It should go without saying that the inner workings of the female mind are constantly turning. And often times what is said and what is thought are not consistent. Contemplation, desire, worry and expectation often dictate this secret inner monologue. In Hulu’s newest comedy series “Dollface,” fantasies of the mind are brought to the forefront and play out simultaneously with real life.
The series follows Jules (the always pleasant Kat Dennings), a web designer who works at a startup in “idyllic” Los Angeles. Settled into her life and seemingly content, she is thrown for a loop when her boyfriend of five years dumps her. In the wake of this personal setback, Jules realizes that she has been living in a self-made bubble. During the course of this now failed relationship, she has completely forsaken her female friendships. This realization is brought to her attention by a cat lady — an actual cat lady (“The Mindy Project’s” Beth Grant) — representing a quintessential fear of young women scared of growing old alone. The cat lady picks Jules up in a bus filled with other recently jilted women and takes them to a train station to meet up with their female supporters.
Once there, Jules is alone. Her metaphorical train station is empty. She now has no other choice but to go back to the friends she left behind in hopes that they will open their circle to her again. This first season of “Dollface” has Jules navigating her way back into the lives of women. While discovering herself in regards to these relationships, Jules’ mind is on full display.
These quirky segments of figment seem reminiscent of Fox’s “Ally McBeal.” And much like “McBeal,” “Dollface’s” central character, peppered with neuroses, looks to find her way in the world among an onslaught of over-the-top characters. Jules is supposed to represent the unpolished outsider to her sleeker group of girlfriends. And Dennings, with her trademark long brown hair, pale skin and red lips, is downright appealing in the role. But as lovable as Dennings is, her squad does not always come off as well.
Brenda Song, Shay Mitchell and Ester Povitsky play her core trio of friends. While each have shining comedic moments, all three feel too outrageous to bring about any true emotional resonance. Moments of reflection and deep connection are few and far between. The barrage of goof and satire left me craving something more thoughtful. The series has essentially forsaken realness for a joke. The jokes are funny, but what are the characters’ motives? Who are these women? And why do we care?
Series creator Jordan Weiss has produced a show that works very hard to tell a narrative that is colorful and enticing. And a lot of the time, the series succeeds in portraying a social media-worthy world. The cast wears amazing designer clothes. The women are gorgeous. Puns and witty repartee fill the dialogue. And each episode takes on very real issues facing females in today’s society.
There is without a doubt an audience for “Dollface.” The series is overflowing with nuttiness, and those who wish to partake in the crazy/beautiful will have a hoot watching. Still, throughout the course of the ten episodes, “Dollface” relies too heavily on quirky comedy and alienates realness in the process. In a show for women, about women, by women, one can’t help but want more.