The seven-episode half-hour limited series from The Leftovers author Tom Perrotta is "one of many short-run half-hour dramedies about a woman entering a new phase of her life who discovers new vectors of sexuality and self-actualization while also being treated shabbily," says Margaret Lyons. "Supporting characters who have spent more time considering their own sexual and gender identities inspire and intimidate our heroine, who jumps into a pool to contemplate her weariness underwater, where it is more poignant. Her house is nice but not ostentatiously so. Her unhappiness is newly spiking but also may be a perpetual state of resenting conscripted female servileness. It’s not bad, this journey to enlightenment, with stops at 'smoking weed with funky lesbians,' 'masturbating in the middle of the day' and 'taking a low-effort, high-reward class.' It sounds great, honestly, and who among us would not benefit from such a phase? But man, is it ever predictable. For a story that’s supposed to be so intimate and personal, it’s also amorphous and unspecific. Is it so different from Better Things, or This Way Up, or Shrill? Or I Love Dick, which Hahn also starred in? Only in that it’s not as good as those shows. It is better than Divorce, Casual and Togetherness, for what it’s worth. But if you’ve seen any of these predecessors, you will be able to guess every beat of Mrs. Fletcher — every kiss, every gesture, every arc. I did."
Kathryn Hahn excels with a performance with material that is rather thin: "Mrs. Fletcher exists within a corner of television history framed by series like Sex and the City and Girls, shows that consider the internal machinations and sexual lives of white women in order to say something poignant about womanhood," says Angelica Jade Bastién. "Mrs. Fletcher isn’t always successful at this because what it has to say is ultimately rather thin. Furthermore, since it takes its cues from the banal porn fantasies that Eve is inundated with, its imagery isn’t always that revelatory. But the great directors involved with the series — Holofcener, Liesl Tommy, Carrie Brownstein, and Gillian Robespierre — make evocative use of the space between characters, charging it with meaning. It’s intriguing to watch how Eve’s fantasies screech, halt, and mutate when confronted with a reality that is more awkward, even grim, than the fantasies can make room for — although this often relies on a trite understanding of things like sex work and the needs of others."
Mrs. Fletcher's greatest contribution may be its sensitive portrait of a mother and her son: "You’d think we would see more of these stories, considering the perennial popularity of father-daughter narratives on TV, from the superdads of Friday Night Lights and Veronica Mars to the chilling patriarchs of Twin Peaks and this year’s ABC oddity Almost Family," says Judy Berman. "Then again, Hollywood so greatly prefers young women to middle-aged ones that the omission isn’t really a surprise. It is, however, a shame. Half a century after women’s liberation, with peace between the genders more elusive than ever, Mrs. Fletcher affirms that the bond between moms and their boys is a crucial piece of the puzzle."
One of the strengths of Mrs. Fletcher is its direct approach to the sexuality of both lead characters, especially Eve: "Eve’s burgeoning and unexpectedly fluid fantasy life overwhelms her in public, sometimes comically, so that she is nearly swooning amid a full-on sex fantasy about the lady serving her a free sample at the supermarket," says Matthew Gilbert. "At one point, after fleeing a doomed blind date, she takes a naked swim in a pool, washing off the conventional life that has been holding her back. In a nice literary touch, Eve, who works at a senior center, has to deal with a patient with dementia who keeps masturbating in public. He is a hyperbolic extension of her sexual awakening, her spirit animal in some way, as his id strains against our agreed-upon manners. Mrs. Fletcher shares some DNA with Pamela Adlon’s similarly candid Better Things, in the unadulterated intimacy of its perspective on a woman’s inner life – although Hahn’s Eve is far more interior and less articulate than Adlon’s heroine."
The better show is about the jerk son: "The best parts of the show follow Brendan (played by Jackson White) into his disastrous first semester," says Hank Stuever. "He’s cocky and confident in a socially woke, liberal studies environment that no longer puts a primacy on conferring BMOC status on each and every dude-bro who swaggers across the quad. He’s shunned by young women, abandoned by his roommate and written off by his academic adviser — and, to a great degree, he deserves it. Beneath his toughness, he feels rejected by his father, Ted (Josh Hamilton), Eve’s ex-husband, who has remarried a younger woman and now has a young autistic son."
It's about time Kathryn Hahn is seen as a leading actress: "It’s already a remarkable gift to be the actor who nails supporting roles so spectacularly that you wish you could spend more time with those characters, while appreciating that they haven’t overstayed their welcome," says Kevin Fallon. "But when paired with writer-directors like Jill Soloway, whom she worked with on Transparent, I Love Dick, and their shared breakout feature Afternoon Delight, or Tamara Jenkins, as she did in last year’s Private Life, Hahn informs us that there really is no such thing as these characters overstaying their welcome. It’s just that we’ve been too afraid to validate, let alone reckon with, the scarier aspects of these people and the way they prod at tender nerves inside us that threaten to reveal who we really are. In Mrs. Fletcher, that revelation is that the central character really is, as one bit of dialogue reveals, 'a skinny MILF goddess.'"
Mrs. Fletcher author Tom Perrotta on adapting his own book for TV and serving as showrunner: "One thing I was not prepared for was how all-consuming it is to be a showrunner. With The Leftovers, Damon was the showrunner. I was really part of the writers' room, but I could come and go. I would come for two weeks, and then I would go home for a week. It's not an all-consuming job. For the most part, I wasn't on set. I wasn't in the editing room. It was a compartmentalized job. Here, this job means having responsibility for every aspect of the show. I was on set almost every day and I was in post every single day. It took up so much more time. It was so much more consuming. I had to learn on the job. It's one of those jobs you really can't quite know what it is until you're in it, doing it."
Kathryn Hahn talks working with an intimacy coordinator for the first time: "I'd never worked with (an intimacy coordinator) before, and I was a little hesitant at first, to be frank, because I thought it was going to be (another) voice in the way, in between the director and the actor ... and it was not that at all. Our intimacy coordinator, Claire Warden, what she did was she would take all of us — anyone that was performing in the scene and the director — she would have conversations with us ... would make sure that we were aware of what was on the page."