It’s hard to sum up Maria Bamford’s new Netflix show “Lady Dynamite.” It swings from the absurd and fantastical to something that’s more realistic. But, as co-star Lennon Parham says, it’s all Maria.
Lennon Parham: There’s so much of Maria’s life real life in this show. A lot of the things that she legit has gone through are on display, but all super funny. So it feels very, I don’t know, brave and very intimate.
Parham plays Larissa, one of Maria’s best friends on the show. She says that “Lady Dynamite” is great not just for the content, but also for the execution.
Parham: It’s totally unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s kind of barrier-breaking in that way. It is absurd meets grounded, meets breaking the fourth wall and an A.D. walks in and you’re like, “Oh my god.” And there’s like a dude in an Easter egg costume like, “What’s happening?” But also yes, more please!
While this is her first TV show, Bamford did have a web series in 2007 where she plays all of the characters — including her parents and her sister. Bamford says that before “Lady Dynamite,” she normally operated alone.
Maria Bamford: It’s the most time of human interaction I’ve had since high school, in terms of people every day, seeing people all day, it’s so new. You know, as a comedian, I’m alone all the time.
Parham's own show “Playing House” is on its third season on USA. She recalled Bamford seeking her guidance for "Lady Dynamite."
Parham: I sat down next to her at the table read and she turned to me and she was like, “You’ve done this before, right? Can you give me some advice?” She just was like, “You’ve starred and executive produced your own show. Like, what do I do? How do I do this?”
One thing Maria Bamford uses both in her stand-up and on the show is her real struggle with mental illness. In 2011, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder.
Bamford: The way I’m portraying the mania, that is a little bit more ridiculous. And I mean it still has the same amount of pain, but I think it is gonna be more fast paced and more entertaining than what I actually went through, which was sitting in a hospital for seven days. [laughs] Which it’s hard to get that on film.
Bamford does portray other aspects of her life in a perhaps more realistic and intimate way. On set, they just finished shooting a scene that came directly from her life with her new husband.
Bamford: My husband and I, we’ve been been together for three years and I’ve never had a relationship in my life that lasted over a year out of high school. So it is spectacular. We are doing great! But in the beginning, we broke up for 24 hours once and so we’re reenacting that and it was just terrible, it was just really painful. But the nice thing is, it is kind of this healing thing of having my friends here, having it acted out, talking about it with my husband, like, what exactly happened. Yeah, it’s been really good so, I mean, not that show business is for healing relationships, but why not?
Season One of "Lady Dynamite" is now streaming in its entirety on Netflix.