We’re Sold on Vanessa Bayer’s ‘I Love That for You’

2022 SHOWTIME NETWORKS INC. All rights reserved. Credit: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

Oh, what a treat this is!

SNL’s uber-smiley Vanessa Bayer is so cringey dorky (yet lovable) as Joanna Gold, a home shopping network superfan who gets the job of her lifetime, in the new eight-episode comedy I Love That for You (Sundays at 8:30pm ET/PT beginning May 1). Now how she kept the job is the real story.

Let’s start by going back to Cleveland 1997, where we meet a teenage Joanna who spent most of her younger years in hospitals battling and eventually overcoming leukemia. Once she licked the disease, she then had to battle that lifelong label of “that cancer girl.” Her luck finally starts to turn when she gets a job at SVN (the Special Value Network she grew up watching) and befriends her childhood idol, SVN’s superstar Jackie Stilton (Molly Shannon).

The series is actually inspired by Bayer’s own love affair with home shopping, but more so her story of overcoming childhood leukemia and using humor as a coping mechanism.

“I had leukemia when I was 15. I’m fine now,” Bayer shares. “But something that I really discovered — aside from it obviously being very difficult — is that I was able to get a lot of perks from it … like I got to come into school late and there were no consequences. I couldn’t go to homecoming with someone because I was getting chemo that week. I mean, I used it as an excuse all the time.”

It’s in that space and the characters surrounding Joanna where the series finds its depth and humor. When Joanna majorly flubs on air and her icy boss Patricia (a brilliant Jenifer Lewis) fires her, she resorts to the only excuse she can think of — telling the entire team she has cancer. That sets into motion an outpouring of attention, fake friendships, extra perks — and problems. There’s a lot of cutthroat competition in this world of egomaniac sellers.

In addition to being hilarious, the series is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how home shopping networks actually work. The real-time metrics and pressures, how hosts create their personas, and how they know how to sell you just about anything is riveting. “Talk about your cancer,” producers pipe into Joanna’s earpiece, and then watch those sales skyrocket.

Bayer and cocreator Jeremy Beiler are true fans of home shopping. “After we decided to create this show together, we went on a tour of QVC, and we had such a great time, and I got to meet these hosts that I’ve been watching since I was a kid,” Bayer says. “It’s such an interesting world, it’s such a unique world and we were so enamored by it.”

And so are we, as well as by Joanna’s story. Consider us sold!

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