Coming soon to Amazon is the dramedy ONE MISSISSIPPI. Starring comedian Tig Notaro (Transparent) as a version of herself, it is a semi-humorous look at death, illness, and the other dark parts of life. And it’s absolutely excellent.
ONE MISSISSIPPI reminds me a lot of Louie, the FX series created and starring Louis C.K., who is a producer on this one. It is similar in that the main character resembles the actual person at the center of it. The stories line up a bit with the performer’s stand up material, and the arcs are deeply personal and thought provoking. The quality of both shows is immense and at a different level than most television.
Where ONE MISSISSIPPI is different is in the same way that Tig is different from C.K. She is a product of the south that went on to not be defined by it, and that’s where this show is set. The setting becomes as much of a character as New York City does for Louie, which offers a completely different perspective for those who don’t live there. Tig is quieter and more accommodating than Louie, perhaps part of her polite Southern roots, but there’s the same level of authenticity and rawness in both.
Tig herself is a fine performer, fully evident in the first episode of the series, written by Tig and Diablo Cody (Juno), and already available on Amazon. The pilot finds her returning home to watch her mother die. While perhaps she doesn’t show the range and complexity of emotions that an actor might in an Oscar-nominated drama, it would feel completely over the top for her character to do so. She is not that type of person, and the reactions she has are brilliantly aligned with who she is. It’s really powerful stuff.
Tig is joined by Noah Harpster (Transparent) as her amiable brother, Remy, John Rothman (The Devil Wears Prada) as her OCD-plagued step-father, Bill, and Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) as her girlfriend, Brooke. Each of these bring something interesting to the dynamic, especially Rothman, whom I started out not caring for, but was completely won over by towards the end of the half hour.
Tig is perhaps most famous at this point for being the comedian who survived cancer, and that is part of the story of ONE MISSISSIPPI. Her missing boobs (she had a double mastectomy and opted not to get reconstructive surgery) are mentioned not once but twice in the initial installment. If this show were not good, it would still be laudable because of the way it deals with such issues head on, as Tig has, shining light on the end of life that most people and programs shy away from. The fact that it is done in a sympathetic, relatable, and often funny, manner, makes it even better.
It’s this discomfort in the subject material that elevates the series to something new. These are life experiences we all go through but don’t talk a lot about. Why not? ONE MISSISSIPPI forces the conversation, and I think it will help viewers become more self-aware individuals. True, that’s a big task for a television show, but one I think ONE MISSISSIPPI achieves.
I also enjoy the fantasy-type sequences, which allow for exploration of jokes and help us to get a better understanding of how Tig’s mind works. Assuming she is baring her mind to us, of course, which is what it feels like, though I could be wrong.
While I do draw a lot of parallels between ONE MISSISSIPPI and Louie, this is its own show with its own point of view, and as such, entirely worth watching. The pilot is available now, and the rest of season one will be released Friday, September 9th on Amazon.