The Dark Comedy, premiering this Thursday on Paramount+, follows Beth, a great journalist played by Kate Beckinsale, who is disgraced amid a major scandal. Her redemption arc serves as a starting point and becomes an unlikely team-up full of twists and turns.
Season 1 follows Beth’s attempts to rebuild her name by taking on the story of a woman incarcerated for murder, and she makes an even bigger mess of her life along the way.
“She’s had a hard time,” Beckinsale told TVLine. “She is very humiliated and hurt. Her identity is in question [and] she tries to find her way in her career, in her marriage, in herself. She doesn’t necessarily make the most rational decisions, and she’s pretty reckless and impulsive, and does stupid things, but she’s actually a good person. She just has a lot of blind spots.”
Beth’s plan to help the imprisoned Toni, who declares her innocence, is flawed. She sees this as an opportunity to clean up her reputation, not realizing that she is doing this because of a black woman’s pain.
“I often say she’s not our hero, but she’s the protagonist,” explains series creator and showrunner Rebecca Addelman. “It was a conscious decision to make her a very privileged white woman. She enters the situation with Toni thinking, “This story can help me.” It’s something Toni can detect right away, and Beth isn’t used to people calling her out. She is [not] accustomed to having some of her privilege checked.”
When Beth first meets Toni, “she asks me all these questions,” explains Jules Latimer, who plays Toni. “By the end of [the interview]I’m like, ‘Did you visit me? Do you know who I am?’ You can just see that these are two flawed people trying, for myself, to live a free life, and for her, to be a respected journalist, and we continue to fail at both things. During the season you just see two people trying their best and not getting it. It doesn’t stick, and for some reason how imperfect they both are, we have a bond that is almost indescribable. It’s like, ‘I don’t know why I’m staying with you,’ and she doesn’t really know why she’s staying with me, but we need each other.”
The unlikely partnership forces Beth to look inside and realize she may not be in as bad as she thinks. “That’s one of the interesting parts of the show: seeing someone who is very absorbed in the drama of their lives, and then meeting someone who has really, really hard things that she hasn’t been through,” Beckinsale added. “It makes her grow a little bit.”
While a comedy, the series touches on a myriad of issues such as race and class, the carceral system, America’s gun fetishization, and even the way we consume news.
“What fascinated me was the ability to talk about perspective and who gets to tell the story and whose story is told,” Addelman says. “We have historically attributed objectivity to journalism, that there are facts to be found. And yet what the show does, what the Beth character is our channel to help us say and do, is that objectivity doesn’t exist. Everything is subjective and everything you’re going to see in this show comes from one’s point of view and one’s experience. We were very conscious of creating characters from very specific backgrounds and lives so that we could filter the show through their perspective.”
Addelman also notes that there are “certainly some episodes and scenes that are very funny, absurd and ridiculous, and there are times when we allow ourselves to get serious and dramatic.” Fans can expect unique characters this season, including a woman named Patti (played by vet Linda Kash on the big screen). “I look forward to everyone seeing Patty’s many personalities emerge,” she concludes.
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