Middling romantic dramas featuring middle age, high-earning white people are my visual comfort food. I found nourishment by locking my door in a house with a mom that didn’t believe in locks to sneak in episodes of Nip/Tuck, in catching Dan in Real Life on TBS, and in ogling Diane Lane (Cate Blanchett , Kate Winslet, and Meryl Streep) carry on illicit affairs in mid-range films. Though fiction, these films were an introduction into how relationships fracture. How intentions jumble. And in the most dramatic sense, how a knowing glance can lead to ruin.
Which brings me to Casual, the newest edition to my book of comfort food recipes. The series centers on the romantic and familial life of Valerie, a newly divorced single mother living with her brother Alex and her daughter Laura. I don’t need to tell you that Valerie is divorced as a result of her husband’s affair. Or that she owns her own counseling practice and Alex successfully cofounded a dating app. Or that they are both floundering in their dating lives, she a novice having been married for 17 years and he a non-committal man child. It fills my plate.
Jokes aside, its a drama that leads with dialogue. The characters are clear-eyed in their wrongness. They are pupils of their quirks, knowing how screwy they are in life yet lacking the full will to make better on their shortcomings. I have scene long eyerolls when I’m confronted with the travails of Alex’ love life. But even those scenes are ripe with meaningful talks on co-dependency and maturity. My favorite scene of the show aired just this week. Valerie and Drew, her estranged husband dine in a cafe after hacking away at their taxes. In the scene, the ex-pair happen upon a honest dialogue that has escaped them in their interactions since his cheating came to light. Drew believes they are destined to be unsatisfied, while Valerie conjures up the idea of cheating intimately by having illicit sex with someone she knows.
This is my comfort food.