The Cost of a Free Buffet
Sugar and Spice
Girls Are Funny, Too
My Rifle, My Pony and Me
The Unbelievable Power of Believing
There are times where I’m Dying With You excels, portraying the perfect blend of comedy and drama. The stylistic long takes showing both the pain and euphoria of the comedy scene are really well shot and give the show an authentic, artistic feel. Boasting witty dialogue and a good dose of drama blended with its comedic script, I’m Dying With You is smartly written and its characters intelligently developed. The large ensemble of characters devalues some of the drama though, flitting from one struggling comedian to the next without fully engaging with each. This constant shifting focus takes some of the edge off the more hard hitting scenes but I’m Dying With You has just enough charm to keep you engaged through to its finale. It does feel like it runs out of steam though as the show draws to the end of its first season, ditching the more comedic pieces for heavy drama.
With so many characters, the show constantly switches perspectives multiple times in the episodes and in truth, it doesn’t always work. Each character has their own individual story but ultimately, its about how each of these aspiring comedians long to be in the limelight and make it big in L.A. off the back of working in an underground comedy club. The pilot episode does set up some of the foundation for later episodes, with one comedian taking his own life which sets into motion events that affect the rest of the group. This is explored in more detail later on in the season and on the whole, the story lines are developed well although a few do drag on a little too long, accentuated by the sheer number of characters followed in the show.
Thankfully, some of the more interesting characters are given more screen time which helps some of the show’s more redeeming features. Cassie (Ari Graynor) is engaging and likeable in her role as a bubbly female struggling to break into the male-dominated world of comedy and her regular spats alongside female owner Goldie (Melissa Leo) are really well developed. Her subtle facial cues and inner turmoil makes her one of the best characters in the show and her endearing acting really shines here. That’s not to say the other characters are poorly written, quite the opposite, all of them are well developed. With so many different stories occurring concurrently though, some of the more mundane or slow moving plot lines are less memorable and don’t always hit the mark. Especially with some of the characters outright unlikable. Again, it comes back to the sheer number of characters that holds back I’m Dying With You from being the intimate, hard hitting drama it so easily could have been had it chosen a more intense focus on a smaller, core group of comedians.
For a show about comedy, you would expect it to be funny and thankfully I’m Dying With You has a wicked sense of humour. The jokes are quick firing and brutal – on and off the lonely, spotlit comedy stage. The drama is suitably adult though, with many scenes depicting nudity, sexual content and drug taking that won’t cater to everyone’s palette. I’m Dying With You plays better as a period drama with a sprinkling of comedy rather than a comedy with bits of drama and going in with this expectation definitely helps get the most amount of enjoyment from this show. Much like stand up comedy, its intimate, funny and regularly entertaining but it never quite achieves the lofty heights it strives for due to its unnecessarily large list of main characters.