One Mississippi, a semi-autobiographical show from comedian Tig Notaro, dropped its first six episodes Sept. 9 on Amazon. To guide us through our binging, the cast and crew will be taking EW behind the scenes. They’ll take turns sharing their thoughts on what went into making each episode. Notaro herself kicks off the premiere episode with a look into what making this show meant to her…
The pilot episode I wrote with screenwriter Diablo Cody. I am a huge fan of her film Young Adult — I’ve seen it numerous times and always felt like she and Director Jason Reitman walked the line of comedy and drama flawlessly. When she and I discussed working together, Young Adult was our reference point. And although I don’t feel like we in anyway copied the film, I do think it gave us a pretty good idea of where we were headed.
The series of events that unfold in this particular episode are nearly 100 percent true: my intestinal disease, having cancer, losing my mother unexpectedly all the while trying to navigate a very obviously failing romantic relationship. Diablo and I created and fictionalized maybe 15 percent of the pilot, just to tie things together a bit better. Although these events did happen, the timeline of it all is off because I wanted to be sure to get all of my immediate pain and suffering out in this first script. One Mississippi begins with me flying back to my hometown on the Mississippi Gulf Coast while I’m struggling with the aftermath of all my health issues only to have to take my mother off of life support after an accidental fall she had at her home. Experiencing this level of suffering alongside my emotionally distant stepfather and emotionally stunted brother makes it none the easier. The three of us are forced to really look at one another and deal with each other in a way we never had before our family matriarch was gone.
Even though the premise of the show seems bleak, and believe me it is — I lived it, it also allows for endless amounts of awkwardness and humor (my favorite combination), but all the while is heartbreaking and has touching punctuations throughout. Each character is probably the most unflattering exaggeration of the real people they are based off of, and I feel endlessly thankful for the support of my family and friends while making this. Once the series really gets going, the story of my life begins to weave in more fictionalized elements with the result always being very true emotional and comedic moments.
I’m so proud of what we all created — from the writers to the actors to the directors to the network to the studio to the people working tirelessly behind the scenes to get me lattes.
Now please go and enjoy One Mississippi.
Catch Tig Notaro on tour this fall, and be sure to return to EW.com on Saturday for a look at episode 2, “Effects.”