On the summer day that I go to visit the set of At Home with Amy Sedaris, it’s pouring rain. Stepping into the studio, though, provides an automatic respite – the set, modeled after Sedaris’ own apartment, is a delightful jumble of pastels and kitschy ’60s-style floral prints. The aesthetic of slightly deranged domesticity, which Sedaris describes as “like a live version of my books [I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People],” is sure to please her fans and provide an intriguing injection of daffy comedy into the viewing schedules of those unfamiliar with her work. In an age of prestige TV teeming with antihero-packed, bleakly-colored hour-long dramas, At Home with Amy Sedaris stands out with its colorful absurdity, mostly zippy pace, and subversive nostalgia.
The show feels like a prime example of auteur television. When it comes to today’s TV landscape, “I can’t compare it to anything,” says Sedaris, who cites domestically focused shows from her youth like At Home with Peggy Mann and The Galloping Gourmet as influences. Sedaris plays multiple roles on the show, which she co-created and writes with her Strangers with Candy collaborator Paul Dinello. It’s an extension not only of her books and previous show, but her whole life philosophy. “I’m such a domestic person,” Sedaris says. “If I had a choice, I’d never leave my apartment. I’m happy in my apartment. I cook for myself, I decorate, I’m into all that stuff for me. It’s so cozy. It’s more about taking control of your life and being surrounded by things that you really like.”
Her show builds on this cozy life philosophy – even though the episodes find Sedaris faced with increasingly ridiculous obstacles from shoes made of potatoes to fake rich uncles to the bloody potential consequences of crafting, she always ends up okay, writing the pros and cons of the episode’s zany events in her “party log” notebook. The show consistently verges on being uncomfortable, especially when intentionally unsavory men (a knife expert, a diner proprietor, a group of businessmen) enter in various segments, but Sedaris plays herself as unflappable, as someone who just loves to entertain, even if the way she chooses to do so is silly. Even when entertaining for others doesn’t go well, it’s fun to watch her entertain herself. In one of the funniest segments so far, a tribute to being alone shot in cheesy soft-focus, Sedaris towels off after a bubble bath with a set of towels monogrammed “Hers” and “Also Hers.” The show is a celebration of this kind of winking femme aesthetic – both a tribute to and a parody of the ideas of self-care and being a domestic goddess.