By Alana McConnell (she/her)
Phoebe Bridgers - That Funny Feeling
On first listen, if unfamiliar with Bo Burnham, one may not realise this song isn’t a classic Phoebe Bridger’s original. Lyrics like “Reading Pornhub's terms of service, going for a drive” and “Googling derealization, hating what you find” both could easily be a part of Phoebe’s trademark lyrics, in all their searing honesty and mild morbidity exposed in everyday acts. Originally sung by Burnham as part of his most recent special Inside, Phoebe showcased a live performance of the song as part of her current tour, as well as dueting with Burnham himself at Largos.
The tune was transformed from casual concert cover to studio version up on Bandcamp, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Texas Abortion Funds, being split evenly across a number of organisations such as the Lilith Fund, and the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. She dedicated the song to Greg Abbott, Texas Governor, who signed the Texas Heartbeat Act into law on May 19th 2021.
‘That Funny Feeling’ goes perfectly with Phoebe’s voice and the simplistic production of an acoustic guitar. The lyrics being the main point of attention, as Burnham intended originally. Burnham and Bridgers can be connected in the sense of shared worldviews, which takes place in the shared space between oftentimes depressive realism and absurdist humour. The comments on Bandcamp sum this cover up perfectly. As a Bandcamp supporter said, “simultaneously broke me and saved me” and as my dad echoed, “I’ve never been this happy to feel so sad”.
HBO 2012 – 2020
I’m a sucker for an anthology series. Every episode is its own little stand alone universe, painting a picture in a time limit. It’s also refreshing and avoids the risk of becoming stale. You get to experience the inner lives of multiple different characters, even if just for a short while. The writers don’t have the luxury of extending the storyline throughout multiple episodes, so they work with what they’ve got, resulting in an episode which can hold its own. With a backdrop of New York City, High Maintenance works best as an anthology series, set in a bustling city which is bursting with life.
The common thread throughout the episodes is an anonymous man known simply as The Guy, who sells and delivers weed around the city on his bike. Episodes focus on different clients of The Guy, or those who intersect in his journey, whether it be the man who works at the bodega, or a neighbor who passes The Guy in the hall when he’s making his delivery to the place next door. One episode was entirely from the perspective of a dog who falls in love with his dog walker.
High Maintenance first aired on Vimeo in 2012, created by couple Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, and after six seasons HBO picked it up, running for a further four. On Vimeo the creators were free from time constraints or production expectations with episodes running from 5 to 20 minutes. Each episode shines a light on everyday people and their environment, community, and subculture. The Guy acts as a conduit for us as audience members to be voyeurs to these characters, and more broadly, into the human condition.
This is undeniably a great lockdown show because it's highly watchable, filled with humour, lightheartedness, but also thought-provoking musings and off-beat representations. It’s one of those shows which you will also keep going back to, noticing more and more nuances. I can’t put it better than Adesola Thomas for Paste who wrote “the combination of The Guy’s non-judgmental countenance, the resting of the audience’s collective chin upon his shoulder, and the ephemerality of our encounters with his patrons give the audience enough time to witness a character’s personhood—to hook into a fear of theirs, an inconvenience of their day, and then say ‘thank you and farewell’ as they disappear from the show as innocuously as the weed smoke that wafts out of their mouths.”