There’s no way to talk about “Forever” without spoiling it, so consider yourself warned.
The Amazon Video series by Alan Yang (“Master of None”) and Matt Hubbard (“30 Rock”) stars Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen as June and Oscar, a married couple trapped in domestic tedium. After Oscar dies on a ski trip, June begins to move on, only to meet her own end in a freak accident.
The couple then find themselves reunited in the afterlife, where they get to repeat their banal routine for eternity. Life in their cookie-cutter Riverside, California, neighborhood full of other dead people is pleasant, but dull. Days are spent playing shuffleboard, taking walks, doing crossword puzzles and making pottery. It’s either heaven or hell, depending on your perspective.
Oscar is elated, but June is disheartened. For, as much as she loves her husband, it’s clear she thinks one lifetime with him was enough. Her ennui is exacerbated by the arrival of Kase (Catherine Keener), a restless neighbor who wants to see what else the afterlife has to offer.
The central thesis of the series — that, after a while, marriage can become a monotonous routine — is hardly novel. And despite Yang and Hubbard’s efforts to dress it up with a high-concept metaphysical premise, they don’t have anything particularly interesting to say.
Ostensibly a comedy, the show is light on humor. Instead, the tone — whether intentional or not — is as dull as the afterlife presented here. And that afterlife is pretty damn uninteresting. That’s due, in part, to how inconsistent and ill defined the rules of this universe are.
It’s impossible not to make comparisons to “The Good Place,” another, much better, series about the afterlife. Animated by a quirky energy and a terrific cast, that show is narratively ambitious, charming, and exceedingly funny in all the ways “Forever” is not.
Indeed, “Forever”’s best asset is Rudolph, whose performance has an authenticity the rest of the show cannot match. Rudolph is an undeniable talent, and kept me watching even as my interest in the rest of the characters waned.
Armisen, who tends to play big, loud comedic characters, is restrained here. It’s an interesting turn, and his effort is commendable; however, the quieter role highlights his limitations as a dramatic actor.
The typically fantastic Keener, meanwhile, is mostly wasted in this supporting role, which gives her little to do.
Amid the mediocrity, the episode titled “Andre and Sarah” is a standout. In it, we follow the relationship of a star-crossed couple over a lifetime. It’s a touching portrait of true love, regret, and missed opportunities.
At only eight 30-minute episodes, “Forever” is a quick watch. If you’re looking for a melancholy meditation on relationships or a chance to watch Rudolph do some fine dramatic work, there are worse ways to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.