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Series / Lady Dynamite

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Lady Dynamite is an American television comedy series created by Pam Brady and Mitch Hurwitz, on Netflix. The series stars Maria Bamford, and is loosely based on her life. Stand-up comedian/actress Maria Bamford (portrayed by herself) moves back to Los Angeles after spending six months away in recovery for bipolar disorder and attempts to build up her life from scratch with the help of her agent Bruce Ben-Bacharach (Fred Melamed). Throughout the entire first season, flashbacks are employed to gain an insight on Maria's backstory and her relationships with her family and friends.

The series aired for two seasons, from 2016 to 2017.

This show provides examples of:

  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Checklist stands in for Target, which real-life Maria actually did commercials for.
    • British News appears as a facsimile of BBC News.
    • Instead of Jimmy Kimmel, Bruce books Maria onto the Ginny Kimmle show, which is broadcast on Periscope from a garage with a studio audience of a dozen high-schoolers.
  • Broken Record: Maria repeatedly insists she broke up with Chad because "It was like a veil lifted and a monster was there!"
  • Bookends: The first episode has Maria apologizing to Mark McGrath, and it's only revealed in the season 1 finale what she'd done wrong.
  • The Cameo:
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The show takes place in three time periods, so to keep it from being confusing, each time shift has a title card and a different colour treatment. The Present looks normal, the Past is totally over-saturated and cartoony, and Duluth is washed out and blue to reflect the sadness of that period.
  • Combining Mecha: When the three Karen Grisham's meet, they merge to form "Super Grisham" a guinea pig, representing Maria's mania, that they control from a console in its brain, which in turn controls Maria. (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Convenient Miscarriage: To generate some sympathy after accidentally dressing an African child militia in Maria tour shirts, Bruce takes over her Twitter account with a made-up story of her losing her baby while horse riding. #redsaddle
  • Crosscast Role: In one scene, Bruce is working with child actors on a remake of Small Wonder, but with VICI played by a boy.
  • Crowd Chant: Bruce, the bottomless well of tragedy, arguably hits his lowest ebb when a studio full of his betters chant "Boo-Hoo Bruce" at him.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Before her death, Maria's pug Blossom was apparently trying to kill her.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Poor Bruce's experiences living at a frat house are played for laughs. Even with sexy porn muzac playing as he recounts his story.
  • Expansion Pack Past: It's revealed at Blossom's wake that she was married to Maria's other pug Bert, while buying a house with her corgi boyfriend, she held dual Canadian-German citizenship, had two DUI's and Robert Downey Jr. was her AA sponsor.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus
    • At a stand up gig at a record store, one of the labels reads Mark Cherry.
    • When Blossom dies, Maria wraps her in a 'DEALS DEALS DEALS' Checklist blanket, making it read "DEAD".
    • Scott's Vision Board has items from the entire season's storylines.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first episode's fake shampoo commercial, Maria goes down a slide which has Karen Grisham's glasses over the mouth, she'd later meet the real Karen Grisham who would similarly chew her up and spit her out.
  • Humiliation Conga: Poor Bruce is humiliated at least once an episode; he's cuckolded by a younger man who takes his house, wife and clothes, he is trapped on a stricken cruise with no electricity and knee-deep sewage, is sexually assaulted in a frat house and ends up selling his possessions out of the van he lives in.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Bruce's desire for Maria to be a star (and help his ailing financial situation) often lead him to begging Maria to take horrible parts, propelling her into a mental breakdown.
    • When Maria travels to Checklist's immersion school/sweatshop-worker training ground in Mexico, she unwittingly becomes a mouthpiece for the evil corporation by voicing their mascot "Trabajito The Frog".
    Maria: When there’s an accident on the floor, Trabajito keeps his lips zipped!
  • Left the Background Music On: Sexy saxophone music plays while Bruce recounts being repeatedly sexually assaulted in a frat house. After a long pause Maria wonders aloud where the music is coming from.
  • Leno Device: Seth Meyers and James Corden joke about Maria's child militia scandal on their respective shows.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Maria is generally sunny and chipper, while all the Karen Grishams are pushy, aggressive and highly sexual.
  • Minnesota Nice: Maria's parents genuinely love and support her, but it's sometimes hard to tell if they're being genuine or not. Even moreso in Susan, Maria's childhood friend, who is absurdly passive-aggressive and gives out very mixed messages.
  • Moral Sociopathy: All the Karen Grishams, particularly Maria's agent. At one point she activates a desk hologram which is dangerous enough to terminate pregnancies, then casually offers her "condolences, or whatever" in case Maria was pregnant.
  • No Sense of Humor: Maria's ill-fated boyfriend, Jack, who feigns enjoyment at everything, no matter how inane, but does not understand what makes anything funny. It actually crosses into something of a disorder; the act of laughing or hearing laughter secretly causes him physical pain, and his idea of true comedy is "a kid who can't add". He also enjoys The Big Bang Theory.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The Checklist Checkdown, from Maria's perspective shows Mark McGrath unmasked as the evil Sugar Ray Sugar Beast who battles "Ultra Maria" in a Power Rangers-style smackdown. After Maria checks into a mental institution, orderlies watch the event on YouTube, which just shows Maria shrieking onstage, attacking Mark, who accidentally knocks the catatonic Checklist CEO offstage.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, as Maria's agent, realtor, and life coach are all named Karen Grisham.
  • Running Joke:
    • Maria getting bossed around by powerful women called Karen Grisham
    • Maria keeps dating former Supermen
    • Maria screaming into sponges when she's overwhelmed. (See Shower of Angst)
  • Real-Person Cameo: Maria's actual parents appear in the congregation for Chad's funeral.
  • Retraux: The credits sequence is a parody of 1970s TV shows, with Maria's fashion style, mirrored images, colorful silhouettes and gratuitous kung fu moves.
  • Shower of Angst: When overwhelmed, Maria will often retreat to the shower to scream into a sponge, even if the shower is part of a TV commercial set.
  • Talking Animal: All of Maria's pugs, especially Bert - her wise, rational confidant who inexplicably sounds like Werner Herzog.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • Bruce's horribly misguided musical claymation dramatization of the USS Indianapolis disaster, which manages to be both racist and slightly homoerotic.
    SharkBruce!: I got a mouth full of seamen/I think I need to have a little nosh/When I got me a mouth full of seamen/Then I shout by gum,by golly, by gosh!
    • Bruce's charity is regrettably called "Touch The Children".