Ben doesn’t have a girlfriend named Abby. He is a player who connects with many women. But a quick check of his phone confirms that he did indeed have sex with an aspiring singer named Abby (Leo Tipton) a few times and then forgot about her. Somehow, he ends up being persuaded to travel to Abby’s hometown, attend her funeral, and be with her grieving family, which also includes her younger sisters Paris (Isabella Amara) and Kansas City (Dove Cameron), her little brother El Stupido (Elli Abrams Beckel) and her mother Sharon (J. Smith-Cameron). Ty then tells Ben that Abby was murdered, probably by a Mexican drug dealer named Sancholo (Zach Villa), and asks if he wants to help the family search, well, you know.
Ben is a narcissist who seems to see every relationship and every experience as a way to elevate his status as a writer and quasi-celebrity, so it seems at first sight unbelievable that he would travel to Texas to attend the funeral of a woman he did. don’t really know. But the notion begins to seem more plausible when he starts talking to the family and putting them into his prefab East Coast media-industrial-complex notions of “red state” and “blue state” people and spins his theories of temporal dislocation. Modern technology, he says, allows any person to exist in every moment except the present, if they choose. The desire for revenge, we are told, is purely a backward urge.
intrigued by the possibility of writing the equivalent of a great American novel in the form of a podcast (he even name-checks Truman Capote In cold blood) Ben decides to stay to gather material for an audio series that will be created under the supervision of his friend Eloise, a New York-based podcast editor for a National Public Radio-like organization. (Like Eloise, Issa Rae works wonders with a thinly written role.)
If Ben’s creative vision sounds like the kind of navel-gazing chatter you’d hear on a true crime podcast, where the murder of an actual person becomes a springboard for brunchy ruminations on law and truth and the nature of yadda yadda of a group of Ivy League college graduates based in Brooklyn, well, Ben is aware that he’s sliding toward that cliché—as is Eloise, who makes an early joke about Ben being the only white man in America without a podcast. And yet, true to media form, they embrace the templates, tropes and clichés anyway.