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Preggers: The Comedic Web Series That's Not A Total Shitcom
The culture shock of 2 NYC chicks when they are cajoled into the confusing new-age world of modern pregnancy makes for a good gentlemanly punch in the c**t.
"Bitch, you need your folic acid, bitch."--Eilis Cahill
Preggers is a good gentlemanly punch in the cunt. That may sound a little bold, but we're talking about a series that takes its political incorrectness seriously; a show where a deaf job applicant is turned away because the protagonists are put off by the "accent" they detect on her; a show where being cute or sexy (and its stars most definitely are both, just not in your standard brand beer commercial sorta way) takes a backseat to being brazen and confident and, as Fleetwood Mac would have it, going your own way.
Watching the debut episode, I was so excited I shaved my head and shit my pants. And that was before the opening title even came up! And that is to make no mention of Preggers' only male actor going on a riff about what the late, great Most Wanted Man in America would do to sully Hollywood's most elusive golden boy (no, not Steve Guttenberg, we're talking about the mighty Phoenix known as Joaquin).
Here is a show that has every bit of potential to be a hit without pandering to a formula-fed audience. And if there's one person's opinion you can trust on such matters, it's mine, since I'm like the unsung movie/tv prognosticator. I knew Shia LaBooooof was gonna be a star back before his balls dropped. I knew Sam Rockwell was gonna be one of the best actors of our time back in '94 when all the world had seen him play was a helmet-head in Alexandre Rockwell's In The Soup.
And I knew Jamie Lynn Spears was preggo before her own boyfriend did. [The Statute of Limitations prevents the author from discussing this one further].
Preggers is a series of what are, at the moment-- and, hopefully, this will change when the cable networks rouse themselves from their Naked Juice and Roxycodone comas and start a righteous bidding war for the broadcasting and development rights-- short 10-minute webisodes. That is Preggers in its current, embryonic form.
The show concerns the culture shock of two crass New York City chicks when they are cajoled into the confusing new-age world of modern pregnancy. Like live-action female variations on the boys of South Park Elementary, Preggers' Lizzie (Eilis Cahill) and Catherine (Catherine DeCioccio) are lewd, inflammatory and overgrown tykes with absolutely no tact. And like the aforementioned Comedy Central smash, Preggers is smart and savvy enough to know that shock value for shock value's sake isn't enough to get by in a P.C. world. At the heart of the show is just that--Heart.
Expertly walking a tightrope between raunch and reverence is what makes for the best kind of situational comedy, and it's something this bunch excel at.
After the initial episode, in which Lizzie and Catherine reconcile themselves to having their babies, it's time to take the obligatory crash course in what it's going to take to deliver their children to term, and that's when the real fun and the biggest gut-busting laughs kick in proper.
While some sunny day Optimist spews imbecilic jive about making lists of all the wondrous things a mother should do with their newborns, Catherine and Lizzie have a lightsaber-style play-fight with kitchen utensils while their whipping boy Deadbeat Dan minds the webcam link to their abrasively good-natured pregnancy counselor.
In a move that will become signature for Preggers' star, Cahill sits slumped in her seat with legs spread shamelessly akimbo and listens, completely underwhelmed, as the counselor further extrapolates on the right course of action for their latest trimester. Lizzie mocks Patty (their surrogate mommy helper) and the "gaping brown asshole with teeth" they call Deadbeat Dan, while slamming their laptop shut with her bare feet in a move that is bound to attract foot fetishists to the show en masse.
Such irritated, bored, (wo)man-child behavior is the central trademark of the characters, and the thing that endears us to them the most. In every young parent-to-be there is that area of defiant arrested development, the Toys "R" Us kid who still wants to stay out late before work, drink out of the milk carton, eat junk food before supper and, in Cahill's case, watch sexual harassment videos with her unborn fetus.
In the universe these girls inhabit, the baby-centric malls make the whole world look like some kind of LSD-tinged day-glo infant nightmare, where children are equivalent to costumed Disneyworld mutants, all yapping plangently and acting like unruly elves.
I won't give away the more pointed comments made by our anti-heroines, so as to reserve the keen viewer the chance to laugh tearfully at each bit as I did, but suffice it to say that Preggers dares to say what most of us are really thinking, on any given day, when we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of suffering other people's kids.
Cahill is the real draw here, with her fearless straddling of sexuality and confrontation. The ways in which she unabashedly and confidently alternates between naked honesty and deliberately obnoxious punk posturing is unlike anything currently corroding on mainstream cable television (and easily pulverizes the placenta out of your grandmother's prime time offerings).
Whoever said that there were only a handful of stories to tell and that all the artist could do is try and improve on what's already there was definitely on to something, and it applies here as it does everywhere else (especially on mainstream TV). Take "the raspberry." It's a facial and guttural bit of physical comedy that's older than George Burns's balls (God rest), but seeing it in Webisode #3, coming from Cahill at her most bored and fed up, shows just how much humor can be derived from simplicity of invention. Knee-slapping doesn't even begin to cover it. Ball-jingling, rectum-clenching hysteria comes a tad closer in definition.
An early reference to Craigslist seems somewhat dated, and falls far from living up to the full potential that's otherwise on display in Cahill's incisive teleplay writing (they could have done much more on the subject of the site's Personals, even if they had simply torn ads verbatim from the same), but this is a momentary strip of flatness on an autobahn of otherwise asthma-inducing hilarity.
Additional credit should definitely be given to the costume designer, whatever moth-ridden old crone from the heyday of Hollywood outfitted the cast with their accoutrements, as some of the show's most amusing beats emerge from scene one seguing into scene two and the girls suddenly popping up in flapper regalia and Blossom-worthy haberdashery, mock-bemused expressions or just pseudo-non-chalance plastered on their grills. Arguably, some of the greatest comedy occurs when the players can barely contain their own laughter, and it's a testament to both Preggers' chops and the strong wills of its stars, that nary a giggle slips out in such cheeky sequences.
A key thing to note with Preggers is the absence of the guys responsible for having fouled these chicks with their seeds. The message here, if there is one, seems to be that the fairer sex no more needs a guy to bring a baby to term than it needs some happy-go-lucky wench telling them how to raise their rugrats. When I think of the pile of bosh that passes for progressive comedy these days, films like Knocked Up, where an insufferable twat has to fall in love with an infantile go-nowhere porn dweeb in order to create a happy ending for her and her gut-dweller, I can't help but blanch at what that says of America's societal desperation. But then something like Preggers comes along and drops a big pink deuce on Mores and Manners like a latter-day Patti Smith, and Womanhood is suddenly spiked up a couple notches.
The show bristles with absurdist energy and mucho re-watchability as a result of Cahill and company's marksmanship with sharp writing and sharper quasi-improvised comedic performance. Cahill, in particular, explodes gender stereotypes while making a very wise ass out of herself, and it is this that makes Preggers truly unprecedented in the realm of gender-specific comedy. Many "comediennes" have been heralded as heroines of Feminism for going where only guys normally tread. Mike & Molly's Molly comes to mind, shitting in a restroom sink in that incredibly over-hyped scene from Bridesmaids (the like-wise over-hyped comedic feature), and Kristen Wiig, whose shenanigans on SNL are, admittedly, second only to one...and that one is Cahill, who manages, in the frame of only one Preggers episode, to best the bright and attractive Wiig with a king's ransom of kinks and aggressive idiosyncracies.
Watching Eilis do her comedy thing is like watching Barkley shoot off at the mouth about being the messiah of basketball or, more accurately, like watching a cadre of cocktail-crazed Cleveland sports fans cornering Lebron James in a dark alley--pleasurable, to say the least; capable of orgiastic paroxysms of tearful, fitful laughter to say the most.
Just when you think Cahill and co-star DeCioccio have the market cornered on all the comedy the show has to offer, we get "The Nanny Episode," and Cahill and director Jeremy Mather drag in some of the most eccentric and memorable bit players this side of The Search For One-Eye Jimmy. An acid-eating Hippie GILF with a penchant for swallowing...cookies...is just one of the episode's unyielding barrage of yuks. And somewhere, nestled in this cluster-fuck of constant levity, is a genuine wealth of morality. It's just hard to catch, at first blush, what with the phallic edibles and onslaught of spread eagle sight gags.
Cahill & DeCioccio may get their jollies calling jabbering baby gurus the Cunt word, and they may abuse their only male companion, the dreadfully dim if uber-supportive Deadbeat Dan, and hell, they might be pretty pissed off about having to lug around the weight of a couple uninvited fetuses...but at the end of the day there ain't a wire hanger in sight for these well-meaning if irresponsible gals. Actually there is, but only briefly and only to make the boys in the audience squirm.
The idea of aborting is never addressed, except as a visual threat to mind-fuck their male co-star. But it isn't ever seriously considered because it isn't an option and, more importantly, it isn't used as a genuine gag, proving unequivocally that Preggers takes the moral high ground even as it revels in bin Laden jokes and Cahill's pantomiming of blowing the brains out of her unborn child. The bad taste is in good fun, something John Waters once explained was the distinction to be made between camp and cruelty--indeed, bad bad taste would be the Preggers girls jamming iPods into their twats to induce a stillbirth or trying to coax their underdeveloped babies out of the womb with a common household Dirt Devil. But you will see none of this on Preggers and it's all the funnier and better for it. After all, if they abort now, then there's no more show and that would be one choice that would hardly be a pro.
In short, this show is a bona fide pride and joy. I would even go so far as to say that Preggers is the craftiest innovation since pulling out. It has balls to go with its vag, great, big, pink balls, pristine in their comedic abilities and brazen in their wriggling along that thin ice between intellectual subversiveness and scatological anarcho-humor.
Now some will say that these ridiculous characters of Gen-Y ennui and attitude are befouling the concept of responsible parenting, even before they spew out their freshly-yolked ankle-biters, but fuck those people! Fuck 'em right in their hairy navels! Because, as a dude who has always thought of himself as not only a competent culture critic but, also, a sort of male lesbian, what I see in Preggers is a satire of social awkwardness that adeptly explores just how uncomfortable we make each other when we insist on bullshit posturing and preening self-help hog wash.
If there's a moral to be taken away from Preggers' ribald handling of the cottage industry that is pregnancy & parenting, it's that nowhere does it say you have to force a smile when you're morning sick or suffer the stupidity of some other person's idea of how to practice a lifestyle. That is Preggers, in an egg-shell, and that is America; Esto perpetua.
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