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Ana Gasteyer is a highlight in wonderfully twisted ‘Lady Dynamite’

Ana Gasteyer (left) and Maria Bamford in “Lady Dynamite.”Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Lady Dynamite Netflix

This odd, kaleidoscopic series from Maria Bamford is great, if you like twisted scripted comedy, the theme of mental illness, and hallucinogenic flights of fancy, which I do.

As it moves forward, manically, the show jumps — at times disturbingly, always effectively — among tenses, plotlines, and meta-plotlines, the latter of which finds Patton Oswalt playing a cop who keeps breaking character.

The fourth wall? Shattered.

The show is a twisted portrait of both Maria’s mental illness and the Hollywood world where she works as an actress. There are too many great side characters to name here, including Mark McGrath, who lures the unknowing Maria into supporting a pro-gun charity, and Lennon Parham, Maria’s self-centered friend and assistant. Mary Kay Place, Bridget Everett, Mo Collins — there’s a wealth of supporting comedy as the season develops.


My favorite supporting character, though, has to be Ana Gasteyer as one of the three characters named Karen Grisham.

As Maria tries to make her way in the entertainment industry after struggling with mental illness, she crosses paths with Gasteyer’s Karen. Karen is a brutal sendup of a Hollywood power agent. She embodies every shark-like cliché you can imagine, from her brash and flashy glasses to her slippery loyalties.

We’ve seen killer agents on TV comedy before, but none quite as ambitious, disingenuous, stereotypical, and hysterical. And she is killer. When she first meets Maria, she tells her, “Every time I walk into a room, I know exactly how I could kill each person I see.” As we learn, when it comes to imaginary murder, she’s brilliant.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.