Maya Rudolph gives what is possibly her best performance to date. However, “Forever” fails to resonate due to attempting too many tasks, and not successfully achieving any of them.
The new series, created by “Master of None” co-creator Alan Yang, centers around June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen), an ordinary husband and wife, when a series of life-changing events puts them in a whole new situation.
“Forever” struggles because it has so many grand ideas but fails to live up to any of them. The series feels like it wants to be a combination of a half-hour, contemplative dramedy like “Master of None” and a laugh-out-loud sitcom questioning philosophy, like “The Good Place.” However, a failure to meet both of these goals prevents the series from shining. It is not that a series cannot be both of these things, rather it is that “Forever” fails in its attempt.
The series does not have many particularly funny moments, and the series’ ideas are not fully formed. As a result, each episode drags on much longer than needed, making “Forever” quite a chore to watch. The opening sequence was a gorgeous display of direction by series creator Yang, but once the sequence ends, the pilot becomes static.
This isn’t to say that nothing happens. In the first two episodes alone, there are major twists that will completely redefine how the show is perceived, but all the scenes leading up to the twist are tiresome. The first three episodes have very important points, but also have much more material that feels like fluff.
Despite the show’s failure to live up to its ambition, there are still many aspects to enjoy. First off, the production is beautiful, from the art direction to the cinematography. The opening sequence is a prime example of how gorgeous the series is visually. Every element of the production in the opening sequence was absolutely stellar, and the superb production is not left behind in that opening sequence.
Additionally, despite taking too long to get there, the season finale launches the series into an interesting new direction that will leave many wanting more. Although most of the season is quite lackluster, the final episode was a fantastic half-hour of character development, twists and absurd hilarity.
The performances, with the exception of Armisen who feels out of place, are amazing. Rudolph is an absolute force in her hilarious and emotional performance of June. The second episode, especially, is an acting showcase for Rudolph who gets to cry, scream and laugh with a perfect combination of dramatic and comedic beats. Rudolph absolutely dominates the series, despite some standout supporting cast members. Catherine Keener, who plays Kase, and Noah Robbins, as Mark, are also scene-stealers that provide almost all of the comical moments — especially Robbins, who provides some of the best comedic moments in the entire series as an old man stuck in the body of a seventeen-year-old.
Hong Chau and Jason Mitchell guest star in the sixth episode, and are absolutely fantastic, making viewers wish they were in more episodes. Unfortunately, majority of the sixth episode felt unnecessary despite having quite a powerful ending that does create movement in the series. That is, regrettably, the problem with the series. Each episode brings wonderful performances and powerful endings, but the first two-thirds always feel sluggish and unimportant.
In the end, “Forever” ends on a hopeful and intriguing note, but despite the great performances, getting to the finale takes far too long. However, the ending sets up a whole new angle for the next season that is sure to create anticipation.