Amazon Prime’s “Forever”​ Takes Big Risks

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Lately a lot of my time has involved interviewing people from many professions and walks of life about how they see risk. One big theme keeps coming up: that staying in your comfort zone is the biggest risk you can take.

Several people have said almost the exact same thing, though each has used slightly different words.

So when I read the reviews of Forever, the new Amazon Prime series which Wired has called “awesome,” The New York Times deemed to be “thrilling,” as other publications echoed similar sentiments, I was intrigued. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the show co-starred Maya Rudolph, who I think is simply a genius.

I’ve just finished watching the first season, which has given me so much food for thought: about the risks we take, or don’t take, with our lives; about creative risk; and about what it takes to get out of a rut.

Rudolph shares top billing with Fred Armisen, as June and Oscar, a mild-mannered couple who goes through life seemingly on auto-pilot.

The first episode shows them eating the same way every day, taking the same vacation every year, not just making the point but hammering it home, in a way that some might call excess, but the over-emphasis on monotony is clearly the point. It fairly screams that this show is about how tedious domesticity can become.

The show itself takes a huge risk with its pacing, particularly at the beginning where conventional wisdom is that you need to grab the audience right away so that they will keep watching. Slow would be a massive overstatement of the speed of the action, but again, that’s part of the point. It practically screams to the audience: stop and take time to think.

And to be honest, it stretched my patience and at first I found myself wondering what all the hype was about. And then things changed and caught my attention in a new way. The same pattern repeated every few episodes, as if to remind the audience that you have to keep working to break out of your routine.

Forever is billed as a comedy, but it’s not your typical ha-ha comedy. Not by a long shot. But it did make me laugh at the many mundane things about life that when you think about it are bizarre and laughable.

Since it happens at the beginning of the series and is the central premise, it’s not really a spoiler to tell you that Oscar and June die in freak accidents in the first and second episodes. The catalyst is June’s idea that instead of going to their lake house for vacation like they do every year, that they take a ski trip.

After their deaths, the couple then finds themselves together again in a manicured suburban neighborhood. I won’t spoil the nature of their passings, but will say that if you try to read them as a cautionary tale that this is what happens if you stray from routine, you would be very, very wrong.

Nor while I spoil the plot twists, but I will share that my overwhelming takeaway was that this show encapsulated what the people I have been interviewing were talking about: that not taking a risk is the biggest risk of all. And Forever definitely takes them.

#risk #television #domesticlife #routine

This article is part of my new weekly LinkedIn series, “Around My Mind” – a regular walk through the ideas, events, people, and places that kick my synapses into action, sparking sometimes surprising or counter-intuitive connections. 

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Michele Wucker

Founder & CEO at Gray Rhino & Company
Michele Wucker is a global thought leader and the author, most recently, of THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore (St Martin's Press, 2016). Learn more about her at http://thegrayrhino.com/about/michelewucker
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Michele Wucker is a global thought leader and the author, most recently, of THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore (St Martin's Press, 2016). Learn more about her at http://thegrayrhino.com/about/michelewucker

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