Zerocalcare is a famous Italian comic artist who seems to have a knack for existential fear. So it seems appropriate for him to make a TV series for himself. Where he suffers more than he looks in real life.
The result was the comedy Tear Along The Dotted Line.
Zero (Zerocalcare, pseudonym for comic artist Michele Reche) is a comic artist based in Rome. Who, at 37, is more or less existentially worried about every decision he has made in the past.
It is now or will be made in the future. He says he is meeting his girlfriend Alice for the first time (Zerocale makes every sound but one). It was 2001, and they were both 17 years old. He tried to keep his cool, and when his other friend Sarah introduced herself to him at a rock show. He barely speaks to her.
But on MSN, the “ancestor of the WhatsApp village,” the two chatted any time of the day or night. They seem to be working, but they just swap variations of whether they smoke or not.
Why don’t they develop a more intimate relationship? His consciousness, which he saw in the form of a giant battleship (Valerio Mastandrea). Which constantly pushed him to speak vaguely and not express his feelings.
After this memory, he meets his girlfriend Sarah, who tells him to put on his jeans. After a suspenseful hate speech about how dirty the men’s bathroom is compared to what she imagines the women’s bathroom to be, Sarah counters this with her gruesome squat story. Then he put his pants on in the men’s bathroom after falling to the floor, soaking wet.
Tear Along The Dotted Line is a goofy, sometimes surreal. And often humorous look at a man who lived so cautiously that his life had stalled since he was a teenager. We love this show because despite the language barrier and some visual clutter in the animation. We laugh more often than not.
In each 15-20 minute episode, Zerocalcare weaves stories from his youth:
He often includes Alice, Sarah, or another friend of his, Seko. He gets all the characters talking because he tells the audience’s story. By complemented by a summary of his flaws, nourished mainly by the warship constantly on his shoulders. We saw him for the first time when he was 11 years old.
And we wondered if his teacher was disappointed in him because he didn’t understand fractions and long division. Sarah pulled him up and called Zero a blade of grass in the yard, which was his teacher’s long career. The teacher even called him a classmate’s name with a similar name.
Then the last minute of each episode continues the current story. Usually, these segments are the funniest in each episode. For example, in episode 2, he tortures himself for not fixing a flat tire.
And points out that working on cars is part of a “manual for men” (with a roughly drawn penis on the cover, of course). But being Italian, he saw no problem in calling his mother to sort things out. Which in no matter how childish it seemed.
We think we find these things funnier because they’re more relevant. More like reading the “Limit Your Enthusiasm” style of Zero’s current illness than remembering past failures.
However, these are numbers with the promise. That they will all reunite in 6 episodes at the end of the season. Is it worth watching six episodes that total less than two hours to come to that conclusion? We thought so, especially since there were so many fun moments along the way.
Tear Along The Dotted Line can be a dizzying clock at times. But the fact that it made us laugh with its visualizations and descriptions. And we watched the Italian version with subtitles; it could be more fun, dubbed in English – it’s an outstanding achievement.