By Arturo R. García
In some ways, The Monogamy Experiment is very much a comedy “in the moment.” Like many modern comedies, it hinges on ultra-dry awkwardness – so much it almost seems like a Britcom at times. And there’s a few compelling elements to this webseries, but five episodes in, it’s still not quite clear how they all fit together.
The trailer, and slight spoilers, are under the cut.
The show’s first episode introduces us to Amy (Amy Rider) and Nigel (Brayden Pierce) in home-movie style, in the aftermath of a caffeine malfunction instigated by an (unsuccessful) wedding proposal. As an unseen friend films the scene, Amy is inspired to begin a documentary on monogamy.
“I think the whole reason why I said no is because I don’t really believe in monogamy,” she explains. “I was told my whole life that monogamy is, like, a lie. My friends are all telling me that I shouldn’t get married, that I’m too young or something.” In the midst of her epiphany, the most refreshing thing about the show comes out right away: TME is build around an interracial relationship, but it’s not strictly about interracial dating – at least not for our protagonists.
Amy’s idea gains another layer not long after the spill, when a therapist (Tohoru Masamune) recommends the couple open their relationship for a month – he wants Amy and Nigel to stop sleeping with each other for 30 days, while still pursuing “intimacy” with other parties. Pierce and Rider do a good job showing us Amy and Nigel’s emotional shift here, a change that accelerates once Amy comes across an early prospect to, uh, work out her issues on.
Since then, most of the series has focused on Amy’s misadventures in dating, which have been complicated both by the kinds of guys you’d see in reader Caitlin’s video and her assistant (Liisa Evastina), who makes a costly error on her online dating profile. For the most part, Rider and company play it with the right amount of deadpan, even if one joke veered perilously close to Hangover II territory.
All the while, maybe the most compelling part of the show is taking place away from Amy and Nigel. For reasons yet to be explained, Amy is apparently making her documentary in the midst of her trial separation. Footage from a number of interviews are mixed into each episode, and she appears on-camera in a few of them. But while they’re interesting, these mini-segments bring up questions that threaten to disconnect the viewer from the story: is Amy the interviewer the same Amy who came up with the idea? If so, how will the insight from these conversations play into her new dating life? And how did she and her invisible friend wrangle James Kyson-Lee into appearing?
So far the show’s been savvy enough to avoid playing either Amy or Nigel as a villain, but we still haven’t gotten to see Nigel really enjoy his newfound freedom, so that might be about to change. In fact, the upcoming stretch of episodes might be the most crucial to the story, as we will presumably see whether Nigel and Amy “get theirs” with each other or somebody else, and, hopefully, where Amy ends up on her other journey as a budding documentarian.