Never judge a show based on its first episode, Feel Good reminded me of that. I have to be honest here, after watching the first episode of the series, I thought that this show wasn’t for me. I didn’t particularly enjoy the first episode and while I couldn’t find anything wrong with it per se, I also couldn’t say it hit it out of the park. But I decided to continue, to give it a shot and honestly, never judge a show by its first episode is now going to be my motto. Sometimes you have to remember, the first episode isn’t everything and I should always remember that. Because by the end of it, I found myself enjoying this show a lot more then I anticipated. I laughed out loud, cried and smiled more than I ever thought I would.
Feel Good doesn’t reinvent the genre, it can actually be seen as a show that follows in the footsteps of British comedy like Fleabag and even This Way Up. The raw honesty of the performances makes it real, grounds it into our reality. The fact that it can also be considered a semi-autobiographical show based on the life of its star, Mae Martin, makes it even more difficult to watch at times. But that can also be something you see as a strength. IThe wy the subject of sobriety is handle creates space for discussion, it doesn’t paint a black and white picture, instead, the show decides to showcase the good and the bad. This balance is hard to obtain and that is probably why the show struggle in the first episode, it throws so much at you that once you know what this show is about really, you have no idea what is happening. I think that the show does the right thing to introduce the series outside of the idea that sobriety will play such a big part of the story but it also hurts it because once that idea is introduced you find yourself with a totally new show and no idea where you are going.
I don’t want to talk too much about the first episode because it really doesn’t do justice to the series but it’s also important for me to point out that a lot of the flaws that are found in the show are very much present in the first episode. While the relationship between George and Mae is believable and likable, it gets turned on its head and it is hard to overlook all the problem that is being set up for them. I think that is what frustrates me the most about Feel Good. I want to like this relationship, I want to love these characters and yet I find myself wishing that they would get out of this toxic situation. But on the other hand, I understand it. I get being unable to get away from something that you crave. The show finds a way to weave the idea that addiction isn’t just about substance and I think it does it brilliantly, exposing a truth that we simply don’t see enough.
I simply don’t want to go too much into spoilers in this but I want to point out that with every episode the show simply gets better. The more you get into the head of the characters, the more you come to not only understand them but also sympathize with that. It’s something that is done in a way that doesn’t feel preachy and works in its favour. The show is in no way perfect but it is capable of finding a balance that makes you simply sit and watch the whole thing at once. Everything feels real, and it also helps that the standup sections are actually funny. It’s not just about relationships but also about finding a way to love yourself. Mae Martin is funny and brings something that is so raw to the character that she has you going from crying to laughing in only one second.
Feel Good might not get to the Fleabag level but it doesn’t have to be. It’s funny, witty and real. The cast is solid all around and even when it’s inconsistent, it’s brilliant. It brings a groundedness to a subject we don’t talk about enough and showcases the best and worst in people. It does everything we ask it to do and sometimes that is just enough.
(Also one of the characters is named Lava and if that isn’t enough to make you watch, I don’t know what is.)