The Curse – Season 1 Episode 1 “Land of Enchantment” Recap & Review

Land of Enchantment

The Curse is set in the Espanol community of Los Alamos, a quaint, unresourceful town with a majority of the Latina population, in New Mexico. Whitney and Asher Siegel are aspiring public figures, looking to make a difference in the community with their eco-friendly passive housing company and their reality show, Fliplanthropy.

The episode begins at the house of Fernando Castillo. He is a local who hasn’t worked for nine months. Medical bills for his cancer-ridden mother are piling up as the Siegels play their part to help out. A new joint, Barrier Coffee, is coming up in the city.

Whitney and Asher have had a part in opening the café and have arranged for Fernando to get a full-time position. When his mother, Mary, doesn’t look overtly happy for the camera, Dougie, who is the producer of the show, forcibly applies menthol and some water to give the impression. Even though they have good intentions, all parts of the Siegel couple do not add up. For instance, the owner of Barrier Coffee has taken a lease of only six months, something they have failed to mention to Fernando or the other employees.

Whitney is outraged and confides in Asher about it. She says that if Dougie is allowed to keep on doing things like these, they won’t work together anymore. Their passive housing initiative is a joint tie-up with the German Passive Housing Society group. Its president, Hans Feist, is involved with the filming of the show as well. Their company doesn’t merely flip houses for a profit but to have a net-positive impact. However, Dougie is apprehensive about the kind of style the show is going for. He compares the current state to that of an infomercial; a comparison that has merit.

However, the couple refrains from letting him take charge and ruin their image. During the opening of Barrier, Whitney and Asher are interviewed by Monica, a journalist with the local news station. She is straightforward in her questioning and poses tough queries. They are genuine as well. It is a clear example of gentrification where the new homes are egregiously unaffordable for the local, displaced residents in an inflationary environment.

Monica also brings up the Bookends Building, owned by Whiteny’s parents in a different region. They are notorious for ruthless evictions and being indifferent landlords. After evading the question once, Asher tears into Monica by questioning her intentions. Everyone is taken aback and the interview is abruptly ended. Whitney doesn’t like what Asher has done…it is potentially a public faux pas that can hurt their reputation. Hence, she asks him to patch things with her.

Instead, to reach an agreement, Whitney pushes him to offer another story to Monica…the one about unethical practices by the Gaming Board at the Whistling River Casino owned by the Pueblos. It seems affiliated to the family but the connection isn’t clear yet. Dougie wants to film the interaction but Whitney strictly puts it off-limits. She doesn’t want this to come out in any form of video, even if it is a B-roll.

As Monica agrees to meet with Asher and asks him to wait before the meeting, Dougie suggests that they film Asher doing some “charitable stuff.” He spots a small girl selling Sprite nearby and asks Asher to give her some money as he films it. This is a ploy by Dougie to get the mic on Asher that they later use to hear his interaction with Monica. Asher only has a hundred-dollar bill in his wallet and is forced to give it away. However, as soon as the camera stops rolling, he snatches it out of her hand and promises to buy her merchandise for a 50% markup.

But things aren’t that easy…the girl gets mad and her sister joins in. She curses Asher, which freaks him out and he tries his best to convince the family to wait for him as he withdraws money from a convenience store. By the time he comes out, the family is gone…and the curse remains. He proceeds to meet Monica. She agrees to hold off the story until Tuesday but wants credible evidence backing up Asher’s story. Dougie tries his best but fails to get anything on the feed.

Whitney is annoyed when she gets a call from a company associating her with the Bookend business. She confronts her father, Paul, when Asher and she go to her parent’s house for lunch. The meeting with the parents is strange, who are themselves unconventional, to say the least. Paul gives Asher wisdom about people and business when they’re alone. This conversation includes Paul urinating in the home garden and comforting Asher about his insecurities about his small genitalia.

Asher is miffed and confronts Whitney on the way back. She gets defensive and says she only shared it with her mother when they started dating. To make up, Whitney indulges Asher in an extremely weird yet hilarious oral sex session, which is too perverted and revealing to describe. While editing the pilot with the Siegel couple, Dougie shows them an abysmal final cut of his unreleased show, “Love to the Third Degree.” Whitney is outraged and cannot believe Dougie is seriously considering giving his touch to their show.

She is even more concerned when she sees the clip of the little girl cursing Asher. Whitney loses her marbles and compels Asher to find the family and apologize. He drives around different parts of the city. Asher’s main focus is homeless people but he doesn’t find the exact family. He even asks at an underfunded housing facility and leaves his number with the caretaker. Asher gives a hundred dollars to another homeless woman living in a tent. Dougie praises Whitney’s ability to hold the camera and how the room lights up when she walks in.

It is clear he likes her and given his character, it won’t be a surprise if he makes a move. Given Asher’s character, an offbeat and ridiculous arrangement might materialize. When Asher comes back, he lies to Whitney about having met the girl and the curse being lifted.

The Episode Review

Ben Safdie’s season opener is a cringe-fest and highly effective in its modus operandi. While the expectation was for a shorter runtime, the opening hour of The Curse is nonetheless breezy. Such introductions are rare for a television show. A24’s thematic lines are prominent in how things are setting up in the ten-episode-long season.

The writing is sharp, self-aware, and contemporary. Many pockets of cinematic brilliance give way for heady social commentary – a pattern we can expect to crystallize and bring more tension to the storytelling.

Emma Stone and Nathan Fielder’s central pairing is apt as they are at ease with each other. Both are such supremely talented performers that their characters seem familiar in some aspects. Safdie is almost unrecognizable as Dougie and has a meatier role this time around. From the looks of it, more notorious as well.


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You can read our Season 1 review of the The Curse here!
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