“One Mississippi” recap (1.1): Good Grief

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We’ve been anticipating comedian Tig Notaro’s new Amazon Prime show, One Mississippi, ever since the pilot aired last year, and the first season is finally out. Notaro’s darkly funny, semi-autobiographical dramedy is kind of outside my wheelhouse as a recapper–before this I’ve covered Scream, Scream Queens, and The Vampire Diaries. One Mississippi is in an entirely different vein, dealing not with mystical monsters but the entirely too real horrors of everyday life.

Notaro’s character, also named Tig, is a radio DJ instead of a stand-up comic, but like the real Notaro, she is already dealing with breast cancer and intestinal disease when she has to return home to small-town Mississippi to be present when her mother is taken off life support. Tig’s brother Remy and stepfather Bill pick her up from the airport. Remy is trying too hard to keep the mood light; Bill isn’t trying hard enough. He’s neither sentimental nor sympathetic. Bill’s fatalistic straightforwardness kind of reminds me of my grandmother, who died last month (she instituted a family-wide ban on euphemisms like “passed away”), so I’m on the verge of tears like two minutes into the pilot.

one mississippi 1.1This is going to be fun.

When the doctors take Tig’s mother Caroline off life support, nothing immediately happens. After a few hours of sitting around waiting, Remy takes Bill home to feed his elderly cat, who needs to eat a precise amount on a precise schedule which a cat-sitter can’t be trusted to get right. Bill, I am already developing a certain affection for your awkward ways, but when a lesbian cat lady like me thinks you’re too devoted to your pets, something needs to change.

Left alone with Caroline, Tig is hesitant to even go to the bathroom–though she eventually does, because hey, intestinal disease–for fear she might miss her mother’s final moments. She keeps paging the nurse, for whom this whole scenario is so familiar as to be tedious. When Caroline, inevitably yet shockingly, stops breathing, Tig imagines herself rolling her mother out of the hospital in her bed to a chorus of heartfelt goodbyes. The reality is anticlimactic; she just has to go back to her mother’s house, leaving Caroline behind.

one mississippi 1.2You can tell this is part of the fantasy sequence because no one actually smiles this wide on “One Mississippi.”

As Tig walks through the front door, she briefly imagines Caroline greeting her and asking her how her night was. There’s nothing good to report: “You died,” she says. I have had this conversation with my own deceased loved ones and this scene sends a quiet but devastating shock through my system.

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