Michelle Buteau, a comedic force to be reckoned with, brings her unparalleled wit and charm to the forefront in “Survival of the Thickest.” Available on Netflix, this brilliantly crafted series co-created by Buteau and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel is a remarkable blend of humor and thought-provoking themes.
Within the realm of comedy, “Survival of the Thickest” excels, consistently delivering laughs that will resonate with audiences. I’m gutted that the brass at the deep-pocketed Netflix streaming platform only ordered eight episodes. Eight. A mere eight episodes. As I raise an imaginary eyebrow, it becomes apparent, to me at least, that there’s a lack of faith. This series deserved and deserves better. Shame on you, Netflix.
Buteau, the co-creative mind behind “Survival of the Thickest,” takes center stage as the charismatic fashion stylist Mavis Beaumont. Throughout all eight episodes, Buteau immerses herself in the character, guiding viewers through Mavis’s journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Her mission to dress plus-sized women, nurturing their inner divas and fostering self-confidence, resonates powerfully in today’s society.
The unraveling of Mavis’s long-term relationship with a well-connected photographer (Taylor Selé) exposes the fragility of love and trust. Forced to reside in a shared Brooklyn apartment, where privacy is a luxury, Mavis embarks on a challenging quest for financial stability and clientele. Alongside her two loyal best friends, Khalil (Tone Bell) and Marley (Tasha Smith), she navigates the complexities of love, friendship, and self-acceptance.
The chemistry between the trio is electric—a testament to the exceptional casting choices made for the series. Their interactions, set against the backdrop of modern-day New York, offer an authentic and down-right interesting portrayal of real-life issues. Khalil and Marley, both fascinating characters in their own right, deserved further exploration to deepen our understanding of Mavis Beaumont’s world.
With a runtime of just four hours, “Survival of the Thickest” endeavors to encapsulate Mavis’s journey, leaving little room for in-depth exploration. From navigating the complexities of dating to the introduction of an Italian beau (Marouane Zotti) and the revelation of Mavis’s Caribbean immigrant heritage, the series touches upon profound themes such as identity and the complexities of familial relationships. Notable guest appearances, including Garcelle Beauvais as Natasha—an aging supermodel seeking Mavis’s expertise—and a delightful array of celebrity drag performers, further enrich the tapestry of the show.
While I hesitate to step into any spoilers that exist inside the more comedic moments, it suffices to say that “Survival of the Thickest” boasts an abundance of comedic genius. The show is a wonderfully audacious creation, expertly balancing humor with thought-provoking social commentary. Its only flaw lies not in its content, but in the limited episode count imposed by Netflix. This series deserves more seasons.
“Survival of the Thickest” Co-creator/Executive producer: Michelle Buteau
Co-creator/Showrunner/Executive producer: Danielle Sanchez-Witzel
Executive Producers: Linda Mendoza; Ravi Nandan and Alli Reich for A24, Anne Hong (Mosaic)
Starring Michelle Buteau and Tone Bell with recurring guest stars Tasha Smith, Taylor Selé, Garcelle Beauvais, Marouane Zotti, Liza Treyger, Anissa Felix, Anthony Michael Lopez, Monnae Michaell, Usama Siddiquee, Allan K. Washington, Becca Blackwell, Peppermint, J. Riley Jr., Anna George, Michelle Visage, Donovan Louis Bazemore, and Ambre Anderson“Survival of the Thickest,” now streaming on Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/title/81354524