Schumer produced, writes, and directs so the humor is spot on, but Life & Beth seems to dive deeper than her previous work.
Critics have been loving Amy Schumer’s latest scripted television series, Life & Bethwith the series netting 88% on Rotten TomatoesThis Hulu original revolves around the eponymous Beth played by Schumer who sells wine in Manhattan. Beth’s unhappy in life and decides to make some major changes, one of which is moving back to her hometown on Long Island.
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As with most of Schumer’s work, she includes some of her usual suspects like Kevin Kane as her ex-boyfriend Matt and Bridget Everett on the soundtrack. In addition, Yamaneika Saunders and Michael Cera also appear. Schumer produced, writes, and directs so the humor is spot on, but Life & Beth seems to dive deeper than her previous work.
The mediocre world Beth is living in at the start of this show is set quite clearly. For many, a fancy life in New York City would be a dream, but this character is stuck in a humdrum relationship and job. Early on, when Beth returns to her office, the boss calls a meeting.
Murray played by the great Murray Hill (Somebody, Somewhere, Shortbus) speaks this quote which is both hilarious and telling. The entire office seems to enjoy their jobs including Beth’s top-salesperson boyfriend/partner Matt played by Kevin Kane (Bonding, Inside Amy Schumer).
If there is one thing in Beth’s life that is consistent and good, it’s that she still has her best friends since high school who live on Long Island in the town where they grew up. So when Beth’s mother suddenly dies in a car accident and she returns with Matt to her hometown, her besties are there for her.
So when Matt reveals that he’s organized a flash mob to propose to Beth right after her mother’s unbearable funeral, Maya tries to prepare her for the inevitable with this quote. Unfortunately, nothing can prepare Beth for an awkward performance by everyone she knows.
Finally, Beth begins to realize that she needs to change her life and find out what makes her happy, so she breaks up with Matt and retreats to her childhood home where her mother had been living. Beth tries carrying on with the wine rep job and while she’s visiting a local winery, Matt shows up.
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On horseback. And he doesn’t have any idea how to ride a horse, but he’s trying his best. With Beth, as well. And that’s where this quote comes in. Poor Matt is desperate and very confused about the break-up, but he has no idea who Beth is anymore. The poor horse has no idea what’s going on either!
Beth and her besties decide to go out drinking together and forget about their worries, but going to a dance club full of 20-somethings isn’t the best idea for the ladies nearing 40. They run into a hot exercise instructor (that Beth’s friends lust after) named Travis played by Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, Glee). He’s attracted to Beth because she lives in the city.
Beth’s not interested in the least, but the girls push her to hook up with him so they can live vicariously through their friend. It’s loud and dark, and when bottle service starts with sparklers, they’ve all had enough. So Jen suggests they go shopping instead, hence the quote.
Beth has met a guy at the winery where Matt tried to re-propose. John played by Michael Cera (Juno, Scott Pilgrim) and Beth have a connection, but John has a girlfriend. So Beth decides to have sex with Travis. She goes to his apartment, finds out he’s a hoarder, and has horrible sex with the guy.
The next day when she gets together with her BFFs — of course they all want details — Beth admits how utterly disgusting the entire experience was. And just as best friends should, they all commiserate about their sex lives. That’s where this quote comes in.
Finally, things start going pretty great for Beth and John once he breaks up with his girlfriend. They take mushrooms and go fishing with Beth’s sister Ann. They have an amazing time on the water until John gets a fish hook stuck in his finger and mayhem ensues. It’s too bad they’re on mushrooms which makes decision-making harder.
Once they get to the hospital — and not without a few mishaps, including losing Ann — Beth and John have to try to act straight but apparently, that’s a bit too difficult. John says out loud that they’ve taken hallucinogens, not realizing he’s not whispering to Beth. That’s where this quote comes in. It’s part of John’s many quirks and his inability to whisper will come up several more times.
Over the first half of the series, it’s been unclear why Beth’s dad hasn’t been in the picture much or why she and Ann don’t have a relationship with him until flashbacks begin to fill in Leonard’s alcoholism and grifting. When Beth goes to find her dad at his usual spot (it’s assumed he’s homeless), the complicated relationship starts to make sense.
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Beth has a brilliant idea. She’ll use her father’s grifting talents to charm some wine clients. The dinner turns into one of the most magical and tense scenes. Leonard, played brilliantly by Michael Rapaport (Atypical, Justified), cleans up and meets Beth’s clients. But his short-term memory loss and mental challenges make everyone unsure if Leonard can succeed, especially when he repeats this quote. Fortunately, he plays it off as a joke and the night is a success.
As Beth begins to realize that John has more quirks than just his inability to whisper — like keeping fruits and vegetables in his pockets and not reading a room well — she’s met with the additional stress of Maya’s Grandpa dying. Beth was close to Grandpa Don and is grieving, but John can’t deal.
He’s worried about the impending storm harming his boat. He repeats this quote many times, even during the service for Grandpa Don, until Beth understandably freaks out. It makes Beth question if they’re right for each other.
This show does a magnificent job of blending Beth’s current life story with flashbacks of her childhood. It also revisits growing up dealing with parents’ issues. In the episode “MRI,” Beth has the procedure. While she’s in the machine, she faces some of her toughest memories.
But before Beth gets in the MRI machine, she’s subjected to the novice technician’s awkward and hilarious questions. When Beth is asked if she has any pre-existing conditions she answers simply with this quote. This humor is quite necessary to balance out the memories she has to endure.
The final episode opens with John having breakfast outside a cafe. A man at the park buys himself breakfast and sits at the table next to John. Neither says a word until the man gets up to leave. John says this simple quote and his father doesn’t even bother to respond.
John did admit to Beth earlier in the series that he has breakfast every morning with his Dad but they don’t speak. It’s an amazing opening to a show about relationships with parents and trying to be connected to them through life. John and Beth eventually end up happy, but themes of regret and connection still linger.
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Jeffrey Oaks joined Screen Rant as a freelance writer in 2022. He is the author of the award-winning novel WHY I FIGHT (Simon & Schuster) and has been published widely. Oaks lives and writes in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. He is currently finishing his second novel while in constant search for the ultimate empanada.