‘Easy’ on Netflix: Chris Ware and Orlando Bloom’s butt

Easy on Netflix
Easy on Netflix

Netflix treads a fine line between the good (series like Fargo and House of Cards) and the unmitigated tosh: the plethora of movies with a Metacritic score below 60.

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As an aspiring minimalist, I’ve been ready to quit Netflix several times. But then Netflix redeems itself once again, with productions like Master of None, Grace and Frankie, and recently Easy. All three of them explore (sadly) ‘unusual’ themes and relationships like gay marriage, intercultural couples, and organic lube for post-menopausal women.

The first season of Easy was released a few weeks ago, and it’s such a pleasure to watch. A so-called ‘comedy-drama anthology series’, it features a different plot every week, and different characters (whose lives are loosely intertwined), and featuring Chicago and especially its artsy scene as its setting. The stories are perfect vignettes about contemporary love/relationships/parenting/sexuality. Heartfelt, convincing, relatable – sometimes cringeworthily so.

You also get to see Orlando Bloom’s buttocks. And there’s plenty of sex scenes, involving people young and old, straight and gay, jaded, giddy, insecure, drunk, fat, skinny – the whole gamut. The acting is great. And to top it all off, in one epsiode there’s a surprise cameo that made me jump on my seat: by Chicago-based cartoonist Chris Ware, author of the awesome (and quite bleak) graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan. Sorry, butt of Orlando – you’ve been outclassed.

Weeping like an Ithacan butcher

Odysseus weeping
Odysseus weeping

Once again I’m reading Homer’s Odyssey, O Muse, in the recently published revised Dutch translation by Imme Dros. I’ve been very fond of the Odyssey and Dros’ translation since I first heard it recited by actor Ton Lutz, serialized for radio (in Dutch) when I was in high school. It took the audio version fourteen years, adrift in Ouranos’ radio waves, to make it to cd in 2008. None of its magic had been lost.

Over the years I’ve also kept returning to the actual book, once cover to cover but often just a few chapters/books or verses. When Imme Dros published the revised version, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. My father bought me a copy, however, and I couldn’t resist starting to read – and now I can’t stop.

The translation has been thoroughly revised, but has lost none of its splendour. Some key phrases are different, for instance Telemachus’ repeated description. In Samuel Butler’s (1900) classic English translation he’s simply “wise Telemachus” (for instance, book 1, verses 210-215) whereas Imme Dros’ Dutch translation used to be “Telémachos, die bijzonder goed nadacht” (first version) and in the revised translation has become “Telémachos antwoordde haar daarop weloverwogen”.

Such formulaic descriptions of characters and events are very common in the Odyssey, and together with its rhythmic scheme, give the Odyssey an almost mantric quality. The characters’ repetitive longing, despairing, and weeping (lots of weeping) are like a rocking chair. You’d almost forget that Odysseus and his friends are a fine basket of Achaean deplorables, switching from takin’ names and butchering Troyans to yet more weeping.

Once more I’ll be weeping along until the epic’s bloody end, when the goddess Athena, in the likeness of Mentor both in form and in voice, tells everyone to kiss and make up.