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“The Curse” General Information

This section includes information about the Director, Writer, and Cast.

Release Date (New York Film Festival) October 12, 2023
Director Nathan Fielder
Writer Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie
Newly Noted Characters and Cast
Whitney Siegel Emma Stone
Asher Siegel Nathan Fielder
Dougie Schecter Benny Safdie

Plot Recap

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“The Curse” is the first TV show to have its premiere at the New York Film Festival, but if you’ve seen Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie’s past work, you would understand why. “The Curse” will premiere on Showtime on November 10th, but the first three episodes were screened in a packed theater this past Thursday. Based on the first three episodes, “The Curse” is a twisted, tense, and very funny satirical sendup of our current “filmed helping culture.”

In “The Curse,” Asher and Whitney Siegel (Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone) are an adorable couple who are becoming home improvement television stars. The residents of Española, New Mexico, will get jobs and eco-friendly houses, and the Siegels will become rich and famous. It’s a win-win for everyone. Their show, obnoxiously titled Philanthropy, is also made possible by cajoling, slimy producer Dougie (Ben Safdie). This team’s success is inevitable, but their fortunes and lives take a horrific and hilarious turn when Asher’s pettiness gets the best of him. 

In a moment of fake charity, Asher gives a little girl $100, but when the cameras stop rolling, he immediately tries to take the money back. A fight between Asher and the little girl ensues until she tells Asher that she curses him. The claim is small and inconsequential, and Asher thinks nothing of it until their house-flipping plans start to spiral out of control. 

“The Curse” relishes its fantastical premise and dissects the fabrications of reality TV, the dangers of gentrification, and the white-savior complex of its characters. The show can make you laugh and feel queasy as it puts a mirror on our entertainment, our own philanthropy, and feel-good TV moments. In a time where plenty of people have a camera and film themselves “giving” to others and “doing good,” “The Curse” is interested in ripping off the bandage we put on our structural wounds and picking at the scab of reality TV. It’s an unnerving and always riveting show. 

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Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone star in “The Curse” (Showtime, 2023)

New Character Description(s)

Whitney Siegel

Whitney “wears the pants” in the relationship. She’s more sociable, commanding, and has a vision for her marriage and television dreams. Yet when Asher’s mistake curses their potential careers, Whitney’s veil of kindness slowly dissolves. 

  • The actor is also known for their role in “La La Land,” their role in “Bird Man,” and their role in “Poor Things.”

Asher Siegel

Asher is the awkward peanut butter to Whitney’s jelly. Asher’s shallow-tv kindness is more fallible. He’s less empathetic than his wife and feels emasculated by the whole television production experience. 

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Nathan For You” and their role in “The Rehearsal.”

Dougie Schecter

Dougie will say and do anything to get the “perfect shot.” He’s a master manipulator and has no problem faking anything for TV, including a woman’s tears. 

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Oppenheimer,” their role in “Good Time,” and their role in “Licorice Pizza.”

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Review

Notable Performances or Moments

Emma Stone as Whitney Siegel

Emma Stone’s warmth and chipper spirit sneak us into her slow descent. Whitney’s Los Angeles image and west-coast breeziness submit to her disbelief and anger at the crumbling empire in ways that give Stone a chance to play two characters. In “The Curse,” Emma Stone gets a chance to play Joanna Gaines and Lady Macbeth within each episode. 

Highlights

A Voyeuristic View of Television Production

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“The Curse” keeps us at a distance, peeking into the lives of the Siegels as their marriage falls apart. The camera is objective yet creeping; we see the action unfold through windows, peepholes, behind other people, and objects as if we’re eavesdropping on a conversation. The camera choices make viewers feel as if we shouldn’t be seeing what we’re seeing, but the drama is spicy, and we can’t help but keep watching. 

An Ambitious and Dark Embrace of Systemic Oppression

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“The Curse” could have easily been a more absurd or slapstick depiction of reality TV. The premise calls for silliness. Yet viewers will find themselves unsettled, anxious, and filled with a rising dread, as we know things will not end well for these horrible people. “The Curse” takes on television, but also our expectations of gender roles, gentrification, minority exploitation, and so much more. It’s difficult to review a whole show with just three episodes, but “The Curse” sets itself apart as one of the most innovative and exciting shows of 2023.

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The Curse (2023) – Episodes 1 to 3: Review and Summary
Overall
In a time where plenty of people have a camera and film themselves “giving” to others and “doing good,” “The Curse” is interested in ripping off the bandage we put on our structural wounds and picking at the scab of reality TV. It’s an unnerving and always riveting show. 
Highlights
Emma Stone's Performance as Whitney Siegel
A Voyeuristic View of Television Production
An Ambitious and Dark Embrace of Systemic Oppression
Disputable
83

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