressions.
Season two of Lady Dynamite delivers in every way possible. It is a superb sophomore effort by a comedian from whom it would be impossible to expect anything less.