Friday, August 19, 2022

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S01E01: A Normal Amount of Rage

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She-Hulk: Attorney at Law starts off in a fun if pretty messy way for the first Marvel sitcom.

by Jeremy Fogelman

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law starts with the episode called “A Normal Amount of Rage” and includes constant fourth wall breaking and meta-commentary by the main character Jennifer Walkers (Tatiana Maslany), who literally talks to the camera about being in a TV show and the nature of the genre. The first episode starts where it begins, a typical sort of wrapping narrative conceit.

We first hear words about the obligation of those with power and the nature of consequences if you have it. After that we are introduced to two supporting players, fellow lawyer and clich├ęd awful chauvinist Dennis (Drew Matthews) and paralegal and Jen’s best friend Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga). Neither of these characters gets much other than the thinnest of characterization, as Dennis is the classic “A women lawyer? Please” type who assuredly exists in real life, while Nikki is the classic “best friend” character and that is entirely it for her character -- except that Ginger Gonzaga is a great comedic performer and thus is severely underutilized here.

The mini-arc of this premiere is how Jen is starting to realize that perhaps she and her new Hulk side (with the on-set She-Hulk reference played by 6’5" Malia Arrayah) must coexist in a way. We find out that the origin of her new Hulk powers is a pure accident -- she was on a road trip with cousin Bruce and his blood accidentally gets “mixed up” with hers. He is bleeding due to a powers inhibitor and apparently she gets Hulkified due to the mysterious powers of this blood, I suppose.

© Marvel

After that they have a series of scenes about Bruce helping Jen get more acclimated, but she’s already different, not for any reason that they know about, but it’s true that their exposure happened quite differently. She doesn’t have the alter ego of the Hulk at all and is easily acclimating to the new powers, but she doesn’t really want to stay that way. Bruce’s perspective is the whole “great power, great responsibility” angle that they have to help protect the world, but Jen prefers her legal approach to it (smaller scale, less chance of breaking buildings, I would imagine).

This leads to a pretty quick escalation to a fight between them which is fun if oddly rushed, both in how it started and how it ends. There are a few unsubtle lines about her being different because she’s a woman, and a few “your mileage may vary” lines about Bing Bong, and Captain America being a virgin. That part is tied into the end tag, where Bruce, annoyed, corrects his cousin that Steve did indeed lose his virginity during his USO tour, which makes perfect sense and has long been suspected and debated upon.

It doesn’t really bother me one way or another, but I was a little annoyed by the weird, blatant Cheetos inclusion. The rapport between Bruce and Jen is mostly decent, at least at an actor level, but there was definitely a lot of unfunny lines and there was a weird thing I noticed where Mark Ruffalo’s dubbed Hulk voice sounded a bit off. He didn’t have that issue as a human, nor does Tatiana Masliany as her Hulk form, so perhaps it’ll be fixed in the release version.

© Marvel

After all that, we arrive back in the courtroom where human Jen prepares to deliver a “lawyer show” to us with another fourth wall break. Then suddenly someone attacks -- we later find out it’s Titania, played by Jameela Jamil without a British accent for some reason (I can’t imagine why, but maybe it’ll be explained later). After a quick, awkwardly filmed fight scene, we close to credits and get that “amusing if not funny” end tag.

It’s all a very setup heavy sort of episode, and it’s fun if not particularly great. I was able to see the first four episodes in advance, so I do have some thoughts about the upcoming ones that I can’t speak on yet, but I can say I found them mixed too. But comedy is pretty subjective and Tatiana Maslany is a winning personality, so I wouldn’t be surprised if other people liked this episode more than I did. Not like I hated it, just a little underwhelmed.

Get it on Apple TV

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