Saturday, September 10, 2016

REVIEW: 'One Mississippi' - Tig Tries to Make Sense of Her Mother's Death While Bill Worries About Her Health in 'Effects'

Amazon's One Mississippi - Episode 1.02 "Effects"

Struggling to accept her mother's death, Tig can't let go of Caroline's possessions. Unable to leave home, Tig tries to maintain control of her radio show from Mississippi. Seeing that Tig is unable to accept the fragility of life, most pressingly her own, Bill pushes Tig to investigate a disturbing, yet oddly hilarious medical procedure.

One Mississippi is a very intimate show. It's just about Tig dealing with her mother's sudden death with her brother, Remy, and her stepfather, Bill. It's just those three characters. They are the ones of chief focus on the show. They are all living in the same house and dealing with their grief in different ways. It's a fascinating examination of how we process death in today's world. Death is a certainty for every human being. It's the end of every single life. And yet, no one has any answers about death. There's no definitive proof that anything happens to us after death. Religious beliefs are something to hold onto. It's the idea of there being something more and better. But there are still so many questions. Some of them are very practical like what Tig wants to know here about how her mother died. But some operate on a grander scale like if prayer really works or not if God has a specific plan for all of us. These are big questions that death opens. This show isn't shying away from that harsh reality. It's putting its characters directly in the center of it as they each explore this turbulent time.

Of course, the world keeps on moving. Tig, Bill and Remy's lives have stopped because of Caroline's death. They have to stay in town to sort through all of her personal belongings and figure out how to cope with a life without her in it. But the rest of the world keeps on going. It does not stop. So, Brooke isn't able to stay in town with Tig. She has to go back to work in Los Angeles. Their relationship has already been through so much because of Tig's cancer. Not even Tig is sure if it's a good relationship because of all the death that has defined it. That could strengthen them. If they can survive cancer and Caroline's death, then they can survive anything. But they aren't exactly close right now to process all of these tough emotions and uncertainties together. Brooke has left and Tig is still behind. Tig feels the pull to her life and career back in Los Angeles as well. Her fill-in on her radio show is doing a poor job. So now, she has to sit in closets and record her show on her phone.

Fortunately, Tig has something to really talk about. Her show has always been personal and dealt with tough issues. She feels a connection with her audience. She loves her job. She takes pride in sharing these stories and curating songs that guide her listeners on a journey. She loves making the overall experience. And now, she has new material to mine. It's dark and twisted stuff. But humor is how she copes with the dark reality of her life. So she takes ahold of it to do her job. Her mother is sent a questionnaire in the mail from the hospital. It's asking her how her visit was. It's completely baffling to Tig. Why would any hospital send this form to a patient who has died? Tig does a great job mining the form for comedy. She does so as her mother and how it would be awkward answering all of these questions. She had little brain activity and was pulled off life support. And yet, the hospital wants to know how they could improve their services. It's something Tig is willing to talk about on her show. And yet, she does so from within a closet. It's likely the only place in the house where she has the peace and quiet to actually be still with her thoughts. But it's also awkward because it's a closet.

All of that is pretty fun though. It highlights the unique comedic tone of the show with a very simple story setup. And yet, the majority of this episode focuses on Tig trying to understand how her mother died. She's not trying to make sense of death in general. She's just trying to make sense of her mother's death. She needs to know every detail. She wants that information. Caroline was downstairs watching Jimmy Kimmel because she believed Tig was friends with him. It wasn't true but it's what she believed. Bill goes to sleep every night at 10 o'clock. That's his routine. So, he was asleep when Caroline got up and then tripped over the lamp cord. She was on the floor bleeding all night long until he found her in the morning. That's a horrifying way to go. Just imagine what it was like for Bill to find her like that. It was not a part of his routine. It changed everything for him. So now, he's not sure of how to act without her in his life. He finds himself trying to be more protective of Tig and Remy. That's what he's doing to find order again. He doesn't relate to the world in the same way that Tig and Remy do. The family frequently makes fun of him for his behavior. And yet, his emotions and feelings are still valid in this situation. He has the right to grieve in his own way just as much as Tig and Remy do. Tig wants to keep her mother's chair despite it having a stain of her blood. She wants to keep it as is. Meanwhile, Bill wants it out of the house because it has no meaning without Caroline in it.

Bill also finds himself fixated on Tig's health. He doesn't want her to die suddenly like Caroline did. He has a difficult time expressing that though. Tig and Remy are the closest thing he has to family. And yet, he struggles with the fact that they have no legal connection. That means they aren't family at all. But he wants to protect them like any good father does. He wants Tig to get better. Her c-diff has been a defining characteristic of her trip to Mississippi. She always finds herself going to the bathroom. She's going through toilet paper like crazy. That's the only proof Bill needs to realize her health is still compromised. But again, he struggles connecting to her in this regard. He tells her not to over exert herself. She should simply let a handyman fix the broken shelf or let Remy move the chair to the garage. Tig doesn't see herself as weakened. She still believes she can do these trivial tasks. And yet, it is a struggle. Remy broke the drill so Tig can't fix the broken shelf and moving the chair literally drains her of all her energy. And thus, Bill wants her to see a new doctor to help with her problems. But that in turn, only opens a new form of treatment that is just as alienating and weird as Bill is.

The doctor suggests Tig should get a fecal transplant. They take fecal matter from a healthy person and insert it into her body to fix the problems she's been having. It sounds like a gross and crazy idea to her. This is simple a mad scientist who wants to run crazy experiments on her body. She doesn't want that. She's too busy dealing with her mother's death to focus on something like this. And yet, it is important for her to take care of her own health. Bill doesn't want her to die over something like this. He's looked up the research. He knows how deadly c-diff can be. He wants Tig to stick around. It takes awhile for Tig to understand how Bill is feeling. But she ultimately does. It really is a beautiful bonding moment between them. Sure, it's a realization that comes with Tig and Remy making fun of just how regular Bill's bowel movements are. But it's still the first step of this family moving on with their lives. They don't want to move past Caroline and the impact she had on all of them. They are still unsure of what to do with so many of her belongings. But the process has started and the family is united and loves each other.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Effects" was written by Kate Robin and directed by Nicole Holofcener.
  • Caroline had a close friend named Bugsy who she would share all of her secrets with. Tig wants to know what those secrets are in the hopes that they tell her something new about her mother. And yet, there's nothing really to tell except that she prayed for Tig to get better after she was diagnosed with cancer. 
  • Tig and Remy ultimately decide to give the chair and some of Caroline's clothes to Bugsy. They figure she would enjoy them more than they would. She understands where they come from but she'll also wear them and put them to good use.
  • The only excerpt of Tig's fill-in host on her show that the audience hears is of her talking about the ripped jeans she's wearing. That's all we really need to hear to know that her style is far different from what Tig's is and what the audience wants from the show.
  • Even though she's gone, Brooke still cares so much about Tig's health. She made sure that Bill would remind her to drink the health supplement smoothie every morning. It's something she suggested just because she read an article about how Kim Kardashian lost her baby weight.
  • Remy lived in the house with Bill and Caroline. He has his own home that he has been renovating for a couple of years now. It's still a mess though which shows that he can be quite the procrastinator.
  • And yet, where was Remy the night Caroline tripped and fell? Tig doesn't blame Bill for what happened. But what was Remy up to that he couldn't find her on the floor bleeding out?

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.