Just binged the whole first season (thanks, new iPhone!) and really liked it. Based on others’ comments, it appears that bingers had a more favorable reaction than weekly watchers, and I wonder if that was more than coincidental. Maybe this is a show that just needs to be consumed in quick succession. I’m also puzzled by the initial critical response. I remember a lot of critics wishing for less of a focus on sexual harassment, and wonder if their negative reaction was based on MeToo fatigue rather the merits of the show.
I thought the show did a great job of displaying the “spectrum” of inappropriate behavior. On one end, you have the totally consensual relationship between two coworkers who, while having the same imbalance of power as Mitch and Hannah, had a much different outcome. Early on, I thought Claire would end up accusing Yanko of taking advantage of her, and I’m glad they chose not to go that route. If anything, it seemed like he was the one being used. (As a side note, I never understood why she would be embarrassed to be seen dating him. How could anyone not love Batmanuel??)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is Martin Short, who knows he’s a predator but doesn’t care because he is a total narcissist who thinks he deserves it. Fantastic skeevy performance, by the way. And between those two poles is Mitch, whose position on the line seems to shift between episodes. Early on, he comes off as a man who, while misguided, is maybe being unfairly maligned. When he tells Martin Short that they are NOT the same man, I believe him. But as more aspects of his personality are revealed, it becomes apparent that they are more similar than not. The main difference is the degree to which they lie to themselves about their behavior.
And then you had all the various iterations of enablers, from the willfully ignorant (Alex) to the passively self-serving (Chip) to the actively complicit (Fred).
While the show veered a little too far into soapy histrionics at times, I thought the performances, across the board, were first rate. This is the first role I have seen Jennifer Aniston play that did not constantly make me think “Rachel”. Billy Crudup was deliciously malevolent. (I do NOT see the character as a “good guy” in any way— he is just as manipulative and self serving as Mitch, just not in a sexual way... so far.) Steve Carell brought such nuance to his character, it was riveting. And while I’m not sure we need to see any more of Mitch (including his rehabilitation, which I fear is next), I definitely want to see more of Steve’s performance.
I have loved Gugu Mbatha-Raw since Undercovers, and thought she brought a wonderful combination of vulnerability and strength to Hannah. I don’t think Hannah committed suicide, not after having just decided to meet with the LA show, so I hope the final verdict is accidental overdose. Because my first thought was that someone had her silenced, and I don’t think that’s a good direction for the show.
In any case, I’m looking forward to a second season and hope it won’t be long! (I do plan to stick to the binge method and watch after all episodes have aired, as that seems to suit this show best.)