Television Show Review: Queer Eye

Queer Eye

Queer Eye: Season 1 created by David Collins (Netflix, Scout Productions, ITV America) Starring Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van Ness. The World Needs More Bobbys As men and women, young and old, press forth attempting to accomplish more than their forebears, a drastic shift in productive work marks our culture. What we once could only accomplish with our hands—blood, sweat, and tears—now we proceed through knowledge work. Who needs a pair of hands when you have an idea? Well, that idea still needs a pair of hands to execute on it. And, Bobby brings back that pair of hands. The New Fab Five The hoi polloi will put Bobby at the bottom of its… Read More →

Film Review: The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner written by Anita Doron and Deborah Ellis and directed by Nora Twomey (Aircraft Pictures, Cartoon Saloon, Mélusine Productions, PG-13, 94 min) Starring Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgaus, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Ali Badshah, and Ali Kazmi. A Hypothetical Nightmare Imagine for a second a hypothetical nightmare. You, by your appearance alone, are unable to enter the public sphere. The marketplace, the agora where locals buy and sell goods is off limits. What would you do, especially if the government does little to support the marginalized and the least of these? Would you risk punishment or death to find food? Or would you wither away at home, hoping for charity? Fortunately, many people in America never need to… Read More →

Television Show Review: Altered Carbon: Season 1

Altered Carbon Season 1

Altered Carbon: Season 1 created by Laeta Kalogridis (Netflix, Mythology Entertainment, Skydance Television) Starring Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Chris Conner, Dichen Lachman, Ato Essandoh, Kristin Lehman, Trieu Tran, Hiro Kanagawa, and Waleed Zuaiter. Let’s Begin Some Thought Experiments Every thought experiment in philosophy begins with a hypothetical. What if we all exist as brains in a vat? What if orange doesn’t exist? What if we never die? Fun, right? If we were brains in a vat, might life feel exactly the same, if images still project scene by scene on our consciousness? How can we know for sure? Better yet, would it even matter? Some philosophers suggest if we have no epistemological foundation for denying it, how could… Read More →

Television Show Review: Black Mirror: Season 4

Black Mirror Season 4

Black Mirror: Season 4 created by Charlie Booker (Netflix, Zeppotron, Channel 4) Starring Jesse Plemons, Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Brenna Harding, Andrea Riseborough, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Georgina Campbell, Joe Cole, Maxine Peake, Douglas Hodge, and Letitia Wright. Normative Questions of Technology Recently, comedian Kumail Nanjiani, Star of The Big Sick and Silicon Valley, launched a viral thread on Twitter. As an actor in a comedy focused on tech culture, Nanjiani has access to many tech startups in Silicon Valley. Usually, such a relationship represents a nice you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-your-back scenario. While Nanjiani researches the culture to better perform his role; these tech firms get to wow employees and bring in notable people to increase morale. But recently, Nanjiani’s relationship with… Read More →

Television Show Review: Mindhunter: Season 1

Mindhunter Season 1

Mindhunter: Season 1 created by Joe Penhall (Netflix, Denver and Delilah Productions, Panic Pictures) Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv, and Cameron Britton. Considering Firsts Who was the first person to make a sandwich? Why did he or she bother with creating all those layers and when did the realization dawn on here that she had discovered something monumental? Honestly, cheers to all the people who tried the poisonous combinations that lead us to our culinary masterpieces. It doesn’t happen often, but those eureka moments are special. You can send thoughts in orbit around your head as you try to arrange the puzzle pieces the right way. Time and time again the pieces don’t seem to fit;… Read More →

Television Show Review: Stranger Things 2

Stranger Things 2

Stranger Things: Season 2 created by the Duffer Brothers (Netflix, 21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre) Starring Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Joe Keery, Noah Schnaap, Joe Chrest, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, and Paul Reiser. Social Commentary One tried and true social cue, at least in my playbook is the “What-are-you-watching” question. I️ pull such a question when I️ want to know more about someone new. Or, I️ even ask the question in deeply held relationships because I️ want some good recommendations for what to watch next. Recently, during a current-viewing-habits discussion, Ozark came up. As I️ often mention at during Ozark discussions, I️ reference… 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 →

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 →

Film Review: Casting JonBenét

Casting JonBenet

Casting JonBenét written and directed by Kitty Green (Netflix, Forensic Films, Symbolic Exchange, Meridian Entertainment) Starring lots of people. Life in the Shoes of Someone Else Empathy, I would argue, represents a key characteristic of the human condition. Outside of the rare sociopath in the bunch—stop being sociopaths people—we seek to understand the people around us. Granted, some have more empathy than others. But overall, I contend it isn’t too difficult to consider what life might be like in someone else’s shoes. In fact, this consideration represents a core element of acting. What is acting but the full embodiment of another human being? In Casting JonBenét, Kitty Green sets aside the normal narrative beats of a docudrama for something completely… Read More →

Television Show Review: Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1

Santa Clarita Diet Season 1

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1 created by Victor Fresco (Garfield Grove Productions, KatCo, Olybomb Productions) Starring Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Richard T. Jones, and Ricardo Chavira. Better Off Dead My favorite comedy series lasted one year. Then, the powers that be took it to the woodshed; they dismantled the parts and sold them for scrap. Some suits in Hollywood didn’t even give it a shot. Where most critically acclaimed comedies require time for audiences to gain footing with the particular concept, the long-game can pay off. Seinfeld anyone? Alas, Better Off Ted had no such benefactor, no such benefit of the doubt. And so, the zany workplace comedy got recycled, thrown into the… Read More →