Series: “The Director – Season 1” review by Amanda Peet and Annie Wyman (Netflix)

Netflix doesn’t feature many series like director. For a platform that has applied more than anything else to more “high-impact” titles seeking a global audience, this is a small, semi-domestic product, more like a Sundance indie movie than a mega title for those seasons and anticipated seasons. There are, yes, quite a few films in the Netflix catalog that are somewhat similar to this series (they always appear in the “N” categories with names like “Independent Films Awarded at Festivals”), but it’s rare to see these concepts and this isolated world. Applies to string.

The surprise isn’t just its presence – in fact, Netflix hasn’t done much to promote it, certainly knowing of its limited impact – but how good it is. Created by actress Amanda Peet with Annie Julia Wyman, director It can be considered a comedy-drama centered on topics like “political propriety” and “cancellation culture” in one area where this type of movement is revolutionizing everything: the university. And the series has generally managed to navigate this swampy area pretty cleverly — creating a critical series about the culture of cancellation has a good chance of eventually being, well, canceled — by creating a series of characters and struggles that raise issues. Diverse and complex edges to this cultural change.

The protagonist is Sandra Oh (kill eve), who plays Ji Eun Kim, a professor of fiction literature at Pembroke University who is appointed head of the Department of English. She is a single mother with a very mischievous little daughter who spends most of her time with her Korean grandfather who barely speaks English. His appointment is an important step because it is the first time a woman of “color” has held this position. It is a fairly traditional university that tries to modernize itself but not always smartly. Ji-Yoon is trying to make these changes noticeable and effective, and not just a “general picture”. But he soon got into trouble. Spoilers if they don’t see anything and don’t want to know anything.

On the one hand, university president Paul Larson (David Morse) wants to downsize, which will force him to find a way to retire the department’s three oldest professors (two men and one woman, white, played by Bob Balaban, Ron Crawford and Holland Taylor), which isn’t easy to do It is because they have what they call it in English.interval«: Permanent positions for life. As much as she wants to renew the department, the new director is upset at the idea of ​​these legendary warriors being removed from their jobs, even though some of them are on the cusp of retirement. At the same time, Ji-Yoon would like to be promoted to that category of Dr. Yaz McKay (Nana Mensah), a young African-American teacher who is more successful with her students with her cutting edge approach to her subjects, both in terms of the subject and in the work. The most fun in class with them.

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Always with a humorous tone that gives way little by little to drama, director He puts his main conflict in another character: Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass, director who is also an actor in series such as transparent), a professor and writer in his mid-40s who has recently been widowed, and his daughter is enrolled in another university and is going through a severe personal crisis. Bill is a lovable teacher who has a very famous class, but his head is clearly elsewhere, so he makes a series of blunders that get him into trouble. the main? He explains on the board the relationship between “absurdity” and “fascism”, graphically presented with a Nazi salute. It is an ordinary and innocent gesture, but the student records it, uploads it to social networks and you can imagine the rest …

director It will mainly focus on how Ji-Yoon and Bill deal with this growing and growing problem on campus, since everyone is convinced that the professor is a Nazi and wants to make him kick her out of there. She tries to calm the atmosphere with an apology, hoping that everything will pass and dedicate herself to the really important things. But Bell, a little out of arrogance, a little because of his own personal struggles, and another because he doesn’t understand the logic behind this kind of “abolition” movement, only serves to stir up conflict. In parallel, what’s starting to happen is that the two are getting emotionally close to each other, which – from a purely professional perspective – is another issue that must be taken into consideration before the vigilant gaze of both the rector’s office and the suspiciously angry students. The man is the “stepson” of the house.

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In just six episodes of half an hour or less each, the series has managed to bring up a topic that has dominated the agenda – not just academic – in recent years: the so-called “cancellation culture”. Some misplaced, out of context or not entirely happy comment or gesture turns into a viral tweet or widely viewed Instagram video that could end the career (and even personal) life of many. And he’s not, at least in this case, the type of person who has very questionable habits, rhetoric, or practices (that would be another matter). The series shows that Bill is a very good teacher and a somewhat traditional guy, somewhat ‘ninth grade’ way, who is having a rough time.

The series contains three very funny and very narrow first episodes, which perfectly describe college life in the United States with its entanglements and misery. In that sense it made me totally remember Wonder boys (Crazy weekend), the Curtis Hanson movie with Michael Douglas that took place in a similar setting and tackled some similar problems. average season calculation, director (the chair is its original title, not because of “Chair” itself but because that’s how it is called to its position) it pays attention perhaps excessively to the “Cancellation” state, leaving in the background some edges or other subplots that looked equally interesting, making it He also loses some of the humor he had at first, something that appears in an episode that has a special guest (a famous actor “playing” himself) is less fun than expected.

Peet and Wyman generally handle very well in this very complex terrain where it feels like you have to tiptoe because you always run the risk of offending a group or someone. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some university students were upset by the series because – although the authors share the need for students to change things in these conservative institutions – they are also to some extent presented as an irrational mob demanding a professor head who has apparently done nothing worthy. to be expelled.

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But the series also deals with a university president (who is the closest thing to the villain here, with a perpetual double rhetoric), who has an ambiguous relationship with the veteran teachers (who are friendly and likable but resistant to any change), with Bill himself (one of those characters that borders on between gentle and pathetic) and becomes fond of younger, “colored” teachers while noticing some gray areas in their behaviour. It’s a very acidic look at the world of American universities today, caught in the middle of a very profound cultural change that leaves victims everywhere, even among people who want to do things well and be a part of those changes.

Another interesting point director — which gives her a kind of “permission” to take a critical look at the culture of abolition and the excesses of political correctness — is that the protagonist is of Korean descent, the daughter of an immigrant father and the adoptive mother of a Mexican girl. It is, in a way, that she must put some kind of order in that literary profession which is increasingly in conflict (both among teachers, as well as between them and students) and is clearly a figure who in some way represents the renewal of generations, race and gender. The problem is that saying certain things is different than putting them into practice later.

And what happens in this university is something that extends to the whole world. We live in an age in which it is constantly being questioned who can say what, how and to whom, what reactions this can generate, what consequences can happen and what to do if someone feels hurt or offended or if they point the finger of accusation, or not There’s a reason. The series dares to reach this boiling pot and has done so, thus far, with wit, humor and a very subtle blend of sympathy, humanity, and irony. If they renew it for a second season, that would be great news. If not, the modern word “cancel” would regain its old meaning and the string would end up being used – or received – twice.

Terry Alexander

"Award-winning music trailblazer. Gamer. Lifelong alcohol enthusiast. Thinker. Passionate analyst."

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