We Need to Talk About This Netflix Show's Beautiful, Devastating, and Oh-So-Realistic Portrayal of Grief
This is a recap for “Human Resources” season 1 episode 9. There will be spoilers beyond this point. Please proceed with caution (because we don’t want to be the ones who spoil you!)
I’ve always said “Big Mouth,” no matter how crude, is one of the most emotionally intelligent shows currently on air. “Human Resources,” the show’s spin-off, was pitched as “Big Mouth” meets “The Office,” which is incredibly up my alley as I adore both shows. I binged it – watching episodes late into the night. I laughed out loud, snorted, and related to a lot of the different character arcs. It was a great time, until I got to the ninth episode, “It’s Almost Over.”
“It’s Almost Over” has several plots coinciding at the same time, but the main plot revolves around a grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease, Yara, who was introduced in an earlier episode, and her son, Amir, who was her caretaker. Pete, the logic rock, was helping guide Amir through the caretaking process, not taking time to feel out the emotions that come with the reality of the situation. Yara is guided by the lovebug, Walter; they walk through some of her favorite memories where she was the happiest. The rest of Yara’s team were let go early on in the episode, as a precursor to her fate, but Walter didn’t want to accept or believe that that was the reason.
Midway through the episode, Keith, a literal grief sweater, appears for Amir. Pete shoos him away, saying they didn’t have time for grief and the emotions with it – not when they had to take care of Yara. The more he’s ignored the bigger and badder he becomes (like, he literally becomes a rampaging monster in this big car chase scene).
Finally, towards the end of the episode, Pete and Amir let grief and the associated emotions in. There’s a montage of the family crying over Yara as she declines, before one final scene shows Walter watching her pass on. At that moment, Yara’s granddaughter sees Walter, something she couldn’t do before. He gives her a massive hug before telling Yara that he’ll take care of her. Yara transitions on, and the episode ends with her granddaughter being consoled by the love left behind for her.
Easy to say, grandparent and parental death is quite a sensitive topic for me. That’s why I’m a little annoyed that no one warned me about this episode.
When my grandmother passed earlier this month, I was devastated. More than that, I was annoyed and aggravated because I had finally gotten to a functioning place in my life where grief wasn’t controlling my every thought and movement. I sobbed on the phone to everyone around me how “I’m so damn sick of crying,” knowing what was to come.
However, before the tears and screams, before she became an ancestor, no tears were shed for months. I guess I was operating as if I had a logic rock. Logic ruled everything and all my reactions. I didn’t cry when I got bad updates. I didn’t shake when talking with my family about what we should do. I operated purely from a logical place, as I didn’t want to make a risky or bad decision due to my emotions.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t have the thoughts though – that I didn’t fear the inevitable truth that my grandma was dying and that I was losing her. I wouldn’t say I was pushing off the emotions, rather, like Amir and Pete, I had other things I felt I had to do and I couldn’t be distracted by my own emotions, no matter how much I had to feel them.
I’ve taken in a lot of media portrayals of grief over the past three years, but I have never seen a portrayal of grief so destructively true to the nature of the beast – how logic can overrule emotions, but only for so long before you’re forced to actually confront them head on.
Grief can cause so much damage to your life and to those around you the more you run from it. The more you do, the worse it becomes, as with any repressed emotion, and “Human Resources” depicted that perfectly.
When Walter hugs Yara’s granddaughter, I think of all the love my grandparents left me with. They also left behind anger, confusion, and regret, but most of all they left behind a legacy of love and that type of connection was showcased so beautifully.
If you haven’t watched “Human Resources,” I do say it’s worth it. More than worth it, actually. However I’m going to give a massive trigger warning for the ninth episode, as even with the massive spoilers, you still won’t be prepared for how beautifully tragic the episode truly is.
“The only way out is through.”
“The only way out is through.”
Keith from Grief, “Human Resources”
Lead image from Netflix’s YouTube channel