‘Mr Corman’ follows the life of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. While Josh Corman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) loves his job teaching fifth grade, he’s become somewhat listless and dissatisfied with life. He starts to experience anxiety as well as panic attacks, and decides to experiment with another great passion of his: music.
Having worked on some shorts, documentaries, and feature movie ‘Don Jon’, Joseph Gordon-Levitt now writes, directs, exec produces, and leads his first season-long television series in ‘Mr. Corman’. He’s collaborated with A24 on it, so if it’s the indie vibe of that company’s movies you’re expecting (‘Ladybird’, ‘Room’, ‘Ramy’, ‘Euphoria’), it’s here in bucketfuls.
Mr. Corman’s first class sees him manage the tricky landscape of being PC and contemporary, while encouraging debate and discussion in the classroom. It’s all well and good as the character’s slightly out of date, but trying-to-keep-up, tendencies emerge. The thing is these questions lead Josh to question his own existentialism, and his relentless pessimism is tiring to those around him, including his roommate Victor (the altogether lovely Artur Castro, whose character gets his own episode) and no-nonsense mother Ruth (Debra Winger).
That night he has a back and forth with Victor about what is classed as sexism, and what incorporates “going out out” these days. He has an unsuccessful evening where he meets a girl, and elsewhere he struggles to find support for his growing anxiety (an interesting commentary on the difficulties of finding help for mental health here).
Other well-written episodes that come later in the series include one centered around the pandemic, another in which he and his father talk all night, and one involving a Skype conversation. There are a couple of mad animated sequences and a musical number thrown in too, to ensure that that indie vibe is maintained.
‘Mr. Corman’ will recall for many viewers the Netflix special ‘Bo Burnham Inside’ in its themes and storylines. However Bo’s project felt more innovative and the Apple TV series can misfire in its humour and some of what it’s trying to achieve. Still, it proves a stirring consideration of what it means to be human and vulnerable, and one is excited to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt back on the screen.