Ren Faire

Ren Faire
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Ren Faire is a three-part HBO docuseries by Lance Oppenheim that straddles the delicate line between mocking and celebrating its subjects who are extremely unique. I described it to my friend recently as “Succession” but at a Renaissance fair, and he was like, “So, comedy?” Yes and no. While there are hilarious elements in the Ren Faire, other parts are just as interesting about humanity when you have to give everything to something because you love it or simply do not know any better.

None of these people think that dressing up in medieval costumes for fun or making perfect kettle corn is funny at all. While Ren Faire can be viewed as over-directed and over-emotional in some cases too much, this makes sense in a world where what some may consider comic acts are taken very seriously.

Coulam’s empire includes more than turkey legs on an abandoned field and endless breadsticks on awkward dates. It is quite impressive how Texas Renaissance Festival operates—one wishes that series spent more time discussing how big an event with thousands of attendees, multiple shops, events, restaurants etc., could be. And Coulam’s victory lap can look like anything from his opulent rococo house—he basically says it’s luxurious beyond imagination—or the fact that over which he has built a small town festival around himself where he serves as the mayor by default position. Although he says he wants to quit and find a successor soon enough his decisions and actions show otherwise because they seem increasingly erratic. There cannot be two kings

“Ren Faire” has three potential heirs to the Coulam throne, namely Jeff Baldwin, Louie Migliaccio and Darla Smith. The most sympathetic of these three is Baldwin, a dramatic actor who is Shrek: The Musical-obsessed and seems to be alive on stage. As festival’s general manager, the kind-hearted Baldwin has undeniably been successful but King George has doubts on his leadership qualities that will enable him run everything and gets driven mad by the fact that he wants to employ his wife when there are other qualified candidates for such positions. George is an insulated boss with whom you have to be careful when responding or else his peculiarities can turn toxic if you are unlucky enough to get him on a wrong day. That’s something Jeff may have done few times – which is quite normal for any employee – but George isn’t your typical boss. Now we take this “Succession” matter one step closer: if George is Logan then Jeff must be Kendall–the obvious successor in everyone’s eyes except daddy.

A kettle corn pioneer known as Louie Migliaccio, who has developed & operated many businesses within Ren Faire’s perimeters and comes from rich donors does battle with Jeff over the right to buy out George’s legacy into Vendor Coordinator Darla Smith. Other personalities come and go from King George’s court. Still Oppenheim takes up almost all of this business’ “Game of Thrones” aspect . There is a version of “Ren Faire” which presents more of the “normal people”, thus making its world less exaggeratedly dramatic around George and his successors alike. For example, one assistant spends much time updating more than twelve dating site profiles for George as well as going for dinners at Olive Garden described above. All I wanted was an entire episode about what he thinks.

However, “Ren Faire” remains purposefully insulated—keeping viewers as mad as george and therefore interesting to us—by use of a narrow POV. He is a man that is driven around his empire, grumbling when people do not have their hats on or shouting at his minions for not planning properly. He is as feared as he is respected, a man who seems completely confused sometimes … except when it comes to his fair. This makes him an engrossing docuseries subject because he does not appear to realize that he has any flaws since he has been born and brought up in his own paradise where people adore him eternally.

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