Binge or No? Netflix's Easy
Given the company’s recent decision to shift their business model away from previously released films and toward more original programming, I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more TV shows like Easy on Netflix in the near future. An eight-episode compilation of very loosely related stories, each involving some aspect of sex and romantic relationships in the 21st century, which each struck me individually as slyly disguised potential pilots for Netflix than collectively as a debut season of a single, ongoing series.
Each episode features an attractive and more or less likeable cast of B-/C+ list Hollywood actors going about the sexy business of their respective upper middle-class lives. Orlando Bloom, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, and Dave Franco are probably the most recognizable faces you’ll see in Easy, which should give you an idea of the level of “star power” found here, though there are definitely other faces and voices you’ll recognize. In fact, I think most of the fun of Easy is trying to pinpoint the failed TV series or supporting role in a romantic comedy that’s causing you to remember the visage of a particular Easy cast member.
That being said, you’ve got to imagine that the good folks at Netflix created Easy under the assumption that one or two of the episodes would receive a more favorable review by critics than the others, and then that cast and storyline can get its own show. (One cast of characters finds themselves at the forefront of two episodes in the series, while the rest of the work-a-day schlubs only get one a piece). And hey, if none of the episodes end up being well reviewed, well, there’s always the option for Easy season 2, with an entirely different cast and story lines.
As for the individual episodes themselves, I found most of them, if not particularly memorable, at least pleasant and inoffensive enough (except for one episode in particular which featured way too much female body hair for my liking. But I think that’s just a matter of personal preference. Maybe y’all really like looking at body hair while sitting on your couch eating your Saturday morning breakfast cereal). I certainly didn’t despise any of the characters featured in Easy. And there definitely wasn’t an episode of the series I watched where I found myself saying, “Wow, this is so awful. I have to turn this off.”
If anything, part of me wishes some of the episodes were more controversial. I didn’t particularly feel like Easy had anything new and groundbreaking to say about sex and romance in the 21st century. In fact, in a post-Sex and the City age, I feel like most sex-related topics, including many of the topics covered in this series, have become part of the TV mainstream.
“So what sex topics are covered in Easy?” you may be wondering. Well, in one episode, a forty-something husband and father struggles with the fact that his wife has recently become the breadwinner in the family, and that makes him feel sexually emasculated. In another, a lesbian couple tries to navigate a budding sexual relationship, despite the fact that the two lovers have vastly different recreational interests. In a third episode, a happily married couple attempts to spice up their relationship by using a Tinder-type dating app to find themselves a companion for menage a trois experimentation. In a fourth tale, a middle-aged graphic novelist famed for detailing his sexual escapades in his works is nonplussed when his most recent millennial lover documents her rendezvous with him in a slightly more modern, and definitely more invasive, form of media. In still a fifth story, one half of a Spanish couple–who speak mainly in subtitles throughout the episode (GASP!)–has an extramarital affair with an old flame.These are all topics that, had they been featured in a TV series say ten or maybe even five years ago, may have seemed taboo, or at least titillating, but now come across as commonplace at best and a bit ho-hum at worst. Ironically, probably the best story of the bunch, which also happens to be the one featured twice in the series, is also the most chaste, sexually speaking. It’s the one about two brothers, one straight-laced, the other a stoner, who decide to open a bootleg bar and brewery together, much to the dismay of the more conservative brother’s very pregnant wife.
In sum, while I wouldn’t recommend you drop everything this instant and binge-watch Easy in its entirety (I’m sure you have much more exciting things to do with your Saturday nights, like laundry or toilet bowl cleaning, for example), it may be worth a try, if for no other reason than to brush up on your character actor recognition skills and to try and predict which of the eight of the episodes is destined to become Netflix’s next original series.