One of The Queer Review’s LGBTQ+ culture highlights of 2020 was the first season of Netflix’s Feel Good, created, written, and produced by its star, London-based Canadian standup comedian Mae Martin. The semi-autobiographical series follows Mae’s character, also named Mae Martin, as they navigate recovering from addiction, building their career, and beginning an intense relationship with a primary school teacher, George (Charlotte Ritchie), who has previously only been in relationships with men and is not out as bisexual to her posh childhood friends. The second season, which launches on Netflix globally on Friday June 4th, begins with Mae back in Canada being admitted to rehab by their exhausted parents Malcolm (Adrian Lukis) and Linda (Lisa Kudrow). Over the course of the season Mae finds themselves landing a major comedy agent, who wants them to lean into their past traumas as comic fodder, while they try to repair their relationship with George and embrace their gender identity.
Ahead of the launch of Feel Good’s second and final season, The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann had an exclusive conversation with BAFTA-nominee Mae Martin along with their co-star, Emmy and SAG Award-winner Lisa Kudrow about the series’ inviting tone and approaching serious themes within the context of a comedy.
James Kleinmann, The Queer Review: There’s such a gentleness, vulnerability, and an openness, both to the character of Mae, and to the series in general, that really warmly invites us in as viewers. I wondered how consciously you were trying to establish that tone?
Mae Martin: “Oh, that’s nice. I’m glad that that’s the case. When we were pitching it, we were saying, ‘It’s about this recovering addict’, but we kept saying, ‘I promise it’ll be a world that you’ll want to be in, an inviting world.’ We just tried to not have any good guys and bad guys, and just to have everybody be trying their best. Even the bad guys who were making mistakes. So maybe that’s what makes it a nice place to be.”
Lisa, what was it that initially made you want to be part of Feel Good?
Lisa Kudrow: “Everything that Mae just said. That’s what jumped out at you reading the scripts. Then I did a little research and watched as many Mae Martin standup shows that were available and any interviews. I went, yes, okay, it syncs up! This is an open person who is forgiving and accepting and just wants to tell honestly about human beings. No villains. No heroes. Just human beings.”
What does approaching quite serious themes in the context of a comedy allow you to explore that a serious dark drama wouldn’t allow, something without the laughs?
Mae Martin: “I always feel like if something’s purely dramatic, then it’s kind of ignoring all the natural comedy that’s there in life. I think that it’s more true to life that there are these moments of levity even in really, really dark situations, so that came naturally. The weird thing is that you spend all this time trying to write something thoughtful and nuanced about complicated things, but then you lose control of it once it’s out and people are writing about it and you’re asked to talk about it within the parameters of current discourse around these issues, which is quite binary and intense. So I always just want to be like, just watch the show, because that’s what I want to say.”
By James Kleinmann
Season 2 of Feel Good premieres globally on Netflix on Friday June 4th 2021.
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