Geist - - Endnotes - —Thad Mcil­roy

Nearly 500 scripted TV se­ries aired in the U.S. and Canada last year, ev­ery­thing from The Big Bang The­ory and Mod­ern Fam­ily to the re­cently can­celled Down­ward Dog, in which “a lonely dog nav­i­gates the com­plex­ity of 21st cen­tury re­la­tion­ships.” Given this rich cor­nu­copia, why would I tell you that you must watch Bas­kets (FX)? It’s clearly not one of the best shows on TV right now, nowhere close. There’s re­ally only one rea­son to watch it. And it’s a good one. Named Chris­tine. The show it­self has a bare-bones premise. Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis, in his late 40s, plays Chip Bas­kets, an as­pir­ing clown who has taken up the pro­fes­sion a lit­tle late in life. He stud­ied clown­ing at the “pres­ti­gious clown acad­emy” in Paris but had trou­ble with the lessons as

he didn’t speak French. Re­turn­ing home to nowheresville, a.k.a. Bak­ers­field, Cal­i­for­nia, he be­friends Martha, an in­sur­ance ad­juster at Costco, re­con­nects with his twin brother Dale (get it? Chip & Dale) and the adopted twins, the DJS Cody and Lo­gan. And he moves back in with his mother, Chris­tine. Their re­la­tion­ship is fraught, but not with­out its ten­der mo­ments. Dur­ing Easter Day brunch at the lo­cal casino, Chip turns to Chris­tine. “My life’s in dis­ar­ray right now, Momma,” he says. “Whose isn’t? Whose isn’t?” she replies. The rev­e­la­tion is that vet­eran co­me­dian Louis Anderson plays Chris­tine, the Bas­kets fam­ily ma­tri­arch (her hus­band, Natha­nial died some years be­fore, hav­ing “ac­ci­den­tally fallen off a bridge while ad­mir­ing the river”). How do you get a well-known vet­eran co­me­dian, weigh­ing some 350 pounds, and turn him into a woman you can’t take your eyes off of? And do it with­out turn­ing him into a drag grotes­querie? That’s why you should see Bas­kets. It isn’t per­fect. But when it’s good it is sublime.

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