Sorry, nothing in cart.
‘Lodge 49’ is the the best show on TV not enough people are watching. About midway through the first season of AMC’s Lodge 49, which returns for its second season Monday night, the main protagonist Dud wanders down a dusty highway when he’s confronted with a prophetic, existential billboard.
“Is There Another Way To Live?” the sign reads.
While the plot ofLodge 49 is impossible to sum up succinctly, if there’s anything the show is about, it’s about answering that question. Is there a better way to live? Not only does Lodge 49 grapple with the idea of what our lives have become in and age of late capitalism and digital informational overload, but it tries to offer us a way out.
On the surface, Lodge 49 revolves around a surfer named Dud (Wyatt Russell) and the strange turns his life takes after his father’s death and subsequent decision to join a fraternal lodge called the Order of the Lynx.
Around Dud swirl a colorful cast of characters, like his sister Liz (Sonya Cassidy) who, for so long, has been buried under a crushing mountain of debt, and his best friend Ernie (Brent Jennings), a plumbing salesman who always seems to be just one big sale away from making it big.
It is a small show about ordinary people and their ordinary lives, yet it often raises their humble experiences to the level of the sublime, probing mundane details and discovering magic.
“This an ordinary world with the possibility of the extraordinary just underneath it,” series creator Jim Gavin said.
Lodge 49 doesn’t just ask us to imagine a better way to live as an empty rhetorical exercise, but rather, strongly suggests some answers. Those answers aren’t grounded in money or status or the realization of personal ambition, but in an appreciation of what’s around us, in the redemptive power of community and friendship. That sounds schmaltzy and old fashioned, but Lodge 49 manages to make those ideas feel subversive and rebellious.
There are no grand moments of revelation that happen to these characters, instead there are soul sucking corporate temp jobs, shopping cart fights in parking lots and nights spent on the sofa watching reality TV. Yet, the show doesn’t have disdain for these moments that make up so much of our regular lives. Rather, it treats them as poetic little victories, as small moments of redemption that ease the burden of existence, and allow for a bit of hope to shine through.
“This is our world,” Gavin says of the show, “And that’s a world shot through with mystery and wonder, though it’s just not on the surface. We push all that aside, but we should allow ourselves to see that these things exist.”
A large part of the fellowship of the Lynx Lodge revolves around alchemy, the belief that normal, every day objects can become precious, if only one posses the right knowledge.
When I was talking to the cast, I asked each person if they held sway in that notion, that maybe there was an undercurrent of magic running below the surface of our lives. Brent Jennings, who plays Ernie, paused for a long time before answering.
“Well,” he finally said. “I never thought I’d be here, at this age, playing this role. If you can imagine it, there is no reason it can’t be.”
Russell, who channels Dud every so slightly even in his regular voice, was more ambiguous.
“You don’t try to solve the mystery,” he said taking a long beat. “Just try to be a part of it.”