Few shows take risks like Damon Lindeloff driven shows. The creator of Lost, The Leftovers, and Watchmen pushes for creativity at all costs, even if the audience refuses to go along for the ride. While Lindeloff certainly earned his reputation as a blue sky creator, he rarely puts the show on his back all his own. Enter Tara Hernandez, a seasoned creator of her own and former writer on Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. Together the two writers crafted Mrs. Davis, and the TV world is better for it. Featuring an excellent lead turn from Betty Gilpin, Mrs. Davis immediately ranks among the best new shows of 2023.
For Sister Simone (Betty Gilpin), an all-present AI known as Mrs. Davis is the enemy. Simone believes the AI caused her father’s (David Arquette) death. Because of this and her devotion to Jesus, Simone lives in a covenant. For the rest of the world, Mrs. Davis makes life easier for everyone to live without want. However, when Mrs. Davis wants to connect with Simone, the AI forces them to unite. In their meeting, Mrs. Davis offers an unusual proposal: find the Holy Grail, and she will shut down. With the help of her ex-boyfriend Wiley (Jake McDorman), Simone begins to hunt down the famed cup.
Few shows or movies ever take weird swings as Mrs. Davis does in its first four episodes. Combining stylistic nuances, some black & white cinematography, and commitment to the heightened world created by the AI, the audience sees pure creativity on screen. Hernandez and Lineloff prove a formidable team. The comedy never falters, and while its bits become exceedingly silly, Mrs. Davis excels with broad comedy. Combining high-brow, well-written jokes with Chris Diamantopoulos as a roided-out Australian screaming about manhood, there’s something for everyone.
Gilpin ultimately drives Mrs. Davis to success. She expertly delivers the zany comedy with ease while also playing the straight woman. The imagination of Mrs. Davis is only limited by the star writing team, and Gilpin once again proves why she emerged as the go-to performer in the incredible cast of GLOW. Alongside the comedy, she brings a pathos that cannot be ignored. Nearly every action she takes makes sense for the character, specifically Gilpin’s performance of the nun on a mission.
A surprisingly find, McDorman perfectly fits his Texas rancher/bull riding trust fund character. Built with dozens of contradictions, he wears frustration on his face in a way that hides the pain. Yet there’s ambition within the world-weary performance. For a man who could give up on the world, McDorman plays Wiley with incredible passion. His eagerness to please while living with his own hypocrisy makes the role and young actor pop.
The cast of series regulars runs very deep. Elizabeth Marvel and Arquette get one of the most absurd episodes of the season early on. Meanwhile, actresses like Margot Martindale and Katja Herbers play perfectly into the series’ tone. Andy McQueen jumps out in his role, playing one of the unique visions of a well-known “character” from history.
Few shows can balance the absurdity and the comedy to create an even tone. Yet Mrs. Davis feels special from episode one. With an incredible crew stepping up to deliver impeccable cinematography, eye-popping costumes, and gorgeous sets, Mrs. Davis would earn laudits on its visual stylings alone. Yet with a cast this committed and writers this good, Mrs. Davis enters rarified air.