It can be hard to find humor in our politically charged and polarized lives.
But Tig Notaro deftly pulls it off in Season 2 of her semi-autobiographical show, “One Missisippi.” It is a story of a young woman who has moved back to Mississippi. The second season tackles issues such as racism, homophobia and faith. Notaro uses a particular brand of black, deadpan humor to pull it off, as anyone who has seen Season 1 may know. Season 1 alone dealt with hard-hitting issues such as death and family, and with Season 2 the stakes are even higher.
In Season 2, major changes occur, namely on the relationship front. Notaro’s protagonist, named Tig Bavaro, is navigating the possibility of a relationship with a woman from her radio station. Bavaro’s brother Remy is also exploring a relationship with a Vietnamese-American woman, Vicky. It’s here that the tensions of the Trump era really come in full-force.
“You did nothing to stop a racist bully from becoming president,” Vicky says, after one of Remy’s friends makes crude comments about her ethnicity at a Civil War reenactment.
Remy responds that not every Trump voter is a racist.
“Everyone who accepts racism is a racist,” Vicky proclaims. This blend of earnestness and humor imbue the show with its strength. Tensions abound and characters try to grapple with them, not always successfully. There’s a vulnerability that the characters are aware of, especially Bavaro, who is grappling with issues of sexual assault, as well as being gay in a conservative town.
“Anyone want to associate themselves with lesbos and assault survivors?” quips Bavaro on her radio show. In another telling scene, Bavaro and a date are denied entrance to a hospital for being gay. Bavaro doesn’t hesitate to poke the proverbial bears.
Bavaro sarcastically refers to her sexuality as “a choice.” She also proceeds to make a joke about her brother being her “husband-brother” also deftly playing off the stereotype of Southerners as inbreds.
The show deftly illustrates how certain lines blur in the era of Trump, especially in this small Mississippi community. One of Bavaro’s radio sponsors is a representative of a “pray away the gay” group. A sarcastic encounter with the representative results in losing a sponsor. Other sponsors follow shortly, pulled by the powerful tide of the local culture. The proverbial ripple effect is in full swing here. It’s darkly comical and all too real.
One can talk about separation of church and state and about reliance on science. Such is not the case in the world of “One Mississippi.” And as viewers, it’s fascinating to glimpse another world. This is a place where evolution is doubted and Martin Luther King Day has been rebranded, “Great Americans Day” with a particular emphasis on Robert E. Lee and the Confederate way.
“Such disrespect,” one woman proclaims when Bavaro pokes fun at Robert E. Lee.
I hope that subsequent seasons of the show will delve further into our political and social tensions. We might not be able to resolve them, or even change the tenor of the conversation immediately, but humor is always a way to explore our tendencies, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Humor can also highlight vulnerability as “One Mississippi” does so well.
Should you see this show? If you like a show that addresses significant issues with a blend of hard-hitting humor and heart, check out “One Mississippi.”
Release date: September 8, 2017
Distributor: Amazon Studios
Number of episodes: 6
Where to watch: Amazon Video (free with prime membership)
Collegian reporter Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri can be reached at email@example.com. His Twitter handle is @dudesosad.