Do you ever feel so stuck that you start wondering if you are in one perfect relationship or one move across the globe away from normalcy? The question of home and belonging is a recurring theme in many pieces of media, but also one of those human questions that we can’t seem to find the answer to. How often did you think, “I want to go home,” not realizing that you’re right where “home” should be? SLIP dares to question what it takes to finally feel you’re in the right place with the right people.
Produced by Dakota Johnson’s TeaTime Pictures, Zoe Lister-Jones comes in with being a quadruple threat by creating, directing, writing, and starring in Roku Channel’s newest sci-fi comedy mini-series.
SLIP follows the life of the late-thirties museum curator, Mae Cannon (Zoe Lister-Jones), as she navigates her life and her marriage to Elijah (Whitmer Thomas). In hindsight, there’s seemingly nothing wrong with their marriage, but Mae feels detached from her life. The show starts with a quick-sand-like sequence of her and Elijah’s morning routine as they go through the many banalities of life. They don’t talk much, say “love you” as an afterthought, keep score in seemingly silly arguments, say all the wrong things, and hold resentment over dinner and film choices.
Even when they decide to change their routine and watch a movie at the theater, it only leads to disaster when the topic of children comes up; it upsets Mae, and it feels like Elijah asks about children just because he’s desperate for something new to happen in their relationship.
Her best friend Gina (Tymika Tafari) tells her that she’d do anything to be settled like her, but Mae argues that it doesn’t feel as comforting as she thinks and that after a while, it feels like you and her husband are just two people “who are single together.”
Mae gives a speech at the museum for the launch of a new art collection, and Elijah excuses himself from the afterparty because he needs to go back home and write. Mae stays and meets Eric (Amar Chadha-Patel), and after some conversation and dancing, she returns to his apartment, and they sleep together. She wakes up the next morning preparing to leave but stops when she finds vaguely familiar items from her life in Eric’s house– her coffee mug, her shoes, and even a Hungry Ghost painting until her eyes finally land on Eric’s wedding portrait to find himself in them because apparently she’s married to him. Throughout the events of the series, she realizes that she wakes up married to whoever she sleeps with within a series of parallel universes.
This show reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’: “How did I know that someday—at college, in Europe, anywhere—the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?”
Plath questions her depression after her recovery and wonders if things will get bad again one day, even if she goes on to achieve her dreams.
This reminds me of the show because Mae has a sort of emptiness in her life, but she doesn’t know what would fix that emptiness. She hasn’t done enough self-reflection up to this point, affecting her daily.
One of the most interesting scenes and motifs to me is the concept of “The Hungry Ghosts” because Mae looks at the paintings with a sort of pained recognition of the skeletal figures in Vanessa’s (Lily Gao) paintings. Mae is deeply ashamed of her desire, pleasure, and, frankly, living.
She shrieks whenever Gina talks about intimacy out loud, and I believe that’s meant to symbolize more beyond the comic value of talking about sex in a quiet museum.
The science-fiction elements isolate Mae from herself the deeper she gets in, as she questions what’s right and what’s wrong, but surrealism does not take the front row of this series. It’s driven by the engraved displays of love in the universe (literally and figuratively) and finding your true self, home, and love. It’s knowing that there’s always something or someone to guide you to the truth in every universe and every second chance. Not the universal truth, just the one you need to live by.
It was important for this series to highlight that Mae’s problem was never her relationship because, despite the description, SLIP doesn’t paint Mae’s relationship with Elijah with the heterosexual distaste brush that’s prevalent in many media pieces. On the contrary, SLIP does not point fingers or place blame. It highlights both of their incompetencies equally. It doesn’t take much time for Mae to realize that she won’t necessarily find the fulfillment she craves outside of her relationship.
It’s surreal, dreamlike, peculiar, a mess of colors and dreams, a genuinely intriguing commentary on personhood, intimacy, and sexuality. It’s Everything Everywhere All At Once meets the soulmate sequence from The Good Place. SLIP is not only a love letter to the self but also to all the people that we choose to call ours in this life, any others we may unknowingly inhabit. Chock-full of monologues and hilarious one-liners, it is a deeply personal piece from Lister-Jones and is worth tapping into. I have to give it kudos for being one of the first media pieces to reference season two of Fleabag. It really makes you feel old.
‘SLIP’ premiers on April 21 on The Roku Channel. You can watch the trailer here.