Minor spoilers ahead.
Easy had been sitting in my Netflix queue for months before a killer hangover finally trapped me for long enough to sit down and watch it. I was wary at first of the cover image of two girls kissing, reminding me too much of previous Netflix dramas that focus with voyeuristic pleasure on same-sex relationships without bothering to include anything except a perverse glee in watching two women have sex. The relationships in Easy are so much more than that though – although there are certainly sex scenes a-plenty.
With clear efforts to create a diverse cast of men and women of different sexualities, lifestyles, ethnicities, and appearances, Easy brings together a series of vignettes into the lives of adults in and around Chicago. The script is written with a delicate ease that makes you forget you’re watching actors rather than eavesdropping on strangers, even when familiar faces like Dave Franco and Aubrey Plaza pop up on your screen. The nature of the show means that stories overlap: the babysitter you barely noticed in S1E1 resurfaces in the next episode to be enlightened about veganism, creating a whole world of intersecting characters that reflects the micro-interactions of reality. Every episode brings a new question to the forefront: does monogamy work? Is there a difference between traditional and new-age art? Are parents always right? Ostensibly the show claims to be about love and relationships, but even after just two seasons, the anthology has explored so many different avenues of modern life that it seems unjust to limit it to a drama about sex.
Despite falling in love with the series as a whole, I cannot pretend to like every character. The arrogant artist who slut shames his younger generational counterpart, the bratty brewer who refuses to grow up even after becoming a father, the husband who can’t get to grips with his wife’s sexuality but refuses to admit it: they are all people who would frustrate me no end if I met them in real life, yet their presence in the show only makes it all the more believable. Too many shows are overly preoccupied with flawless characters you would fall in love with even if they didn’t have perfectly sculpted cheekbones and silky hair first thing in the morning.
I didn’t realise until I wrote it just now, but the only characters I actively disliked were all male. Whether or not this is my feminist bias talking, I stand by the fact that the female characters of Easy are refreshingly realistic. There are feminists who aren’t perfect, artists who don’t deal exclusively in romances designed to win back old loves, lesbians who exist within their own right and not to be gawped at by men, older women who don’t just serve as fountains of knowledge to their daughters…the list goes on. Every episode introduced a new woman who, even if she wouldn’t be my best friend, I could understand and relate to, and above all, believe in. Again, despite Easy supposedly being centred on sex and relationships, we often see characters of both genders bypassing relationships to achieve other goals, like moving across the country to get the acting role of a lifetime, or taking on a new lifestyle choice to get a unique chance at motherhood. This is especially refreshing for female characters, who so often in film and TV get their happy ending, often including a career, children, or some other goal, but for which the main fulfilment is the man. Not only were non-hetero relationships given valuable space in Easy, relationships in general were not presented as the ladder to happiness that everyone must climb.
All in all, Easy is a show that I have been recommending left, right, and centre, and I can only do the same here. There is thoughtful cinematography for the critics, realistic relationships for the romantics, and engaging characters for the average viewer. The series is a collection of snapshots into modern life that leaves you feeling both at home and simultaneously curious about the potential back-story of the passenger opposite you on the bus. In a world with so much noise, every person has a story to tell, and Easy brings together some of the more fascinating parts of everyday life in a gorgeous blast of artistic skill.