Review by Mary Cox
The image of a casino exclusively for scratcher cards is amusing enough, but like all of Wareheim and Heidecker’s work, the point you should consider is the “heart of fear” in this episode. This episode features Ray Wise of Twin Peaks fame, who previously has appeared worked with Eric Wareheim as the starring role in his video for “Wishes” by dream-pop duo Beach House. There’s something about Wise’s natural charisma that lends itself to surrealist media, and his performance, alongside Rhea Perlman and Jorge Garcia, should not be missed.
Bedtime Stories works fundamentally because it plays on our deepest fears and insecurities. On one hand, there’s the surface story about the casino and learning to live with a lie, but that’s not what makes “The Duke” so unsettling. When looking at this narrative specifically from a masculine perspective, this story is very obviously about a fear of cuckoldry and emasculation. Whereas “Baklava” was about the externalized issue of saving someone from themselves, “The Duke” focuses on personal loss of agency via impotence and forced submission.
This is the reason why Bedtime Stories is sometimes described as “hit or miss.” The terror and discomfort doesn’t necessarily “kick in” unless your personal issues and insecurities are up to bat. Even if you’re not afraid of losing your wife to another man, or you’ve never struggled to keep someone’s head above the waters of mental illness or addiction, everyone has some kind of deep-seated anxiety or raw nerve. Give it time. Wareheim and Heidecker will get to you and your issues as well.
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t