The Reel Review
Comedian Amy Schumer stars in this semi-autobiographical Hulu dramedy series about Beth, a successful but unhappy wine distributor who finds herself at a personal and professional crossroads following the unexpected death of her mom. Beth moves back to her hometown on Long Island where she reconnects with her past and reconciles childhood traumas.
With its small-town America setting, focus on processing grief, and featuring a terrific Murray Hill, Life & Beth is reminiscent of another current series, HBO Max’s Somebody Somewhere. It is a slow burn, however – taking several of its ten, 30-minute episodes to find its rhythm. Schumer uses flashbacks of her youth, with an excellent Violet Young (Genius: Aretha) as the teenage Beth, to help explain the personality of the adult Beth, who blows up her life to pursue happiness. You can almost feel Schumer processing her own childhood traumas throughout this very personal series.
Michael Cera, as a local farmer and Beth’s brutally honest boyfriend who’s on the spectrum, gives an honest portrait of autism that captures both its endearing and frustrating qualities. Samantha Flood and comedian Yamaneika Saunders also add perspective as Beth’s also traumatized younger sister and her outspoken best friend. Schumer injects enough of her own unique brand of sarcastic humor to create levity in the story, which, despite some uneven pacing, ends the season on a much stronger final two episodes, teeing up what should be an even stronger season two.
• Amy Schumer says the character of her boyfriend in Life & Beth is loosely based on her husband, chef and farmer Chris Fischer, who has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
• Schumer used the series as a venue to share her lifelong struggle with trichotillomania, a disorder in which one experiences an overwhelming urge to repetitively pull out their hair.
• Amy Schumer watched the entire series with her mother Sandra, saying it took her ten years to forgive her mother for her self-destructive behavior.