In “I like it for you”, Vanessa Bayer sells herself
“I didn’t understand dating at all,” she said. “It was just catching up. Even after college and into my twenties, I still tried to pretend to be an adult. In an hour of conversation, it was the closest she’d ever come to acknowledging that childhood cancer hadn’t been entirely a walk in the park.
Bayer didn’t hesitate to lend Joanna her medical records – she never shied away from her diagnosis. As a teenager, she used it to win her family a trip to Hawaii through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (She had thought about asking to meet Jared Leto, but ultimately decided she’d rather meet him as a peer. Years later, she did.) “SNL” co-workers overheard her introduce leukemia in conversation just to get free ice cream, which ties in with the advice she gave in our interview: if you’re sick, use it to get all you can.
Bryant said, “She always takes the tough stuff and turns it into something she can use to empower herself or use to her advantage.”
Gradually Joanna took shape, a more reserved and stunted woman than Bayer, with her same love of snacking and her same gift for antique improvisation but none of her obvious success. A woman who lies about cancer shouldn’t be a woman you root for, but Bayer has a way of communicating a kind of desperate luminosity that makes terrible things less terrible, just because she does them with such enthusiasm.
What the camera recognizes is what Shannon, who also survived major childhood trauma (her mother, younger sister and a cousin were killed in a car accident), identified as a joy shared and a determination to get the most out of life.
“We don’t take that for granted,” Shannon said. “We feel so lucky to be alive. For real.”
There are many stories about the disease. (Admittedly, there are fewer in the world of home shopping.) But this one is one — with its snacks, sunshine, and heroine’s determination to exploit her false diagnosis for all she can — than alone. Bayer can apparently tell.
“I always wanted to do something when I was sick,” she said with satisfaction, as the sweet chaos of Central Park swirled around her. “Specifically, the fun I had.”