As we head out of the aftermath of the pandemic, the way we relate to one another on the job has changed drastically. Writer-director Brian Padian explores these changes in the second season of Microaggressions. The series spotlights various managers and employees of a municipal bureau building. In protest, someone took a dump in the breakroom, and no one can figure out who did it. The six-part show revolves around key individuals tasked to handle the situation.
In the first episode, Amir (Ben Buehler), the Deputy Director of the City Bureau, is notified of the “biohazard” material found in the city offices. Amir’s been on the phone all morning, much to the dismay of his partner Greg (D’Vonte Robinson). But there’s a bigger problem as Greg believes Amir no longer cares about the ordinary citizen enough to attend a local protest for the latest victim of police brutality. But Amir thinks he can change the system from within.
Facilities coordinator Leslie (Shaughn Uihlein) is still working at home remotely since the lockdown and is charged with figuring out who pooped in the sink. She has an idea but needs security camera footage as evidence. The task is made even more difficult as her husband, Lance (Matt Sipes), is not doing a good job parenting their children and keeping them from interrupting Leslie. Meanwhile, building manager Christina (Jennifer Lanier) is supposed to be on a camping trip with her partner, Mary (Sammy Patrios), but gets a call. Christina goes for a “walk” to handle the situation, but Mary is upset that Christina is not on vacation as promised.
“Amir’s been on the phone all morning, much to the dismay of his partner…”
Set in a municipal office building, Microaggressions follows two human themes interweaving one another. The first is the slow pace that government bureaucracies take to solve a problem and the unwieldy chain of command it must follow to find a conclusion or lack thereof. The second is the toll that city work can take on one’s personal relationships. It’s the idea that we’re working for the higher calling of public services while the ones we love are left by the wayside to fend for themselves.
As an indie web series, each episode focuses on a different lead character. In episodes one, two, and three, it’s Amir, Leslie, and Christina. All are featured on the phone, and the cast does good work acting against a disembodied voice. The best part of the show is its explorations of these relationships. Padian doesn’t necessarily resolve each character’s conundrum but sets up their plight and pushes them to the point of breakdown. It is as if he’s saying this is where this lifestyle can lead if not called out or resolved.
The weakest part of Microaggressions is probably the poop problem itself. Having come from the world of public service, Padian goes too deep with his knowledge of office politics. It’s sometimes hard to follow the story, and it might be a bit too inside baseball for civilians.
Later episodes get into racial bias (microaggressions) when it comes to who actually shat in the sink. Politics aside, Microaggressions has a lot to say about relationships and the struggle between maintaining both a professional and personal life in fast-paced occupations.
Microaggressions will premiere at the 2023 Dances with Films.
"…has a lot to say about relationships and the struggle between maintaining both a professional and personal life..."