“Life & Beth,” not to be confused with the zombie film “Life After Beth,” hit Hulu on March 18. The series, created by comedian and actress Amy Schumer, functions as a work of autofiction, playing with different elements of her life. It follows in the footsteps of shows like comedian Bridget Everett’s “Somebody Somewhere” by battling the idea of having to fit in.
The show follows Beth, a woman in her late 30s with a seemingly great life; she’s in a long-term relationship and is up for a promotion at her wine rep job. But as Beth repeatedly asks friends and family if she seems happy, it is made blatantly obvious that she is not. When her mother unexpectedly passes, Beth doesn’t shed a tear, instead launching into an evaluation of her life — past, and present.
“Life & Beth” is a comedy without channeling the traits of a sitcom. The absurdity of Beth’s life is glaring, yet simultaneously riddled with subtleties. The show turns more serious, taking on the tone of a drama during its flashbacks of Beth’s childhood. These moments depict the harsh realities of adolescence, including everything from body-shaming to family finances.
If one isn’t familiar with Schumer’s past, the details put into the series may not be as appreciated. Beth is forced to confront her past when she moves back to Long Island, where Schumer spent her childhood. Her love interest, John, even mirrors Schumer’s husband, Chris Fischer. Fischer is a chef and farmer from Martha’s Vineyard; John, played by Michael Cera, is a farmhand on a literal vineyard.
While making an appearance of sorts through Cera in “Life & Beth,” Fischer has recently been featured in other works about Schumer. HBO Max’s recent docuseries “Expecting Amy” trailed her complicated pregnancy, and Fischer guides Schumer through the kitchen in Food Network’s “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook.”
“Life & Beth” is a bit slow to get to the good stuff. While the episodes are rather short, her journey really only picks up halfway through. Yet, what the show excels at is being somehow both poignant and hilarious.
It tackles feelings of isolation, with Beth struggling to keep up with her game of pretend. She navigates love and loss in multiple ways, dealing with romance, lost friendships and sisterhood.
The cast is full of fellow comedians, only adding to the fun; some stars featured are Yamaneika Saunders, Murray Hill, LaVar Walker and Larry Owens. Jonathan Groff even makes an appearance, playing a personal trainer who asks Schumer’s character out solely because he’s fascinated by life in the city.
Schumer has recently made headlines after having pitched the idea of having Ukraine’s president join the Academy Awards via satellite or video segment. She will be co-hosting the ceremony with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes on March 27.
Ultimately, Schumer’s show “Life & Beth” is a solid watch, likely to be more compelling if you have some familiarity with her life story.
Rating: 3.75 / 5 stars