Every time I chew through another great TV series I fear I’ve come to the end of the line. Having just finished, Stranger Things and Call the Midwife on Netflix, I checked to see what I’d missed on HBO. And there it was: Bored to Death (2009-2011). Jason Schwartzman as a struggling Brooklyn writer, turned unlicensed private detective. Right up my alley.
The show is 30 minutes of dry delight. Wry, self-effacing humour coupled with 21st century narcissism, neuroses and first world problems: dipping into the worlds of literature, publishing, arts and academia – once mighty pillars of society now hanging on by a thread in the wake of social media and self-funded street culture. Brooklyn chill and Manhattan glint.
I’ll always remember the Ted Danson of Cheers but I think that character has been eclipsed by the wide-eyed, eager beaver gentleman of this show. And who can’t sympathise with the plight of Zach Galifianakis’ character, who suffered through his ex-girlfriend’s weekly fads (yoga, colonics, restrictive diets) – but is still desperate to get her back.
Still, you couldn’t really enjoy this show if you weren’t a fan of Schwartzman. Watch your way through his filmography and you’ll see some of the best indie cinema of the last 20 years; Marie Antoinette may have been panned by critics but is one of my favourite films.
Schwartzman is always brooding, always bright and in Bored to Death his reckless fearlessness begs a few questions: How is it that average people come to be embroiled in so many conundrums? Why is everyone a little broken in their own peculiar way? Is it better to meddle or let things work themselves out?