THREE BUSY DEBRAS is a strange, short absurdist humor series about three women all named Debra, written by and starring Sandy Honig, Alyssa Stonoha, and Mitra Jouhari.
I suppose you could say they’re busy, but it’s with general nonsense, like cartwheel championships. Usually there’s some sort of pecking order between the three as they go about their lives. One wears very 60’s-ish dresses, one wears suits and one wears a blouse and slacks – all in white. The show is obsessed with white.
Anyway, in the third episode we dip into absurdist horror with “Sleepover!”.
Two Debras are dealing with major plumbing problems and won’t be able to host their slumber party, so the third Debra decides to host.
However, when there, the two Debras start having some major trouble being in Debra’s house, and have to put up with other Debra’s overly-emotional ways, while also enjoying typical sleepover activities.
Things turn from strange to spooky when one of the Debras finds an old photo book within a closet, documenting an obsession the third Debra has for the two other Debras before they were even friends.
Terrified, the two Debras try to escape the house, only to be trapped by the fanatical Debra, hell-bent on having a fun slumber party, no matter the cost…
Thoughts/Brain Roll Juice: (spoilers)
This show is absurdist humor with really good set design and costuming. While we never fully get a sense of who the Debras completely are (unlike, say, absurdist kid’s show, Pete and Pete), this episode actually is one of the closest to explaining them as characters. In the end, the only way to escape the clutches of the obsessed Debra is to, in fact, open up. Both of the trapped Debras share a deep secret and actualization of who they are, which appeases the obsessed Debra into letting them go.
I’ll admit, these shows tend to creep me out a bit because they are a dip into the unknown. The very core of absurdism is to put the audience at unease and to tear apart the tropes of normality. The expense is usually at the audience and how we feel and react to these paradigm shifts. Absurdist comedy is a difficult thing to create, especially if it also brings along a moral or question.
With the Sleepover! episode, I believe that the meaning is that opening up to other people is scary, but also frees us from that fear when we embrace it. It frees us as much as it terrifies us. Sleepovers, in general, are about going outside of our comfort zones and embracing the hope that your companions will accept you, even while flawed and scared.
While I feel the humor and wit of THREE BUSY DEBRAS can be too far of a stretch or too hard to follow (yes, yes, non sequitur means ‘does not follow’ – thank you), I think this episode is one of the best ones in their first season. It showcases each Debra and their fears in a very real, engaging and enjoyable way. We can identify with those fears and the difficulty it takes to share them with others, even sometimes against our better judgement (or against our will). And I think that’s a pretty powerful message to be told in eleven minutes.
If you like surrealism, feminism, fun outfits and have eleven minutes to spare, check it out.(4 / 5)