'As We See It' review: The best new series so far of 2022
SERIES "As We See It"
WHEN|WHERE Starts streaming Jan. 21 on Prime Video.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Three twentysomethings who are on the spectrum — Jack (Rick Glassman), Violet (Sue Ann Pien) and Harrison (Albert Rutecki) — live together in an LA apartment, under the watchful eye of caregiver Mandy (Sosie Bacon). Each is unique in his or her own way. Jack, for example, is a brilliant programmer and someone whose social skills are (to put it delicately) not conducive to a workplace environment. Same with Violet, who works behind the counter at a local fast-food place, and overshares with customers. Harrison, meanwhile, has phobias — even to the point of walking alone outside. Mandy helps where she can, but has an eye on her own future (she wants to get into medical school). The three depend on her, and others too: Violet is reliant on her older brother Van (Chris Pang), while Jack is particularly close to his father (Joe Mantegna).
This comes from Jason Katims, who found TV superstardom with "Friday Night Lights," later "Parenthood."
MY SAY "As We See It" is as you might expect, or at least expect from a Jason Katims show — specifically those classic series adaptations of the movies "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood" which were so vastly more resonant than their source material. (While Katims wrote "FNL," Peter Berg was creator.) What resonated most was that blend of pathos with comedy, and especially that sense — in the stray emotional moment — that here lay Truth. People (mistakenly) go about their lives believing they know what's going on in their own heads so imagine their confusion, turmoil and occasional sheer elation in trying to figure out what's going on in someone else's too, as Katims' characters so often did?
His shows found their stories (and drama) in the most obvious of places, but "As We See It" mixes up the formula, or reverses the order, by taking us to a place that may not be familiar at all, while the dramatic outcome is far from certain. Inside the heads of Jack, Violet and Harrison, we see the world as they see it, in all its manifest glory and absurdity. That's the turmoil and (occasionally) sheer elation here, often the comedy, too.
This eight-parter opens with Mandy and Harrison's shoulders — so to speak — to the door, ready to push their way into the outside world where chaos is king. There are monsters out there, or at least traffic noises, rushing cars, and a passing dog. Each is an obstacle, but taken together, they are insurmountable for Harrison who makes his way forward as if he's negotiating a minefield.
By contrast, Jack and Violet are flummoxed by a world that refuses to conform to the terms they have set for it. Because Violet has learned everything she knows about love (and sex) from Instagram, her expectations are brutally, inevitably dashed. And like Sheldon of "The Big Bang Theory," Jack is smarter than everyone and aggrieved with those who can't see what he so easily can, notably that boss who doesn't like to be called an idiot during staff meetings.
Jack, Violet and Harrison are "on the spectrum," but in wildly different places on that spectrum. Like everyone else, they have dreams and busted dreams. They can be funny, often unintentionally, but are never tragic. They forge ahead, with the help of those who esteem them, like Mandy (Bacon, the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, is excellent here) and Jack's father (Mantegna too, needless to say). They're real people with real problems in an all-too-real world. "As We See It," in other words, is the perfect Katims show.
BOTTOM LINE Best TV newcomer of the new year so far.