“Nosedive” explores an unforgiving world built on an ethic principle of personal and social perfection. Lacie, played deftly by Bryce Dallas Howard, smiles at every availing opportunity. She performs her smile for her ultimate audience: herself. Her main foible is her inability to discover an objective audience outside of herself because she confuses objectivity with authenticity. In a world where courtesy is social currency, Lacie hinges her self-worth on her proximity to enough, a concept explored later in the episode with the always-brilliant Cherry Jones, who plays the truck-driving Susan, dispenser of sagacity and rough charm in equal measure. Lacie’s inevitable fall into self-destruction plays out so horrifically because every action she chose in relation to self-regard. The solipsism she so closely builds dissolves at the episode’s end, to surprising and delightful effect. That the episode can be so disarming and yet end so coyly celebrates the talents of the writing team, Rashida Jones and Michael Schur, who initially wrote different halves of the script which they then coalesced into a gestalt. “Nosedive” triumphs as an existential drama of the soul, wherein Lacie redeems herself through positive disintegration. She must fall apart in order to escape herself and the perfect heaven of her creation.
Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at email@example.com.