Television Show Review: Russian Doll: Season 1

Russian Doll Season 1

Russian Doll: Season 1 created by Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne, and Amy Poehler (Netflix, 3 Arts Entertainment, Jax Media) Starring Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Bennett, Greta Lee, Elizabeth Ashley, Rebecca Henderson, Jeremy Bobb, and Dascha Polanco. Art and Culture It’s always fascinating to map the thematic elements of art to the culture in which it’s created. Post-apocalyptic stories rose to prominence after the atomic bomb and constant conflict during the Cold War. Stories about terrorism and doing the hard-but-right thing, i.e., 24, happened after 9/11. Today, we have hopepunk. Whether in song or on stage, the creative focus of the day seems to have an eye for an optimistic future, something toward which we should all work; and verily, fight tooth… Read More →

Television Show Review: True Detective: Season 3

True Detective Season 3

True Detective: Season 3 created by Nic Pizzolatto (Anonymous Content, HBO) Starring Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo, Stephen Dorff, Scoot McNairy, and Ray Fisher. Dealing with Trauma Trauma is a wrench in best laid plans, the curveball life throws when we’re down two strikes. Nobody plans for it; nobody wants it. Even in scenarios where it seems likely—war or declining health—the human condition leads us to believe we’ll be different, that pain and suffering will elude us. But it doesn’t. And how we respond to trauma matters for our own well-being. We hold on to the spinning top that is trauma for as long as we can but when we let go we get flung in any direction. For some, that… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Good Place: Season 3

The Good Place Season 3

The Good Place: Season 3 created by Michael Schur (NBC, Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television) Starring Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Caden, Manny Jacinto, Marc Evan Jackson, and Ted Danson. SPOILER WARNING FOR PREVIOUS SEASONS Our Moral Obligation What do we owe each other? For the last few seasons, The Good Place has been asking us this question. As our systems and institutions become more intertwined where does the responsibility of one person end and the responsibility of another begin? A simple act of enjoying a song requires a laundry list of ethical repercussions. Is the artist a good person? If the artist isn’t a good person, is it the kind of “bad” that creates good art and is justifiable or just pure evil? Even if the artist… Read More →

Television Show Review: Homecoming: Season 1

Homecoming

Homecoming: Season 1 created by Micah Bloomberg, Eli Horowitz, Sam Esmail (Amazon Studios, Anonymous Content, Esmail Corp.) Starring Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James, Shea Whigham, Alex Karpovsky, and Sissy Spacek. On Conspiracy Blame it on studying philosophy in college, but I try my darnedest to avoid falling into conspiracy thinking. Logically, the simplest explanation for any event makes a conspiracy highly unlikely. And, the amount of people required to deliver a wide-ranging conspiracy makes it all the more difficult to keep under wraps. And yet, the back half of this decade feels like an endless exposition of conspiracy. I’m not budging on my general conspiracy take, but I’m starting to see how smaller decisions can make large dents on… Read More →

Television Show Review: Making a Murderer: Part 2

Making a Murderer Part 2

Making a Murderer: Part 2 created by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos (Synthesis Films, Netflix) Let’s Go Viral I find viral content fascinating. Where most people get lured in to the immediate response-level phenomenon of viral content, the waves of viewing and sharing content, I am always thinking about the strategic creation of and the inner lives behind that viral content. Most people found humor in the video Chewbacca Mom posted and hit share. I, on the other hand, see that video and wonder what her parenting style is like. Most importantly, what does she do when her children don’t want to eat their vegetables? For the most part, a viral post comes and goes, the author of that content… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 5

BoJack Horseman Season 5

BoJack Horseman: Season 5 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Tornante Company, ShadowMachine, and Netflix) Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. A Matter of Change Can we really change? And, if not, what does that mean for society? Almost everything we do in the modern world operates under the assumption of change. We study, and our knowledge base grows; we practice, and our skills refine. If these external indicators point toward a changing state, doesn’t it stand to reason that our inner lives change too? And yet, certain schools of behavioral psychology argue differently. These theories posit that most elements comprising our internal selves are innate, hard-wired and incapable of change. We are who we… Read More →

Television Show Review: Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects created by Marti Noxon (HBO, Crazyrose, Fourth Born, Blumhouse Television) Starring Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Messina, Matt Craven, and Henry Czerny. Seeing My Parents in Me I often wonder how much of my parents are in me. Stated differently, when I react to certain stimuli, where do I end and where do my parents, grandparents, and beyond begin? Am I determined to repeat the same mistakes? Take the same paths? When I look at my kids, I can see certain tendencies and traits straight out of my playbook. Life almost feels like and endless loop at a photocopier, each reproduction a repetition of the one before it. I share more than a last name with… Read More →

Television Show Review: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Collection 5 created by Jerry Seinfeld (Embassy Row, Sony Pictures Television) Starring Jerry Seinfeld. Self-Made This week on society’s ongoing outrage cycle: Kylie Jenner will soon be a billionaire and Forbes had the gall to call her self-made. Setting aside any criticism about how we all tend to be mad at something almost all of the time, this specific critique holds some merit. Of course, I know nothing of Kylie’s individual talent; but, I can surmise her ability to create her empire to this extent requires a combination of hard work and skill. But, self-made? Please. The systems and institutions of society—as it stands—bar the concept of self-made, the term a leftover from centuries past… Read More →

Television Show Review: Flint Town

Flint Town

Flint Town created by Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, and Jessica Dimmock (Netflix, ZC/DC, Anonymous Content) It’s a Big World After All It can be so easy to label that which is different as other. The vagaries of life require our focus. Work, family, play. It can be easy to see the world only as large as the number of Facebook friends. But, we live in a big world. And the people in that world work and recreate. But they are also different, distant. So, by distance and by tradition these people become separate, not like us. A Window into the Life of Another Flint Town is a fascinating documentary because it shines a light on two subsets easy to define… Read More →

Television Show Review: Westworld: Season 2

Westworld Season 2

Westworld: Season 2 created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (HBO, Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions, Kilter Films) Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Angela Sarafyan, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Simon Quarterman, Shannon Woodward, Talulah Riley, Rodrigo Santoro, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Ben Barnes, and Jimmi Simpson. It’s All Greek to Me When I was working on my undergraduate degree, I made the mistake of minoring in Greek. Scratch that. Having completed the degree, I don’t consider it a mistake. During my studies, however, it was definitely a mistake. Ancient Greek is a tricky subject. Unlike English where verb tense gives the reader context between past, present, and future—and the placement of the… Read More →