Both Gwyneth Paltrow and Aidy Bryant are about as mainstream as you can really get these days. Paltrow is an Academy Award winning actress who’s known for being good at accents and has been in almost as many Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as Robert Downey Junior. She’s taken seriously as a singer, is genuinely funny and always looks comfortable doing live sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live. They even used to play her weird karaoke duet with Huey Lewis on the easy listening stations. Aidy Bryant has been on SNL for eight seasons now and has her own hit show on Hulu. She’s doing a lot of innovative work, breaking barriers and inspiring many people but she’s still been on a weekly NBC-Universal show for almost a decade. Shrill is probably too edgy for NBC but it’s still produced by Lorne Michaels and Warner Brothers. That’s what actually makes it all the more cool to see them taking micro and macro doses of psilocybin magic mushrooms and casually smoking weed in season one. It was the first time we even remembered hearing the term “microdose” or “psilocybin” on television at all. And psilocybin is the focus of the first episode of The Goop Lab on Netflix. Goop, the other thing that Gwyneth Paltrow does when she isn’t making movies or guest hosting SNL. Goop has become famous for making unsubstantiated health claims and promoting pseudoscience, sort of like Doctor Oz, except with Gwyneth Paltrow getting stung by bees on purpose, going on a lot of cleanses and only eating kale. They also sell expensive vagina scented candles and keep everyone talking about Gwyneth Paltrow.. and now Goop is a show. In the first episode of the series, they explore the topic of psychedelic hallucinogens as a medicinal psychotherapy aid. It’s an interesting concept and they investigate the subject by going to Jamaica and tripping together with some spiritual/clinical “experts” who guide them on their journey. It sounds more intriguing than it is to watch. Each person goes into an emotional rabbit hole facing past traumas and they all sort of discuss things in what seems like a “Dianetics” style of way while their therapists remind the viewing audience that it’s bad to get hallucinogens on the street and take them at parties. It was actually more interesting watching Gwyneth Paltrow not remember she was in Spider-Man while she was on Jon Favreau’s cooking show making vegetarian stew. Part of the problem might be that the Goop staff isn’t as fun to watch as their boss. Listening to Paltrow mention she took MDMA in Mexico once is as entertaining as watching the rest of the staff doing shrooms in Jamaica. That’s indicative of something pretty specific. Not totally sure if I’ll be checking out more episodes of The Goop Lab or not.
Speaking of fun to watch, “Shrill” is back for a second season on Hulu and this time they do dabs. “Broad City” mentioned dabbing once but it never showed them doing any onscreen. Shrill goes there in the fourth episode, “Freak”, when Fran visits a dispensary while on a date with herself and later sings a karaoke cover of “Shallow” from A Star is Born after she wanders into a bar eating a burrito. Fran was the character who initially took mushrooms last season and now she’s dabbing. The budtender uses a butane torch and glass piece and Fran makes a crack smoking joke in what is a very believable scene. Some of the viewing audience might have no idea what she’s supposed to be doing. Coincidentally, Aidy Bryant’s character Annie goes to a very “Goop-like” conference called WAHAM, “Women are Having a Moment”. The leader of WAHAM is hilariously played by Vanessa Bayer. Goop kind of seems like “Vice” but for yoga moms. Shrill also has a character vaping from an oversized modular battery and I’m pretty sure it’s another first. So Goop and Shrill, for better or worse, are both mainstreaming some pretty far out stuff, just with varying degrees of self awareness. We’ll see what this leads to.
Patrick Ian Moore