Everybody Loves Bacon
“I Love Dick” on Amazon
Adapted from Chris Kraus’ controversial cult classic feminist novel from 1997, Amazon’s new romantic (?) dramedy “I Love Dick” takes the look and feel of a highbrow indie film and candy-coats it in an entertaining layer of psychosexual obsession. The series is co-created, executive-produced and directed by Jill Soloway, who worked on HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and nailed down a couple Emmys for Amazon’s “Transparent”—so before the show even starts, you’ve got some idea of its solid pedigree.
This series follows a frustrated New York filmmaker named Chris (the always welcome Kathryn Hahn, who worked with Soloway on “Transparent” and the 2013 film Afternoon Delight). Chris is on her way to Venice, Italy to show off her debut feature. First, however, she’s got to make a detour to Marfa, Texas, where her college professor husband Sylvére (Griffin Dunne from After Hours and An American Werewolf in London) has landed himself a writing residency. (He’s working on some unreadable-sounding book about the “aesthetics of the Holocaust.”) Her plan is to dump him and run; and from the looks of it, she’s happy to spend the summer away from him. Unfortunately, Venice unceremoniously drops Chris’ film, and she finds herself marooned in dusty Marfa.
Marfa—in real life and on screen—is a weird place. It’s an odd mix of dirtwater cowboy town and eclectic modern art enclave. As one character puts it: “There’s Marfa realness, there’s Marfa realness and there’s Marfa realness.”Amid the art snobs and tumbleweeds, Chris crosses paths with the enigmatic rural millionaire who’s paying for her husband’s residency— the charismatic and maddeningly macho Dick (Kevin Bacon). Meeting Dick infuriates Chris ... and also manages to light a fire in her loins. (I mean, it is Kevin Bacon, after all.) His brusque, direct, denim-clad personality is a bracing counterpoint to Chris’ stultifyingly academic spouse.
Kraus’ novel is partly epistolary (not to mention partly autobiographical), and the series maintains the gimmick. Chris narrates the show as a sort of undelivered mash note to Chris, describing—in lurid detail—her growing obsession with the man. Amusingly, her romantic/sexual objectification provides an unexpected spark to her dwindling marriage, allowing our protagonist to rethink her personal and professional life. The writing here is tough, sexy, rude and occasionally mean—assigning good and bad traits to just about everyone in range. These people are kind of a mess. And the series is refreshingly unapologetic about them.
Like “Transparent” before it, this is grown-up television dealing with complicated, messy human issues. It’s a comedy that isn’t afraid to be uncomfortable and a drama that isn’t afraid to poke fun at its characters. In other words: another commendable outing for Amazon.