Getting old is messed up, but it’s a little less so if you can do it in the company of the protagonists of ‘The Kominsky Method’. The series offers a scathing portrayal of growing older that hones the minor inconveniences of the whole process. You know, that dying thing. As is, that your friends also die. That going to a funeral becomes a recurring activity. And also those other inconveniences, of course, the ailments, prostate problems, difficulty to remember where you put the keys, etc. You might think this is all far off in the future for us, but not so much, or it is already part of our day to day, the truth is that taking all these vicissitudes with a sense of humor is a very healthy exercise, and it’s a pleasure to sit down to the table with our two characters played by Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, enjoy their humorous comments as the elderly waiter approaches in slow motion with the drinks they’d ordered, the ice clinking from his shakes. But now there is a void. We’ve been left sitting alone with Michael Douglas.
Alan Arkin’s refusal to continue in the series, despite the fact that the third season was scheduled to be its last, has left us with a huge void in the final episodes. However, if there is a series that could survive such an abrupt goodbye, this is it. Screenwriter Chuck Lorre has done what the best screenwriters do: adapt to circumstances and make them his own. Alan Arkin’s decision was swiftly turned into an opportunity to address, now head-on, the issue of death and grief, two of the major issues treated in the series. Thus, the final season begins with Norman’s funeral, which is probably one of the least orthodox funerals we’ve ever seen in a series. True to his spirit, ‘The Kominsky Method’ laughs despite the death, with a grotesque succession of lines that begin with Sandy throwing some of his most irritating peculiarities in the face of his late friend, in the style of BoJack Horseman. The death of Norman is tougher for Sandy to overcome than for the series itself, which last season had already found in the character of Martin (a Paul Reese as unrecognizable as he is exquisite in the way he takes advantage of his lines) the perfect new partner to tandem with the protagonist. Together they star in some of the best scenes, and their tendency to narrate little battles and reminisce over the past with nostalgia, especially in opposition to the new generations, skillfully places the series in a middle ground where it ridicules the ideas of young people in general (and of those which abound in Hollywood in particular) while at the same time it reveals these two men who are lost in a modern-day world whose language has long been somewhat incomprehensible to them. And, above all, they don’t give a damn.
But the greatest success of this third and final season is the casting of Kathleen Turner in a regular role, who plays Sandy’s ex-wife and allows for constructing a storyline that will end up generating a portion of drama which throughout the series goes hand-in-hand with comedy. Laughing at death is not the same as laughing despite it. The comic moments of ‘The Kominsky Method’ work because they coincide with moments of pain. The characters aren’t living in a fantasy world in which they can dodge the expiry date. This is ubiquitous. They know what sadness, pain, defeat, suffering and hopelessness are. We could even say that this is why they have earned the right to play life as a joke. The ending of the plot of Sandy’s ex-wife allows the series to wrap up in exactly where it feels the most comfortable: when it lets emotion take over its characters. Well posed with a few time leaps and a staging that allows Michael Douglas to deliver two speeches that sound like the real McCoy for both the actor and the character, ‘The Kominsky Method’ wraps up its tour by certifying his own death. There’s an open door to continue, but it would be nonsense for a series that, from a humorous perspective, has always been about accepting death.