TV TATTLE

Amy Schumer's Expecting Amy reveals the realities of pregnancy in all its unfiltered glory

  • Schumer's three-part HBO Max docuseries on her pregnancy "has forever endeared me to the comedienne," says Robyn Bahr. "Self-shot in a guerilla filmmaking/cinema vérité style with smartphones and selfie video confessionals, Expecting Amy documents Schumer's joyful but excruciating pregnancy with her now one-year-old son, Gene. Warm, thoughtful and intimate, the doc is no ordinary celebrity vanity project or insider's peak reality series." Bahr adds: "If Ali Wong radicalized pregnant raunch, Schumer radicalizes pregnant rawness. She refuses to cut away, and, in turn, refuses the audience comfort. Yes, the barf and the boobs are the joke — the joke on you for expecting prim, polite modesty. In 1952, Lucille Ball caused a scandal when I Love Lucy revealed her protagonist as TV's first pregnant character (without uttering the apparently-vulgar word 'pregnant' even once). Nearly 70 years later, the visuals of pre- and post-natal life are so rarely on screen that they remain shocking today. Expecting Amy also succeeds as a love letter to her husband, (Chris) Fischer, a soft-spoken but similarly irreverent personality who shares playful chemistry with his quick-witted wife. Her earlier career explored the horrors of entitled machismo, mocking toxic boyfriends and horndog attitudes, so it's a surprising delight to see Schumer in the glow of supportive partnership."

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    • Expecting Amy is a return to form for Amy Schumer: "The intrigue of Expecting Amy is in Schumer’s attempt, as one of the comedy elite’s more heavily mediated voices, to grab back some turf for herself," says Daniel D'Addario. "For instance, the tension between wild independence and happy dependence is not new for the comic, but the last time she worked it out — in Trainwreck, the 2015 film that vaulted her to mega-fame — it bore the square stamp of director Judd Apatow. Her (genuinely terrific) series Inside Amy Schumer became in its final season hard to distinguish from the echoes of fame ricocheting around it. Even the Netflix special we see Schumer toiling at, knitting together small bits that work from appearances at the Comedy Cellar, is notable to many as part of a Schumer-Netflix partnership whose wild lucre made headlines for a time. Lately, with the warmth and precision-caliber casualness of the Food Network series Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, the star has been showcasing in a less distracting setting the wit that made her name. But it’s been easy to lose Schumer amid the noise of the Schumer industry, which makes Expecting Amy — what might for another comic be a brand extension — a return to form. Schumer herself has never gone away, but the human-scale sense of her has. Our understanding of her is sharpened even by the series’ scattered moments."
    • There's little unexpected in Expecting Amy: "The problems lie more so with the way things are edited together," says Kristen Lopez. "The first episode is comprised significantly of Schumer’s Instagram videos, making this great to watch on a phone but headache-inducing on a larger screen as the aspect ratio constantly changes. On top of this, there are extreme moments of hyper-editing, where scenes of Schumer walking will be spliced in rapidly as if time is jerkily moving at excessive speeds. It’s unclear why it’s utilized so much in the first episode but not the second, making it feel even more of a failed attempt to be slick than anything else."
    • Expecting Amy revitalizes Schumer's brand that could now be described as "accidental domestic": "Between the home video share-a-thon (if one's home videos include moments of Jennifer Lawrence, Aidy Bryant and Jake Gyllenhaal making speeches at your wedding) and behind the scenes chronicling the struggle-filled nine months preceding the birth of her son Gene, Schumer's continuing exercise in practicing her version of marketable realness is completely in evidence here," says Melanie McFarland. "You have to be a special kind of rich and famous to assume (somewhat correctly) that people will be interested in watching you vomit in an assortment of containers for an hour straight, regardless of the reason of why that is."
    • Expecting Amy is revealing and engagingly cathartic: "By the time Expecting Amy’s real star at last arrives — Gene Fischer, all eight pounds and whatever ounces of him — viewers will find themselves fully invested in the delivery, a visceral experience that won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has already appreciated Schumer’s frankness about her body," says Hank Stuever. "Indeed, the series works best as an authentic look at what it’s like to be two humans engaged in the complicated, messy business of making a new human. You wind up feeling like a good friend who’s been invited along to Lenox Hill Hospital for a first look at the newborn."
    • Expecting Amy is inextricable from Schumer’s fame, and it leans into that: "It’s a window into the ways in which what it means to be Amy Schumer—and the decade of conversations about her existence in the public eye—influence her on a daily basis, from her work to her marriage to, now, expecting her first child," says Kevin Fallon, adding that the docuseries is rife with her "trademark unflinching honesty."
    • Amy Schumer says she was motivated to depict an honest portrayal of pregnancy and "keep it real as hell": "All my friends have babies, but I hadn’t been exposed to how hard pregnancy is," she says. "It’s really kind of painful, personal, intimate stuff that we – who’ve been friends for 30 years – had never talked about. So, I hope this opens up a conversation for a lot more women."

    TOPICS: Amy Schumer, HBO Max, Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, Expecting Amy, Alexander Hammer, Chris Fischer, Documentaries




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