‘The Woman In The House …’ & How To Make A Comedy Without Jokes

by Frank Martin

It’s amazing how much tone informs an audience as to what type of genre they are watching. With something like The Batman, it’s unmistakable as a noir detective story. For a horror film, the dark atmosphere sets the mood perfectly. For a comedy, a light airy aura around the characters gives the audience the impression that it is time to laugh. But what if tone was played so far in the opposite direction that it completely defied the genre? The work enters the realm of parody and satire. And that’s exactly where Kristen Bell‘s new show on Netflix finds itself.

First off, the show is called The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. That alone should give the viewer a hint that it is a comedy. But that’s the only hint. The thriller tone is played completely serious. In fact, the show doesn’t have a single joke or punchline. This is in contrast to something like the Scary Movie series. Those films are parodies too, but they play up that fact with hilarious jokes and situations, not to mention a tone that puts on an obvious display of comedy.

The Woman in the House…, however, does something different. It is a comedy, but it gets its humor through complete exaggeration. It takes tropes and cliches of its genre and pushes them to the extreme, playing the story and characters so seriously that it could only be perceived as funny. And it never admits it’s meant to be a joke. In fact, it doubles down on the its serious tone. And since it doesn’t play things for laughs, the show might not be for everyone. It creates its humor by not telling any jokes, but for storytelling enthusiasts like myself, it’s an interesting experience to see something take itself so seriously that it creates comedy just by its very existence.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is streaming now on Netflix.

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