Review: Despite Kathryn Hahn's wonderful turn, “Mrs. Fletcher” falls short

By Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s simply less.

“Mrs. Fletcher,” HBO’s new dramedy that should be – and in many ways still is – a stellar platform for Kathryn Hahn’s unique gifts, falls short at nearly every turn. Instead of a one-hour series, it’s a half-hour; it runs a mere seven episodes when its concerns could go on forever; and its wonderfully diverse set of characters all seem to run into an invisible wall. Why?

Based on Tom Perotta’s novel, “Mrs. Fletcher” follows its title character (Hahn), a divorced mom who’s only son, Brendan (Jackson White) heads off to college in the first episode. Mrs. Fletcher is the director of a senior center and the stage is set to follow mom and Brendan as they make their way alone in new worlds.

"Mrs. Fletcher" on HBO

A lot of that way-making has to do with both sex and the need for connection. Once a high school stud, Brendan – something of a monumental entitled jerk -- finds his superficial charm less effective at college. And Mrs. Fletcher discovers the wonders and pitfalls of porn on her laptop.

She also takes a community college writing course, where she befriends her trans teacher (a wonderful Jen Richards) and an aimless young man (Owen Teague) Brendan used to bully in school. Meanwhile she connects with a co-worker (Katie Kershaw) at the senior center, with its constant reminder of the inevitable onslaught of advancing years.

Hahn mixes the comic, erotic and desperate with her particular genius and plenty of scenes are pure gold. So why cut everything so short? It’s not like sex, aging and generational difference don’t offer plenty of fertile ground. “Mrs. Fletcher” deserved better.

“Mrs. Fletcher”


10:30 p.m. Sunday