The creators of “Forever” would very much like it if you didn’t read this full review before watching the show — or any reviews, or anything that might reveal what the new Amazon comedy starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen is about. In fact, critics were sent a list of things not to mention in previews that essentially boiled down to “don’t talk about the characters, the plot, any of the other actors, or really even the fundamental premise.”
And honestly, having seen the series, Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard’s desire for secrecy makes sense. These eight episodes of “Forever” form a delicate soap bubble of a season, one that might easily be popped by coarse “it’s [blank] meets [blank]” comparisons. Like a bubble, it might be a little slight in some ways, but there’s something beautiful, peaceful — perhaps even transcendent — about watching it drift by.
This review will be split into two sections, the first intended to be read prior to watching the first season, and the second (beginning on Page 2) meant to be read afterwards. So, going into it, what can be said? Well, Rudolph and Armisen play a married couple who, when we meet them, have developed a comfortable routine. By the end of the season, have found themselves completely transformed into different people.
Again, that’s about all can be said about the plot at this stage. At this point, there are three reasons folks may tune in: extreme curiosity, faith in Yang and Hubbard’s storytelling abilities (and the pair definitely have game — Yang is an Emmy winner for his work on “Master of None” and Hubbard’s credits include “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “Superstore”), and affection for Armisen and Rudolph.
That last one’s probably a big factor in why the casual Amazon Prime subscriber will watch, and it’s far from a bad reason. As mentioned above, there are other actors on this show (many of whom are familiar enough to elicit delight when they make their appearances, which is a good enough reason to avoid spoiling them here). But it is definitely Rudolph and Armisen’s show, with the pair given many scenes to simply play around with silly concepts like the skilled comedians and improvisers they are. As a married couple, there’s not a lot of heat between Oscar and June, but for a long-married couple, that seems pretty appropriate, especially since the love between them does feel real.
Also, between the two of them, Rudolph dominates the action, reminding the world yet again that she is easily one of Hollywood’s most criminally underused performers on both a comedic and dramatic level. It’s really June’s journey we’re on, with Oscar playing a more supporting/passive role, and it’s a balance that works to the show’s advantage.
The writing is elegant and spare, the direction (with episodes helmed by Yang, Janicza Bravo, and Miguel Arteta) deft and subtle. Whether you pace out the episodes or binge in one sitting, there’s much to appreciate. So, after you’ve watched it….
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