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There are many reasons to adore Maya Rudolph. It could be for her role as Lillian in Bridesmaids, voicing Diane Birch on Netflix’s Big Mouth, or as the scene-stealing Judge in The Good Place. But one of her lesser known brilliant performances is found in a gem of a show hiding out on Amazon Prime. You guys, you need to watch Forever.
I'll warn you now that even in describing this series to you, I need to tread carefully. Forever takes such glorious and dramatic turns in its narrative that being able to pinpoint where you started becomes increasingly tricky as the show progresses through its eight-part run. Just when you think you've got a handle on how it's going to play out, another curveball is thrown your way. In the last 45 seconds of an episode, just as you sense the gentle wind down towards the end credits, you get one of those world-flipping moments that leaves you with no idea where you'll wake up when the following episode starts rolling.
Rudolph plays June, one half of the married couple who anchor this tale. Her husband, Oscar (Fred Armisen), is the quintessential normcore middle-aged man of the many American comedies that have come before this one. He's a dentist and wears full-sleeve button-down shirts (with all but the very top button done up) at all times. He's a man of routine. So much so that when June suggests going somewhere other than the lake house for their annual holiday, he doesn't quite know what to do. "What about a ski trip?" June suggests. "I don't know. I already told my staff that we're going up to the lake house. So what do I tell them tomorrow if they ask me about it?" Oscar returns. "That we decided to go somewhere new this year?" June patiently offers. Oscar tries it on for size. "'Hey guys, we're going skiing this weekend.' Yeah, that could work," he resolves.
Yep, Forever is as rooted in the apparent mundanity of married life in your 40s as it is the love around which that marriage is built. The series tiptoes towards painstakingly dull aspects of the day to day, before merrily skipping away from the thing it wanted you to take note of and into an understatedly hilarious scenario – usually at the hands of the wonderful woman leading the narrative.
June is fine. June loves her husband, gets on well with life and has a single best friend with whom she can review dirty pictures of attractive barmen. But the repetitiveness of her very comfortable life is getting to her. In a clever and purposefully too long opening montage, we're given a five-minute snapshot of how June and Oscar met, dated, got married and went on 13 fishing trips to the lake house together. We watch as the enthusiasm literally slips from June's face each time Oscar eagerly presents the same fresh trout dinner so that, by the time we reach the last meal, June is left with nothing but an expression of quiet desperation for there to be more to life than this shit. The ski trip is June's first tentative nudge out of their comfort zone. It's also the catalyst for a new, defining direction for the series to amble towards, but I shan't spoil the surprise for you here.
Forever asks so many questions. How long should you be with someone? Is just okay good enough? June and Oscar have a pally relationship in which they spend endearing moments being silly with one another, so does there have to be more? Subplots circulate the core relationship and the pace is punctuated by standout moments in Maya Rudolph's signature laugh-out-loud quips – making a move on an unsuspecting pastor and telling a bratty 11-year-old to suck her dick included. At the very least what we've got is a sharp, short series that's begging to be binged (each episode is less than 30 minutes, you can do it in a day). At most, we've got an existential comedy that'll ask you the big and small questions about life without you even realising.
Forever is available to stream on Amazon Prime now