December 3, 2021

B.J. Novak’s A-Listing Anthology Collection ‘The Premise’ Tackles Superstar Worship and Butt Plugs

3 min read

In his new FX anthology present The Premise, creator and author B.J. Novak explores human impulse via the lens of intercourse and social media. Whereas it’d learn as a extra lighthearted facsimile of Netflix’s future-minded behemoth Black Mirror, Novak’s pursuit is predicated firmly within the current, with an outlook that leans extra humanist than the long-running techno-philosophical sequence.

The Premise finds a cohesive via line in our collective want for intimacy and care in a social hierarchy dominated by the web, the place we’re each extra related and extra remoted than ever. The self-contained tales in every half-hour episode navigate sociopolitical landmines like gun lobbying, police cover-ups, A-list and D-list superstar worship, respectively, and, maybe most notably, butt plugs. And whereas it’s clear that Novak has a tackle the massive matters, his script largely serves as a canvas for a cadre of quick-witted, deliciously entertaining characters—performed by titans like Lucas Hedges, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Dae-Kim, Kaitlyn Dever and Tracee Ellis Ross.

In step with the present’s title, The Premise presents a sequence of what-ifs, grounded in equal elements realism and absurdity, that really feel ripped from late night time Twitter and Reddit threads. The yarns right here really feel acquainted: the price of combating for causes constructed on a web-based persona, how social media has impacted the best way we see actual life relationships, and the way our sexual impulses and proclivities may be empowering but simply manipulated. Novak, who is thought for his comedy writing, doesn’t shrink back from the ridiculous, and it is clear that The Workplace and Mindy Undertaking alum’s knack for timing and stress is definitely his most resume-ready transferable ability. The script twists round drama-comedy corners in an altogether promising showcase of dexterity.

One essential distinction between Novak’s work and different Big Idea anthologies is the previous’s humanism and look after characters, even people who find yourself dropping. We gained’t spoil something right here, however there are many losers in The Premise—individuals who come up on the brief finish of the stick, and others who take L’s and pursue livid measures for retribution. There’s additionally no scarcity of characters selecting to energy via their neuroses within the service of lofty, if misguided, objectives.

The Premise’s first two episodes supply differing manifestations of justice utilizing social media as a device. And whereas they’re most likely essentially the most preachy and critical of the five-episode run, they produce harrowing seems to be into a subject that Novak has clearly thought quite a bit about: wielding whiteness on the web for the aim of PR and political causes. There are tropes right here, certain—just like the plucky legislation intern who takes on her first huge case, or the annoying web troll who helps an influencer understand how shitty their lives are—however they’re dealt with with empathy, and a degree of religion in individuals’s energy to train company inside the downward spiral of their digital and three-dimensional lives.

There may be additionally darkness right here. Quite a lot of Novak’s characters hit all-time low with the one true narcotic: social capital. Novak’s pen pushes past the humor of his early work to look into the abyss of ruinous grief and highly effective narcissism, betraying a selected fascination with our want for exterior validation, and the lengths we’re keen to go to safe it. These are characters who’ve all been conditioned to hunt reward, gratitude and recognition, and so they chase it at a danger to their very own security and self-interest.

The Premise champions private causes and makes a mission of character interrogation. And although it careens into hamfisted “this can be a message” territory at some factors, when it’s buzzing, B.J. Novak’s debut showrunning endeavor may be touching and downright diabolical.

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