Mae Martin’s semi-autobiographical series ‘Feel Good’ is back on Netflix, with a new and final season giving us more reasons to feel good this Pride month. The mini-series is about Mae navigating their addiction and their relationship with their partner George (Charlotte Ritchie). Season one ends in the middle of unresolved conflict between Mae and George and Mae relapsing. Season two starts with Mae back in Canada where they are forced into rehab by their parents. This season dives into Mae’s past, giving viewers a better understanding of their character.
One of the most interesting things about this show is that it’s not about two people falling in love; instead, it focuses on what happens after you’ve fallen in love with someone. There have been many queer rom-coms portraying how two people meet and fall in love, but very few that address the problems that specifically arise in a queer relationship. With Mae and George, there is an imbalance with how comfortable they both are accepting their sexuality. Mae has been ‘out’ since they were a teenager whereas George is not even ready to reveal hers and Mae’s relationship to her friends. George being in the closet makes Mae feel ashamed and less confident about themself. The experience of having a partner who is still in the closet is the reality of many queer relationships; it’s good to have this representation on screen.
In season one, Mae navigates their gender dysmorphia. They tell George ‘I am not a boy. I am not even a girl. I am like a failed version of both.’ This gives viewers an idea of how confusing and taxing gender identity can be for non-cisgendered people. In season two, after they have confronted their past and feel more safe with George, they finally come to terms with their gender identity. The actor/writer Mae Martin came out as non-binary this April before the release of season two. In an interview with Metro UK, they said “writing this show has been helpful in their own self-exploration.”
In season two, there is a significant character development in both George and Mae. George discovers her passion – teaching and saving the bees; she sets up a ‘Teachers for Social Activism’ group. Elliott, who she briefly goes out with, educates her about her emotions and sexuality. She goes from being completely dependent on Mae to creating her individuality outside of their relationship. Mae goes to Canada hoping to recover but only returns more triggered by their past. They are trying to process sexual harassment by an old friend and confidante, recovery from addiction, coming to terms with their gender identity and the rekindling of their relationship with their parents and George. There is definitely a lot on Mae’s plate this season, which is why Mae hits many roadblocks before deciding things need to change.
As George and Mae grow individually, their relationship gets stronger. George starts noticing Mae’s impulsive moods and is there to support them. The break up makes both of them realise that they need to communicate better. While the first season explores their honeymoon phase, this season is about intimacy and letting your walls down. George even tells Mae that, according to her, actual romance is when they do their laundry and she can see their clothes mixed up together. This is a redefining moment in their relationship; at the same time, it gives viewers a chance to look at queer romance through a more mundane, ‘everyday intimacy’ lens.
What makes this show remarkable is that while it addresses issues of trauma, addiction, and identity at the same time, it also always leaves you with something to laugh about – making it the perfect dramedy. Mae Martin and Joe Hampson’s writing is poignant, honest and hilarious. Although queer representation in media is growing, well-written, multi-faceted queer characters are still scarce, so a show like ‘Feel Good’ must be watched and re-watched.