‘Survival Of The Thickest’ (2023) Review: Empowering, Charming, And No Cheese

This is the kind of rom-com we’re looking for on Netflix every day. Survival Of The Thickest is the full package (if you know what I mean), and it’s delivering from start to finish. As someone who isn’t a big fan of comedy or standup, this show had just the right amount of humor mixed in with the serious issues, a pinch of romance, and adorable fashion to make a perfect balance (sounds like I’m describing the making of the Powerpuffs). With no prior knowledge of Michelle Buteau, I was absolutely hooked on her jokes and comic timing. Just like her fashion choices, which are boisterous, the show is a perfect reflection of who she really is. Michelle is the star of the show for sure, and I’d be happy to keep coming back, even if it’s just to feel the positive, uplifting energy she radiates.

Survival Of The Thickest follows Mavis Beaumont, a black woman in her late 30s, living her dream life with a boyfriend and a job as a stylist, working her way up the ranks. Things take a bitter turn when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her and decides to take back the reins of her life. Mavis wants to change the fashion industry and is inclusive in her empowerment. She wants to be the kind of person she needed in her life when she was young. Mavis has a couple of best friends named Khalil, who is an art teacher, and Marley, who is a corporate goddess. Through the course of the show, we go on a journey with the three of these characters, understanding their positions in love, queerness, and life as a whole. What’s great about this show is how important each of these characters is, and nobody gets hidden behind Mavis’ full skirts. I especially appreciate the relationship they share with each other, and all we can see is love and endearment. The show doesn’t just glitz up its narrative with parties and glamor. It also deals with serious issues such as racism and difficult parental relationships. The pacing is perfect, and in every episode, there’s a dialogue or a scene that feels like a warm blanket and a cup of hot cocoa when you’re sick and in bed during the rainy season.

This show is everything Emily In Paris wishes it could’ve been. I do think there is an obnoxious quality to Mavis’ character because she’s so loud and in your face; even her fashion choices are made fun of when she’s literally a fashion stylist, but that’s what makes her so unique. Maybe it’s because the character is so deeply rooted in Michelle, the creator herself, which translates so surely through the screen that we readily eat up everything we’re treated to. A lot of shows in this particular genre of adult rom-com end up being set up in the clouds and just coming across as unrealistic and overcooked. What stands out about Survival Of The Thickest is that we actually see Mavis struggle to be the best, to find her way, and to dream a big dream for herself. While shows like these are rolling out every day, thanks to the vastness of the OTT world, it is rare to find a gem like Survival Of The Thickest. Admittedly, even if I didn’t have to watch it for work, I would’ve binge-watched it in a day with no hesitation.

From what I understand, Michelle has spent a good amount of time playing supporting roles in the rom-com world, and it was finally time she got to show off what was up her sleeve. I have to admit; I was especially happy to see that the show doesn’t follow any conventional tropes; you’ll know when you see it, and that makes it even better. The music is great, and there are no forgettable characters. It’s been a while since we came across something like this, and I highly recommend checking it out. Although I may not fall under this show’s exact target demographic, it gave me exactly what I was looking for, in the most unexpected way possible, leading me to believe that it might end up getting a second season. There really isn’t anything bad that I can say about this show; even the cat has perfect timing, and I’m just thrilled to have seen this show.

For a show like this, it doesn’t matter if you have great cinematography or an incredible background score because everything is solely dependent on the characters, and Survival Of The Thickest nails it in that regard. Every character is well-rounded and has a purpose for being in the show, rather than being props to fill up the space. It’s not like this show is something absolutely original and new, but it’s cohesive and brings out a sense of familiarity with a fresh take. Of course, since Mavis is a fashion stylist, I have to talk a little bit about the styling in the show. Although we see a lot of passion in Mavis for her work, and we know she loves it, that side of things takes a backseat because there are many other problems at hand. Although the clothing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and we don’t get many “ooh la la” moments, it serves the purpose of pushing the plot ahead when necessary, which is fine by me.

Although, considering the era that we are in now, there’s no way a show can get as big as Sex And The City or Gossip Girl did way back when, but that’s the kind of treatment this show deserves. It’s a product of its time but also has the potential to be remembered and survive the test of time. The show has great commentary on racism, mental health, relationships, and more that doesn’t feel slapped on but is rather timely. I definitely recommend checking out this show. I’d give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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Although, considering the era that we are in now, there's no way a show can get as big as Sex And The City or Gossip Girl did way back when, but that’s the kind of treatment this show deserves'Survival Of The Thickest' (2023) Review: Empowering, Charming, And No Cheese