BONDiNG: Season 1, Episode 1 “Old Friends, New Names” [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title card for the Netflix series BONDiNG
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Bonding starts off very weird, and potentially niche, but it has the potential to break out of that.


Network
Netflix
Creator(s) Rightor Doyle
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
Genre(s) Comedy
Good If You Like Awkward Sexual Situations Made Into Jokes
Isn’t For You If You Are Uncomfortable With The Idea Of A Dominatrix Berating Her Client
Introduced This Episode
Tiff Zoe Levin
Pete Brendan Scannell
Frank Alex Hurt

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The Introduction

Both from Georgia, Tiff and Pete now live in New York, and while Tiff is in grad school by day and a dominatrix between classes, Pete is struggling as a waiter. Oh, and he wants to be a standup comic but fears his jokes not landing so he watches. Sort of like how he watches his brother Frank in sexual situations and sometimes masturbates later.

But, as his money really runs low, Tiff offers Pete a job as the assistant to Mistress May, her alter ego. A job which he, as himself, can’t really get into but as Carter? Oh, he may just be a hit!

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • Tiff is in school to become a psychologist.

Highlights

It’s Weird Enough To Be Different, But Not So Weird It Feels Niche

Tiff (Zoe Levin) welcoming Pete to her BDSM room.
Tiff (Zoe Levin)

With how strangely tame this show is, despite being on Netflix, it does have this weird, Awkward. era style comedy which makes it seem like it belongs on MTV. However, don’t take that as a bad thing. Considering Tiff is a psych major who is a dominatrix, from Georgia it seems, it brings about a few questions. The biggest being why, of course, but also did she go to school in NY to run away from something or because of the clout of her school? Much less, how does one become a professional dominatrix?

On top of that, we got Pete whose situation is also peculiar. Not a gay kid from Georgia wanting to move to New York, that’s understandable. However, the situation with his brother Frank, who is a bit of a weirdo, and their uncomfortable relationship is a whole other thing. Also, in terms of Pete’s comedy, while it falls flat, the one joke we hear, there is hope he can get better. Mostly due to Pete being the kind of fish out of water you want to see get comfortable and thrive.

On The Fence

Tiff & Pete’s Dynamic

Pete (Brendan Scannell) and Tiff (Zoe Levin) before Pete's first job working for Tiff.
Pete (Brendan Scannell) and Tiff (Zoe Levin)

Tiff & Pete don’t play off one another in such a way which makes you love them together on screen. She is assertive, him a bit submissive, and these opposites don’t necessarily attract or create combustible chemistry. If anything, it seems the characters as individuals have that certain something, but together they almost cancel each other out. To the point it feels like they should be in separate shows.

Where The Story Could Go

Bonding doesn’t really give you much in the way of direction of where this show could go – long term. Short term you expect a lot of weird clients, and maybe Pete will use what he saw for his standup, leading to him and Tiff having issues. As for the long term? Honestly, it’s hard not to draw a blank. For Bonding, with having a short season and episodes which don’t go past 17 minutes, honestly it does feel like a web series given a workable budget.

And while you have to acknowledge it is a comedy, which means it’s rooted in the randomness of life, it’s hard to say if it can and will expand to compensate, or even accentuate, its comedy. Depending on how you feel about the BDSM gimmick.

First Impression: Mixed (Stick Around)

Pete (Brendan Scannell) staring at the camera.
Pete (Brendan Scannell)

Bonding is a strange show which could gain quite a following, but likely won’t become one the show Netflix does more than release a trailer, maybe a few YouTube videos for, and that’s it. This isn’t something it will push for accolades or pay for physical marketing – and that’s okay. Essentially Bonding is a reminder that Netflix is a network dedicated to creators getting the chance to succeed or fail using their own voice. Which, as of now, I’d say Doyle isn’t failing but is definitely presenting something which feels very average, at least in this day and age.

Hence the mixed label. The further we go along will decide if Bonding is just slight shock value and a mediocre comedy or if maybe it is that peculiar show people have to watch to get since explaining it doesn’t do it justice. It’s too early to tell which side this may land.

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Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationTopics & Focused Characters
Season 1, Episode 5 “Double Date”Pete and Tiff go on dates, and while both are awkward at first, it seems they found someone who might be willing to work out their kinks.
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
  • Breakdown The Walls: Tiff, Doug, Rolph
  • Josh Really Has Weird Date Ideas: Josh, Pete
  • Dammit! I Caught Feelings: Tiff
Season 1, Episode 6 “Penguins”Both Pete and Tiff harness who they are and blur the lines between their alter egos and who they are without the mask. How do you think it went?
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
  • Coming To The Stage… Chester?: Pete
  • This Is Me: Doug, Professor Charles, Tiff
Season 1, Episode 7 "Into The Woods"The inevitable happens when it comes to Tiff and Pete’s line of work. Leaving you to wonder, will they survive?
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
Introduced This Episode
Trevor Stephen Reich
  • There Was A Fight?: Pete, Tiff
  • Prom Night: Pete, Tiff
  • It Was Bound To Happen: Pete, Tiff, Trevor
Season 1, Episode 4 "Let's Get Physical"Both Pete and Tiff decide to make some compromises to bring new people into their life. Also, Tiff shows she probably doesn’t need Pete as a bodyguard.
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
Introduced This Episode
Daphne D’Arcy Carden
Andrew Eric Berryman
  • I Just Don’t Want Him Calling Me Mother: Andrew, Daphne, Tiff, Pete
  • Why Must You Make This Date So Complicated?: Josh, Pete, Tiff
  • Not All Men: Doug, Kate, Professor Charles, Tiff
Season 1, Episode 3 “The Past Is Not Always Behind”We dive deeper into Tiff and Pete’s shared past and get to learn why she is so distant.
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
Introduced This Episode
Doug Micah Stock
Chelsea Amy Bettina
  • Gay For Rent Pay: Frank, Pete
  • Reminiscing Over The Past Since The Present Sucks: Chelsea, Tiff, Pete
  • You Were The Only One Nice To Me:Pete, Tiff
Season 1, Episode 2 “Pete Shy”Some of the awkwardness of episode 1 slips away as you realize Pete, while gay, is still Georgia made and Tiff has long left her conservative upbringing behind.
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
Introduced This Episode
Professor Charles Kevin Kane
Kate Stephanie Styles
Rolph Matthew Wilkas
Josh Theo Stockman
Fred Charles Gould
  • A Tiff Styled Pep Talk: Tiff, Pete
  • Teacher’s Pet: Tiff, Professor Charles, Kate
  • It’s A Fulfilling Life: Tiff, Rolph, Fred, Pete
Season 1, Episode 1 “Old Friends, New Names”Bonding starts off very weird, and potentially niche, but it has the potential to break out of that.
Network
Netflix
Creator(s) Rightor Doyle
Director(s) Rightor Doyle
Writer(s) Rightor Doyle
Air Date 4/24/2019
Genre(s) Comedy
Good If You Like Awkward Sexual Situations Made Into Jokes
Isn’t For You If You Are Uncomfortable With The Idea Of A Dominatrix Berating Her Client
Introduced This Episode
Tiff Zoe Levin
Pete Brendan Scannell
Frank Alex Hurt

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