As the title suggests, Easy is informed by Swanberg's inherent lightness of spirit, which is why critics have falsely accused him in the past of doodling, reveling in exactingly inexact framing... But this lightness is frequently the source of profundity in Swanberg's art, including Easy, as the writer-director masterfully renders minute mood changes, suggesting liquid emotional states that often liberate the actors working with him.
Of particular note here is the way Swanberg and his actors refuse to condescend to, or caricature, any character, no matter how outwardly hilarious they might seem to be. Easy also avoids the temptation, familiar to a lot of TV shows throughout history, to pretend to examine alternative lifestyles in an open-minded way but ultimately returning to a conservative, “let’s not rock the boat” sort of message.
The story’s aphoristic ingenuity, a kind of thesis of short filmmaking, displays both the self-surpassing energy of Swanberg’s episodic storytelling in the two seasons of “Easy” and its built-in limits; “Prodigal Daughter” is a short film that, in standing apart from the others in the series, stands alongside his features. The others merely stand near them—a worthy position nonetheless.