Amazon needed a new way to describe comedian Tig Notaro‘s new half hour comedy/drama One Mississippi, and “dramedy” clearly just didn’t suffice. When it came time to describe the loosely-inspired dark comedy about Notario’s life, “traumedy” was the only option.
Comprised of six half-hour episodes—the first of which you can watch here—the series follows Tig as she navigates a complex re-entry into her childhood hometown in Mississippi to deal with the unexpected death of her much-loved mother. Reeling from her own recently declining health, Tig struggles to find her footing with the loss of the one person who actually understood her.
“As far as the pilot goes, it was probably 85% real,” Notaro told the room of reporters at the 2016 TCA summer press tour. “There were a few parts where we bridged moments together. The timeline is off from where my life fell apart. We crammed all the info into the pilot so we could go from there if it went to series. Now having gone to series, it’s more fictional but there is still a lot of reality and real moments from my life.”
Notaro then went into detail about her real life struggles that all took place in 2012. “My mother died, I had cancer, I had an intestinal disease and I couldn’t eat, I went through a bad breakup, the list goes on,” Notaro said. “It was over a four month period of time and the pilot captures all that.”
She continued, “[In real life,] my mother and stepfather had moved to Spring, Texas which is outside of Houston but I still have all of my close family in Mississippi and Louisiana. My hometown is in Mississippi and it’s where I consider home. It’s where I got married — the obvious choice for a gay couple. In my real life, after my mother died, I was too sick to return home. I was deteriorating so I stayed in Texas until I felt better.”
But when pressed to explain why she didn’t want to make her series a straight up drama, Notaro remarked in her trademark dry wit that it would have been inauthentic.
“The show, as funny as moments are, it’s just more real and dramatic and the humor is in the real moments,” Notaro said. “There is nothing that I tried to force into real comedy and I think that becomes apparent when you watch. It would be harder to take everything more seriously. It would be a challenge to eliminate comedy altogether and move forward in a strictly dramatic way.”
One Mississippi is one of the first 30-minute comedies created around an openly gay, female actor since Ellen DeGeneres’ CBS sitcom, and Notaro is grateful that while that particular glass ceiling may not be completely shattered, at least it’s starting to crack in substantial ways. But her Amazon series does not focus on her sexuality.
“Setting the series in Mississippi, the topic of being gay and coming out and the conflict with family would be an easy way to go—luckily with my life, that’s a non-issue,” Notaro said. “That’s been an exciting element to present my life the way it is. Nobody flinches if I have a girlfriend … or three.”
Are you a fan of Tig Notaro? Planning on checking out One Mississippi? Let us know in the comments below.
One Mississippi premieres Sept. 9 on Amazon Prime Video.