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Gregory James Wakeman

The Curse episode 1 recap: welcome to Española

Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone in The Curse.

From Showtime and A24, The Curse is a new comedy series that brings together Emma Stone (Poor Things), Nathan Fielder (The Rehearsal) and Benny Safdie (Oppenheimer). Stone and Fielder play Whitney and Asher Siegel, the recently married hosts of a new HGTV show entitled Flipanthropy, which is being produced by Dougie Schecter (Safdie). 

After premiering at the New York Film Festival back in October, The Curse was met with a strong response from critics, who insisted that it was one of the most unique and original shows in years. They weren't wrong.

But what actually happens in The Curse? Let's take a look and see what unfolds in The Curse episode 1. 


The Curse takes place in the New Mexico town of Española, which Whitney and Asher plan to rejuvenate, all while their every move is filmed by Dougie for Flipanthropy. They build eco-friendly Passive Homes for its citizens as well as coffee shops and stores, which the town's unemployed work in, all in an attempt to create a sustainable economy. 

But Whitney is clearly uncomfortable with Dougie's repeated attempts to sensationalize the town's response to Asher and Whitney's acts for the show. Dougie puts water on a cancer-stricken woman's face to make her look like she's crying with joy, asks Whitney to lie on a voiceover and even tries to convince Asher to start a fight with Whitney for content. 

This isn't Asher and Whtiney's biggest problem, though.

Interview goes astray

While giving an interview to a local news station to promote Flipanthropy, Whitney is asked several questions by journalist Monica Perez (Tessa Mentus) about her father Paul (Corbin Bernsen), who is described as a slumlord because of the condition of the apartments he rents out. After Asher tries in vain to defuse the situation, he loses his cool with Monica, making the situation umpteen times worse. 

After the interview, Whitney tells Asher he needs to convince Monica to take the footage off the air. It turns out Asher has inside information on the illegal habits of the gaming control board at a local casino run by the Pueblo people, a story he believes would make Monica the anchor of her station. Asher plans to meet Monica at a local Subway to discuss the details. But when he arrives, she needs 10 more minutes to finish a story. 

During this time we find out why the show got its title.

The curse 

D.J. Arvizo, Nathan Fielder, Benny Safdie and Oscar Avila in The Curse (Image credit: Richard Foreman Jr./A24/Paramount+ with Showtime)

While waiting, Dougie asks Asher if they can shoot some B-footage of him buying a mini-Sprite off a little girl named Nala (Hikmah Warsame). The problem is, Asher only has a $100 bill, which he demands back when Dougie has finished filming. After snatching the money out of her hand, Nala looks Asher dead in the eye and says, "I curse you." Asher eventually gets the $20 he wants to give Nala and her family, but when he looks for them they're gone. 

Asher doesn't think twice about the curse until Whitney watches the footage and responds furiously to her husband's actions. She demands Asher go around Española to find Hala that instant. He's unable to find her, though, so he just gives $20 to another homeless woman. When Whitney asks if he found the family, Asher lies, says he did and insists they lifted the curse, all of which isn't true.

Like father-in-law, like son-in-law

Need proof The Curse is weird? In what might be one of the most unusual family scenes between a father and son-in-law in television history, Paul tells Asher he knows he has a small penis. 

When Paul offers Asher some business advice, Asher insists he knows what he's doing with the money he has borrowed from him, which involves buying up more land in Española. That's how they can make the most money, as they drive up the price by gentrifying the area. 

Paul then reveals to Asher that he also has a small penis, while also boasting about how rich he is, which is his very odd way of reassuring his son in law that he can succeed.

Asher tells all of this to Whitney in the car ride home. She admits she told her mom about the size of his penis after their first date. The pair are soon able to joke about it. They even have sex when they get home. Although this purely involves Asher pleasuring her with a sex toy while they partake in role-playing.

Dougie's dreams 

It turns out Dougie and Asher are old friends who went to camp together. More than that, Asher actually hired Dougie for the job as producer on Flipanthropy. However, after watching clips of his previous work on Love to the Third Degree — a dating show where 15 women try to woo a masked man who reveals that he’s a burn victim — Whitney is incensed at the shameful tactics Dougie will use to get viewers. 

When Asher is out trying to find Nala, Dougie looks to boost Whitney's self-esteem as she's struggling to record a voiceover. Dougie praises her talents, says she lights up whatever room she enters, is a natural on camera and insists everyone who watches her on Flipanthropy will be dreaming about being with her.

It certainly appears as though Dougie was either flirting or trying to seduce Whitney, despite his insistence he was just trying to help her give a better voiceover performance. There's a very good chance he was actually doing all three. 

The Curse is available to watch on Paramount Plus with Showtime and airs on the Showtime cable channel Sundays at 10 pm ET/PT. 

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