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BONDING
April 24, 2019  | By David Bianculli

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

 

SERIES PREMIERE: This new Netflix series is daringly different, in way more ways than one. This seven-episode introductory season is aggressively, confidently short, with each episode running 15 minutes or less, so the entire thing can be consumed in less time than it takes to watch. And it’s concentrated, serving up undiluted doses of both comedy and drama, with a surprising assurance, given its edgy subject matter. The show’s writer-director is Rightor Doyle, who plays Nick Nicholby on HBO’s Barry. He’s the co-star as well, playing Carter, a gay wannabe standup comic whose former high school friend hires him to be her new assistant. And she’s a dominatrix, which gives this show not only its edge, but its very rare playing space. Zoe Levin plays Tiff, whose work alter ego is Mistress May – and the two former high schoolers negotiate various worlds of personal and professional relationships. At work, Tiff and Carter take on a series of clients (including, as half of a married couple, D’Arcy Carden, who plays Janet on The Good Place). When they’re off duty, they attend classes, observe standup comedy, and try to date new friends under “normal” circumstances. (When she reveals herself in full dominatrix regalia to a potential new boyfriend, he responds with the memorably accepting “You look like Wonder Woman at a funeral.”) But, as Bonding asks, what’s normal, anyway? The show is funny enough to keep you watching, and emotionally honest enough to make you empathize. And crucially, both Doyle and Levin are really good actors. Bonding may have snuck onto the Netflix landscape, but I imagine it’ll leave a mark.

 
 
 
 
 
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