♬… C a t h e r i n e … ♩♪
April 13, 2015 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Catherine: A Story in Twelve Parts is a short video series by actress/comedian Jenny Slate (previously) and her husband, director Dean Fleischer-Camp. It has been described as "banal," "sincere," and "menacing."

Interviews with Slate and Fleischer-Camp shed some light on their motivations for the project, including their efforts to achieve a perfectly "neutral" performance.

All parts on YouTube:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
posted by overeducated_alligator (17 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:39 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think Catherine is going to be all right.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:52 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cute enough, but a little too 'inside the green room' for my taste.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2015

I love this series. It's so uncanny. We've all seen those educational videos that are meant to teach children social skills and good manners. The world of those videos is simplified, all the edges are rounded, and people are eerily positive without good reason. What if those videos weren't shot that way because they were targeted at children, but instead depicted an actual living, breathing world that just happened to have those qualities? Catherine takes us to a part of that world that we never see -- the adult workplace.

I know the series is meant as comedy, but it kind of hit a real nerve with me.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:07 AM on April 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

It's like someone got together a bunch of actors, and, instead of a script, they watched The Sims for a while.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:30 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I love this series for the heightened sense of WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING that I felt throughout.
posted by sweetkid at 10:31 AM on April 13, 2015

Are there any more recent explorations of neutrality/sincerity in this vein?

Around 2010, I got the notion that a perfect form of comedy would essentially be a neutral void that anyone could project any kind of meaning into. The only working examples I could think of were the oddly banal moments of Twin Peaks and some Tim & Eric routines. I wrote a television pilot for a supernatural soap opera called Witch House that, if I had the resources, would have been filmed very similarly to Catherine. Needless to say, I love this; I want it to be a school of artistic thought and practice, pls.
posted by aion at 10:34 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

Aion: The Onion network on Youtube has some fine examples like Lake Dredge Appraisal.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:27 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is like the office workspace version of Lynch's 'Rabbits'.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:11 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is like the office workspace version of Lynch's 'Rabbits'.
posted by lumensimus at 6:00 PM on April 13, 2015

I love this series so much I pimped it in a comment last year. I wrote: This series is like nothing else. I've heard it compared to David Lynch and instructional videos to teach people English, and it's kind of like both of those things but not quite. It makes me think of watching grownup TV when you're a little kid, seeing shows about people in some boring office and being totally baffled and fascinated by all of their little codes and rituals. This series deserves its own post, really. Amazingly boring, and boringly amazing.

Looking back on it months later, it also looks a lot like TV looks when you're on serious drugs. It's like watching normal people through that stoned-as-fuck filter where everything they do seems totally unnatural and kind of funny and kind of scary. It all seems familiar, but super alien and wrong at the same time. It's like being in that state where you could just watch a woman order lunch for the office and be like, "Whoa, trippy."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:36 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I thought I'd seen the first few episodes earlier, UH, and assumed I'd been linked to them from here. Must have been from your comments.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:28 PM on April 13, 2015

I watched this after it was mentioned in the comments on the "Brasilia" post here a few back. I stand by my comment there- But I will add that I later filed the experience away under the "horror" genre, after realizing that this is exactly how any number of outside-world interactions feel to me after having been on the Internet for the last 20 some odd years.
posted by mcrandello at 12:39 AM on April 14, 2015

The feeling of being a stranger in a foreign country having studied the language and culture from a 40 year old encyclopedia, only everyone else there is also a foreigner with a copy of the same encyclopedia.
posted by mcrandello at 12:43 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love how the tenor of the YouTube comments changes as the series progresses. They shift from general perplexity at the start to aping the tone and dialogue by the end. Catherine seems to hit the reset button on your personality.

I feel like I am writing with the meter of it still.
posted by books for weapons at 3:45 AM on April 14, 2015

The undercurrent of horror and panic is strong, between the barely-audible tension tones playing throughout, and also WHO'S GODDAMN APPLE IS IT?
posted by FatherDagon at 6:24 AM on April 14, 2015

This is like the office workspace version of Lynch's 'Rabbits'.

Yeah, no, "Rabbits" is still much weirder, what with the cut-up dialogue, random laugh track, demonic apparitions, and surreal poetry. But the way "Catherine" achieves menace through stark banality is certainly derivative of other Lynch work, particularly moments in "Blue Velvet" and "Twin Peaks".
posted by aught at 7:21 AM on April 14, 2015

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