This is the story of obsession as told by popular entertainment: boy meets girl, boy projects every single one of his desires onto girl, girl resists, boy wins girl/murders girl.
In a new Amazon Studios venture by “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway, this story is flipped. “I Love Dick,” based on the cult-classic metafiction book of the same name by Chris Kraus, tells the story of what happens when an undesirable woman becomes consumed with desire.
Kraus (Kathryn Hahn) takes a break from her stagnant filmmaking career to follow her husband, Holocaust scholar Sylvere Lotringer (Griffin Dunne) to his residency in Marfa, Texas, where his colleagues call her “the Holocaust wife.” Her crush on her husband’s teacher, “Dick” (Kevin Bacon), explodes into a psychosexual mind game and performance art project with devastating results. The pilot, currently on Amazon Prime, suggests another revelatory look into the psyche of director Jill Soloway, and the rest of the first season is slated to hit the streaming service on May 12th.
Here are our top reasons to catch “I Love Dick”
Because it’s pretty Jewish
On the Forward’s informal scale of how Jewish something is, which runs from “shtetl-lite” to “Jewish as hell,” this TV show is rated “Barbra Streisand Standing in the Knesset Explaining the Difference Between Menorah and Chanukiah.” Lets examine our roster.
We’ve got Soloway, who has officially snatched, dry-cleaned, and refurbished the mantle of “contemporary Jewish-Life Filmmaker” previously worn by Woody Allen. Between the hit series “Transparent” “Six Feet Under,” and the movie “Afternoon Delight,” if you want to feel extremely uncomfortable while watching Jewish practices on screen, you turn to Soloway. Then we’ve got Sarah Gubbins, the series writer and co-creator, who is also a fiercely talented queer Jew. She says she added a character, “Devin,” to Kraus’ original story, because she wanted to have, “a masculine-presenting lesbian to swagger around in some kind of shadow polarity of Kevin Bacon.”
Chris Kraus, the novel’s writer and main character, is a Jewish woman who interrogates her Jewish identity constantly throughout the book, scattering it with comments like, “I didn’t really know I was a kike ’til I was 21.” And her theorist-husband Sylvere can be summed up through the following interaction from the “I Love Dick” pilot.
Party guest: What are you doing in town? Sylvere: I’m reinterpreting the Holocaust. There’s something new afoot, and I’m gonna find it.
Finally we have Kevin Bacon who, surname aside, is married to Kyra Sedgwick, a proudly identifying Jew.
Because its actually about the female experience
“Most films made by women ultimately aren’t that good,” Dick (Bacon) says at dinner with the besotted filmmaker Kraus. “They have to work from behind their oppression, which makes bummer movies.”
“I Love Dick” is about a person who feels like she has failed as a woman and failed as an artist. The writing team is made up exclusively of female writers, and it’s not your mother’s feminism (no disrespect to mothers). Soloway says one goal of the show is to “take the idea of intersectional feminism, which is really having a respect for the voices of women, and people of color, and queer people, and recognizing that some people are more than one of those, and making sure that all of those voices get heard because as people…will hopefully continue to say throughout the revolution, ‘Women’s rights are human rights’.”
Because it’s time for a better exploration of female desire than “50 Shades of Grey”
“I Love Dick” is about what happens when women objectify men. When women carelessly use men as muses for their art and personal development, instead of the other way around. The show’s creator says, “It’s just so powerful for a woman to say, ’No, I’m not the object of your story. I’m not the Madonna or the whore, I’m not either the woman that you love or the woman that you hate. I’m the subject.’ Just that simple sentence is enough to upend the entire planet.” #Soloway2020.
Because ‘I Love Dick’ is actually art, patriarchal haters
Get turned off (if you will) by the title and risk missing the genius. Kraus, who founded the publishing house Semiotext(e) with the real-life Lotringer, offers us a window into the world of 1990’s intellectualism, and Soloway and Gubbins give it a compelling retooling in the light of this century.
Plus, it is rare to see a film adaptation of a book that works for readers and new fans.
…Because Kathryn Hahn is (Even More) Jewish Than Jesus
Kathryn Hahn escaped landing on the Jewish list above on the mere technicality that she is Catholic. But Hahn has made a career as playing Jews, most notably “Rabbi Raquel” on “Transparent.” She is the most beloved non-Jewish Jewish actress, and her love affair with the Jewish people continues with “I Love Dick”. Speaking about playing Chris Kraus she says,“I was so excited to play somebody that messy and maddening and contradictory. She’s flinging herself forward into her desire. In her mind, her obsession is tied in with her art.”
Because Shirtless Kevin Bacon Carrying A Lamb
The new series also brings us:
Kevin Bacon dressed as a cowboy, leading a horse through the streets of Texas. Kevin Bacon eating rabbit while mansplaining movies in a restaurant called “The Rope and Loin.”
“Leave it to a female writer’s room to create two of the best, well-rounded male characters that I’ve read in a long time,” says Bacon.
Because love yourself some realistic sex scenes
The first question Kraus asks Dick in the pilot is “How big?” She claims to be inquiring after his ranch, but between Soloway’s influence and the freeing nature of streaming subscriptions, we can guess there is going to be a lot of moodily-lit, realistic-yet-erotic sex between unhappy people in this.
Watch the trailer for “I Love Dick” here:
This story "Transparent’s Jill Soloway is Back with “I Love Dick”" was written by Jenny Singer.