Friday, September 8, 2017

REVIEW: 'One Mississippi' - Tig, Remy and Bill Have Complicated Feelings Towards Romance in 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'

Amazon's One Mississippi - Episode 2.01 "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

Hoping to get more intimate with Kate, Tig attends a party at her apartment in New Orleans. Later, Tig and Kate stoke controversy in Bay St. Lucille with a discussion on their radio show. Bill is oblivious to the attentions of an admirer, while Remy blows it with a lady friend when a joke leads to a political disagreement.

Tig Notaro's One Mississippi was one of my favorite shows of 2016. The first season was a stunning achievement as it examined love and loss within this particular family. It was incredibly personal. But it was also a nice reflection on death and the complexity of the human condition. Tig returned to her hometown in Mississippi in order to find grand answers about the life her mother lived before she died. She was looking for explanations about why certain things happened. She did get some answers. She learned new things that painted her mother in a different light. But it was more important to see the humanity in everyone's actions. Mistakes were made in the past. But that just highlights how everyone in this family is a human who was just trying to do their best. Sometimes the best they can do isn't good enough. But this is the family that Tig has. Over the course of the first season, she realized that she needed them. It didn't make sense for her to see this as an elaborate vacation from her life in Los Angeles. She feels more like her genuine self in Mississippi than she ever did in the ridiculous world of California. And now, the second season picks up in a very nice, sweet and gentile way. It's expanding this world for these characters. The first was all about their personal struggles and needing to rely on each other even though they rarely understood each other. And now, those bonds of family are going to be tested because of the actions each of them will take as they explore the world around them once more.

Tig will say that she moved back to Mississippi in order to be with her family or to do her show the way she wants to do it. And yet, a significant reason is also her feelings for Kate, her producer. The two of them had an immediate connection last season. Tig really wants to have creative control over her show. She doesn't want anyone coming in and forcing changes on her. Kate understands the show Tig is making. She's fascinated and really entertained by it. The two of them share a connection that plays as intimacy even though there is nothing romantic really going on between them. Tig obviously wants there to be. She has fantasies about Kate being this amazing woman leading her on adventures all around the world in a matter of moments. That sequence as Kate leads Tig through her party reminds the audience of just how surreal this show can be at times. It only incorporates such sequences once an episode. The rest of the time the show is very grounded in reality. But it's a nice place to find comedy as well. Here, Kate is confidently doing everything that is presented in front of her while Tig is lost in an ever-changing world that she doesn't understand at all. It's the perfect feeling of heading into a party where one only knows one other person. Tig came to this event because she knew Kate and wanted to spend more time with her outside of work. Instead, she got stuck talking with people whom she just doesn't understand at all.

And yet, the connection between Tig and Kate is still developing. It's abundantly clear that the practical realities of the two of them producing this show will be a significant story this season. They are recording out of a building with no running water and a missing owner. Tig hasn't actually been paid in awhile. The local sponsors aren't as enticing to Tig as she is used to from her time in Los Angeles. But these are the realities of working in this environment. It doesn't change the actual quality of the program. It just shifts things a little behind-the-scenes. Tig and Kate still get to share a connection during the show. Tig gets to talk about this town renaming Martin Luther King Jr. Day to "Great American Heroes Day" in order to honor both sides. She reacts skeptically to people who want to celebrate both good and evil. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee don't deserve to be equally celebrated. But that's the world Tig is now a part of. The community sees things slightly differently than how she does. That could become an important part of this season as well. This is still a radio show after all playing to this part of the country. There are some people who are obsessed with it. Kate has a ton of friends who praise Tig's show for how honest and genuine both the stories and music are. But Bill's generation struggles with it more because it goes against the values that they've believed in for a long time. It gets to the point where he's a little embarrassed because of it even though he is still very proud of her.

It builds to a fascination conversation about molestation as well. Tig is trying to say that there really should be no distinction between molestation and sexual harassment. To her, they are the exact same thing. She's right to hold onto that opinion given the life experiences she has had. The first season unraveled the trauma that came of her being molested for a long period of time in her childhood. It was an action that forced this family to be disingenuous with one another for many years. It's only been in addressing it as adults that they've found a way to connect once more. And now, Tig is talking about a time where she should have been molested but she thankfully wasn't. It's such a weird and surprising story. She feels like sharing it now to talk about how perspectives shift from person-to-person as well as over time. She's happy this didn't happen to her while also knowing better about it now because she has her eyes open to the world. Meanwhile, Kate has a different perspective. She sees sexual harassment and molestation as two different things. To her, molestation is being taken advantage of at a young age by someone who knows better. Sexual harassment is something that women have had to put up with over the years because there is always going to be some guy who does something inappropriate. She's been conditioned to believe that a guy groping her while swimming or playing basketball is just normal. It's horrible. They can agree on that. But Kate believes it's not on the same level as actual molestation. It's a difference of opinion that still strengthens their bond. It makes Tig comfortable enough to open up about her past with Kate. That's significant and shows that things can still be strong between them despite their arguments on the air.

But this is still a conversation that is largely being broadcasted to the world. People are actually listening to this story. It's all a part of a journey that Tig is trying to guide her audience on because of this news about the holiday. But it's fascinating to see things from the perspective of Tig's audience. Bill has never been ashamed of the stories she has told. He listens to her show every day. He's done it from the comfort of his own home though. And now, he is convinced to go out into the world and experience the show with other people his age. That makes things play a little differently. It now makes him feel more self-conscious about his role as her parent. He worries that these stories will make him come across as a bad and neglectful parent. He doesn't believe that at all. He has his specific way of viewing the world. Everyone appreciates that while noticing how odd he is. It's beautiful that he experiences things differently. But now, he's worried that what Tig reveals will change how people view him. Yes, it also allows people to come to Tig to tell their stories of being abused by men. One of the women who encouraged Bill to come out with them shares a tale of being groped constantly while looking for her missing shoe at a party in her youth. Reflecting back on it now she sees that it was wrong. But it's not really a life-changing realization for her either. It's instead something that happened that didn't really change her life at all. Nor does it change Tig and Remy's perception of her. They still see her as a viable romantic option for Bill. But that leads to an incredibly tragic but human moment where Bill reveals that he believes that part of his life is over. He still believes in his marriage vows even though Caroline has died. That's sweet. But it's also okay to want something more for him as well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was written by Stephanie Allynne & Tig Notaro and directed by Tig Notaro.
  • This very much seems like a season of romance for the three lead characters. They all have different approaches to it as well. Bill believes it won't ever happen again and is content with that. Tig is playing the long game with Kate to see if the right moment ever strikes. Meanwhile, Remy is just putting his feelings out there immediately to have the clarity of rejection early on. They are all very different while also being able to joke about it with each other.
  • Of course, things look like they are ending pretty quickly between Remy and Vicky. She introduced him to church in order to cope with his feelings. But it doesn't seem like he's entirely understanding it. Nor does he think it's a big deal when his friend at the civil war reenactment makes a racist comment towards Vicky. As such, he comes even more across as someone with privilege who just doesn't understand the world.
  • It's also apparent that the show is going to be much more political this season. This episode alone talks about the controversy around celebrating Robert E. Lee and the recent presidential election. So far, it's only been revealed that Remy didn't vote because "issues aren't the only thing that matters." That's such a lame explanation for why he didn't confront racism when he saw it though.
  • Tig believes things will be perfect with Kate when Kate runs straight up to her and gets very close to her face. And then, that actually occurs. Kate does that only to offer Tig the number of her friend, Phoebe, from the party. Tig is disappointed. She probably takes the number because she realizes she can't just wait for something more to happen with Kate.
  • Tig meets Kate's ex-boyfriend, Brent, who is not at all what she was expecting. In fact, it just allows Kate to break down how her past relationships have been defined. She's attracted to narcissists and things are good for awhile because of her inquisitive nature. But they all end once the perils of narcissism came out for good. That's a pattern important to remember - especially if she ever does become romantic with Tig.

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.