Nathan Fielder penis, Emma Stone fight and more spoilers
Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers for the Showtime premiere of The Curse, now streaming on Paramount+.
In the opening scene of Showtime’s “The Curse,” Usher and Whitney Siegel do a good job. Well, sort of.
Cameras are rolling on the couple’s new HGTV series, and they’ve offered an unlucky man a job at a new coffee shop. A producer steps in to put fake tears on his cancer-stricken mother, and it seems her real reaction to the news isn’t enough for it to be shown on TV. Barrier Coffee, this man’s new employer, is little more than a set piece – a paid sponsor for the series with no long-term business plan.
Created by Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie, The Curse follows charitable house flippers — “do-gooders,” if you will — who descend on a New Mexico town to do good, or at least their idea of it. As played by Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone, Asher and Whitney aren’t your parents’ folks: they’re new-age liberals keenly aware of how their series can paint them as white saviors. But they also truly believe in the power of their mission: to build “invisible” eco-friendly homes and provide opportunities for the Hispanic community.
“We’re not HGTV. We don’t share those values,” Whitney reminds Asher after their producer turns their final scene into charity porn. But she seems to be reassuring herself.
As Asher and Whitney parade around Espanola shooting their pilot, they’re careful to portray themselves as the good guys. “Instead of ignoring residents who may be displaced by our actions, we use a portion of every home we sell to subsidize local rent,” Whitney says in a television news interview. Things quickly go south when Asher explodes (literally) in a reporter’s face after she asks a tough question about Whitney’s parents, landlords whom the reporter describes as “slumlords because of their heavy-handed approach to evictions.”
The interview was a train wreck, and Asher’s new mission is to prevent it from being broadcast. His first strategy: apologize to the reporter and make a deal by providing scandalous information about Whistling River, a tribal casino where he worked. He insists he doesn’t want to hurt the indigenous people who run the casino, but rather wants to “shine a light” on the injustice.
While waiting for the journalist, Asher’s producer Dougie (Safdie) convinces him to sponsor two young girls selling soda in the parking lot, to show him “giving back to the community.” But when Asher handed them a $100 bill — then took it back, promising to come back with the change and buy their entire stock of Sprite for $20 instead — one of the girls looked him in the eye and said, “I curse you.” Asher tries to get smaller bills or withdraw money from the ATM, but by the time he gets back to the parking lot, the girls are gone. As the turmoil affects Asher and Whitney’s production — and their marriage — Asher grows more convinced that a supernatural force is to blame.
Things get uncomfortable — even by the standards of the “Nathan for You” creators — when the couple has dinner with Whitney’s parents, Paul (Corbin Bernsen) and Elizabeth (Constance Shulman). While Asher was in the bathroom, Paul took a crack the size of his penis, much to his alleged insult to his daughter. The camera then pans to Asher urinating, and focuses on his genitals for an alarming period of time.
After dinner, Paul pulls Asher outside and shows him the garden. “People love tomatoes a lot. I’ve got the big old beefsteak… and I’ve got the little cherries. “They’re very different, but once you chop up the cherries and put them in a sandwich, they taste great,” he says with a wink. “Once you put them between bread, they’re delicious.” “It’s the same.”
As Asher grew more upset, Paul began urinating on the soil. “Asher, break the illusion in your mind. ‘Hey, I’m the guy with the small penis.'” I tell all my friends, they know it. Paul awkwardly assures Asher that his daughter “has no problem” with Ash’s size and then shows him his penis, which is smaller than Ash’s. His brother-in-law. “Be the clown,” says Paul. “It’s the most liberating thing in the world. It’s like having sex with a 10-inch penis. All Asher can muster in response is, “Thank you.”
When they got home, Asher noticed that his delivery service had left the chicken in his chicken noodles. Nothing goes his way – until Whitney calls him in for sex, which in their case means Asher using a vibrator on his wife as she calls out the name “Steven.” When Asher asks the fictional participant if he or she can join, Whitney replies, “He hasn’t said not yet.” As Whitney approaches climax and tells her husband it’s his turn, Asher says, “I want to watch you finish with him,” as he masturbates her leg.
The next day, Asher and Whitney meet at Dougie’s apartment to review the footage. As they bicker over editorial decisions, it becomes clear that Dougie is more interested in sowing drama and conflict, while Asher and Whitney are more interested in protecting their reputation in the community (at least, the reputation they have). He thinks They have in the community). When a shot of Asher giving the girl $100 flashes on Dougie’s computer, Whitney demands to see the entire encounter. She is horrified by her husband’s actions, and worried about the curse, and orders Asher to go find the girl and give her the full $100.
So, that night, Asher drove to a local shelter, which was closed for the night due to low funding. Unhoused Spaniards camp in tents outside in the rain. Asher cannot find his curse, so he gives the money to a mother and child. When he returns to Dougie’s, he lies to Whitney and tells her that he found the little girl. That the curse has been lifted.
As Asher quells Whitney’s superstitions in the hallway, the camera creepily circles back to her from behind a peephole — and it’s not Dougie’s door. Their show hasn’t been picked up yet, but it looks like they’ve already been seen.