In one of the opening scenes in Mammals, we see a married couple named Jamie (James Corden) and Amandine (Melia Kreiling) in a hot tub gazing at the sunset. This kind of shot generally belongs to the happy ending of a rom-com. In that sense, Mammals is a rom-com that goes in reverse. It begins with the "happy shot" and concludes with a tragedy. The laughs smoothly segue into shocks, and by the end, you are left speechless.
One of the ways to examine Mammals is to consider them as a series of unfortunate events. Like life itself, the show can be quite unpredictable. You never know what will happen to you the next day or the next moment. In the same way, you are unsure what developments would occur in Mammals. You think you have an idea where it will all lead to, but Mammals always surprises you with nasty twists that not only shock but also reveal things about the characters.
Take the first episode, for instance. Jamie finds out about Amandine having an affair with a guy named Paul. He follows her and notices her with a man whom he thinks to be Paul. Jamie confronts this man, and the episode ends with a twist that this man is not Paul. Meaning: Amandine apparently has multiple affairs. And while we are focussing on this scene, note how the conversation between them is filmed. It's a masterful balance between drama and comedy, which is a compliment that extends to the tone of this whole series and to Corden's performance as Jamie. Look at him taking a long pause and staring at a violin teacher when the latter refers to Amandine by a nickname. You want to laugh and, at the same time, suppress your urge to do so because you believe the moment could descend into brutality (Jamie does lift his hand to punch the teacher, but he, too, controls his impulses).
In Mammals, the romance is rocky. The show might have begun with the image of a sunset, but everything after it is nothing but a long night full of darkness. Jamie and Amandine's meet-cute takes place in an elevator, and its aroma is permeated with foulness. No, seriously. The elevator starts stinking due to Jamie's fart. Sure, you can dismiss it as a joke. However, there is a reason behind this stench. You see, this relationship is nothing but an affair. Both Jamie and Amandine have partners in their life when they get attracted to each other. The foul smell, then, can be taken as an indicator of their bond developing in a terrible state. No wonder this relationship only takes a terrible shape by the end.
Mammals seems to be asking the following questions: Can true love be mined from a relationship that started as an affair? Can the spouses remain faithful to one another? Would they cheat on their current partners as they did so with their previous ones? While watching Mammals, you constantly wonder why Amandine cheated on her husband. You wait for her side of the story, and the show makes you wait till the final moments of the last episode. When the explanation arrives, it leaves you stranded. I don't know how to process the ending of the first season. One part of me is in love with the clever writing that often leaves you dumbfounded and constantly subverts your expectations. But the other part thinks the ending is perhaps too clever and designed solely to throw you off balance. I may need more time to sort out my feelings and come to a single, definite conclusion.
There are times when the camera bends the background a little out of shape. For example, the buildings may appear slightly contorted, like curves. It gives the impression of normal things being...abnormal. Jeff's (Colin Morgan) and Lue's (Sally Hawkins) relationship is something like that. On the surface, they have (or try to have) sex on the roof and hug and smile at one another, but even they are going through some difficulties of their own. Let's just say that one gets lost in their imaginary world while the other feels guilty about an incident. I will leave the specifics for you to discover.
Final Score- [8/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
Note: All six episodes are screened for this review.
Premiere Date: November 11, 2022, on Prime Video
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