Tuesday, September 13, 2022

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S01E04: Is This Not Real Magic?

© Disney+

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law combines fun and frustrating storylines in a still mostly entertaining episode.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The latest episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is called “Is This Not Real Magic?” and it marks when we must officially realize that logic is no longer relevant for this show. In the end of the last episode, Wong is informed he’s broken US law and immediately runs away, in what was admittedly a funny beat. Here though he tries to sue someone entirely in a civil court, but there’s no real continuity other than the fact that Wong is simply aware that Jen is a lawyer.

We start here with a seemingly “normal” stage magician named Donny Blaze (Rhys Coiro) who has a classic low effort magic act, even referencing “the great Billy Shakes” which I thought was a funny line to make him look worse. But then in the twist, Donny actually does know how to use magic and creates a portal that sends drunken party girl Madisynn (a pitch perfect Patty Guggenheim) into a demonic hellscape.

Madisynn’s lubricated matter-of-fact slurring is one of the main consistent sorts of comedy this episode, like asking what happened to the goblins or referencing a demon named Jake. I can imagine that her shouting out “Wongers” in glee or spoiling The Sopranos (are we past the point of no spoilers now 15 years after it ended?) will rub some people the wrong way (or the Wong way if I’m getting into the spirit of the humor of this show) but I thought she was the first broadly written character so far on the show that didn’t annoy me.

The idea of Wong suing to prevent unlicensed people from using magic is an interesting idea, certainly, although this show is so ridiculously light that it doesn’t really think about it past the just minimal surface level. Jen is correct with her fourth wall break that I do look more fondly on the show when Wong is in it.

I also enjoyed Donny’s hype man friend, who didn’t really have much else to do but be funny in that way. The action scene later with She-Hulk and Wong fighting off demons is fun enough for what it was, but nothing particularly amazing.

© Disney+

However what really frustrated me was the entire dating subplot -- it starts with Jen somehow getting no matches on her dating app which really strains credulity. Then we only see a cliched bad date that I’m sure has happened to many people before, but it’s nothing new in pop culture so it mainly feels like hammering the point home.

The idea of Jen trying dating as She-Hulk feels like something that should’ve had a little more thought, like maybe if she had had a lot of bad dates or bad matches, or maybe if the dudes kept referencing her superhero form. Instead we get a few additionally cliched bad dates, which again, I’m sure have happened to many women, but then we get the even more cliched “good guy” date.

This pediatric oncologist (helping kid cancer patients, of course) drops the “I don’t want to talk about myself, let’s talk about you” line. It really did feel like a line and a manipulation that Jen (or the show) should be able to understand. Instead it lightly again touches on the idea that the dude is playing a game when he immediately leaves in the morning upon seeing the regular Jen (which should imply that it was all an act, but the show doesn’t bother to think about it that deeply).

It’s overall a mixed episode to me because of these different storylines, with both pretty silly, but one that I at least found sometimes funny and mostly entertaining. The dating stuff was more broad than I’d prefer to see or at least less nuanced than I think the show should be capable of -- in fact I’d prefer more fourth wall breaks, because that at least keeps shaking things up. A real mixed bag of a season so far.

Get it on Apple TV

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