Well, this positive as heck isn’t us.
HBO’s dysfunctional household drama “Here and Now” (premiering Sunday) is a dreadful misfire from “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood” creator Alan Ball, a few household with extra first-world issues than it could probably rely. In 4 episodes made obtainable for assessment, the present rummages by means of a combined bag of inscrutable themes, one in every of which seems to be an indictment of the performative cultural correctness that units individuals off these days.
Like a straight-faced sketch that fell off “Portlandia’s” truck and is now broken past restore, the far too self-important “Here and Now” facilities on middle-aged Portlanders Audrey Bayer and Greg Boatwright (Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins) and their 4 youngsters. Audrey is a lawyer who devoted her profession to a nonprofit “empathy initiative” that focuses on battle decision. Greg is a past-his-prime philosophy professor who has began to bitterly recant a few of his core teachings on life’s which means.
As younger mother and father, Audrey and Greg adopted three youngsters from international hassle spots – a daughter, Ashley, from Liberia; a son, Duc, from Vietnam; and one other son, Ramon, from Colombia. The three siblings, now adults, regard their mother and father’ magnanimous notion of a multiracial household with resentment, as in the event that they have been chosen to be prop items in Audrey and Greg’s overt show of advantage. Whatever fact there is in that, it additionally looks like an particularly chilly solution to get to know a household.
Ashley (Jerrika Hinton) now runs an internet style retail website and is married to a white man, Malcolm (Joe Williamson); Duc (Raymond Lee) has turn out to be a power-of-positivity life coach, claiming to attract energy from celibacy (which he doesn’t truly follow); Ramon (Daniel Zovatto) is in school studying to design video video games and has simply began courting a free-spirited barista named Henry (Andy Bean). Then there’s the youngest Bayer-Boatwright sibling, Kristen (Sosie Bacon). She is Audrey and Greg’s solely organic baby – a precociously clever highschool junior who, as a result of it’s cable TV, is perpetually as much as no good.
As Audrey inflicts a dressy, catered 60th party upon Greg (who solely hours earlier was cavorting with a prostitute), a viewer realizes that the Bayer-Boatwrights are yet one more completely unlikable illustration of progressive, upper-middle class life, recalling the lingering weaknesses of Ball’s breakout screenplay for 1999’s “American Beauty,” with its relentless reminders of suburban ethical rot.
Where can we begin to attempt to take pleasure in a present like this – by viewing it principally as a vicarious wallow? I spent all of the energy I had on this type of factor convincing viewers to simply accept the complicated and distastefully immodest Pfefferman youngsters on “Transparent.” The Bayer-Boatwrights are Pfefferman-plus-plus.
Prestige tv typically buys into this fractured, impenetrably morose concept of what a household is; Philip Larkin’s well-known, withering line about mother and father is directly true and overused. It’s virtually a motto for individuals who make TV dramas.
Greg’s sad get together toast about mortality (given whereas Kristen is dropping her virginity out again within the treehouse) is interrupted when Ramon suffers what seems to be a psychotic episode, linked to the mysterious apparition of the numbers “11/11.” (The last item “Here and Now” wants is a “Leftovers”-like enigma to decrypt, however – sigh – right here it comes, filled with phony portent.)
Adurey and Greg take their son to a psychiatrist, Dr. Farid Shokrani (Peter Macdissi), and this is the place “Here and Now” improves, as we comply with the physician house and meet his spouse, Minou (Necar Zadegan), and their gender-fluid teenage son, Navid (Marwan Salama). Though they’re no happier than the Bayer-Boatwrights, the Shokrani family is merely extra fascinating: Farid, bearing literal scars from a childhood marred by the Iranian revolution of the 1970s, has all however rejected his Muslim religion, whereas Minou needs to deepen hers and Navid wears a hijab at residence (with smoky-eye make-up).
In one other layering-on of relevance, Audrey’s expertise as a conflict-resolver are referred to as upon on the public highschool attended by each Kristen and Navid, the place racist incidents have infected the scholar physique.
Have we, by now, checked off all of the packing containers? I feel we’ve. But checking them off is all of the present does, with no indication that additional episodes will get higher or worse. It simply sort of sits there, surrounded in snide dialogue and hole gestures of concern.
“Here and Now” (one hour) premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.