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RUNNING TIME: 215 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Documentary,
Season 2 preview
It’s Sex and the City except with two chicks, not a lot of guys, and, oh yeah…comedy.
Laura Kightlinger, Nicholle Tom, Patrick Bristow, Azura Skye.
Colleen Camp had seen better days, but she knew she hit rock bottom when she extended her invite to Hollow Man. And he didn’t come. In any sense of the word. So there.
Aspiring screenwriter Jackie Woodman spends her days grinding away as a writer at a flimsy, Hollywood Life-esque magazine. Trapped with a vapid editor (Azura Skye) and her catty, even more vapid underling (Patrick Bristow), she finds solace in misadventures with her friend and unwilling chauffeur Tara (Nicholle Tom). Tara is also a low-level flunkie, but at a film production company that doesn’t take her too seriously. Together, they hit up LA for as much fun as two aging, broke bitches can possibly enjoy. No, it’s actually funny…I swear…
"Let’s see how you like having YOUR soul eaten by video equipment!"
The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman is one of those concepts that’s been done so many times that you just know that it can’t possibly be good. From the casting to the plots, there’s nothing exceptional – on paper, at least – about any facet of this show, and indeed, it took every fiber of my being to overcome my prejudices toward the material to enjoy it for what it is. After all, if there’s any genre in entertainment more hackneyed and uninspired than the showbiz satire, it’s the "girls in the big city dating and doing zany stuff" genre. But somehow, Kightlinger (writing and producing as well) puts a fresh, semi-absurdist spin on this material, eschewing notes of syrupy feminist solidarity, meaning-of-life epiphanies, and other familiar tropes for a grounded, Roseanne-like perspective. Both Jackie and Tara are low on cash, opportunity, and glamour despite working in industries flush with both. And while Jackie is more of a smartass and Tara more of a ditz, there’s enough of the other in each gal so that you’re not constantly watching Kightlinger sit back above it all cracking wise and hauling her stupid friend’s fat out of the fire in every episode. Neither is quite as flighty or smart as they initially come off, and I love that. They’re supported by with very smart writing that gets better with each episode, too.
"And remember folks, if your car wash doesn’t offer arterial spray…they don’t mean business."
In fact, the worst outing of the show by far was the pilot. It actually plays like a tossed-off later season episode shown out of order and focuses entirely on a plot involving a scary-looking Sally Kellerman playing herself as a hippie evangelist for a bizarre self-help cult that sells candy bars. While that’s a black hole of anti-funny within itself, Tara gets sucked into the cult, so the main plot involves her somehow acting out of character when her character isn’t even established yet. It’s just a mess, and though Jackie has a few good one-liners that cement her acerbic worldview, I was scratching my head more than slapping my knee.
After that bump, however, the show really takes flight in all of the remaining seven episodes except for the season finale, which again involves one of the main characters acting like someone else for an entire episode. In this case, it’s Jackie, who starts taking a new anti-depressant out of the blue and suddenly becomes a hardcore right-winger. The best about it is the title "The Republicunt", and that’s pretty much where the laughs end. It’s a shame that this first season was bookended by two such bad episodes, but anyone who manages to soldier on past the premiere will find a lot to like here. Tom, in particular, breaks past what could be a very sitcom-y archetype, and makes it real. On a personal note, it’s a wee bit strange to see yet another of the Sheffield kids from The Nanny (What? You ain’t know?) in an adult role on a raunchy cable series, although she doesn’t get naked like Madeline Zima on Californication (still, she is thoroughly fucked in one funny episode in particular).
This is about the best of the original comedy shows currently airing on IFC, which means jack shit to most, but with more shows like this, that could change.
Typical for their shows, you get a brief doc and a preview for next season.