We Have To Stop Now
We Have To Stop Now is freakin’ hilarious, excruciating, and perfect. You have to watch it. Convention dictates that I now tell you why.
It all started in 1994 when I watched the Out There Comedy Special on Comedy Central while I was in college. Suzanne Westenhoefer had a ten minute stand up set on that one-off queer comedy show, and I was hooked. So when I saw her name on this blog’s list of review items, followed by the words “lesbian” and “comedy tv series,” I requested that I be the one to review it. I was Lady Request, the Grand Duchess of Request Land, in the country of Requestshire. It soon arrived in the mail and I decided to watch it in bed one Saturday morning with my lovely wife Sarah. She asked, “What’s it about?” and I didn’t know. I told her about seeing “Suzanne Westenhoefer” and “lesbian comedy tv series” and the requesting, and said that was as far as I’d gotten. So I grabbed the leaflet that came with the DVD, and realised it was about a lesbian couple who are both psychotherapists, who are splitting up in couples therapy after a very long relationship, with the added complication that they’ve just written a bestselling relationship manual together. Delightful breakfast viewing, I assured her, and pressed play.
Despite the excruciating premise, this show is hysterical. Cathy DeBuono, who’s new to us but whom we gather is very well known to our fellow lesbians across the Atlantic (particularly for a couple of films she’s produced and starred in that are getting rave reviews, that we also now plan to check out), commands the small screen with some serious intensity. Jill Bennett plays her highly-strung and emotionally hyper-literate partner with the comic foil stylings needed to balance things out. The couple could be any couple, queer or not, therapists or not. Their quirks, foibles, habits, and anxieties were heightened enough to reassure us we had nothing to worry about, but had that grain of truth that made us recognise ourselves and the kinds of things we argue about as well. Suzanne Westenhoefer plays their wonderfully incredulous therapist. During their sessions, her facial expressions alone should have had her running to supervision—the acting in the silences is some of the best I’ve seen on screen from all three main performers (on a par with hit British series The Royle Family—our gift to you). The fourth character is a mooching stoner sister-in-law of doom who never shuts up, so I can’t assess Ann Noble’s ability in this area. But I can certainly vouch for her writing skills—she wrote the whole thing and it’s absolutely brilliant.
There’s a lot of stuff going on, despite the series being so brief (only six episodes in season one). There are many surreal tangents, creative stretchings of coincidence and reality (there ought to be be an entropy meter in the corner of the screen) and a real life deus ex machina or two.
I’m a pay-per-view web series virgin, but, like my early forays into sexuality, I’m curious enough to try it. Twenty-four dollars sounds like a lot for the privilege of watching one show (although the second series has sixteen episodes), but it’s cheaper than a monthly cable subscription, so you might want to consider it. If you’d rather delay your gratification, you can buy each season on DVD after it’s finished airing.
You should definitely do one or the other though, or you’re missing out. It’s beautifully produced, very funny, scathingly well written and observed, and I highly recommend it.