In the new Netflix series Lady Dynamite, comedian Maria Bamford plays a version of herself, trying to regain her footing following a battle with mental illness. Bamford and show co-creator Pam Brady talk about how they developed the show and keep the real Bamford sane on set while she plays the semi-fictional Bamford on TV.
Comedian Maria Bamford knows her absurdist stand-up isn’t for everyone. But her fans include Mitch Hurwitz, creator of Arrested Development, who cast Bamford in a recurring role on that series. That was before she was diagnosed with bipolar II and had to take a break to seek treatment. When she was ready to work again, Hurwitz was back in her life, this time with an offer from Netflix. The struggle to work and stay sane became the subject of the new comedy series Lady Dynamite. Star Maria Bamford and show co-creator Pam Brady tell us how they brought a version of Bamford’s life story to the screen.
Photo: Maria Bamford in Lady Dynamite on Netflix. Credit: Doug Hyun
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Every episode in the new Netflix comedy series Lady Dynamite is divided into past, present and “Duluth.”
In the past, comedian Maria Bamford plays a version of her former self, as she navigates her life and career in Hollywood, saying "yes" to every job she's offered. In the Duluth segments, she plays the same character while she’s in treatment for her newly diagnosed bipolar II back home in Minnesota. And in the present, Bamford’s character is back in Los Angeles, well-medicated and trying to regain her footing and find a balance.
In real life, Bamford really did take a break to deal with her mental illness, though she tells us she did that here in Los Angeles and not Duluth. That treatment came in the midst of a busy career as a standup and a voiceover artist. Previously, she had also appeared as a deranged shopper in a series of Target ads.
Bamford has been on the show before--five years ago, when she and two other comics talked about dealing with the challenge of finding steady work. Little did we know that at the time, Bamford had other problems. On this visit to The Business, she tells us that the Target ads were part of what led her to a mental health crisis and feeling like she needed to seek treatment.
Pam Brady, the co-creator of Lady Dynamite, also joins us on the show. She and Bamford talk about why Bamford didn’t want to write her own life and Brady tells us how she and her team of writers approached that challenge, in addition to keeping the real-life Bamford at ease on set while filming Bamford’s character going through a mental crisis.