Got a Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist-shaped hole to fill in your TV lineup? Well, Hulu’s here to help.
The streamer on Friday dropped all eight episodes of its musical rom-com Up Here, starring Good Girls‘ Mae Whitman and The Flash‘s Carlos Valdes. And though the entire season is now available to binge, we’re going to stick with the events of the series premiere; before you tell us what you thought of it, here’s what went down in Episode 1:
The first installment, as you might guess from its “Lindsay” title, focuses largely on Whitman’s character. During her childhood in the 1980s, Lindsay divulges to her best friend Celeste that her biggest sexual fantasy is to hook up with a librarian. Not the actual, elderly librarian at her school! Just a librarian. But the specification doesn’t matter: Celeste blabs Lindsay’s secret to the school, parents and students are horrified, and Lindsay’s mom encourages her to forever tuck away her innermost thoughts. “You show people the nice parts,” her mother says. “Believe me, that’s all people want to see.”
Cut to 1999 — that’s present day for Up Here — and Lindsay is living a meek, every-day-is-the-same existence with her dweeby boyfriend, Ned. That’s not to say Lindsay’s life is quiet, though: Ever since that childhood trauma with the librarian fantasy, Lindsay’s anxiety has taken the form of her parents and ex-BFF Celeste, who follow her around all day and serve as the concerned voices in her head. (Sometimes they sing!)
But Lindsay has always privately longed to be a writer, and when she wins a prestigious-sounding short story prize awarded by a bookstore in New York City, she suggests to Ned that they move there, arguing that their relationship could use a new adventure anyway. He shuts her down right away, though — and the next morning, she breaks off their relationship and decides to venture to New York on her own. (It’s probably for the best. That award-winning story Lindsay wrote was about “a woman who’s never had an orgasm before” — and she was clearly pulling from personal experience.)
The city life starts out underwhelming for Lindsay. Her bedroom at her apartment is quite literally a closet, and that accolade she won from the bookstore? It wasn’t the Weetly Short Story Prize, which sounded important: It was merely the weekly short story prize (an unfortunate typo!), and all Lindsay gets for it is $15 in store credit. A month goes by, and Lindsay’s now working at said bookstore… but she hasn’t written anything of her own since she arrived, as her roommate tough-lovingly points out to her.
That night, via a fun song and dance, Lindsay decides to stop suppressing what she actually wants to do and say with her life. “What if I try to change this ever-looping tune?” she sings. “What if I let them see the dark side of my moon?” With that, she gets dressed up and joins her roommate at a nearby bar, where she meets an investment banker named Jimmy (Valdes). The two of them spark an instant, flirty connection, and when Jimmy’s work colleagues get so hammered that they start vomiting on the bar floor, Lindsay and Jimmy decide to relocate to his office, which boasts a gorgeous view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Just as the two seem poised to kiss, Jimmy stops and looks at something in the corner of the room, almost as if his own inner monologues are stopping him from making a move. “You don’t have to listen to them, you know,” Lindsay tells him knowingly. “All the noise in your head. I’ve started to realize recently it’s not always the truth.” But when she worries she may have overstepped, Lindsay apologizes and heads for the door… until changing her mind at the last moment. She shares with Jimmy that she’s trying to apologize less and pursue what she really wants. And right now, she wants to kiss him, and Jimmy’s totally on board.
Their kiss quickly escalates to sex in Jimmy’s office — and despite the fact that Lindsay is wearing plastic red pants with absolutely no give in the waistband, the sex seems quite good. Like, Lindsay’s-enjoying-her-first-ever-orgasm good. But at the height of the encounter, Lindsay pulls away when she realizes her cheek is wet, and Jimmy is crying. “S—t,” he says, without explaining his sudden emotion. “I should go. This was… I’m sorry.” Clearly humiliated, he dashes out of the office — and Lindsay is rejoined by her inner voices. “Be honest,” Celeste says. “How hard were you pulling it?!”
Jimmy, meanwhile, gets into the elevator, still tearful. And as the camera pans out, we discover that he does have a trio of voices at his side: a woman who’s obviously his mother; an anonymous man (father? Stepdad? Boss?); and an anonymous young woman (a sister? An ex?). As soon as Jimmy is alone, they pounce on him for what just happened with Lindsay. His mom says Lindsay was playing mind games with him. The man tells him he’s weak. The girl calls him a little bitch. While the elevator doors close, Jimmy begs them, “Shut. Up.”
OK, your turn. What did you think of Up Here‘s debut? Will you continue watching? Cast your votes in our polls below, then elaborate on your choices in the comments!