At the tail end of the first season of Lodge 49, AMC’s So-Cal comedy-drama, the concept of “duende” is introduced. Seated in a suburban Spanish restaurant, where he is watching a member of the house band begin a spirited guitar solo, Captain, an eccentric real estate developer played by Bruce Campbell, informs his companions of the phrase and its meaning. Duende, according to Captain, is “that real thing inside us that can’t be faked,” flamenco’s interpretation of soul. The resulting conversation swings from real-world concerns (deals that need closing, appetizers that are growing cold) to the more obscure demands of life in the 21st century.
After a year as life-altering as 2020, we could all use some duende or at least a reminder that life can be more than it appears. Thankfully, Lodge 49, Jim Gavin’s fantastic puzzle of a series, can move between the lofty and mundane in under a minute. The writing is sharp, adroitly capturing the friendships and frustrations of a motley crew of characters who exist outside the tropes that keep sitcoms rote. Nothing is predictable in Gavin’s world. His vision of Long Beach, California, can be serene, or it can flirt with magical realism, turning the everyday into a mystic experience.
My first hit of Lodge came at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday. Since the pandemic began, I’ve slept three to four hours a night. Sunday through Friday, this allows me to cram more work into each day, but on Saturdays, I must fill a dreaded stretch of free time. Seated cross-legged on my couch, a bowl of Cheerios in hand, I intended to cycle through police procedural melodrama until I passed out. Hulu’s algorithm knows me better than my immediate family, and in the corner of its suggestion box, a golden donut beckoned to me. Nothing that leads with pastry* can disappoint, so I clicked in without reading the descriptions. I expected a cooking show, perhaps, or something about a rustic getaway.
I was wrong. The lodge in question belongs to the Order of the Lynx, a mysterious fraternal society whose building doubles as a venue for bingo nights and youth pancake breakfasts. If you grew up in certain parts of the world, you’re familiar with the Elks, Freemasons, Shriners, and their ilk. These groups have a certain flourish—who wouldn’t want to be a part of something named the Loyal Order of the Moose or the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Published at Sat, 29 May 2021 00:21:43 +0000