We all love stuff that’s cool and weird and offbeat, don’t we? I’ll answer for you here — yes. Of course we do. Like any aficionados, we enjoy that which is cutting edge, beyond the norm, even alienating to those not “in-the-know”. We used to feel this way about deadpan mockumentaries and snickered at those in our midst who asked “is this for real?” Ha! We were so much smarter and cooler than them. But no longer. Now, everyone gets “awkward.” To be made uncomfortable is to be made to laugh. From web to screen, the pieces that seem to garner the most attention seem to be the ones that are most effective in making our skin crawl. Lately, I’ve been wondering if the awkward comedy boom is close to bubbling. Then, a show like Ted & Gracie comes along and changes the whole goddamn game.
Few things are more offbeat than a comedic series about being engaged to a serial killer and that, folks, is what we’ve got here. Written, co-directed by and starring Jenna Friedman as Gracie, Ted and Gracie is a mockumentary about a couple whose marriage prep process is being profiled by a New York Times-like fake newspaper, The Newark Times, as part of a Weddings Section video supplement. Opposite the sweet, naïve Gracie is Ted (Ben Kronberg) — a hipster incarnation of Ted Bundy (plus some of the Kaczynski beard) with serious sociopathic tendencies, and a whole lot of love for his bride-to-be.
At this stage in the comedy game, mockumentaries are losing their novelty. Now when I see camera crews, handheld shots, and confessionals, I just think “here’s a show” not “here’s an interesting, unique format”. Many times the choice to make something faux-reality seems like a crutch, a keeping up with the joneses sort of thing rather than a pioneering artistic choice. Ted and Gracie is an unusual case because its “real life” premise and eerily authentic characters aren’t forced. They really do need each other. Ted’s sadistic career. Gracie’s heartbreaking loyalty to a psychopath. Silent stares and hurt feelings. The show gently moves a familiar medium forward in a way that makes me believe there’s still room for innovation in the “uncomfortable humor” trend. (Good news.)
If you’re thinking about marrying a serial killer, you’re already super excited to check this series out. If you’re not, here are three reasons to get pumped.
It’s dark, not awkward. Quiet, not subtle. That’s why it feels fresh. Friedman ups the cringe game by giving us humor that scares as much as it shocks and moves valiantly in the direction of the confident “get it or don’t” mentality that comedy-philes cherish.
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