Spanning from one Emmy season to the next, Hunter’s slim black comedy follows the production cycle of a farcical take on television history from the perspectives of three key players.
Erin Greer, the brilliant but bored and often neurotic comedienne and head of $our Dough Productions, is a perennial Emmy winner, but all the accolades can’t relieve her of an overwhelming aversion to trite sitcom tropes. Enter Zach Shelby, a once-celebrated sitcom writer now working alongside Madam Sun, proprietress of a laundry and dry cleaners. Shelby’s cynical view of the TV industry may be just what Greer needs to jump-start her next big project—a dark reprisal of the great ladies of sitcom (think older and embittered versions of Lucy, Jeannie and Samantha). But Shelby won’t have a chance of becoming part of the project if Greer’s obsessive assistant, Francesca Golden, has anything to say about it. Long accustomed to Greer’s abuses and idiosyncrasies, Francesca is determined to finally have the comedienne all to herself, but that doesn’t mean Francesca’s immune to Shelby’s unassuming sex appeal. One way or another, everybody ends up at Madam Sun’s, but far from providing clear guidance, the enigmatic laundress complicates the plot with some old secrets of her own. By turns hilarious and heartfelt, this short novel provides an insider’s view of the angst and animosity hiding beneath the veneer of popular comedy. Hunter’s short chapters call to mind the episodic nature of television programming, and as with many shows, some episodes are better than others. The early chapters suffer from a surfeit of exposition that eventually segues to a surprisingly complex, character-driven story arc. By the end, fortunes change for better or worse, and some of television’s greatest comedic legacies will never be the same.
A dark, laugh-track-ready take on deceptively light fare.