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Zoe Lister-Jones Seeks Her Identity Through The Multiverse in Roku's 'Slip'

By Alberto Cox Délano | TV | May 1, 2023 |

By Alberto Cox Délano | TV | May 1, 2023 |


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The first thing you need to know about Slip, the new Roku Original triple-capped by Zoe Lister-Jones, is that the puriteens are going to hate it because it’s a sensual show in which the sex scenes actually happen to be key drivers of the plot. Whether the plot comes (he he) to a cohesive finish (he he) is a different thing.

Zoe plays Mae Cannon, a New York art curator, steadily married to Elijah (Whitmer Thomas), an aspiring writer. Raised in the foster care system, she also enjoys an unbreakable bond with her best friend and foster sister Gina (Tymika Tafari). There are many reasons why some might call Mae lucky: She survived the foster care system, pulled her friend alongside her, got into college, got a prestigious job, met someone she could call family, and embodied the work-life aspirations of a Brooklynite-hipster life. Yet, she feels detached from her reality, perpetually in a fugue. But unlike the trope of the dissociated Millennial women, she is supposed to be satiated with her achievements. Still, her marriage has begun to rip apart from the gravitational pull of routine and diverging life goals: Elijah is thinking of having kids and becoming crueler about it, Mae is the main provider, and they have lost the rhythm of passion and intimacy.

One day, after opening an exhibition with art created by Buddhist monks, she meets Eric (Amar Chadha-Patel), the kind of guy who makes it impossible not to have an affair. They sleep together, Mae climaxes, and she wakes up the next morning in an alternative reality where she is now married to Eric, a rock star. That’s how her journey starts, trying to get back to her reality, to Elijah and to herself, in a situation that seems to show her, over and over again, just how flimsy the notions of identity and life partners can be. At least Gina is a constant.

Slip does a great job depicting Mae’s cosmic (and comic) horror in being thrown into different selves without a sitrep, which would’ve been very helpful in the one where she is a mother. There is another constant though, in that in every reality she is in a brittle or unhappy marriage, sowing further doubts on what she is actually trying to accomplish in desperately looking for Elijah and trying to make her way back to her reality. Because once she finds Elijah, what kind of person is he going to be now? And if she sleeps with the Elijah in that reality, will it take her back to hers or will it be another, wholly different Mae and wholly different Elijah?

The “travelling through dimensions by having sex” isn’t exactly a gimmick. Sex is the only instance where Mae can connect with something of herself that is wholly hers. It ties into Buddhist concepts and mythology discussed during the series. Mae makes an analogy between herself and the figure of the Dakini, which depending on the tradition, can be a demon that lives off of vital energy and flesh, or a sort of female energy guiding spiritualism. Slip is, ultimately, a story about a woman who has never been able to fully find herself because her entire life, as a child of the foster care system, has been one of constant adaptation, until now, when she slipped (she) into the mold of an adult that, supposedly, has her life figured out. There is a tender scene where she has lunch at a loving and functional foster home, and her face conveys the longing of seeing the normalcy of teenagers and children being themselves, just blended.

By the final episode, the themes fall apart a bit as Mae, a bit too easily, manages to make amends and find herself. There are one too many monologues that are a bit… how can I put it? The kind of monologues that show what a great actress Zoe Lister-Jones is, but tackle the themes a bit too on the nose, if you catch my drift. There is another scene in the final episode that I think does a better job of conveying Mae’s end of the journey better than words. It is still an interesting, clever, and sexy as hell series that could’ve actually been helped by being a few chapters longer, or with another season.

Slip is available in The Roku Channel.