Natasha Rothwell's Episode Of 'The Characters' Is The One To Watch For Its Honest, Reflective Brand Of Humor
Netflix just debuted one of the most unique television experiences you're likely to witness this year. In The Characters, the streaming service gave eight rising comedians the opportunity to take one episode of the show and create a self-contained sketch show in which they star. The episodes range in structure, tone, and voice but also serve as powerful insights into the mind of the writers. However, since each episode operates as its own show, it's tough to determine which one is best for those looking for the style of comedy that appeals most to them, but I'm here to help you out. Natasha Rothwall's episode of The Characters is the one you've got to see (or at least start with).
Rothwell's journey occurs over the course of a normal day — After a long night of partying, Rothwell (playing herself in addition to several other characters) goes to jury duty and crosses paths with a variety of odd personalities. Various vignettes in the episode feature Rothwell taking on the roles like a well-read homeless person threatening to spoil Game of Thrones to anyone who doesn't give money, or an elementary schoolgirl who appears to be a tormenter but actually provides incredibly insightful and constructive life advice. These sketches and characters share the same fun, goofy sensibilities of other episodes of The Characters, but all of these segments seem to have come from an honest, personal place which only heightens the experience.
Rothwell's episode of The Characters is an assault on insecurity, in addition to being hilarious. Some segments in the episode have the primary goal of just being funny, and they succeed — Whilst waiting for her jury duty to begin, Rothwell is surrounded by three distinct characters (also played by herself) that navigate the absurd, unpredictable things you can learn about someone else when stuck in a room with them for a prolonged period of time.
In other sketches, Rothwell allows her character to do some serious self-reflecting in an open, honest, hilarious way. When sitting on a bench eating a dollar slice of pizza — 78 cents, to be precise — she is joined by Tyson Beckford who immediately starts flirting with Rothwell. Instead of being able to embrace the fantasy of any person who has ever seen Beckford and give him a clear "yes" to his advances, Rothwell thinks about herself and finds all the ways that she doesn't deserve Beckford — and then she throws them out the metaphorical window and goes for it. This kind of self-reflective humor is unique and engaging to watch.
Later in the episode, she rebels against the concept of "basic" by embracing it fully. "That's right I'm a basic b*tch / Forever 21 got me lookin' rich" she raps, beginning a celebration of boxed wine and duck faces that features a verse from SNL's Cecily Strong and cult icon Chris Gethard. It's an ode to anyone who was ever treated as if they weren't interesting enough or sophisticated enough, etc.
Rothwell's episode goes beyond the type of silliness that most sketch shows try to achieve, and uses her comedy to reach a place of reflection and celebration... that also happens to feature an elderly woman avoiding the romantic pangs of her goldfish. In short, Rothwell has assembled a fun, unique comic construction that absolutely deserves to be seen.
Image: KC Bailey/Netflix