“Life & Beth” is the story of a woman who has a seemingly perfect life but with a deep sense of unfulfillment. This is a series where the mundane and awkward bits of life act as a mirror to the ridiculousness of grand gestures and the small white lies of everyday life and how they end up affecting our lives and our happiness.
The series makes you feel a lot of things through the journey of Beth, who is “unable to but trying to feel.” There is a familiarity when she isn’t able to figure out why she isn’t happy, despite doing well at her job and having a great fiancé. And when she is unable to cry after her mom’s death, we may not relate, but we understand. Our appreciation for “Life & Beth” lies in the un-dramatization of the dramatic and how we see bits and pieces of all our lives in it.
‘Life & Beth’ Season 1: Plot Summary – What Is The Series About?
The first episode is really an ode to all the people-pleasers out there. Beth works as a wine salesperson, and she seems to be good at her job, though she doesn’t seem to be enjoying it. This is in contrast to her coworker and boyfriend, Matt, who has a certain zeal and zest for life, which looks quite comical next to Beth’s hesitant, low-key approach to it. This is the episode where we see that Beth is not one to say what she thinks and always acts in the interest of keeping peace. It is most evident in the scene where she goes shopping with her mother when the latter reveals that she is seeing a married man. The news obviously distresses Beth, and we can see her conflict with wanting to call out her mother versus just telling her she loves her and salvaging their relationship. It is with this mental and verbal back and forth that she exits the store and calls her sister to let her know about this. Her sister correctly guesses that Beth must have acted like it was all okay without confronting their mother. The whole situation is a look at the family dynamics of Beth and how they affect her throughout “Life & Beth” Season 1.
When she returns home, Matt tells her that he needs her to go with him to a party and insists that she have more fun with his friends, who don’t seem to like Beth very much. It is in the middle of this whole thing that she gets a call from her sister, telling her that their mother has died. It is probably the most important episode of “Life & Beth” Season 1 because it is the episode where we most clearly see Beth’s internal confusion with her lack of understanding of what she actually wants.
The story progresses to Beth going to her hometown for a while to take care of her mother’s last rites. We come to know through Matt that Beth still hasn’t cried, and this is something he seems to have trouble understanding. Matt and Beth don’t really understand each other, with Beth not even liking Matt that much. He seems to be taking Beth’s mother’s death harder than Beth herself and mentions at the funeral service that she had thanked him for being with Beth, something he remembers very fondly. Beth is just awkward at all this and constantly looks as though she can’t wait for it to end. That very day, after the service, Matt surprises her by proposing to her with a flash mob, and Beth, in all of her horror, says yes. But later, when she sees him giving a speech at their engagement party, she makes the decision to end the relationship.
While the break-up doesn’t seem to clear up any of Beth’s dilemmas, she visibly breathes easier after this. As she moves to Long Island for a while, she meets a farmer, John, at the vineyard she reps, and develops a slight crush on him. On the other hand, her friends encourage her to get back into the dating game with a very attractive hookup. But when Beth acts on it, she finds out that she is not attracted to him at all. She ditches that date and goes to a birthday party hosted by John, where she comes to know that John has a girlfriend. This prompts her to go back and spend some intimate time with her date. But when he tells her that the condom broke and they go to the pharmacy, he insists that she take the contraceptive pill right then and there, as if implying that she would want to bind him to her with a child. This ridiculous behavior causes Beth to storm out, while at the same time helping her overcome some of her childhood insecurities.
The next day, as she is hanging out with John, they acknowledge their attraction to one another while deciding to remain friends. She meets up with Maya, where she has a chat with her boyfriend, Shlomo, about how he processed his father’s death, and Beth ends up relating to that a lot, as if the knot of guilt inside her because she doesn’t know what to do or how to feel, has started loosening up. The next day, she goes to a fair with John, where she has something of an odd encounter with an old friend of hers, causing her to leave.
As she and John explore the woods, they get intimate outside of someone’s house after John assures her that the man isn’t there. It turns out, he was, and while initially, Beth says she understands it was an honest mistake and is alright, the next second, she reveals that she is not OK with it. Despite John telling her that he did not know about the man being there, Beth tells him that her trust is broken regardless, and she is not OK. This is the first time in the series that we see Beth express clearly what she feels without suppressing herself.
Later, Beth makes her sister meet John, and at the end of the day, through a misadventure, John and Beth decide to start dating each other officially. The story progresses to Beth coming to know that her ex-boyfriend Matt hasn’t paid their rent in over ten months, with Beth’s name on the lease.
To solve this problem, she tracks down her dad and asks for his help in impressing a client for the company so that her commission can get her through this trouble. And at the end of that meeting, her dad tells her what she always knew: that she doesn’t enjoy her job and should consider doing something that gives her joy. As Beth makes her way back, she sees a dance group, and seeing the passion and enjoyment in their job brings her to make the call to quit her job. She joins them in their dance, knowing that she has let go of yet another chain that she used to hold herself back.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Life & Beth’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Does Beth Find Closure On Her Mother’s Death?
Beth has reached a point where she has started looking at her past and wants to be in charge of her life rather than be a “passive passenger.” With this thought in mind, she puts her relationship with John on hold as she does not feel that connection with him. On the other hand, when undergoing an MRI scan, she reevaluates her childhood trauma, the root of her issues with her mother, and the friendship she lost with one of her best friends, Liz.
As she reconnects with her and they discuss their lives, both of them realize that while they can’t be friends, they can move on with good feelings. When it comes to John, Beth decides that she wants to break up with him and goes to the vineyard to tell him that. Once there, she sees his boat drifting away and realizes that she doesn’t want him to be upset about it so she jumps into the water and brings it back, which John sees. Beth talks to John and realizes that she doesn’t want to give up on their relationship just yet. They get together again, deciding to communicate more often and take the time to figure each other out.
Also, she wants to have a do-over service for her mother, to properly honor her memory. It is here that we see that she has forgiven her mother, by seeing that while being a good parent, she was a person with flaws, and she does not want to carry that with her any longer. “Life & Beth” Season 1 ends with her dancing at the party, finally having let go of the baggage, with the intention of rebuilding a relationship with her sister, working at a job she enjoys and living a life she actually likes.
“Life & Beth” is one of the better recent series. Whether it is binge-able or not really depends on the emotional capacity of the viewer, but it remains an easy watch. This 10-episode series is about how, after the death of her mother, Beth starts dealing with her lifelong issues with her that stem from some childhood trauma and the journey of getting over them. This is one of those series that trusts the emotional intelligence of the viewer, and it does so with a lot of sensitivity and clarity, and that, for us, is what makes this win.
We hope Amy Schumer gives us more gems like this in the future. For now, this is the series for everyone’s Sunday watchlist, and for all of its portrayal of sensitive issues, it does that with charm and comedy, without faltering, and it has our hearts for that.
“Life & Beth” is a 2022 Comedy Drama series created by Amy Schumer.