Summer 2015 Review: Another Period

1 Jul

Another Period

Another Period is a ludicrous, silly show whose primary goal is to simply make you laugh, and fortunately, it does. Another Period is a spoof of Downton Abbey-esque upstairs/downstairs period shows, following a ludicrously wealthy family in New England around the turn of the 20th century.  The characters and dramatic storylines are overly absurd and the humor ranges from a combination of low-brow and clever wordplay to physical slapstick; the vast majority of the characters range from dumb to extremely dumb.

Creators Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome play daughters Lillian and Beatrice respectively, of the family Bellacourt. Both are demanding, immature and petulant. All that separates them is that Lillian has some semblance of intelligence, while Beatrice is a complete moron. Beatrice is married to Albert, played by David Wain, but in love with her brother, Frederick, played by Jason Ritter. Lillian is married to Victor, played by Brian Huskey. Michael Ian Black plays Mr. Peepers, the head butler, and Christina Hendricks is the new servant, originally named Celine, but named Chair by the less-than-sensitive Bellacourts. In total, it’s a very strong stable of comedic personalities, with some welcome faces newer to the world of comedy (Hendricks and Ritter).

The style is well over the top, and some people will merely Another Period is very stupid. And they’re right, it is very stupid. It’s very hard to articulate why some stupid humor is laugh-out-loud hilarious and some stupid humor is mind-numbing and cringe-worthy, and certainly everyone’s line between the two is very different. Another Period though lies squarely on the former side.

Another Period was probably conceived in response to Downton Abbey, and while the show makes hay out of the rich family vs. poor servants dynamic, there’s no attempt to be poignant or clever or meaningful with the period nature. It’s just there to serve as a vein for jokes and comedy. The period nature is ridiculous and flexible truth-wise. There’s no attempt to any reasonable semblance of fidelity; rather there’s an attempt to be as distinctly inaccurate as possible. One character makes a reference to Helen Keller, treating her as we would today rather than then. Guests are served cocaine wine; when Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan object as members of the Temperance Union, they’re told, helpfully, that it’s really mostly cocaine, anyway.  New servant Chair tells the others she has big dreams; the other servants scoff at her dreams of one day working in a factory.

The jokes are scattershot, fired left and right over the place, and they don’t all work by any means. Luckily it’s the type of show where the overall picture isn’t all that important – the show would rather drop a bunch of bad jokes and leave a whole bunch of good jokes in than go for something more refined but possibly less funny. That’s not always a successful formula, but it works here – the gags that don’t work are washed away as soon as something funny happens.

Will I watch it again? Yes. It’s funny, it’s easy to watch, and it’s got lots of people I like. Comedy Central continues its roll.

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