Whether pointing out the irony of art auctions (“people applauded the price” but not the painting) or mocking her horrific luck with real estate, Fran Lebowitz’s delivery is masterful. So, if the first episode hooks you, this is worth binge-watching.
Where [How To With John Wilson] was willing to wander around the city and find unexpected moments of strangeness and beauty in his endless filming, Lebowitz has her opinions already set in place, and you either agree with them or you don’t. She couldn’t care less. “Oh, Fran,” Scorsese says at one point, and that bemused vibe colors the entirety of the lovingly admiring, if slightly unchallenging, Pretend It’s A City.
Lebowitz is hilarious, and Scorsese captures her humor, as well as her love of New York City, very well. You may not want to binge Pretend It’s A City, because one can only take so much “New York humor,” even those of us who know the city well. But it’s certainly worth taking in an episode or two at a time.
This is Scorsese’s version of forwarding you an email with a link and insisting that, trust him, you just gotta read it. When viewed in full, this can’t help but feel more of a curio than a passion project for either of its main contributors. Still, those who share either of this pair’s love for the city or their views on its gradual evolution will likely enjoy the opportunity for time spent in their virtual company.