Not everyone loves Dick
By SARAH M. VASQUEZ
MARFA – The critics have spoken. You either love Dick or you really hate him.
Emmy-winning director Jill Soloway’s new TV pilot, “I Love Dick,” premiered last week on Amazon Video with many local and past residents logging in to see Marfa on the computer or TV screen.
An hour and a half after the scheduled Friday morning release, the episode had almost 100 reviews. Now with a little over 2,600 reviews, the show has 3.1-star rating out of five stars. The split is between the lowest rating (one star) and the highest (five stars).
It’s always cool to see familiar faces and backdrops in a TV show or movie. The show opens with Marfa Film Festival founder/director Robin Lambaria as the hipster subletter Ester and Mando’s Restaurant waitress Belen Garcia shows Chris and Sylvère (played by Kathryn Hahn and Griffin Dunne respectively) to their table to join Dick (played by Kevin Bacon) for dinner. I moved to Marfa three years ago, so I’m still fairly new to the town, but there is a sense of pride I get seeing whatever is my home base at the moment in the TV world. The big party scene filmed at the Capri event space became a fun game as I tried to spot as many locals in the background as I could.
There are others that don’t feel that way though. Naturally, the show was the talk of the town this weekend and in this age of social media where people turn to their keyboards to air their approval or grievances, it seemed that everyone had something to say. It was hard to avoid it.
I decided to survey my friends on Facebook and what I got back was mixed responses. While some commented on the actual storyline, I read reactions that cared more about how Marfa was portrayed and what this new attention would attract to town. Tourism is part of the local economy, but I feel like I have this conversation every time a new article from an out-of-town publication is published or a news piece airs (60 Minutes, anyone?), or a new business comes to town. Sometimes change is just hard to accept. I started this year watching my parents lose their home to the always-rising property taxes in East Austin due to gentrification, so I understand the resistance.
There are a lot of amusing jokes that most people won’t get if they’ve never been here, and clearly Soloway and writer Sarah Gubbins paid attention to those details. I don’t think the show is an overall glowing portrayal of Marfa though. If anything, “I Love Dick” makes light of the quirks we have to endure to live here.
Devon (played by Roberta Colindrez) tells Chris that the Presidio County Sheriff doesn’t like the artists and she shouldn’t smoke her weed outside, as he’s not cool with it.
It was comical to see Lambaria act like she’s never heard of Marfa before, or that Caitlin Murray from the Judd Foundation mentions a “bad art show” that was “filled with men and terrible painters.” I immediately recognized Presidio County Justice of the Peace David Beebe’s voice as he talks about nitro coffee, the newest caffeine endeavor for Daniel and Jessie Browning, the couple behind the Frama Coffeeshop.
When Chris drives into town and looks around, she asks her husband if it’s weird that this was not at all what she expected. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from visiting friends.
After an inspection of the house that is provided for Sylvère’s writing fellowship, she walks out in disgust and says it’s like we’re Amish. Yeah, we have this amazing art scene in a town of 2,000 people, but with limited resources, the closest big box store being 1.5 hours away and overnight delivery being pretty much non-existent, we make due with what we have. This is nothing new to those that live here or have visited on a Monday.
Mercer Black Declercq is a fourth generation Marfa resident and she commented on my post that while it’s not what she typically watches, she supports the show fully.
“Diversified economy for Marfa is a good thing,” she wrote. “As for whether or not it’s damaging to the ‘Marfa brand’ – well, I have more to say about that than can be shared in a Facebook post. The short of it is, no one owns this brand. It’s a living, breathing, growing thing and those of us who have been here awhile, particularly those of us with some family in the Marfa cemetery, have seen worse and better times.”
During the two-week filming, the production company stayed in local hotels, sometimes ate in local restaurants – Marfa Burrito’s Ramona Tejada catered the big party scene – and rented facilities and locations. They rented the Marfa ISD’s big gym for 10 days and a bus for two days, paying a total of $10,200, which includes $1,000 for “being a nuisance.”
The show is not perfect, but I also feel like it’s too early to form my opinion just yet. TV pilots are hard for me because there is less than an hour to sell the idea, and the cast and crew are clearly in that getting-to-know-each-other phase.
It’s no secret I am a huge Veronica Mars fan (this is the girl that woke up at 6am to get an express pass for the movie premiere), but I have to admit it took me four to five episodes before I became hooked. In fact, I almost tuned it out at first because it didn’t immediately win me over. I’ve had a few friends tell me similar stories with the shows and movies they love.
Yeah, it’s Amazon’s pilot season and the whole point is that the reviews will determine if the show gets picked up, so our opinion is rushed. I would like to see more of “I Love Dick,” because frankly, I’m interested to see how Chris interacts with Marfa in the show.