Monday, November 20, 2023

Obituary, on Hulu

The old joke about people dying to get into the cemetery applies to the obituaries as well. Unfortunately, for freelance obituary writer Elvira Clancy, they are not dying quickly enough in her not so quaint Irish village. She starts helping along Kilraven’s the oldest and meanest citizens, but of course, unexpected consequences invariably result in writer-creator Rudy Lawlor’s six-part  Obituary, which premieres tomorrow on Hulu.

Living in Kilraven is generally grim, but it is especially so for ragingly neurotic Clancy. She lives with her alcoholic father Ward, who is drinking to forget something. Her childhood defender, Mallory Markum, remains her only friend. However, they are both seriously attracted to the paper’s new crime reporter, Emerson Stafford, who seems over-qualified for such a low-profile publication. It turns out he was personally recruited/blackmailed to come to Kilraven by his terminally ill predecessor, Clive Cavendish, to solve the decade-old murder of German national Maria Riedle.

The death-obsessed Clancy is happy with the obit beat. She just needs more work, so she soon decides to create some business for herself. However, she has strict rules, like her victims must be over 18-years-old and basically have it coming. Much to Clancy’s surprise, one of her near-misses turns over a new leaf, which spurs her boss, Hughie Burns to also start poking around the Riedle case again. It turns out just about everyone she knows has a hard-to-explain connection to the case, including Clancy herself.

Lawlor’s homicidal obit-writer premise is pretty sly, but his twists and turns take it to a higher level. The way evil karma keeps coming back around, over and over again, is quite clever. This really is some impressively slick television writing.

Siobhan Cullen is perfectly deadpan and dour as borderline-sociopathic Elvira Clancy. She makes the twitchy protag weirdly sympathetic, despite her creepy eccentricity. As usual, Michael Smiley is a treasure as her boozy, guilt-ridden father. Colorful character thesps like David Ganley and Roddy Lalor further enrich the series, adding grit and cynical attitude as Burns and Cavendish.

Lawlor’s steady stream of revelations might be unlikely, but they are always entertaining and often quite droll. It all pays off very nicely, rewarding viewers’ investment. Very highly recommended,
Obituary starts streaming tomorrow (11/21) on Hulu.