THE MINISERIES "Expecting Amy"
WHEN | WHERE Starts streaming Thursday on HBO Max
WHAT IT'S ABOUT This three-hour unscripted series (only the first two hours were available for review) picks up days after Amy Schumer learns she is pregnant in 2018, then follows her and new husband, Chris Fischer, and their dog, Tati, as they travel around the country to various performances. All the while, Schumer (of Rockville Centre) is sick — really sick. One of the first scenes (and not the last) is of her suffering through a bout of nausea. Later that year, she would be hospitalized, saying in an Instagram post, "I have hyperemesis and …very lucky to be pregnant but this is some [expletive]."
MY SAY "Expecting Amy" is a time traveler from the distant past, and its reception will depend on those doing the receiving. Fans will get a welcome diversion and more proof of it that nothing stops their Amy. She's the human embodiment, and a funny one, of those signs we now see from the LIE to the BQE: "NY Tough."
Schumer haters? Well, the haters are gonna hate — three hours of preening narcissism rendered inadvertently tone-deaf by COVID and irrelevant by Black Lives Matter. The world's got bigger concerns than her pregnancy and 3 a.m. visits to the bathroom.
The rest of us, meanwhile, will see "Expecting Amy" for what it is: A calculated/spontaneous, intimate/prefabricated fulfillment of a contractual obligation. As you watch poor Schumer retch helplessly for the 10th (or 11th, hard to keep count) time, you come to realize just how ironclad that contract must have been.
In fact, "Expecting Amy" is an accessory to her second Netflix special ("Amy Schumer Growing"), or a sort of two-birds-with-one-stone venture meant to take viewers behind the scenes as she collects material for that 2019 show. Thus there were two ironclad contracts to fulfill. Little wonder she looks so desperate at times.
Cameras trail the couple in limos and private jets en route to gigs or protests (the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in the fall of that year, when she was arrested) then segues to their Malibu, California, wedding in the second hour. Her pregnancy is almost immediately difficult. No calls are made to her OB/GYN (at least that you see) but she does stares bleakly into an iPhone — nose-to-screen, eyes bloodshot, face mottled, voice trembling, body heaving.
There's a visit to the ER by the end of the first hour, a diagnosis of hyperemesis by the second. Neither have much of an impact on her schedule or life. The show must go on and does.
The Schumer of "Expecting" is a dynamo and she's tough all right. She's also self-aware enough to know that she has to perform for the camera, even while prostrate. Her life is shoved into a blender here and what's poured out is a vague, rushed approximation of it. You may get to see Amy puke. That doesn't mean you get to know the real Amy.
The best moments are those with her and Fischer. Those are also mostly scattered snapshots until late in the second hour when there's a glimpse of the real promise of what might have been. Challenging her about some material she's using in her shows (it's about him, and hardly complimentary) she pushes back and then he pushes back. They quarrel, make up, hug. A nice moment, quite possibly a real one. Were that there were more of those. Any more.
BOTTOM LINE A mostly superficial fast-cut of Schumer's marriage, pregnancy and life on the road that never pauses to ask, why is she subjecting herself to this?