HBO's Camping Hits the Snooze Button

2018 | 30 Min | MA | Comedy | HBO

Creators: Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner

Jennifer Garner
David Tennant
Juliette Lewis

A man's camping trip with his wife and friends spirals out of control. A U.S. adaptation of the British series, 'Camping'.

Camping should be a great show. The series has a phenomenal cast, and is the product of two writers, Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, who gave us the runaway hit "Girls". Unfortunately, Dunham and Konner weren’t able to duplicate their previous success.

There are good performances and sharp jokes embedded in this campfire story if you stick around long enough to appreciate them. One of the better (or not) is Juliette Lewis as she relishes the opportunity, to derail Garner's scheduled-to-death outing provide Camping with some of its energetic sequences. All though at times it is hard to understand what Lewis charter was trying to do she is clearly here to drive this truck even tho its a Garner vehicle and for me that was the problem. 

Jennifer Garner, bless her, commits to the character. She does her best to be the person who seems to vacuum up the joy in any space she inhabits. Kathryn needn’t be likable for Camping to succeed, of course, however, Kathryn is all sharp edges, with no warmth or vulnerability to ground her. Despite Garner’s best efforts, the premise that a group of people would willingly spend this much time with her borders on unbelievable, especially on a weekend that’s supposed to be a relaxing getaway in the woods. Aside from their child, it’s hard to understand why her husband (his birthday is the reason behind the trip) is still with her. She is selfish, controlling, and cruel, blaming her abrasiveness on chronic pain and myriad illnesses real and imagined. She invents medical excuses for the fact that she and her husband haven’t had sex for two years. and the sexual tension plays off as a downer and unwanted tension that I think was to play off as a joke.

The cast at least offers some welcome and occasionally humorous insight, mostly due to the unbridled hippie magnetism of Lewis. She gets Carleen to cut her extremely long hair, she offers dangerous pills to the already teetering Joe, she enthuses to Joe’s daughter that being gay means that she’s likely headed for a great sex life. All Kathryn offers are screeches and accusations and physical ailment descriptions that not only make the other characters tense, but she can also kick up the blood pressure of the viewer, and not in a good way. In fact, I want to ditch both of them and make it a bro getaway instead.

I really wanted to like Camping but it's a waste of a fine cast and a dull setting. One possible upside for the series is that Camping might inspire people to go camping themselves, just to get away from the TV for a while.

2 out of 5 Stars


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