Netflix and Amazon have been ramping up their original series for the past couple of years.
With shows like Amazon’s “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle” to Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards,” streaming services offer a medium where showrunners can push the envelope in a streaming-sphere not restricted by kid-friendly time slots.
Netflix’s latest comedy series “Easy” follows a group of Chicagoans in various relationships. In its pilot, couple Andi and Kyle are at a dinner party when they hear new research that says “Couples who observe more gender-normative roles have more sex.” Kyle explains gender-normative is the man makes the money and the woman cooks, and this launches a dialogue with other couples. It’s progressive, defensive and sexist — but aware of it.
Kyle later shares his anxieties about being a stay-at-home dad and his fear that his wife’s not attracted to him; Andi reassures. Later, while costume-shopping with their kids, Andi eyes a maid outfit. The episode is intimate, and it ends with an awkward breakfast where one of them wears an apron.
“Easy” as a series does step outside of the bedroom, exploring relationships to fame in “Art and Life”; between siblings in “Brewery Brothers”; but the act of sex and the humanity of intimacy are a constant backdrop.
Show creator Joe Swanberg (director of “Drinking Buddies and “Happy Christmas”) portrays the complicated dance of sex — its physicality and emotions, its nuances of motive, action and consequence — and it’s astounding.
In “Controlada,” a couple is furniture-shopping for their new condo, when an old friend crashes. This episode is almost wholly in Spanish. The emotion and the subtlety in the performances are not lost in translation.
“Easy” is rooted in today’s melting pot of technology, sexuality and multiculturalism with a cast of mixed-race actors. Here, craft brewing, selfies as art and Tinder are plot drivers.
Swanberg dissects our use of technology here. In “Art and Life,” over-the-hill graphic novelist Jacob (Marc Maron) grapples with irrelevance before a crowd of millennials. In “Vegan Cinderella,” Chase (Kiersey Clemons) says: “Do you know know many people end up missing the one because they’re texting?”
And on the topic of sex, fair warning: the act in this series is explicit and gets borderline porn-y in a couple of segments.
“Easy” stars a stable of talent in Zazie Beetz, Orlando Bloom, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Jane Adams and more. Each episode is 30 minutes long with its own title screen of an artful image specific to the storyline. Each piece feels like a sublimely created short film. To a viewer, “Easy” prompts a look at personal relationships — and you wonder which character is most like you.
It’s worth a binge-watch, and to streaming titans Netflix and Amazon: Keep shows like “Easy” in the streaming-sphere.
Rating: TV-MA for sex, drug use, language
Available: Netflix Instant