Before I tell you what Amazon’s new Maya Rudolph and Fred Armison series Forever is about, I am going to actually encourage you not to read ahead. It’s a fun series, and I think that the surprises — at least in the first three episodes — are best discovered for yourselves. I will say this much, however: Rudolph and Armisen are fantastic in this (and I say this as someone who typically has little to no interest in Armisen) and that the title, “Forever,” refers to that concept in the cosmic sense. It’s a comedy about suburban malaise with elements of Lost and The Good Place, and it comes from Alan Yang, the co-creator of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. The series itself shares a lot of characteristics in common with Master of None in the way it is shot, and in its comedic DNA. It is thoughtful, clever, and funny, but rarely in the laugh out loud sense (although, there are a couple of scenes that are hysterical).
It’s definitely a series worth watching, and it’s an easy binge (8 half-hour episodes that go down quick). If you are at all inclined to watch the series based on that, I strongly suggest you not read ahead.
Drew Magary wrote a fantastic book a few years ago called The Postmortal about a future in which science has figured out how to stop the aging process. People can still die if they are shot or run over by a garbage truck or if they jump off a building, but they can’t die of old age. They’re frozen at the same age for the rest of their lives, and in effect, they’ve become immortal.
The consequences of this future dystopia involve overpopulation and food shortages, etc., but the one thing that has stuck with me all of these years is how marriage is treated in the book when “to have and to hold til death do us part” loses all meaning because there is no death to part a couple. Will couples actually stay together forever? Can you imagine staying together with the same person not for 30 or 40 or 50 years but for an infinity?
That’s the question that is essentially tested in Amazon’s Forever (for the record, in The Postmortem, as I recall people on Earth began entering into marriage contracts with expiration dates). In the series, we meet June and Oscar (Rudolph and Armisen, respectively), who have a fairly happy but staid marriage. They’ve been together for years. They go on the same annual vacations. They have been working the same jobs. They love each other, but there isn’t much excitement in their marriage. They go to work, they come home, they eat dinner, they do the crossword, they take a walk, and then they go to bed and wake up and do it all over again.
June, however, is feeling anxious about their marriage so decides to convince Oscar to shake things up by taking a ski vacation instead of returning to the same lake house they’ve vacationed at every single year for 15 years. During the trip, Oscar skis into a tree and dies.
(Here’s where I will offer you another opportunity to bail on this review and watch the series, instead.)
In the next episode, June spends the next year grieving and recovering from her husband’s death, before finally deciding to break out of her funk. She gets a new job and decides to relocate to Hawaii, but on the plane on the way, she chokes on a nut and dies.
(Seriously, now is the time to stop reading).
When June wakes up, she’s in Heaven. Or the afterlife. Or whatever it’s called, and she’s been reunited with her husband, only the afterlife is a suburban cul-de-sac where there is absolutely nothing to do. And it is here where, after a while, she begins to experience the exact same malaise with her husband in Heaven as she did on Earth. He’s found a routine in the afterlife, and he’s content with that routine. He has no interest in shaking things up. He could do the crossword, spend the afternoon with his buddy playing shuffleboard, make dinner, and wake up and do it all over again for the rest of eternity.
And ultimately, that’s what the show is about. It puts a relationship in the context of the cosmic forever, but it doesn’t change the equation that much. When a neighbor (played by Catherine Keener) moves into the neighborhood and wants to f—k shit up, test the limits of the afterlife, and explore new things, June is torn between the adventures she wants to have with her neighbor and the love she has for her husband, and that experience is not unlike what many experience in their marriages, only here the rut can last for an eternity.
What side June lands on that debate, and how Oscar deals, really is something you’ll need to see for yourselves, but I will say that how it unfolds is sweet, funny, and emotionally resonant for anyone who has been in a long-term relationship. It’s also one of the most enjoyable and surprising series of the year (although, much less surprising if you’ve read this far before watching).
Header Image Source: Amazon