Sorry for the unusually long absence but I had some important things to do… such as watching Episodes.
Episodes is a British-American sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc who is playing “Matt LeBlanc” who used to play “Joey Tribbiani” on a famous TV-Sitcom called Friends.
While many people considered actor Matt LeBlanc very “last season” and had little good things to say about his Friends-Sequel Joey, which brought LeBlanc a lot of money but very little fame, LeBlanc is back with a vengeance. His endeavor of incorporating a once-famous actor, who is always associated with a single role but who struggles for success nowadays, would have been daring even if he hadn’t named the protagonist after himself. The show could have been a huge failure and LeBlanc the target of ridicule… but instead it is an instant success and LeBlanc went home with a Golden Globe early this year.
In interviews LeBlanc tries hard to make clear that his new sitcom is far from being ultimately autobiographic. Nevertheless he acknowledges that there are a lot of similarities between LeBlanc and “LeBlanc”: both seem to be condemned to hear Joey’s former catchphrase “How You Doin’?” over and over again, both have to fight against being mistaken for Joey and thus considered fairly simple (LeBlanc mentioned in interviews that while playing Joey on Friends, people used to speak to him very slowly), and thanks to Joey’s reputation both are frequently thought to be extremely good in bed…
This balancing the nuances of reality, fiction, and metafiction is exactly what makes Episodes so attractive. In articles it is often applauded for its up to date, postmodernist irony and the viewer indulges in a constant train of thought on where the real Matt LeBlanc ends and where fictional “Matt LeBlanc” starts. Episodes allows you to get to know the real man behind our beloved “Joey Tribbiani” but just when you thought you were really getting to know him it deconstructs this intimate audience-actor-relationship by humorously pointing out that the “Matt LeBlanc” you just got to know is again just a character.
Here’s an example: Episodes’ “Matt LeBlanc” is a real ladies man because all the fangirls still remember Joey Tribbiani’s outstanding performances as lead actor in bedroom scenes, who can pop a bra open just by looking at it. While this is fairly realistic and you can imagine female fans trying to score with actor Matt LeBlanc, Episodes takes this issue of supposed hypersexuality over the top by equipping their fictional “Matt LeBlanc” with a ridiculously gigantic penis which is compared to “a sea creature from a Jules Verne novel.” Fictional “Matt LeBlanc” is here probably more “Joey Tribbiani” than real-life actor Matt LeBlanc.
Confusing, isn’t it? But also highly entertaining and intelligent.
In season one’s last episode, “Matt LeBlanc” shows female protagonist Beverly (played by Tamsin Greig from Britain’s cult-sitcom Black Books) his own perfume called “Joey… How You Smellin’?“. Due to a series of unfortunate events (to avoid spoilers) some bottles get smashed and there’s a lot of Joey in the air. To me, this is the core scene of the show. If an actor has played a famous character for a long time, this character sticks to him like a bad fragrance.
Instead of trying to cover up this fragrance with other perfumes, LeBlanc distributes it as freely as one of those annoying perfume promoters in shopping malls. Yet, he secretly added a hint of postmodernism, a sprizz of realism, and a good portion of self-irony… to me, this new creation smells like a hit!
Click here for the trailer: Episodes starring Matt LeBlanc