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Maria Bamford and Henry Winkler surrender to the void in You Are Nothing

You Are Nothing (Screenshot: YouTube)

The modern world can be difficult to navigate, with each new day and social interaction bringing their own set of complications. The average person, beset by anxiety and insecurity, might be tempted to hide away from society. A new comedic web series called You Are Nothing created by Mike Stivala advises viewers to steer into the skid, so to speak. Taking the form of a soothing self-help tutorial, complete with a very convincing voice-over by comedian Maria Bamford, the series demonstrates how viewers can achieve happiness, or at least mitigate their abject misery, by embracing nothingness. Drugs and alcohol aren’t the answer, the series teaches. Neither is living in the moment. Therapy? That’s just a runaround. The only cure for the disease called “normal” is to achieve a state of near-total blankness. The test case in You Are Nothing is harried ad executive Mitch (Joel Bryant). As the premiere episode demonstrates, Mitch is a man in crisis. He lacks purpose and direction, and his job causes him a lot of stress. So desperate is Mitch for answers that he even seeks out the counsel of a quack called Dr. Sherman Watts (Henry Winkler), who lacks a valid medical degree but does have a reassuring manner.

As it continues, You Are Nothing will presumably document Mitch’s path to self-actualization, with Bamford’s narrator judging him at every turn. For now, however, the series keeps throwing problems at him to show how poorly he reacts to them. In the episode’s climactic scene, he awkwardly flirts with a woman (Tessa Munro) he meets in the parking lot outside his office, despite appearing to be in a committed relationship already. As Bamford patiently explains, Mitch is still making the mistake of being conscious of what’s going on around him rather than simply giving in to the realization that he is nothing and his problems mean nothing. Viewers trying to decide whether the You Are Nothing program is the right step for them may want to consult this explanatory video from Stivala.

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