A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Love Dick is a mature show about a husband and wife whose relationship is altered by their mutual romantic and professional entanglement with another man. The show's primary focus is sex and love; expect to see characters having sex with thrusting, groaning, sweating, and graphic talk. Men are shown nude from the rear; body parts and sexual practices are talked about frankly. Expect frequent cursing and strong language, including "hell," "s--t," "motherf--king," "f--k," "f--king," and "sucks." One character smokes pot from a pipe, adults drink wine at dinner and parties, and a main character habitually rolls and smokes his own cigarettes. This adult look at marriage, fine art, sex, and love won't interest young viewers, but it's also well-written and has an unusual focus on female desires, with women at the center of the action.
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What's the story?
In the unusual comedy I LOVE DICK, Kathryn Hahn is Chris, a filmmaker whose upcoming trip to Venice to show her film at a festival is abruptly scuttled when an issue arises over music rights. But her dejection soon fades when she meets Dick (Kevin Bacon), who runs a competitive writer's fellowship program that Chris' husband, Sylvere (Griffin Dunne), has just begun. Trapped with nothing much to do in Marfa, Texas, Chris feverishly fantasizes about Dick, writing him impassioned letters that she begins reading aloud to Sylvere. At first it's just an idea. Then it's something more. Adapted from the cult novel of the same name by Chris Kraus, I LOVE DICK is a three-way romance that can't possibly last -- but it's interesting while it does.
Is it any good?
Showrunner Jill Soloway has been vocal about her desire to invent a cinematic language for the "female gaze," and in this smart, subtle, sexy show, she's done it. Chris is messy, arrogant, and pretentious, as well as being fascinating, and erotically enraptured by her husband's new temporary boss in a way women are seldom allowed to be on-screen. Her very first encounter with Dick, in which he rides down the street in Marfa like some type of mythical cowboy, reduces her to stares and blushes, and by the time she's writing her first letter to Dick (excerpts of which open and close the show and are scattered randomly between vignettes), her fantasy vocabulary has expanded to forceful kisses and trysts in restaurant bathrooms.
It's not just the way Chris is depicted that's unusual, though. Soloway and her all-woman band of writers and directors also show Sylvere and Dick in an atypical light. The camera lingers on Dick's lean body; watching, Chris' mouth literally drops open. In contrast, Sylvere's shortcomings are quietly telegraphed -- his prissy suits, his snarky asides, the way he whoops with self-congratulatory pride after ending a sexual "drought" with his wife. I Love Dick is a show with things to say about what women want and what they accept; despite the title's focus on Dick, it's what Chris wants that's really what this series is interested in.
Talk to your kids about ...
The book this show is based on is epistolary -- that means it's structured as if it's a series of letters. Is this show structured the same way? How do we see or hear Chris' letters in I Love Dick? Can you think of any other shows that are epistolary?
Actor Kevin Bacon, who plays Dick, is frequently pictured in close-up shots of body parts. Are men frequently shown this way on-screen? Are women? What do you make of the show's creator, Jill Soloway, talking about this show exhibiting a "female gaze"?
Amazon, which made this show, has an unusual vetting process for its shows: They introduce several pilots at once and then let users vote on which they'd like to see more of. What do you think about this voting process and what it says about the viewer's impact on what gets made?
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