One Mississippi


In my younger days, when things like a Thanksgiving morning touch football game became an obligatory neighborhood event, the terms One Mississippi, Two Mississippi were words that actually may have been spoken by me or my teammates. In this particular version of backyard football, the team defending had to give the quarterback five seconds to figure out what to do before we could come streaming across the line of scrimmage to achieve either a sack via a two-hand touch, or hurry the QB into throwing an errant pass. Hence, the stating of one Mississippi was the equivalent of one second passing, and we had to voice the count out loud.

That was then.

Today, meaning this month, Amazon rolled out a new series on September 9th called One Mississippi. Lest you get the wrong idea, this brand new mini-series (only six episodes of a half hour each), has nothing whatsoever to do with football.

The series stars Tig Notaro who is nothing  if not multi-talented. She’s managed bands, booked bands, played music and talked as a radio DJ. She’s also done notable work as a stand-up comic. She is penning a memoir for a Harper Collins imprint. She been a subject of a documentary called Tig which screened at Sundance. And she’s come to the attention of Louis CK who is an Executive Producer for this TV series.

Those are items which re usually found on a resumé.

What you normally don’t see on a resumé is the fact that Tig had breast cancer resulting in a double mastectomy with no follow-up reconstructive surgery. She’s also had a serious intestinal disorder which might have killed her.

As the series begins, Tig has flown in from L.A. The family was gathering because Tig and her brother, plus their step-father, have agreed and decided to pull the plug on her mother who is hooked-up to life-support mechanisms. She had sustained a severe head-injury in a fall and was now in a full vegetative state.

So Tig has flown into New Orleans and was in a car driving to her home town. She’s actually from Pass Christian, Mississippi, but in the show, the setting is the fictional Bay Saint Lucille. Either way, they are  about 70 miles east of New Orleans and are considered small Gulf towns on the Mississippi coast.

Now Amazon has described One Mississippi as a dark comedy. Here is the blurb for Episode One (the pilot):

Tig Notaro, an LA-based radio host, returns to her hometown of Bay St. Lucille, Mississippi, to be at the bedside of her ailing mother, Caroline. Suffering from her own recent health problems, Tig attempts to reconnect with her brother, Remy, and stepfather, Bill, both of whom lack the emotional tools to deal with family trauma.

And the blurb from the 2nd Episode called 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.

A flashback to when the Mom was at Tig's bedside prior to her mastectomy.

A flashback to when the Mom was at Tig’s bedside prior to her mastectomy.

Notice that the series is called a dark comedy and oddly hilarious. Here’s my take – I’d call the series a drama with often unexpected diverting comedy scenes, but there’s not nearly enough of these to merit calling the series a comedy, dark or otherwise. Second, I didn’t find the show even remotely hilarious.

Bill, the step-father seems to lack any sense of humor. He’s played by John Rothman. And while you are most likely not going to like the character, you will have to agree that Rothman nails the portrayal. The brother Remy, a high school phys-ed teacher is as affable and likeable  as you might expect. His main issue is that he hasn’t a clue about women. Played by Noah Harpster, Remy does find a way to put a smile on your face throughout.

There are other things that need mentioning. Tig has a full-time relationship with a woman in LA that appears to be on its lest legs. Her line delivery is mostly slow and quiet – she’s not a demonstrative person.  Tig will become involved with a local Mississippi TV news reporter – a beautiful and stacked woman. This involvement also will not go the way you may hope for or expect.

My feelings are mixed about the show. As I said, the show is not particularly funny. Yes, you can consider that while the intent is not to make a serious medical and family issues comedic, it is not all sturm und drang either.

Watching Remy fumble around with a woman who clearly demonstrates that she likes him, is funny. Watching step-dad Bill nearly flip out when the cat gets out of the house also has its moments.

Tig Notaro is truly an interesting woman in real life, and what she shows us in this semi-autobiographical series does become involving. Which is always a good thing for a TV series. Just don’t proceed when you take a look at the show expecting a standard sit-com.

Check out the trailer: