There’s a sitcom you’ve probably never heard of. That’s because it only ever had one season, replaced by the stunningly mediocre Mind of Mencia. That’s the way of these things, but it’s ok, because I’m here to trumpet the cause. Which is a good segue into how good the trumpet-based music for Stella is. I’m clever, y’see?
Thanks go to John Walker for introducing it to me sometime last year, although it’s no mean feat to find it anywhere. It’s headed by Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain, who did the brilliant Role Models, the relatively unknown but still brilliant Wet Hot American Summer, and the fantastic Wainy Days, which you can watch online. It’s probably a pretty good introduction to the kind of comedy that permeates Stella; that being absurdist, surreal, and very often completely coming out of left field.
I’m trying to think up some ways to describe it. There’s the way it tackles cliches constantly, pushing them to their absurdist limits and then a little further until they feel fresh and interesting again. Or there’s just the completely random, insane stuff that happens because the plot’s been set in motion, and they’ll be damned if they let reality get in the way. For instance, one episode sees Michael Ian Black (they use their real names in the show) running for President Of the Resident’s Board in their building. Naturally, this turns into a full blown campaign, their apartment turning into campaign headquarters, dozens of people running through focus groups and numbers. They’re twenty minute episodes, and yet they manage to fit in that kind of escalation without making it feel jarring, but certainly making the absurdity of the situation laughable.
Montages feature prominently, each of them more ridiculous than the last. Obviously they imbue great skill and understanding each time, letting them master riding a bike, or producing a successful coffee shop business. I’m kind of running out of things to say about it, without ruining the whole thing. Or without ruining the absurdism of it, if only through the lack of an easy way to describe it.
Ok, here’s the final thing that’ll convince you either way. So they’re homeless, due to some technicality with their landlord, like the fact they don’t have jobs or something. They go to get a great new apartment, but they have to convince the resident’s board to accept them. After a long speech, the board still isn’t convinced, so what do they do? They put on raccoon ears and tails, and do a completely mental dance that’s perfectly coreographed. They get the apartment, but they still don’t have any money, so they’re back to square one.
Sound like something you should enjoy? Yes, yes it does.