‘Mr. Corman’ is a comedy-drama series that tells the story of the anxiety-ridden eponymous character, whose life hasn’t been particularly the same since he was forced to give up on his passion for music and start working as a fifth-grade school teacher. The failed dreams scarred him emotionally and affected his relationship with members of his family. This, in turn, negatively impacted his pursuit of love and happiness. If the show’s candid depiction of a person’s struggle with anxiety has made you wonder whether it is based on real-life events, this is what you need to know.
Is Mr. Corman Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Mr. Corman’ isn’t based on a true story. However, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the show’s creator and main star, stated in an interview that the idea of the series came to him while he was re-valuating his own identity. “I was sort of taking stock of my life, and I would do things like brainstorm about what I was grateful for, about moments in my life where I thought I got lucky or unlucky, or moments where I thought I made the right decision or the wrong decision,” the ‘Don Jon’ director stated. “I was trying to dive into my own identity and my own perspective, and then change a few things and see how that cascaded.”
The character of Mr. Corman came out of this experimentation. As he has demonstrated with ‘Don Jon’ (2013), Gordon-Levitt has a unique perspective as a filmmaker when it comes to love, family, and modern life. The TV series format gives him a broader scope to explore his ideas. In the show, Gordon-Levitt takes his time to develop Corman as a character, using his relationship with others around him as the primary plot device.
Gordon-Levitt admitted that he didn’t have much experience with anxiety before making the series, at least not in the way his character does. That part was developed through discussions with other writers. Furthermore, Gordon-Levitt reached out to neuropsychologist Gina Grimshaw and asked her help with the script of the second episode, in which Josh has an anxiety attack. According to the ‘Inception’ star, the objective was always to be as authentic as possible.
“[Mr. Corman] is going to feel like the real world; it’s going to feel like a real person. Sometimes that person might fly into a song and dance number because sometimes that’s what life feels like,” Gordon-Levitt stated. “When you’re trying to wrestle with a dynamic with your family or something, a song might be the best way to express in a show how it really feels.”
Gordon-Levitt stated that Josh is predominantly about a version of himself, adding, “And there’s something daunting about that, when you’re really putting yourself out there. I don’t get to hide behind a character and say it’s not me. Even though Josh isn’t [exactly] me.”
Applying Grimshaw’s advice to the script, the show’s first season strove to normalize anxiety issues and steer away from further stigmatizing them. Josh’s relationship with his immediate family, friends, and romantic interests also resonates with much realness. His mother believes that he blames her for how his life has turned out to be. And this is true to an extent. Josh can be quite bitter and unkind in his interactions with his mother. But then again, Ruth (Debra Winger) doesn’t hold back either. Evidently, ‘Mr. Corman’ is not based on a true story, but it is perfectly understandable if someone thinks it is.
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