If you’ve been tracking HBO’s progression with comedy specials over the last two years like we have, you might have noticed that they’re taking a lot of chances. They’re going bolder, more vulnerable, personal, even into unprecedented/uncharted territory (see Julio Torres’ My Favorite Shapes or Drew Michael).
In the vein of getting incredibly and deeply personal, HBO has gotten quite the enrapturing special in The Golden One from Whitmer Thomas. They’ve gone to this territory before with Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide and Gary Gulman’s The Great Depresh, but there’s a parallel arc of documentary footage that follows Whitmer reconnecting with estranged family members that arguably brings us as close to the emotional bone as you might have seen in a comedy special. On top of that, Whitmer crafts a quilt of sorts from charming, funny, genuine, heartfelt music and stand-up, switching between the two at his beloved hometown venue, the Flora Bama.
We were lucky enough to see Whitmer develop this in LA at one of Silverlake’s favorite haunts, The Satellite (this cocktail napkin pictured on the bar at The Satellite FYI). We were already blown away by the songs and stand-ups and the juxtaposing of it all. Then, the gritty feel of Whitmer being back in his hometown added a whole other rich layer and depth to The Golden One.
The Golden One already premiered on HBO this past weekend, but can (and should) be streamed on HBO GO or HBO Now.