Amazon's newest comedy series offers its viewers a dose of feminism and double entendre. I Love Dick follows a married couple obsessed with a man who is both artist and cowboy. Viewers who have been waiting for a show like this are no doubt marathoning Season 1, but is I Love Dick returning for Season 2?
The series is based on the 1997 novel by Chris Kraus and co-created by playwright Sarah Gubbins and Jill Soloway, of Transparent fame. The narrative focuses on married couple Chris (Kathryn Hahn) and Sylvere (Griffin Dunne) and their obsession with Sylvere's fellowship mentor, Dick, portrayed by Kevin Bacon. What follows is a sexual awakening running parallel to a feminist conversation of subverting the male gaze as Chris tries to make Dick her creative muse.
Although the relationship between the three characters appears to have the quality of a love triangle, the primary focus is Chris forgoing being the expected "likeable" female character. At times, she borders on aggression and obsession in her quest, allowing Chris to walk a line between masculine and feminine constructs of sexualization and desire.
While the series has yet to be renewed for Season 2, the feminist message behind I Love Dick makes it a show worth watching. The show blends together and complicates matters of sex, love, creativity, and obsession in an attempt to portray a prominent female character who is both real and flawed.
What makes I Love Dick so important is how it portrays Chris's unapologetic quest for Dick's attention. Most visual representations of female desire are weighed down by social scripts that dictate women cannot be in control of their sexual needs. With a narrative like I Love Dick, viewers get to see a woman use her sexual fantasies to fuel a creative journey of self-discovery and art. In the first episode, Chris is portrayed as an uptight, failing filmmaker who makes a terrible impression when she moves to Marfa, Texas with Sylvere. Upon meeting Dick, she verbally spars with him and viewers suddenly see the brilliant, driven woman who is hidden under an unsatisfied marriage and career.
Chris and Sylvere's fetish begins within the private space of their marriage, but soon becomes public when Chris decides she needs to get Dick's attention. The roles of femininity and masculinity are on display for both citizens of Marfa, Texas and the audience: Chris breaks the sacred space of her marriage bed to pursue another man openly, and Sylvere encourages this pursuit. Often the role of cuckold is read as a form of emasculation, but Sylvere is game to watch his wife be in control of her sexuality. In portraying their relationship in this way, I Love Dick manages to create two characters who, instead of being shamed for these roles, relish them.
Since Chris chooses to pursue a sexual relationship with these men on her own terms, I Love Dick successfully deconstructs both male and female sexual performance. Chris isn't using their masculinity as her object of sexual desire — she is using her femininity.
In an interview with Vulture, Soloway said, "Really, it’s a show about a woman finding her true voice. By describing the conditions of her confinement, which is patriarchy, it’s just perfectly set up for this moment in history, which we had no idea was coming." (The moment in history she's referring to is the election of Donald Trump.)
Taking a page from the original epistolary novel, I Love Dick establishes scene breaks with Chris's letters to Dick. These letters illustrate her sexual frustration and longing, but they also offer a moment for Chris to be alone without any male presence. Although Sylvere also has an interest in Dick, the power of the relationship lies within Chris and her words. She is in control of this sexual experience.
In response to this control, Amazon launched a microsite for I Love Dick entitled We Will Not Be Muzzled, which allows participants to write their own letters to Dick. The letters range in emotional needs, but they offer an anonymous outlet for people who need to confront and personify their own version of Dick.
I Love Dick is revolutionary in its execution of female sexuality and romantic relationships, but it also serves as a safe space for understanding passion and creativity. If I Love Dick is renewed for Season 2, I hope it will encourage more dominant female sexuality to be portrayed onscreen.