RIDICULOUSLY SURREAL YET GROUNDED IN TRUE STORIES, Netflix’s Lady Dynamite takes the in-vogue semi-biographical standup comedian sitcom and twists it into something so frenzied and meta that you barely recognize it. Fronted by inimitable alt-comedy goddess Maria Bamford, this candidly funny series centres on Bamford’s own mental health issues.
“[Creators] Pam [Brady] and Mitch [Hurwitz] did a wonderful job of it,” Bamford says, giving all credit to her writers for how the show captures her experiences both in and outside of psych wards with so much depth. “I’m sure it’s not everyone’s experience, but for me, they really interpreted the stories I told them and added their own imagination.”
Of course award- winning writers from South Park and Arrested Development made a massive impact on the show, but Bamford undervalues herself by attributing all of the show’s strengths to the writers. After all, she created the richest fodder for a TV show a writing team could possibly ask for. In addition to years of vulnerably compelling stories she has to share, she also has multiple albums of singular standup for them to draw from.
“Right now I’m working on a bit about hobbies,” Bamford discloses when asked about new standup material. “I didn’t think I had any. Then I looked at what I was always doing in my free time, and I was always doing something self-help-related. So now I’m putting together a three-part piece on that idea: that my bettering myself is in fact just like a video game of emotional Sudoku. It’s just something I enjoy doing on the weekend, like woodworking or hiking.”
Most people couldn’t compare managing bipolar disorder to a literal walk in the park, but in that lives the charm of Maria Bamford. Nervously yet persistently optimistic, she makes the darkest topics not only approachable, but bewitchingly absurd in a way that nobody else can.