Maggie is kind-hearted, full of quirks, and has a breakout, star-making performance by Rebecca Rittenhouse.
This review of the Hulu series Maggie season 1 does not contain spoilers.
Some shows can be so utterly charming that you will tend to ignore most of their considerable flaws. Hulu’s latest dive into the streaming sitcom shallow end is with Maggie, a fantasy comedy series full of oddballs and a kooky central storyline that leans towards the romantic. The show is a delightful light departure from a slate full of R-rated fare that dominates media services nowadays. That said, it is not all Sean, Gus, and pineapples. The show has too many episodes, and the plot seems to have been lifted from a classic 90s sitcom. However, Maggie has a lead performance from its breakout star Rebecca Rittenhouse, who is a star in the making.
Maggie (played by Rittenhouse) is a psychic/carefree millennial who tends to veer away from serious romantic relationships. Why? That is because she can always see far ahead in the future. That is until she meets Ben (The Baker and the Beauty’s David Del Rio) an adorable history teacher with a cute sense of humor and a heart of gold at a party. She was hired to do psychic readings. So, when Ben builds the courage to walk to her table for a reading and talk to her a second time, Maggie sees his future and is shockingly in it.
Maggie runs away, scared, and again runs into Ben a few weeks later. He is out with his sister Amy (Undone’s Angelique Cabral) and her boyfriend Dave (Leonard Nam). They spend a magical night together, and when they hold hands the next day, she likewise has an involuntary psychic vision — Ben is marrying someone else. She ends it right there because there is no future. A third chance encounter happens when Maggie’s parents (the hilarious pairing of Chris Elliott and Kerri Kenney) welcome a new tenant. Oh, who could it be? It is Ben, of course, moving in with his longtime girlfriend, Jessie (Chloe Bridges). Yes, Maggie does not seem to be an effective psychic.
Maggie season 1 is based on the short film by Tim Curcio, and the series has had little fanfare or marketing up to this point. The series has limited established star power, except veteran comedian Chris Elliott, who I am sure most Gen-Z (or Millennials, for that matter) will have no idea who that is. However, the selling point here is the breakout star performance by Rebecca Rittenhouse. The actress is so effortlessly charming; she is a complete breath of fresh air. It is a turn we have not seen on television, network, or streaming in quite a while. If I had to draw up a comparison, she might be the closest thing we have had to Lauren Graham since, well, Lauren Graham.
Maggie was created by the team that brought you Life in Pieces, Justin Adler, and Maggie Mull. The show is full of delightful supporting characters. Not just the scene-stealing Elliott and Kenney, but most notably, Super Store’s Nichole Sakura, who plays Maggie’s best friend, Louise, and Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23’s Ray Ford. You will be pleasantly surprised by the story’s endless supply of quirks and deft comic timing. For instance, in the season’s best episode, Kenney deadpans, “Her teeth came in sideways. All the other kids would see her and scream. It was traumatizing, for her too,” when explaining to Daniel the sight of her young daughter.
As I said, the show is stretched to 13 unneeded episodes. I am sure this was because Maggie was originally slated to air on ABC. There is nothing here that could not have been cut down to eight to ten. You also have the subplot of Rebecca and Daniel, which is a secondary narrative that is not exactly original. The story is driven by Maggie using her visions to navigate her life to future relationships.
The dime-store analysis I will add is she uses her abilities as a defense mechanism. This is a way for her not to engage in serious relationships — something she developed as a teenager. This is precisely the storyline line from Frasier. Where Daphne uses her visions to break up with her old boyfriend Clyde and her fiancé, Donnie, I would also like to point out that the actor playing Daniel, Adam Korson, looks like he could be the offspring of Saul Rubinek’s Donnie. There is also the issue that Maggie’s visions are obvious compared to how the titular character interprets them.
However, that is all beside the point. Hulu’s Maggie is carried by the immensely talented Rittenhouse, who has considerable chemistry with Del Rio here. It is a plot you have seen hundreds of times before. Yet, the performances are so good you care about the characters and their outcomes. Admittedly, the show is far from perfect, Maggie is a show that is in short supply around streaming or network television. It’s a series with a good message about acceptance, a strong female lead, with most of the main cast being women, handled with a light touch that is kind-hearted and noticeably sweet.
Maggie is a guilty pleasure for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
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