In 1964, My Mother the Car, an NBC sitcom, aired one season for 30 episodes. The set-up was a man’s deceased mother communicating with him through his car’s radio. Critics hated the show and held onto their disdain for decades. In 2002, TV Guide proclaimed it the second-worst TV show of all time, behind The Jerry Springer Show.
Yes, it was unwatchable.
More than half a century later, the talking car sitcom has been resurrected as My Dead Wife, the Robot Car. It’s unwatchable— because it is a podcast on Stitcher. But this time around, it’s a brilliantly executed, and often side-splitting, improvised 10-episode comedy series.
It took Matt Besser, a self- proclaimed “sci-fi geek,” to crack the comedy code for talking cars.
In the first episode, Besser, one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade sketch comedy troupe, introduces us to the lead character, Matt, a recent widower.
When Matt shows up to become one of the first test-drivers for a high-tech autonomous car company, he finds that the AI personality of the operating system is his dead ex-wife Joyce, played by Mary Holland.
Joyce’s voice and equally abrasive personality were rebuilt from the data of her prolific video blogging on social media. It’s not a fond reunion for Matt, who was planning to divorce Joyce when she died in a drunk-driving accident.
Matt needs the money from the car-testing gig and decides to put up with Joyce’s relentless criticism and alpha-AI control of the vehicle.
Besser recently explained the inspiration for his series to The Verge, a media and technology network. “I thought it would be funny to do a version of (the Spike Jones 2013 film) Her, where instead of being in love, you’re forced to be with an unpleasant artificial intelligence,” he said.
Besser’s right—it’s very funny.
— Jeff Joseph