Tuesday, April 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'Fosse/Verdon' - Gwen Feels Immense Guilt Over the Decisions She's Made to Have a Career in 'Me and My Baby'

FX's Fosse/Verdon - Episode 1.03 "Me and My Baby"

As Gwen and Bob pursue separate projects, Gwen thinks back to the beginning of her career, and the circumstances that led her here.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of

"Me and My Baby" was written by Debora Cahn and directed by Adam Bernstein

Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon speak the same creative language. They also have remarkably different perspectives on the world. When Bob is kept up in the middle of the night, it's with the fear that he is a complete fraud who only creates disasters on the stage and screen. When Gwen is in the same position, she is racked with guilt over choosing her career over her life as a mother. This hour outlines how she was assaulted before ever becoming a performer and forced into a traditional marriage with an abusive man. It's absolutely horrifying. She made the decision to walk away from her family. Leaving her son stung more than anything else though. Hearing those cries is what echoes through her head during times of immense guilt. It's not the pride that comes from the cheers and adulation at curtain call. This hour also features the legendary Can-Can standing ovation. The smile that beams across her face as she realizes this is the moment that will completely change her career is absolutely breathtaking. And yet, it's also told in hindsight knowing what's to come later on. Gwen could once again be repeating the same pattern with Nicole. She is pursuing her career almost out of spite of Bob. She returns home from learning about his German affair eager and desperate for work. She is so excited just to audition for a straight play. Bob has nothing but contempt for the idea that she could act onstage instead of simply perform with incredible choreography. And yes, that energy flows through every rehearsal for Children! Children! as Gwen struggles to get her bearings. In that moment, she is realizing that she wants the director to tell her exactly what to do. She requires choreography because that's the way that her brain has understood every single performance she has ever given in this business. This is a new turning point for her career. It's time to prove to the world that she still has so much more to give. She isn't past her prime. She is just as captivating now as ever before. But it's also clear that she is playing to the audience at home during the rehearsal of her big monologue. Through that performance, the show is channeling this overwhelming idea of everything that has happened in Gwen's life and how it has led to this moment. She wants to be so protective of the creative work and use it as a weapon against those who question her abilities. And yet, she still slides back into the familiar pattern of working alongside Bob. He is so angry in the editing room for Cabaret. He feels like he is losing control over his own movie. At first, he believes he's being welcomed back to the elite of Hollywood with a rousing comeback story. Instead, he is defeated over hating every single decision that was made throughout the entire process. He has all of the thoughts for how to turn the raw material into a great film. It just takes Gwen coming to the editing room to pull that out of him. It's beneficial to both of them. It's also apparent that they harm each other in some immense ways. In turn, that hurts Nicole. Bob doesn't wish to spend time with his daughter or actually be a parent. He can't watch her for one night. Instead, he has to go away to have sex with the assistant editor. He instead leaves her with Paddy Chayefsky which immediately freaks Nicole out. It was a family friend who abused her in her youth. She wants better for her daughter. But it seems like she is trapped in this cycle. One of immense self-doubt that extends far deeper than any claps or cheers could ever reach. That's absolutely terrifying. And the show notes that she still has 28 years left to her life. These are emotions that will continue to live on for a long time as she struggles with the realities of what to do next and if any of this is actually healthy for her or her family. She is betting so much on her new play. And yet, history already tells us that it won't serve the purpose she is looking for here.