‘I Love That for You’ review: Vanessa Bayer’s Showtime comedy is a real treat

I like it for you is certainly a hard sell.

On paper, a Showtime comedy about a grown woman who lies about having cancer so she can live out her dream of being a home shopping network host might not seem like a must. But I assure you, this is the show you didn’t know you needed.

The new concept comes from a delightfully hilarious duo, Vanessa Bayer and Jeremy Beiler, who worked together on Saturday Night Live for years. Bayer also stars in the semi-autobiographical series as our main daughter, Joanna Gold, a childhood leukemia survivor who lives a socially sheltered adult life under her parents’ roof. When we first see Joanna in 2022, she is working at Costco with her father. After deciding it’s time to get moving and audition for her favorite home shopping channel, the Special Value Network (SVN), she’s embarking on one hell of a glow.

#Blessed
Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./Showtime

SVN is the hottest of hot messes, led by icy CEO Patricia Cochran (Jenifer Lewis). Under his critical eye, Joanna tries to find her star power alongside Patricia’s senior partner, Darcy (Matt Rogers); other network hosts Jackie (Molly Shannon), Beth Ann (Ayden Mayeri), and Perry (Johnno Wilson); and a thoughtful, dreamy, and musical stage manager named Jordan (Paul James). Oh sorry. There’s only one thing I forgot. Joanna only got her dream job because she told everyone her cancer had come back.

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

While cancer is no laughing matter, Bayer had leukemia as a child and was able to approach the heavy topic from a place of personal experience. She captures the fear, frustration and chaos that come with a cancer diagnosis, as well as the emotional effects that linger after recovery. Between conversations about cancer, workplace drama, identity crises, and rocky relationships, the series has surprising depth during each 30-minute episode. But the serious scenes never detract from the sharp and precise humor that makes the show vibrate.

A Woman (Molly Shannon as Jackie Stilton on

Girls night!
Credit: Nicole Wilder/Showtime

One Man (Matt Rogers as Darcy Leeds on

Not like. I’m obsessed with them.
Credit: Nicole Wilder/Showtime

I like it for you is a rare glimpse of comic lightning in a bottle. Each character is perfectly portrayed, with quirks and personalities that complement each other beautifully. Lewis, in particular, shines as a fiercely independent woman who loves Rolos more than people and gives her one-night “fuck baskets” to encourage them to leave her house. And of course, the series would be nothing without Bayer, who could teach a charming masterclass in how to be painfully awkward. Joanna’s beaming smile, overreactions, and rogue body language are endlessly amusing. Its random sound effects, vocals, and choppy word salads could easily make one snort. And its abnormally abbreviated words — from “gelat” (short for gelato) to “thank” (short for thank you) — are so goofy, you can’t help but love them.

As someone who was also obsessed with infomercials as a child, I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out to the elaborate world of SVN. The set, which gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the network’s offices, stages, control rooms and locker rooms, is so much fun. The plethora of accessories is a thing of beauty. And it’s as great to see the characters jostling to sell products on screen – which range from leather joggers to infinity scarves to placemats – as it is to see them interact with each other in the office.

A Woman (Vanessa Bayer as Joanna Gold in

Ugh. This set is everything.
Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./SHOWTIME

I like it for you is both unconventional and wonderful. It inspires serious soul-searching as well as endless laughter in the form of stellar jokes, physical comedy, and liberal use of the word “fuck.”

Whether it’s a crayon, a rancid-smelling pillow mist, or a one-of-a-kind comedy with a whole lot of heart, I buy everything Bayer sells.

I like it for you is now streaming on Showtime. New episodes air on Sundays.

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