Comedy…Dramedy…Traumedy? ‘One Mississippi’ Debuts

One Mississippi, a “traumedy”, in Amazon’s words, debuts Sept. 9 and features comedian Tig Notaro and her melancholy, way offbeat wit. The first season features six half-hour episodes, as Notaro’s character ventures from Los Angeles to her childhood home in Mississippi to deal with her dying, and soon dead, mother, while contending with her own grave health issues.

Notaro got a taste of Amazon Prime while working on Transparent—she plays Barb, Tammy’s first wife—and felt it was the right place for the show. (Mind you, with its downcast subject matter, One Mississippi—while it’s certainly funny at times—would not fly on plenty of networks.)

“I really liked what they did with Transparent and kept my fingers crossed as the show made it through the pilot process,” Notaro told B&C.   

The One Mississippi pilot premiered on Prime last November and won a green light from the viewing public in December. (Amazon picked up five of its six pilots last year, including the drama Good Girls Revolt and the comedy Highston.)

Nicole Holofcener directed the One Mississippi pilot. Casey Wilson plays Notaro’s partner, Noah Harpster her brother and John Rothman her stepfather.

The executive producer ranks also include Diablo Cody and Louis C.K. The latter is all over the progressive comedy action on TV these days, including Baskets and Better Things on FX. Notaro downplayed C.K.’s role on the show: “His name is pretty much just on it,” she said, before a press rep suggested we move on to the next question.

Louis C.K. is also a key figure in the current movement towards weird, dark and questionably funny “comedies.” We wrote about this trend last month. John Landgraf, FX Networks president, said the dark new half-hours are essentially comedies with a dramatic counterpoint, while several dramas have more of a comedic counterpoint. “It’s a pretty close thing sometimes,” he said of the mix.

James Poniewozik of the New York Times noted the trend as well:

“Many of TV’s best, most ambitious recent series—Transparent, Getting On, the new Atlanta—are comedies that share the themes and stakes of drama. That’s especially true of One Mississippi, a tender, occasionally funny, often moving entertainment about the grieving process.”

In real life, Notaro is the mother of newborn twin boys and says she feels great following her battle with breast cancer. “I still seem to be in remission,” she said, noting that more time must pass before she’s officially in the clear, but “there’s no evidence of disease.”

She says she could “easily” write five or six seasons of the show, if viewers will have it. “Maybe people will feel like they’ve had enough of me by then,” quipped Notaro.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.