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The Curse

The Curse season 1

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

“We’re good people,” Asher insists.

He and his wife, Whitney, are working to improve the community of Española, New Mexico. They’re building eco-friendly, affordable housing. They’re subsidizing rent for local businesses. And they’re providing jobs for folks down on their luck.

They also happen to be filming every second of their work for a new reality show called Flipanthropy. But what’s happening on screen doesn’t quite match up with Asher’s claims about their alleged “goodness.”

Smile for the Cameras

A lot of Asher and Whitney’s work seems like it might be fake—or at least ill-conceived. For example: they promote two businesses on their show that have promised to hire local workers, but at the launch of those businesses, the staffs are made up of Australians, not Españolans. Both places have also only signed 6-month leases, meaning they could leave the community in short order. And the prices they charge for their goods and services are way higher than most people in the community can afford.

What’s more is that Whitney’s parents lent them the money to build their carbon-neutral homes. Now, that may not seem like a bad thing, but her parents were landlords in a similar community once, and they earned a reputation for ripping their tenants off and evicting them without compunction.

And unfortunately, that’s not the end of it. Instead of hiring an established director to document their work in Española, they went with Dougie, one of Asher’s friends. And Dougie is a lot more about sensation than he is about actual good sense. (His previous credits included a reality dating show where women compete for the affections of a masked man, who is actually a burn victim.)

Dougie is clearly insensitive. He uses water and menthol to make an elderly woman cry on command. He repeatedly films things that Whitney has requested that he steer away from. He tries to get Asher to be rude to Whitney on camera. (And later on, he hits on her.)

Maybe Dougie could be reined in if it weren’t for the fact that Asher isn’t much better.

He’s rude. Suspicious. And sometimes belligerent. He loses his temper with a reporter because she researched him and Whitney before interviewing them. (Then he tries to manipulate her so she won’t air his embarrassing outburst.)

And when Dougie convinces him to give a little girl money to demonstrate his “charity,” Asher snatches the $100 bill back from her when the cameras are off because he never intended to give her that much cash.

“I curse you,” she says.

Well darling, I’m pretty sure he was doomed already.

Curses, and Other Problematic Content

Setting aside the fact that Asher isn’t such a good person as he claims, The Curse has plenty of problems to steer families away.

Whether or not that little girl’s curse is real remains to be seen. Asher thinks it’s ridiculous, but Whitney believes they’re truly cursed. And that causes more than a few problems in their marriage.

But there are plenty of the other type of curses. F-bombs and abuses of God’s name paired with “d–mit” make frequent appearances, along with just about every other profanity out there.

There’s also some pretty graphic sex scenes and full-frontal male nudity. It’s revealed that Whitney talked about her and Asher’s sex life with her parents, so we also get a very disturbing conversation between Asher and Whitney’s dad regarding male anatomy.

All in all, it’s a weird show about some not-so-good people. And it certainly won’t make you feel good about yourself for watching, either.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 10, 2023 – S1, E1: “Land of Enchantment”

Newlyweds Asher and Whitney begin filming a reality show about their charity work, only to reveal that they aren’t quite as “good” as they claim to be.

Dougie instructs Asher to give money to a little girl selling sodas in a parking lot. However, once the cameras are off, Asher snatches back the $100 bill since he thinks it’s too much. He tells her he’s going to get change, but the girl lays a curse on him, and she leaves with her family before Asher can get the cash.

When Whitney finds out, she’s scared because she thinks the curse is real. (And she and Asher argue since he calls her a “moron” for thinking that.) She makes Asher return the money to the girl. But since he can’t find her, he gives the money to a homeless mother instead, lying to Whitney that the girl lifted the curse.

There’s a graphic sex scene between Asher and Whitney involving masturbation and a sexual aid. (They also pretend that Whitney is having sex with another man in this scene.) We don’t see nudity since they’re both clothed and their lower halves are kept off camera, but movements and noises leave little to the imagination.

We see two men’s genitals as they urinate. Asher is appalled to learn that Whitney has graphically described her and Asher’s sex life to her parents. Her father has an uncomfortable discussion with Asher about marital intimacy and the size of both his and Asher’s genitals. Dougie jokes that he matched with Asher’s mom on a dating app and shows Asher a picture of her in a bikini.

It’s heavily implied that a man is being racially discriminated against in the job market. Whitney appears to be naïve about the struggles the Española community faces, believing that gentrification will solve most of the city’s problems. We learn about some of the questionable practices of the businesses she and Asher are promoting on their show. We hear about someone who died of cancer. We hear a man abandoned his family. Many of Asher’s sympathies seem fake and forced. There are many unkind things said about overweight people.

Asher loses his temper with a reporter when she asks about Whitney’s “slumlord” parents (they earned a reputation for ruthlessly evicting tenants). Later, he tries to convince the woman not to air the interview in exchange for evidence of illegal activities at a casino.

Despite the fact that they’re filming a reality show, Dougie uses film tricks (such as blowing menthol on an elderly woman’s face) to get the reactions he wants. He repeatedly films without Asher and Whitney’s permission. He has Asher perform fake acts of kindness for the camera and tries to convince him to be mean to Whitney onscreen. He shows Asher and Whitney a dating show he filmed where contestants compete for the affections of a masked man (who is revealed to be a burn victim). And we see many of the woman on the show kissing the mask. Later on, Dougie undermines Asher to Whitney, hitting on her in the process.

There are a dozen uses of the f-word and half a dozen of the s-word. God’s name is abused 15 times (thrice paired with “d–mit”). Jesus’ name is abused twice as well. And we hear uses of “p-ss,” “d–k” and “c–k.” After using Christ’s name in vain, Asher spots a cross on a woman’s wall and apologizes for his language.

People drink wine at a meal. A man says he urinates on his tomato plants to help them grow. (And we later see him do so.)

Asher and Whitney sing prayers in Hebrew at a family dinner. (Asher and Whitney’s dad wear yarmulkes.) When Whitney’s mom asks about the candles lit at Hanukah, Whitney says her rabbi told her they were only for practical purposes so they could see their food. We see a girl wearing a hijab. Whitney talks about the “energy” being off in a room.

Asher and Whitney introduce one of their subjects to a priest, who does a lot of charity work for the Española community. When the priest attempts to share Jesus with the man, he states he’s an atheist. And later, Whitney asks to cut the interview since she doesn’t want the show to take a religious turn.

We hear a man started working two jobs to help cover his mom’s medical expenses. To Whitney’s credit, she does try to dial down Dougie’s sensationalist sensibilities. While it’s ill-conceived, Whitney and Asher’s desire to create an eco-friendly community is commendable.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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