Nathan Fielder is back with his newest project after creating and starring in one of the best new TV shows of 2022 with The Rehearsal. This time he has teamed up with Uncut Gems co-director Benny Safdie for a satirical look at the world of home renovation in The Curse. The upcoming Showtime series starring Emma Stone is garnering some strong opinions from critics who were able to watch it ahead of its release. The feedback seems to be mostly positive, but Fielder and Safdie’s creation is being described as an “unsettling,” “cringe comedy” that will “break your brains.” Sounds about right.
Emma Stone stars as Whitney Siegel, who has an HGTV house-flipping show with husband Asher (Nathan Fielder) that’s produced by Benny Safdie’s Dougie Schecter. The Curse attempts to explore the newlywed couple’s relationship as they try to expand their family and flip houses on TV, while making a scathing statement on a number of deeper issues in the process. Let’s see what the critics are saying, starting with CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg, who calls the series one of his favorites this year:
The new Showtime series The Curse is a must-watch. Nathan Fielder, Emma Stone & Benny Safdie make for a fascinating triumvirate with complexity that makes you both love and hate them, and the shifting story yields wild surprises. One of my favorite shows of the year.
Paolo Ragusa of Consequence says the starring trio is firing on all cylinders, as the “magnificent” series unfolds less like a drama or dark comedy and more like a straight-up horror. The critic writes:
The Curse, though occasionally painful and brooding, is a stunning television show. The ideas put forth are incredibly difficult to depict, especially in this meta-TV format — but the ways in which they physicalize these themes of class, gentrification, and the ethics surrounding them are bold and rewarding. There’s a confrontational nature to The Curse that feels deeply inspired; its interrogation of our systemic oppression of Native Americans and Hispanic folks is one thing, but the show goes on to demonstrate how white guilt can manifest in more harm to those communities than good.
Daniel Fienberg of THR calls The Curse “viscerally unpleasant and frequently fascinating” with its evisceration of performative compassion. Fienberg guesses this series will be more fun to fight about after it’s over than to watch, and that’s probably exactly what Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie intended. He continues:
The Curse is the year’s squirmiest new show, predictably, a work of anxiety and awkwardness. With 10 episodes, most nearing the hour-long mark, The Curse probably exceeds the FDA’s recommended annual allowance of cringe. It’s a show with a lot to say about the way we’re living now, but a lot of its bristling commentary — most pointedly needling its probable target audience — and a lot of its laughs are sure to get lost as viewers look away in mortification.
Belen Edwards of Mashable calls the Showtime series one of the funniest of the year, boasting an at-times unbearable awkwardness. Viewers are sure to feel embarrassment or disgust toward Emma Stone and Benny Safdie’s characters while horrifyingly recognizing themselves in the anti-heros as well. In Edwards’ words:
It's the perfect storm of wince-worthy comedy, HGTV spoof, and surreal (and possibly supernatural?) drama, with plenty of commentary on everything from race to social media thrown in for good measure. As tough as it can be to watch at times — I dare you to go five minutes without cringing — there's no doubt that The Curse is one of the funniest, strangest, and most unsettling shows of the year.
Kristen Baldwin of EW grades the series a B+, noting how the series blends cringe comedy with an intense character study to create the undertones of horror. It may not be perfect, but this series is hard to forget, and Emma Stone is “mesmerizing.” The critic writes:
Stone is mesmerizing as Whitney, a character so selfish and yet desperate for approval she is almost completely insufferable. Fielder and Safdie, who co-wrote every episode, weave fraught pauses into most scenes, and Stone conveys an avalanche of emotion and mental machinations in each of Whitney's silences. Subverting her trademark doe-eyed sweetness, the actress makes Whitney both pathetic and unflinchingly unlikable, a woman who insists on turning every spark of human connection into another moment of public image curation.
The Curse sounds on brand for Nathan Fielder, and the critics all seem to have been strongly affected in one way or another by the series. It certainly takes something special to inspire such discomfort in an audience and still have viewers walk away praising the project. If you want to check the series out, The Curse can be streamed on Paramount+ with Showtime on November 10 before it premieres at 10 p.m ET Sunday, November 12 on Showtime. Check out our 2023 TV schedule to see what other premieres are coming soon.