‘Downward Dog’ series premiere review: The dog days have begun

Photo credit: (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

The series premiere of ‘Downward Dog’ tugs on your heartstrings and delivers a beautiful message.  Life hurdles frustrating obstacles at you and tries bringing you down. Just when you feel like a failure and think all hope is lost, you fix your gaze upon a pair of eyes that see the real you. Martin may give Nan hell at times, but he loves her unconditionally. At the end of the day, that is all that truly matters.

Martin instantly draws viewers in with intense eyes that stare straight through your soul. This is a dog with a lot on his mind. He addresses the camera/audience like we’re his therapist. He brings us along on his personal journey by sharing introspective thoughts, worldly observations and hilarious misconceptions. He may be Nan’s canine soulmate, but he still doesn’t understand everything about her.

Photo credit: (ABC/Donald Rager)

When Nan leaves for work in the morning, Marin believes she’s just driving around all day. In reality, she’s dealing with her thick-headed and superficial boss, Kevin. Advertising is about selling a fantasy, but this dude relishes all things shallow and raunchy. It’s a good thing Jenn, Nan’s co-worker and friend, is there to help her deal with his craziness. She pitches a laughable concept and Kevin eats it up, so she’s tasked with making a presentation for Tristan, the head-honcho.

Nan is in a state of emotional crisis caused mostly by her job and relationship drama. She just broke-up with her boyfriend, Jason, resulting in “cry in the wine time” and cuddles with Martin. Their bond had been rekindled because she was spending so much more time with him. Martin begins to feel neglected and lashes out with small acts of rage, like chewing her shoes. Hell hath no fury like a dog scorned.

Photo credit: (ABC/Donald Rager)

She takes him to a dog obedience class and the instructor asks why Martin has brought her to couple’s counseling, essentially. They need to work on their relationship because Martin is suffering from separation anxiety. Awww, poor little guy. (We couldn’t leave our little man alone either. He’d freak out the moment his mama was out of sight. So I could relate to Martin’s anguish.)

When Jason drops by to pick-up his stuff, Nan sees this as a great opportunity. She tasks her ex with dog sitting while she works on her presentation for Tristan. Martin soon realizes that Jason is not as bad as he once seemed. Looks like he’s found a fun playmate after all of those lonely days.

Photo credit: (ABC/Donald Rager)

Nan winds down with Jason over dinner and drinks. She explains how she hates playing the game and catering to her boss with stupid cliches. Jason doesn’t want Nan to sell-out and compromise her convictions. It’s what sets her apart from everybody else. I know she had her reasons for dumping him, but Jason seems like a pretty cool guy. He gets Nan and Martin!

Next thing you know, conversation turns into sexy times. Now Martin is really pissed. He decides to strike Nan where it’ll hurt the most. He destroys her presentation beyond repair. Ruh-roh! Whatever will she do?!

Photo credit: (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Proving how talented she really is, Nan finds inspiration from the chaos Martin has created. One loving look from him and BOOM! She barricades him at home and heads to work with a stellar pitch.

Nan confesses, “The dog ate my presentation.” However, his act of aggression came from a place of love. He just wants to be with her because he loves her. Nan explains, “Everyday he still looks at me exactly the same way…like I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.” Pass the tissues, please!

Here’s her pitch: “What if I could see myself the way my dog sees me? …What if we show people themselves? Look at how beautiful you are.” Sigh. So sweet! Of course, Kevin doesn’t understand the concept. Luckily, Tristan does. Wow, Nan is going to be extra busy working on this project nights and weekends. Sadly, poor Martin doesn’t know any better just yet.

While trapped at home, Martin remembers the good old days during their honeymoon

Photo credit: (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

phase. An awesome rom-com montage of Nan doting on him as puppy runs through Martin’s mind as snapshot scenes show us moments of their puppy love (#RelationshipGoals). I love this scene, it is so adorable!

Martin rationalizes his behavior in a very sophisticated way. Sure, he’s being self-centered, but he’s also showering Nan with all of his love. He’s basically telling her: “Let me love you!” Unfortunately, that love manifests itself in acts of rage because he feels the need to “aggressively dominate her.” He can’t help being addicted to Nan.

Nan comes home from work and curls up with Martin. Looks like she got the message, or at least that ‘s what he thinks. As the episode closes, Martin feels victorious because Nan knows her priorities now. “She finally understands what matters: Us. Me.”

NED, ALLISON TOLMANIf you started watching ‘Downward Dog’ to make of fun of a talking dog, I’m sure you quickly realized that this show is far superior to whatever misconception you may have initially had. Martin and Nan reflect our own daunting anxieties and complex relationships. This isn’t just about an owner and her dog, their relationship represents a variety of family dynamics that we can all easily relate to.

One of my favorite aspects of this clever show is how Martin and Nan’s personal dilemmas are paralleled in every episode. They are both learning and growing together…and by episode’s end, we are too.

Wrought with existential angst, Martin shares some killer one-liners and philosophies. Enjoy!


Martin’s Musings

  • “I’m honestly deeply obsessed with her.”
  • “Sleep is the foundation of a productive day.”
  • “The cat is a sociopath…an emotional terrorist.”
  • “I will destroy everything you love.”
  • About Jason: “I never respected him as a peer.”
  • “I felt like I was irreplaceable to her, but apparently not.”
  • “I was just smitten…head over heels.”
  • “It’s vulnerable to love somebody so much…You will always come back to them.”
  • “I literally can’t quit her.”
  • “I’m a creature of love. Because of that love I had to so aggressively dominate her.”
  • “She finally understands what matters. Us. Me.”

Did you enjoy the series premiere of ‘Downward Dog’? Could you related to the characters? Were you drawn in by Martin’s intense gaze? Do you have any favorite lines from the episode? Were you able to keep it together or did you bawl like a baby?

Share your thoughts below!

‘Downward Dog’ moves to it’s regular time-slot, Tuesday, May 23 at 8 p.m. on ABC. 


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