I found Garfunkel & Oates on Netflix last month, right after it was decided that the show would not receive a second season. It’s a shame, because Garfunkel & Oates is a wonderful show, unique and silly, honest and heartfelt, with a female duo as the main characters (We’re just now getting to the point where male-female duos are acceptable, such as Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein in Portlandia or Ellie Kemper’s Kimmy and Tituss Burgess’s Tituss from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are a hilarious pairing, refusing to cater to stereotypes and choosing instead to explore the idiosyncrasies that make us individuals. Riki’s character, a tall blonde with a penchant for social experiments, and Kate’s character, a short brunette with a passion for the kids’ show Pumpernickel Place, play off each other in a light-hearted way, with Kate’s innocence and Riki’s sensuality clashing in their day-to-day with hilarious results.
There’s also a lot to look at in terms of their social experiments, which range from going through an entire date without saying a word (do guys prefer silent partners?) to switching hair colors to see if they’re treated differently. Do blondes, in fact, have more fun?
Garfunkel & Oates also explores the oftentimes exhausting world of social niceties, such as attending a friend’s “sprinkle” (she’s trying to get pregnant, therefore it isn’t a full “shower”), resulting in the song “Pregnant Women Are Smug” which discusses the stereotypical conversations that happen around soon-to-be mothers, or the awkwardness of being someone’s friend on social media without having an established relationship off the internet.
While there is a lot of poking fun at society and self, there are some emotional, beautiful moments, like the time where Riki and Kate wrote a wedding song for two male puppets who had lived together and were now getting married on their show Pumpernickel Place (the song is called “Rainbow Connections” and it made me cry, it was so sweet), or the last song of the show, which is oddly appropriate as it was canceled a few months later — “You Are Such A Loser” where the girls reveal that losers are the ones who follow their dreams and are to be congratulated for their attempts and mistakes:
“You are such a loser,
Good for you,
It’s something that a lot of people can’t do,
Trying is hard, that’s why people can’t do it,
Losing is hard, they can’t make it through it,
but not you…”
The thing I love most about the show is that it took everything lightly without being flippant. It was able to explore society and self without being demeaning, but rather gently poking fun at the things we do and the things we say that are, indeed, rather ridiculous.
It helps to see that sort of message when the world around you is so very serious. When you become an adult, you are expected (or so it seems) to be serious, and there are things you loved as a kid that you can no longer do (or so they say — last week I packed my lunch of string cheese, goldfish crackers and juice boxes in my Batman lunch box and took it to work, which made me very happy).
I think we’d all be better off if we didn’t take adulthood so seriously. None of us really know what we’re doing anyway. If we treat things less like mistakes and more like opportunities, the world opens up and we can let go of expectations (of ourselves and others) and appreciate the world and whatever it has to offer.
So why was the show canceled? I have a few ideas:
The show can be crass (hysterically so), which is an interesting thing to think about: is it possible that audience members were made uncomfortable because people without dicks were making the dick jokes?
Is it that we’re not used to odd couples unless they’re male or have at least one male in the duo?
Or is there just a small audience for the type of music and humor that Riki and Kate espouse?
Whatever the reasons, I’m sad that we won’t be seeing more of Riki and Kate in this capacity, but with a popular YouTube channel, stand-up engagements, and quite a few late-show performances and a growing collection of recordings, I don’t think these two will disappear anytime soon.
If you’d like to watch Garfunkel & Oates, you can view season one on Netflix Instant.Image Credits: Garfunkel & Oates