Is it just me, or is every Netflix original series pure gold? Once “Master of None,” “Stranger Things,” and “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” won me over, I was more than happy to binge watch Netflix’s new series, “Easy,” despite the fact that I knew nothing about it.
“Easy” observes several couples in Chicago. Each of the eight episodes focuses on a different couple. As time goes on, viewers see how the various characters’ lives intertwine. The husband from episode one and the friend from episode five do theater together. The girls from episodes two and seven live in the same building. This approach reminds viewers that although our lives are separate, they are also interconnected. They are equally complex, but in different ways.
Joe Swanberg writes, directs, and produces “Easy.” Netflix fans may remember Swanberg as the director of “Drinking Buddies” and “Happy Christmas.” He is known for having his actors improvise almost all their lines. This improvisation allows actors to create their own characters. As a result, there is no true protagonist or antagonist in any episode. (Except you, Martin. I will hate you until the day I die. Fictionality be damned!) Viewers are not necessarily meant to develop hard and fast opinions of the characters. The show is not really about the characters but rather their relationships.
The improvisational dynamic also makes every scene feel realistic. After spending most of my life watching typical television dramas, I occasionally found myself thinking, “Oh, no! He’s going to cheat on his wife with her. That couple is going to break up. The lies are going to ruin this marriage!” None of these things happened, though. The husband and wife, sometimes begrudgingly, would work to sustain their relationship. The young couple resolved their issues. Lovers made up from their fight after twenty-four hours. That’s what usually happens in real life.
Swanberg tricked me, however. Just when he had me believing that every episode would end up okay, an unanticipated event occurred that disrupted my sense of security. A wife cheated on her husband. A young woman accidentally got pregnant. These are plot twists I would expect to find in typical dramas, so I was surprised to encounter them in “Easy.” They are deftly sprinkled throughout the story because these are realistic circumstances too.
Swanberg is an indie director, and the entire show radiates that indie feeling. When certain actors show up, viewers are shocked. Yes, that is Orlando Bloom! Though Bloom is only in one episode this season, it is his most human and loveable role to date. His acting shines, and not just because he’s Orlando Bloom. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jacqueline Toboni are two other actors who steal every scene.
Netflixers haven’t been told if there will be a second season. Initially, I wanted more. Some characters’ lives become intertwined, but a few relationships remain separate from the rest. How do they fit in with the other characters? After further consideration, I hoped the series would stop after this first season. The final episode leaves viewers with unanswered questions. That is the beauty of “Easy.” Life is fraught with uncertainty. Does Swanberg intend to answer our questions? Part of me hopes he doesn’t. Answering them would be too easy.