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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Netflix’s ‘Easy’ feels a little too real

    Patrick Wymore / Netflix

    Patrick Wymore / Netflix

    When we watch television, we’re usually looking for an escape from reality. Whether it be a critically acclaimed drama, a laugh out loud comedy or some awful reality show, we watch because we want to be entertained and to have an escape from our everyday, mundane lives.

    However, some modern television takes a different approach, attempting to portray real life as closely as possible, only on screen. The brand new Netflix Original Series “Easy,” created by indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg, does this religiously. Sometimes it feels closer to real life than to actual T.V.

    “Easy” has no overarching plot, no main characters, and very little connection between episodes. The series presents itself as an anthology of mostly disconnected vignettes from episode to episode, with each one introducing new characters and a new plot line. The different episodes in the series really only have two things in common: sex and Chicago.

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    Sex certainly becomes prevalent in this show. Almost every episode includes a sex scene of some sort. Many episodes portray unstable relationships, and they try to explore that through sex. You get an older couple trying to spice up their sex life, a happy couple who decides to have a threesome when they discover Tinder and a lesbian couple with one of the women trying to become vegan, among others.

    If I had to pick a main character for this series, I would have to go with the city of Chicago. The entire series takes place in the Windy City, exploring everything from an art studio to a brewing company to a dance club, depicting much of the diversity that make up the city. Swanberg, the series’ creator, used to live in Chicago, and his love for the city noticeably shines through on screen.

    Swanberg had no problem finding famous actors to take part in the series. Different episodes feature stars such as Orlando Bloom, Dave Franco, Malin Akerman, Hannibal Buress and Marc Maron, along with a slew of other faces that will cause you to rack your brains to try and remember where else you have seen them.

    The distinguishing feature of the show is just how real it all feels. An emphasis on dialogue and relationships between characters replaces sweeping plot points. The show does a great job of fleshing out its characters and their relationships, especially considering the 25-30 minute long running time for each episode. This results in many long scenes consisting of everyday dialogue, helping us get to know the characters better.

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    The show’s heightened realism will appeal to many viewers as it depicts real life and real people in just about the closest possible way that television can. However, that coin has two sides. The heavy use of what appears as improvised dialogue will also feel too real for some. Since television should ultimately operate as an escape from reality, too real means too boring.

    At times, it feels like something exciting just needs to happen in “Easy,” but it never really does, resulting in an undeniably well-made show that is simply not always the most enjoyable to actually sit down and watch.

    Still, the series offers a realistic slice of Chicago life, told from several different perspectives. It also delivers with solid writing and directing, all courtesy of Swanberg, who wrote and directed all eight episodes.

    In the end, it all comes down to just how much you want television to remind you of real life. As pure entertainment, the show works. As pure escapism, not so much.

    The entire first season of “Easy” is now available to stream on Netflix.

    Grade: B-

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter.

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