JOE PERA TALKS WITH YOU SEASON THREE (2021)

(adult swim/VOD) One of my favorite episodes of TV within the past five years has been JOE PERA TALKS WITH YOU’s -The Life of a Jack O’Lantern-, which was an early ep in the first season of the show.

The show introduces itself as Joe Pera (Joe Pera) acting as sort of a meek male, acting as a life instructor, trying to bestow his overly-earnest life lessons via a pseudo-docu-drama format. If that sounds a little too arch, a little too meta, it’s played utterly sincerely and with a straight face. It’s not for laughs, although there are a number of them, usually at Joe’s innocent antics. (For example, when he discovers THE WHO’s -Baba O’Riley-.)

While the first and second seasons of the show normally focus on Joe’s observations — apart from a few asides, including an exceptional season two finale where Joe learns a lot about his fellow co-worker/girlfriend Sarah Conner (Jo Firestone, also one of the show’s writers and not Linda Hamilton) — the third season backgrounds him in lieu for the ensemble they’ve built over the past two seasons, such as his best friend Gene and Sarah Conner. It’s a perfect example of a show’s creators and writers realizing ‘oh, we have something special here’ and exploring further, rather than following a rigid formula.

Season three is still on-going, but there’s one episode where Sarah comes home drunk from a meet-up she was invited to, and the entire eleven minutes of the ep are dedicated to Joe just listening to her recount the tale of her night, while also trying to feed her to sober her up. It’s the closest I’ve seen TV approach to say, the realism and tone of a Jim Jarmusch film.

It also helps that Sarah is an extraordinarily complicated character, with far more depth and a far more scarred life than Joe, and to watch him accept her for her complexities is a beautiful thing.

It’s also goddamn hilarious when it’s not pulling at your heartstrings. For example, this singular exchange from a career woman magician Sarah meets at a wine party:

“We need more women in STEM. And by that, I mean skateboarding, television, e-sports, and magic!”