“Is This Not Real Magic?”
Comedy is a very subjective genre, and what works for one viewer is not necessarily going to work for another. There has been a bit of a social media frenzy in the past few days over last week’s episode of She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law, mainly celebrating drunken party girl Madisynn (Patty Guggenheim) who figures prominently in the episode’s events. Clearly she has been a hit with a lot of viewers. I have even seen joke campaigns to give her her own Disney+ streaming series. I hate her.
I mean, I don’t hate Patty Guggenheim. She is just an actor doing the best with the role she has been given. There is also a lot that I still enjoy in this latest episode, which involves Wong (Benedict Wong) looking for ways to legally block a failed sorcerer from using what little real magic he has in an amateurish stage show. It is a good episode for Jennifer Walters, and for lead actor Tatiana Maslany. There is a sequence about Jen going dating that, while predictable, hits all of the appropriate comedy notes one would expect it to hit. This remains amiable, if a little disposable, comedy television.
And then there is Madisynn.
There are no two ways about it. The character stinks. She is not just lazily written or blandly conceived, but actively unlikeable. She is so poorly done that not only does she ruin any scene in which she appears, she actively begins to damage characters who share those scenes. It is worst for Wong, who is a paper-thin plot cypher masquerading as a character anyway. When put into the position of binge-watching The Sopranos with Madisynn, it feels fairly embarrassing for everybody involved: particularly director Kat Coiro – who now has this episode on her CV for life.
She-Hulk has been walking a tightrope since it began, combining a pre-existing Marvel Universe with a very un-MCU style of comedy. For the most part it has acquitted itself reasonably well, albeit still with a few disappointments and missteps. This isn’t a series-breaking disaster, but it is easily the worst episode of the series to date. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t see Madisynn again.
That’s me, though. You are going to have to assess Madisynn for yourself.