Yes, the Ladies of “Wine Country” Have a Group Text
The future is scary, but it helps to have friends to face it with you. That’s one theme of “Wine Country,” the Netflix movie directed by Amy Poehler and starring a gaggle of female actors and writers who worked for “Saturday Night Live” in the early two-thousands: Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Emily Spivey, Paula Pell, Rachel Dratch, and Poehler. “There’s not even a scene where two men talk to one another,” Gasteyer said the other day. Being reunited on a project was a dream come true for the women. “We have a group text,” Dratch said.
“We talk every day,” Gasteyer added.
“It’s pretty comforting when you wake up and something horrible has happened in the world. Or in your own world,” Pell said.
Gasteyer said, “The latest entry was that Maya’s driver farted on the way to the airport.”
It was the day after the film’s New York première. Dratch and Gasteyer, who live in the city, had stopped by the Whitby Hotel, where Pell was staying, for a tarot-card reading. (There’s one in the movie.) It took place in the hotel’s drawing room, which had a fireplace and votive candles. The women settled into armchairs, and the tarot-card reader, Gabrielle St. Evensen, set out a deck, which she described as “flash cards for your intuition.” She talked about how it’s possible to get a message from the universe simply by walking around New York City in a receptive state: “You can kind of just calm your brain, open your eyes, and the next bank ad will speak to you.”
“I had a weird thing like that the night of the 2016 election,” Pell said. A Hillary Clinton supporter, she’d bought a frosted-glass Christmas ornament with the candidate’s picture on it, and she decided to hang it from the fireplace. “The top came off, and it shattered into, like, five million pieces. And I had this moment where I went, like, ‘Oh, no.’ You know that feeling? When the front of your thighs get really weak?”
St. Evensen handed the cards to Pell, and told her to shuffle them while thinking of a question for the universe. Pell closed her eyes. “O.K.,” she said. “I need to breathe and get to my asking place.”
The women were quiet. “She’s breathing and going to her asking place,” Dratch whispered.
After Pell had picked four cards, she revealed the question: She recently ended a seventeen-year marriage, and got engaged to a new partner. “I just moved out of my old house and pared way down to a little teeny-tiny house. Will I find peace and happiness in that new, completely reframed life?”
St. Evensen looked at the cards. “Let’s start with the Moon,” she said. “The moon offers a bit of light, but it’s not bright, like sunlight.” She took this to mean that Pell’s path to domestic happiness would be subtle and un-obvious. The Ace of Cups was a good sign. “Aces are the beginning of things. Seeds.”
“That’s my house,” Pell said. “It’s a seed!”
Next was the Hermit. “Which looks like an ominous card!” Pell said.
St. Evensen disagreed. “It’s not that the Hermit doesn’t ever have people over. It’s that he doesn’t have to.”
Pell said, “He can’t fit them at his small house that he just bought!”
Gasteyer went next, asking the universe how to market “Sugar & Booze,” her new album of Christmas jazz standards. She got the Priestess, which signalled intuition, and the Seven of Disks.
“Disks are also called Pentacles, but they represent coin,” St. Evensen said.
“And compact disks,” Pell said, “which are coming back.”
St. Evensen predicted that, after the album’s release, people will start to perceive Gasteyer not just as a comedian but as a jazz singer. She suggested that Gasteyer take a month off before working on the marketing plan, and get herself booked as a musical guest on Stephen Colbert’s show.
Dratch went next. For symmetry, she asked the universe what will happen in the 2020 elections. Earlier, the friends had talked about how tough it is to do comedy these days, when the political situation is so serious. “You don’t want to be a Debbie Downer in your comedy,” Dratch said, “and, like, make every funny movie say, ‘They’re separating children at the border!’ ” She was rooting for a Democrat, and, she told St. Evensen, “I want some lady energy.”
“I’m afraid it looks like Biden’s going to be the Democratic nominee,” St. Evensen said, turning over a Hierophant card. “If it were Bernie Sanders, I would have picked, like, a Knight of Pentacles.”
“Or a possum holding an apple,” Pell said.
“I’m kind of seeing Biden,” St. Evensen said.
Pell said, “It’s the three of Joes.” ♦