As in almost every sitcom starring a comedian, Bamford plays a version of herself: a woman who has struggled with mental illness, including, in her words, “a year and a half of hospitalizations.” Her issues include obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts.
In Season 2, Bamford is trying to restart her show biz career and build her first healthy relationship with a man.
Absurdity does ensure. This includes flashbacks styled as a show-within-a-show called “Duluth” (Bamford’s real-life Minnesota hometown), set in 1987 and done in the earnest style of a back-to-school special — but with a twisted soul. Her dad fires a shotgun into a cake her mom made for an auction to benefit abused women. “You want some marriage advice?” he asks Maria. “Never show your true feelings.”
Clearly, Bamford needs advice. Who better to ask than Apatow, who makes a cameo. “I have a saying,” he tells her. “Embrace it to erase it.” He hated needlepoint, he explains. Then someone gave him a needlepoint pillow, and he didn’t “mind it anymore.”
And if you embrace the show in all its weirdness, you’ll get Bamford’s very original perspective on what it’s like to live with mental illness: downs, ups, despair, longing for normalcy, moments of absurdity. And you’ll get to see what makes Judd Apatow laugh. Sample bit: Bamford gets out of a shower and wrings water from her hair into a glass because, as she explains, “we’re in a drought.”
Read more of Marc’s TV musings: