Television Show Review: The Last Man on Earth: Season 4

The Last Man on Earth Season 4

The Last Man on Earth: Season 4 created by Will Forte (The Si Fi Company, Lord Miller, 20th Century Fox Television) Starring Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mel Rodriguez, Cleopatra Coleman, and Mary Steenburgen. *Spoiler Alert* Let’s Begin Some Thought Experiments Do we really change? The passage of time seems to gives us new perspectives, to the point it seems like we’re different. But is that really a change? Or is it rather a better understanding of who we really are? So do we change and if so, how much? This question rests over what turns out to be the final episode of this oddball series. It also accurately examines the effectiveness and value of shifting storytelling. The Last… Read More →

Television Show Review: Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2

Santa Clarita Diet Season 2

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2 created by Victor Fresco (Netflix, Garfield Grove Products, KatCo, Kapital Entertainment) Starring Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Richard T. Jones, Natalie Morales, Ramona Young, and Nathan Fillion. Functional Marriage When considering the decades of data sources from the annals of scripted television, it almost feels like the most difficult relationship to depict is a functioning marriage. For the most part, it seems as if the spousal relationship fits within one of two buckets. In one bucket, the relationship appears antagonistic. Indicative of the sitcom stereotype, husband and wife snipe at each other. The stasis of the genre requires the marriage to last the entire series, but the humor builds… Read More →

Television Show Review: Crashing: Season 2

Crashing Season 2

Crashing: Season 2 created by Pete Holmes (HBO, Apatow Productions) Starring Pete Holmes, Artie Lange, George Basil, Lauren Lapkus, and Jamie Lee. Christians of a Particular Background For Christians of a particular background, life as a twenty-something represents a reckoning. The belief system around which life operates through school and youth group begins to crack and fissure. The world changes. Simple and straightforward answers blend into a gray stew. What used to be obvious about the way things work—the way we ought to live—transitions as novel ideas and new people enter your life. These conflicts shoot Christians in a variety of directions, like a centrifugal force pummeling Christ followers with unbearable g-forces before they fly away. Some Christians bear down… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Good Place: Season 2

The Good Place Season 2

The Good Place: Season 2 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. Do We Owe Each Other? What do we owe each other? Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Our actions emerge in the context of relationships to others. Our decisions determine our relational orbits. The choices of a parent influence the expectations of life for the child. The management style of the boss alters the psyche of the employee. So, what do we owe each other when our decisions influence each other so greatly? Well, any movement forward, with even an ounce of empathy,… Read More →

Film Review: The Big Sick

The Big Sick

The Big Sick written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani and directed by Michael Showalter (Amazon Studios, Apatow Productions, FilmNation Entertainment, Story Ink, R, 120 min) Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano. In Consideration of Social Pressures What will they think? Why are social pressures so demanding of our thoughts and actions? Isn’t it odd how human beings avoid decisions with clearly pleasurable results if only because the inner life of another might disapprove? Have you ever stopped to consider how many experiences and relationships have been lost to the hypothetical judgment of a friend or relative? Why do we do it? Why, for all that is good and holy, does it ever matter what… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 4

BoJack Horesman Season 4

BoJack Horseman: Season 4 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Netflix, Tornante Company, ShadowMachine) Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. Onward to Positive Psychology Have you ever noticed the perspective of self-talk? While a subjective observation, it seems self-talk slides into second person. “You’re not good enough.” “Look what you did this time.” “You’re never going to make it.” As a teenager, my limited training in positive sports psychology argued for a surgical denunciation of this “other.” Often if I used the “I” pronoun and told myself I would succeed or have a good day, I would tend to have a better day. Some Christian traditions suggest the “other” as a demonic accusation of sorts,… Read More →

Book Review: Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2017. 208 pp) Rachel Khong grew up in Southern California and holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Florida. From 2011 to 2016, she was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin House, Joyland, American Short Fiction, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, and California Sunday. She lives in San Francisco. The Bowl of Mixed Nuts It all started with a pill in the mixed nuts. For years, the one rule by which we lived centered on how my grandparents would bestow gastrologic riches upon visiting family. Good food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…. Read More →

Television Show Review: Silicon Valley: Season 4

Silicon Valley Season 4

Silicon Valley: Season 4 created by John Altschuler, Mike Judge, and Dave Krinsky (3 Arts Entertainment, Altschuler Krinsky Works, Judgemental Films, Inc.) Starring Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Amanda Crew, Zach Woods, Matt Ross, Suzanne Cryer, and Stephen Tobolowsky. One Step Forward. Two Steps Backward. Season 4 of Silicon Valley offers more of the same. If you like the template of one step forward, two steps backward, this show has enough humor to satisfy you. It makes me chuckle. That’s good enough for me.

Television Show Review: Fargo: Season 3

Fargo Season 3

Fargo: Season 3 created by Noah Hawley (FX, MGM Television) Starring Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis, Michael Stuhlbarg, Goran Bogdan, Shea Whigham, Andy Yu, Ray Wise, and Olivia Sandoval. The Problem of Success Success often creates new problems. The lottery winner quickly encounters a relational shift with family and friends. When money enters the equation, relationships transform from intrinsic to instrumental quickly. Success in television also causes problematic tension. Does the show lean on the elements that launched it into the stratosphere? Or, does the show use its acclaim to expand its creativity? Season 3 of Fargo, aims for the latter. The Fargo Template In truth, Fargo holds an air-tight template. As an homage to the… Read More →

Television Show Review: Master of None: Season 2

Master of None Season 2

Master of None: Season 2 created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television, Netflix, Alan Yang Pictures) Starring Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandra Mastronardi, Shoukath Ansari, Bobby Cannavale, and Fatima Ansari. Transcending Form Art seemingly seeks a state of barrierlessness. The best art often works to transcend its form. A basic melody becomes a harmony. A hero to anti-hero. A cave drawing to Impressionism. While we cling to elements of the familiar—atonal music is a bridge too far to cross and a story needs a beginning, middle, and an end—familiarity breeds contempt. Given the orbit of boringness linked to familiarity, the pushing of art may likely link closely to the desire to… Read More →