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Amy Schumer Gets Intimate in Hulu’s Poignant ‘Life & Beth’

Michael Cera and Amy Schumer in 'Life & Beth'

There’s a dishearteningly predictable pattern that befalls a woman’s runaway success in the entertainment industry. There’s the rise to fame, which Amy Schumer experienced as a stand-up comedian and star of her own wildly feminist series Inside Amy Schumer. There’s peak fame, which saw Schumer’s 2015 comedy film Trainwreck become a critical and commercial hit, cementing her status as a movie star. Then, there’s the turn, which sees an oversaturated star make some poorly reviewed movies and some ignorant comments.

The narrative shifts, and said woman is banished, retreating into a self-enforced exile. A few years later, she emerges, sometimes with a husband and a baby in tow. Her comeback launches, and she returns to the public eye. We’ve seen it with Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, and countless others. And we almost never see it with men, who skate over hideous behavior again and again with little to no consequence.

Amy Schumer returns to the public eye, although she never really left. Her terrific HBO Max series Expecting Amy documented her experience with hyperemesis gravidarum, and she has remained unflinchingly honest on social media regarding her own health issues with endometriosis, IVF, and a hysterectomy. Now, in addition to hosting the upcoming Oscars with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, Schumer stars in, writes, and directs a new series for Hulu, drawing on elements of her own life, titled Life & Beth. The series is a deeply personal departure from Schumer’s usual brand of raunchy comedy (although there are still plenty of dick jokes to be had). She plays Beth, a Manhattan wine sales rep who is coasting through life with a certain numbness. She has a job she sort of likes, and a boyfriend (Kevin Kane) who she also feels lukewarm about.

Beth’s malaise is broken when a personal tragedy forces her to return home to Long Island, where she moves into her childhood home. Once there, Beth reunites with childhood friends and begins a tentative relationship with quiet organic farmer John (Michael Cera), who may be on the autism spectrum. As Beth reevaluates her life, she confronts the childhood trauma that haunts her and deals with her dysfunctional parents. The series closely mirrors Schumer’s own life, including her relationship with her husband, Chris Fischer, a chef and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author. Fischer is also on the spectrum, which Schumer discusses at great length in her Netflix comedy special Amy Schumer: Growing.

Life & Beth is a dramedy filled with emotional moments and anchored in Schumer’s nuanced and vulnerable performance. The humor is organic and specific, with great supporting turns by Yamaneika Saunders, Susannah Flood, and Michael Rapaport as Beth’s father. There’s a maturity to the series and a familiarity to it, especially for anyone who has found themselves going through the motions these past few years. Life & Beth is a story of growth, of evolving into the next stage of your life, mirroring Schumer’s own growth as an artist. This tender, thoughtful series makes me excited for what Schumer does next.

(image: Scott McDermott/Hulu)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.