The Curse is dark, uncomfortable fun

The Curse is dark, uncomfortable fun

The Curse is dark, uncomfortable fun
Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone in The Curse. (Photo: Paramount+)

In a realm saturated with sitcoms, The Curse emerges as a distinctive black comedy series that brazenly defies convention.

Produced by A24 and featuring the Oscar-winning Emma Stone, the show catapults audiences into the eccentric world of Whitney (Stone) and Asher Siegel (Nathan Fielder), a newly married couple attempting to transform their real estate endeavours into a reality show called Flipanthropy. The 10-episode roller coaster, with its inaugural episode Land Of Enchantment, recently made its debut on Showtime and Paramount+.

Initially, the show's trailer may have left potential viewers questioning its appeal. Yet, as the series unfolds, it becomes evident that the trailer failed to capture the nuanced tone that makes The Curse a standout in the comedy genre. Emma Stone's foray into comedy is a revelation, showcasing her comedic prowess as sharp as ever.

The premise revolves around an alleged curse wreaking havoc on Whitney and Asher's relationship. Fielder plays Asher Siegel, with the Safdie brothers Josh and Benny taking on roles as the show's producers. Josh Safdie even steps into the shoes of Dougie, their scheming producer.

Given its A24 production pedigree, The Curse maybe not a show for all kinds of viewers. For audiences who relish unconventional narratives and don't mind a dose of stress, cringe-worthy comedy, and uncomfortable silences, this series promises a unique viewing experience. Drawing from the Safdie brothers' expertise in inducing tension, akin to their previous works like Good Time (2017) starring Robert Pattinson and Uncut Gems (2019) starring Adam Sandler, The Curse offers a captivating, albeit stressful, ride.

From the outset, the inaugural episode establishes the show's penchant for uncomfortable moments. The crux of the plot revolves around Asher and Whitney's attempts to sell their eco-friendly homes in the working-class community of Espanol. The opening sequence scrutinises the façade of reality shows, laying bare the scripted emotions that often masquerade as authenticity. The series cleverly critiques the exploitative nature of reality TV, with a particularly unsettling scene involving Dougie manipulating an ailing woman for the perfect shot.

The debut episode Land Of Enchantment forces viewers to confront awkward silences as Asher and Whitney navigate the challenges of their reality show. The discomfort arises not only from their empathy for the manipulated individuals but also from the realisation that their own reputations hang in the balance. While filming the pilot, Asher and Dougie attempt to stage a heartwarming moment for the cameras by having Asher offer money to a local girl named Nala (Hikmah Warsame).

When Asher retracts his gift once Dougie has the shot, his angry ex-beneficiary declares: "I curse you." And slowly, steadily, over the course of 10 episodes, that becomes the plain and simple truth behind Asher and Whitney's project. They're cursed. Or, perhaps, they are the curse.

While The Curse is not tailored for everyone, especially those who prefer feel-good comedies, its caustic commentary and razor-sharp writing make it a must-watch for enthusiasts of cringe comedy and dark humour. The series, with its compelling performances and incisive direction, feels particularly relevant in the current cultural climate. It transcends the conventional boundaries of comedy, inviting audiences to explore the darker facets of humour. For those who revel in the unconventional and appreciate the subversive qualities of comedy, The Curse can be a gem waiting to be discovered. It teeters on the edge of discomfort, urging viewers to confront the darker side of laughter. As the series unfolds over its 10-episode arc, the promise of a consistently high level of quality suggests that The Curse may well culminate in something truly exceptional. While the destination remains uncertain, the journey through the unconventional and the darkly humorous is undeniably worth taking.

  • The Curse
  • Starring Nathan Fielder, Benny Safdie, Emma Stone
  • Created by Nathan Fielder, Benny Safdie
  • Now streaming on Paramount+
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