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Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Published April 19, 2024

Review: “The Curse”

The new show starring Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie is unsettling and uncomfortable.
Image by Ava Weinreis
The show has a wide array of characters and personalities.

“The Curse,” a new series from the minds of Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie, finished airing its first season last Friday. The show satirizes HGTV home-buying shows through awkward and anxious situations.

The series features Whitney (played by Emma Stone) and Asher Siegel (played by Fielder), a newly married couple trying to get their new TV show “Fliplanthropy” off the ground. “The Curse” focuses on the lives of the couple outside of the show, their unhappy marriage and the gentrification that the New Mexico community is undergoing as a result of their show.

Stone’s character, Whitney, is the daughter of two real-estate moguls — a fact that she tries to cover up for the appearance of the show. She likes to be in control but is too clumsy and unaware to be good at it. Stone’s performance shows her talent as an actress as she convincingly portrays her character’s wide array of emotions consistently throughout the series.

Asher’s main motivation is to make his wife happy, yet his meek and selfish nature causes him to put himself in unreasonable and senseless situations. This is Fielder’s first time acting in the leading role of a dramatic series, and he does a decent job at it. Asher’s persona is similar to Fielder’s real-life deadpan personality, yet through brief moments of emotion you can better understand how the character is truly feeling.

One thing that makes the series stand out is the cinematography — the camera is almost never in the same room as the characters. Each scene appears to be filming the subjects from a distance without their knowledge. Safdie calls this directional style “realism candid camera” as it has the appearance of a hidden camera show. This style of directing adds to the eerie atmosphere of the show to make it out like we are looking in on situations that are meant to be kept hidden.

Throughout the show the characters are put into embarrassing and distressing situations all with the end -goal of getting their show on television. As the series progresses the fake -smiles the couple puts on becomes more and more eerie as you learn more about the despair going on in their personal lives.

Fielder is best known for his show “Nathan For You” and Safdie’s most well-known work is as the director of A24 film “Uncut Gems.” “The Curse,” also produced by A24, is a direct mix between Fielder’s cringe-humor and Safdie’s love of anxiety.

The ambient and experimental synth tracks add to the unusual nature of the show. The soundtrack of the show is done by Oneohtrix Point Never, an electronic music producer and composer who also made the soundtrack to “Uncut Gems.”

The show takes a turn in the last half of the finale that some have compared to the surreal, dream-like logic of “Twin Peaks.” It catches the audience off-guard and leaves the viewer with an almost incomplete conclusion to the series. It also features a cameo from Rachel Ray and “Sopranos” actor Vincent Pastore.

“The Curse” may not be for everyone. Humor can only be found through uncomfortable and maladroit situations that leave the audience unsettled. However, it has a clear vision and is effective at executing it.

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