Tig Notaro’s personal tragedies are well documented (mostly by her) and available in a variety of forms, ranging from her own stand-up to a Showtime produced documentary. Her story is memorable mostly because of the giant shit pile of misfortunes compounded on her in a short period of time. Knowing some of the grittier details of her struggle, I wasn’t sure just how much more Tig had to offer on this story. After the first episode of this six episode season, she shut me right up.
Every form of storytelling (like stand-up, film and television) has completely different requirements, especially the more visual-heavy mediums. Tig is a great storyteller, but your average television viewer is not kind to being forced into imagining scenarios when they could easily play them out. One Mississippi has a few cutaways where we dive into Tig’s mind and we see exactly what she thinks about, no matter how ridiculous it might seem. They are a welcome distraction to both the character and the viewer because they tend to be on the humorous side, and much of the material is emotionally heavy.
Every exaggeration is meant to add to the scene or allow the audience a glance into Tig’s psyche at the time. The falsehoods or alterations to the real story are never a distraction, and what they add to the whole of the story are worth much more than they could take away. Tig’s contributions are obvious to anyone familiar with her stark, often dark comedic style. The more stylistic flourishes that may seem slightly out of character for Tig, or even seem like a deviation from the story we have heard, come from co-writer Diablo Cody. Given Cody’s filmography, it was obvious that this writing team would compliment each other wholly and make for a great show experience.
Tig’s dry, sarcastic and observational humor sometimes comes off as dispassionate, which ends up being a great contrast to the evolution of her character as she becomes more comfortable with her feelings and emotions. The beauty of the show is that it not only highlights Tig’s grieving process through her comedy, but it also shows us a wide variety of grieving some people would consider unconventional.
Tig shows great emotional range in One Mississippi. The power of her performance compliments her character and her as a person. Having to live through all of those personal tragedies and successfully overcoming them is inspiring, but having to recreate them and re-experience the hardest moments of her life takes a strength few people have. The diverse cast, each representing a distinctly different personality type, keeps the show grounded and also provides some interesting side storylines all tying to the main theme of loss.
One Mississippi takes you to different extremes of emotions, usually all within the same episode. It is the most enjoyable voyage into misery and despair you are likely to see this year. The comedic flourishes and talented cast, led by Tig Notaro, make this experience completely worth the tears.