The following contains spoilers for Mr. Corman S1E6, “Funeral”
Megan’s parents still have a framed photo of her and Josh in their house. By Mr. Corman S1E6 (“Funeral”), we know that Josh and Megan (Juno Temple) have been broken up for over a year, but that doesn’t stop Cheryl (Lucy Lawless) from lamenting that the two weren’t able to work it out—indeed, it’s clear she still hopes they will.
That lack of support from her mother echoes in what Megan says to Josh as they sit on her old bed at the end of S1E6. He didn’t believe in her. Someone you love is supposed to believe in you, and he didn’t believe she could do it.
The “it” in question might be in particular succeeding as a musician, but it’s more than that; it’s succeeding as a person. “Funeral” might be named after the service for Dax where Josh and Megan run into one another, but it’s also an in memoriam for their relationship and why it died. It’s not for any dramatic reason on the surface of things. If it’s a drama it’s one that only these two understand—or what’s worse, perhaps only Megan truly understands.
It’s easy enough to comprehend Josh’s perspective, how he wanted to “settle down” and start a family and thought that meant giving up on their fruitless attempts to succeed as musicians. And it’s easy enough to understand how Cheryl leans in the direction of thinking Josh was right. But S1E6 is really Megan’s episode and we need to hear her plaint.
It’s all there in the closing line of the episode, when Josh says he doesn’t believe anyone can do it. What he doesn’t get is that from Megan’s perspective, that’s worse. This man she loves has given up on the thing—the object of a grand desire—which she thought bound them together. It’s not just the particular. It’s not just the band.
The song Cheryl insists on playing is a symbol of it, but the thing is deeper. It might be a sensible life decision, but Josh deciding the band was over was, to Megan, a betrayal of their shared desire and values. It’s not that she doesn’t love him anymore. It’s more like he’s not him anymore. He’s given up.
And of course, Josh has given up. We could see it already in the way he interacted with Dax as the latter talked about trying to make it as an influencer on social media—a fool’s errand. At his funeral, Josh struggles to lament the tragedy that Dax never got to see Tony Robbins, because of course Josh thinks that stuff is stupid.
Part of what makes Mr. Corman such a powerful show is in the extent to which I actually personally agree with Josh, but can’t help but empathize with Megan, just as I felt for Dax by the end of last week’s “Action Adventure.” If you’re not pursuing your dream in life, what are you even doing? But the problem with Josh is that he doesn’t even have one.
If I’m honest, neither do I. So how do Mr. Corman and I live?
Josh’s anxiety recurs in S1E6, along with the tolling bell and flaming meteor in the sky that so clearly represent it. These are good symbols, and Mr. Corman continues to do an impressive job at portraying Josh’s experience in a realistic way. The anxiety attacks out of nowhere. He just has to get out of the church. Later, he has to get up from the table and takes a little walk. But then we cut to the next scene, because really nothing else happened here (other than Josh presumably coming back for his glasses and getting back in the car with Megan).
It’s an ongoing crisis of meaning that directly relates to what Megan is talking about but lacks a simple answer. Her dreams make life manageable for her. Josh lost his. That’s why they broke up, and that’s why he’s flailing inside. But you can’t exactly just go buy a sense of purpose, and I suspect Josh is being honest when he says he finds one to some degree when he’s teaching. He knows what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. Feels good.
Unless you start thinking about how the world is burning and we’re all just living our stupid little lives, as Frank (Andrew Grainger) puts it.
Mr. Corman began as Josh’s story, but it was always broader than that. Josh is but one exemplar of a more general problem—a generational problem, really. It’s as though we don’t know how to be adults properly. We were told to follow our dreams, but by now it’s clear that’s not going to work out.
It’s clear to someone like Dax, if we think back to his remarks to Victor as they sang along to the Chili Peppers. He would have made it by now but he didn’t, so he’s just a fan. But that’s cool, right? Artists love their fans…right?
Megan wonders if Dax may have killed himself. I don’t think so, though I suppose we don’t know for sure. I think it was a concussion and he made the mistake of going to sleep. But what’s striking nonetheless is how Megan can’t help but wonder.
She herself clearly gets by through a kind of delusion. As Cheryl says, it’s as though Megan is perpetually finishing an album that is never finished. There is no new music. But she has to believe it’s happening, even if at some level she knows it’s a delusion. And she needed Josh to believe it too. She needed him to believe she could do it.
I don’t think anyone can do it.