Bridge and Tunnel
Love It Or Leave It?
January 24, 2021
When you tell me Edward Burns has a new anything – movie, TV show, brand of potato chip – you have my curiosity. When you tell me it’s an Ed Burns joint steeped in nostalgia for Long Island in 1980, well then now you have my attention.
This writer-director-actor triple threat is bringing us back to a simpler time, far from the current woes of the moment in an effort to make us smile with Bridge and Tunnel, airing now on Epix. To Gen X-ers, 1980 is an oft-romanticized time in our (not so) recent history, far from our overly complicated, technology laden present. It’s a time that harkens back to a time where your plans were made on the front stoop with your boom box cranking out some punk or new wave music.
The characters of Bridge and Tunnel, and their stories, are a bit of a slow burn and, as a result, Bridge and Tunnel is not a show that you immediately fall in love with from the first episode. However, as I moved through the first 4 episodes available for preview, and especially beginning with Episode 2, I came to care deeply about these characters. The story and characters are developing nicely, as I would expect from Ed Burns and company. Combined with the fantastic era-appropriate music and the detailed attention paid to the show’s look and set decoration which are all wonderfully era appropriate, Bridge and Tunnel has me fully invested. I’m intrigued to see it through the 6 episodes of Season 1 and (hopefully) beyond into a season 2!
What’s It About? Bridge and Tunnel tells the story of 6 lifelong friends returning home after graduating college; that hazy time in between still being a kid and becoming an adult where that transition is subtle and the future is scary. These are solidly middle class kids from Long Island, New York, with aspirations of doing better than their parents. (I feel like I’m quoting a Billy Joel song … speaking of Billy Joel, I feel like he’s conspicuously absent here. Glass Houses was a huge hit in 1980). It is also a time when it is entirely plausible to be able to go to Columbia Business School working for tips at the railroad diner in 1980.
The story revolves around Jimmy Farrell (Sam Vartholomeos), an ambitious photographer, designated for imminent assignment by National Geographic in Alaska and Jill (Caitlin Stasey), Jimmy’s complicated and insecure long time on-again off-again girlfriend. Tammy (Gigi Zumbado), Mikey (Jan Luis Castellanos), Pags (Brian Muller), and Stacy (Isabella Farrell) round out the friend group. Ed Burns, as Jimmy’s dad, Artie, is everything I remember about Dads from the 1980’s with his paint soaked, bleach stained, hole-filled shirts not fit to be worn outside the backyard. Nostalgia, y’all.
I learned, too, how Covid impacted the original idea drastically. It was imagined to be a bigger production, with club and restaurant scenes in Manhattan. Though I’m sad we don’t get to trek back to CBGB’s, this pared down reimagining is more intimate with the backdrop predominantly being the block these 6 grew up on, their local watering hole and lots of outdoor scenes. For me, the story is better for it. We get to spend time in their authentically decorated avocado colored kitchens, webbed lawn chairs, and Oldsmobiles. It makes the story more intimate for me and goes a long way in aiding the characters in their depth and charm.
Ed Burns has a talent for casting stars before they are stars, think Cameron Diaz and Connie Britton before they were Cameron Diaz and Connie Britton, so I’m always on the lookout for that je ne sais quoi in the actors cast in his work. In Bridge and Tunnel, the standout actor for me thus far is Gigi Zumbado who plays Tammy. Tammy has the most complex character and the most interesting story and Zumbado plays her for every believable ounce. She’s sensitive, opting for group harmony, so much so that she surpasses her feelings for a member of their friend group. She’s understated in her ambitions: being accepted to Columbia Business School in 1980 is no small feat. She brings a humanity and character to this group and shines when stood against the vapidity of someone like Stacy.
Love It Or Leave It? Bridge and Tunnel is a solid Love It! The characters need space to develop and for us, it’s worth the investment. A charming coming of age story, so much of Bridge and Tunnel feels authentic – from the set decoration to the soundtrack, and let’s not forget about the snappy “Longuh Island” dialogue patter. Bridge and Tunnel is a refreshing step back in time where the only thing on the docket for today is listening to Bob Murphy call the New York Mets game.
Bridge and Tunnel airs Sunday nights on Epix at 9 pm EST. You can also watch online, EPIX!
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