Easy is another quality series that Netflix can add to its increasingly impressive resume. Created, written and directed by the prolific mumblecore maestro Joe Swanberg, who has made 17 movies in the last 10 years, the anthology show focuses on the sex lives of various Chicagoans. Each half-hour episode provides a snapshot of a relationship. The first sees a stay-at-home father (Michael Chernus – Piper’s brother in OITNB) and his workaholic wife (Elizabeth Reaser) attempt to conform to traditional gender roles because a study claims it increases sexual drive. The second centres upon a lesbian (Kiersey Clemons, Dope) who becomes romantically involved with a vegan (Jacqueline Toboni) and attempts to give her lover’s diet a chance.
The series’ title is accurate as it’s an easy show to binge; one does not become bored at any point because each episode is completely different to the previous. This, along with how much Swanberg packs into a half-hour slot, leaves every entry feeling like a bite-sized indie movie. The four episodes I’ve seen give the viewer a representation of Chicago that feels simultaneously authentic and enchanting, an interesting and open exploration of issues like intimacy, middle-aged ennui, gender roles and a fascinating presentation of sub-cultures like beer brewing or indie filmmaking.
All this is made even more impressive by the fact that one doesn’t realise how much Swanberg has crammed in until after they’ve seen an episode. The show’s levity and light humour, as well as the lively performances from the cast, particularly Clemons and Dave Franco, distract from what could be a show too heavily focused on allegory and metaphor. Swanberg is known for favouring improvisation and casting actors on personality. As a result, the dialogue feels very natural, giving the series a voyeuristic feel. It’s as if we are ease-dropping on a private conversation between strangers.
Easy’s anthology format enables the series to tell a vast array of distinctly human tales. While some entries feel more fleshed out than others, the structure of the show means that it won’t be long until the viewer is following another story with perhaps more engaging characters. Despite great work by leads Chernus and Reaser, I found the pilot ran out of steam by its conclusion. However, as Easy’s terrific fourth episode ended, I was pleased to find that each half-hour was better and more intriguing than the last.
Easy is available to stream on Netflix Ireland. View the trailer below.
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