In my last recap, I shared my concern that One Mississippi draws its characters in cartoonish strokes, and nowhere is that problem more obvious than in Casey Wilson’s Brooke, a character who both frustrates and confuses me. She is a little bit shallow, a little too L.A., and way too into physics/vibes/green juices. Why are she and Tig actually together? The show doesn’t seem particularly sure.
What frustrates me most is how One Mississippi looks down its nose at Brooke. She’s a supportive woman with seemingly boundless energy, who flies across the country to surprise her mourning girlfriend with beignets. It’s not easy being the caretaker for a romantic partner, but this show treats Brooke like the typical nagging girlfriend who gets dumped in a rom-com.
When we first see Brooke in “Let the Good Times Roll,” Tig is Skyping her about the revelation of her secret brother. Brooke breathlessly tells Tig that this must be what her psychic had been talking about, and then reveals that she’s already unpacked Caroline’s things. Tig quickly turns on her, but Brooke bounces back with a chipperness that speaks more highly of her than the show seems to think. Tig tells Brooke she’s coming back to L.A. the next evening, which means she’ll be in Bay Saint Lucille for Mardi Gras, but she doesn’t particularly want to go. Brooke signs off with a big kiss that Tig summarily dismisses. My question is this: What does Brooke see in Tig? One Mississippi tries to present Tig in all her flaws, but at least it also makes her complicated. Brooke is the kind of basic character I hoped we’d moved past.
While flipping through old photo albums, Tig asks Remy, “What is happy, really?” (I’ll admit it: I hated this moment.) Once again, Tig and Remy wonder whether or not they should tell Bill about Dalton, and Remy begs Tig not to burden him with Caroline’s secret.
At the station, Tig tells a story about how she failed eighth grade twice, and about how, after being pulled into the assistant principal’s office for a prank, she made an unusually prescient comment about her mother: “I remember saying, ‘Ms. Nevins, what would you think if you knew what my mother was up to?’ Looking back, I’m realizing now I didn’t even know the half of it.” while Neko Case’s “If You Knew” plays on the soundtrack, Tig and Kate agree to go to a Mardi Gras party together. Kate is the opposite of Brooke, and you can tell because she’s not wearing yoga pants.
Later, Bill tells Tig and Remy about proper hall-light usage. The ensuing argument is interrupted by two local Mardi Gras councilwomen (one is played by The Mindy Project’s fabulous Beth Grant). The Carnival Crew has decided that Tig should take over Caroline’s duties as Mardi Gras queen. Tig’s not particularly in the mood to honor her mother, but to be fair, discovering a secret brother will do that to a person.
In a flashback, Caroline tells Tig that she needs to make more of an effort, and that she can’t only do what she wants in life. Are the accents in these flashbacks … bad? I am not from Louisiana, so I can’t tell. Either way, these flashbacks are pretty unnecessary.
Bill, Remy, and Tig decide to make a day of it, and they all go to the party where Tig will serve as Mardi Gras queen. Remy is excited that Bibby will be there, and Tig is excited to get back to L.A. after the party is over.
Bill’s uncle Tommy shows up at the party and tells Bill that he may know where Bonkers the cat is. Bill leaves with Tommy as Tig is outfitted in faux-regal garb and gives an interview to a local TV station. The news anchor is clearly hitting on Tig: “Heaven’s a bunch of bullshit for people who are afraid to live now. You know what I mean?” Tig’s float meets in the middle of the parade with the Mardi Gras king’s float. The Mardi Gras king is the oldest man in town, and my favorite character in the entire show so far.
Meanwhile, one of the nurses from Remy’s reenactment, Vicky “the Keg,” flirts with him, but he doesn’t seem to care. He’s still hung up on Bibby, but Tig thinks Vicky would be a better choice for him. Remy tries to flirt with Bibby while she’s working, but she shoos him away. Meanwhile, the news anchor finds Tig and aggressively hits on her. Tig unenthusiastically tells her that she has a girlfriend.
Remy seems genuinely upset that Tig is leaving, but he’s too drunk to drive her to the airport. Bill returns from the Bonkers hunt, which was, unfortunately, a bust. Bill once again accuses Tig of letting Bonkers out, and Tig accuses Bill on the grounds that he “misses a lot.” Tig holds Bill accountable for missing the fact that she was molested throughout her childhood, and Bill tells Tig that it’s in the past.
Tig storms off and calls Brooke on her drive to the airport. Brooke’s assertion that maybe it is time for Tig to let go — and that perhaps her old pain contributed to her cancer — is the most damning thing we’ve seen her say. (And don’t get me wrong, it would be a particularly damning thing for anyone to say.) Tig tells the driver to turn around. She goes back to the bar where the news anchor is hanging out. Back at home, Bill finally takes Bonkers’ food bowl off the front porch.
Tig’s decision to turn around is a nice moment, but like so much of One Mississippi, it is juuuust shy of earned. Why exactly does she go back? Because she’s not happy with her life in L.A.? Because she’s finally starting to make progress in Louisiana? Both are valid reasons, but neither is particularly compelling given what the show has told us. It actually seems like L.A. is the lesser of two evils, since it lacks the horrendous dysfunction of Bill and Remy.
Ultimately, One Mississippi is banking on the audience’s preexisting love of Tig Notaro to buoy her fairly unlikable character and justify the show’s coming-home-to-come-of-age tropes. Neither of these ideas are bad bets, but they don’t pay off as I hoped they would. Having read other reviews, I think that opinion puts me in the minority. But for me, Brooke’s treatment in “Let the Good Times Roll” highlighted that One Mississippi’s creative successes are undercut by tired old tricks.