Television Show Review: Evil Genius

Evil Genius

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist created by Barbara Schroeder (Netflix, Duplass Brothers Productions) Starring Trey Borzillieri. On True Crime Formatting The success of true crime rests in creating doubt in the viewer’s mind. Typically, the format must follow two paths. One, is someone innocent and the system has failed them? Or second, a successful format outlines the abuse of power. Here, someone is clearly guilty, but wealth and status keep him or her from just desserts. Evil Genius operates as flawed yet still interesting programming between these two formats. The criminals in the story committed the crime. We don’t have any doubt there. Likewise, these people aren’t a part of a ruling class where… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Terror: Season 1

The Terror Season 1

The Terror: Season 1 created by David Kajganich (EMJAG Productions, Entertainment 360, Scot Free Productions, AMC) Starring Jared Harris, Ciarán Hinds, Tobias Menzies, Paul Ready, Adam Nagaitis, Ian Hart, Christos Lawson, and Nive Nielsen. Structural Integrity Is structure enough to save us? As the adage goes, the times of chaos—the proverbial moment where things fall apart—these moments surface long-held, dormant instincts. We don’t know who we really are until we face these moments of bedlam. It seems true. We all can look back to those moments of high stress and remember certain people snapping, certain people withering, and others rising to the challenge. Taken as a given, we believe structure to be the antidote. If training can kick in during… Read More →

Television Show Review: Barry: Season 1

Barry Season 1

Barry: Season 1 created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader (HBO) Starring Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Glenn Fleshler, Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler, and Paula Newsome. Hi-Ho It’s Off to Work We Go Hollywood’s depiction of work always seems off. People lounge around for breakfast, and then work all day. And they seem to like it. Newsflash: most people are not happy with their work and want some sort of outlet to channel frustrations and passions. Now, some people truly love what they do. And when that happens, they still must account for the stress of a competitive marketplace. Most people don’t relax on their weekdays. Somebody out there is working hard to steal that job, that client, that… Read More →

Television Show Review: Atlanta: Robbin’ Season

Atlanta Robbin Season

Atlanta: Robbin’ Season created by Donald Glover (FX Productions and MGM Entertainment) Starring Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz. This Is America The moment the bullet flies, the video transcends the normal drivel of moving images set to music. The sunny, joyful timbres of vocal runs and acoustic guitars shift into trap/industrial beats, good moods becoming a somber affair. Donald Glover’s “This is America” is a window into the stylistic preferences of Donald Glover and Hiro Murai, writing and directing many tones of Atlanta. The lived-experience is equal parts comedy and tragedy, just like “This Is America” is equal parts exaltation and dirge-like. Life isn’t ever just one thing, and Atlanta reinforces this concept in its… Read More →

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: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

American Crime Story The Assassination of Gianni Versace

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story created by Ryan Murphy (FX, Ryan Murphy Productions, Color Force) Starring Édgar Ramírez, Darren Criss, Ricky Martin, Penélope Cruz, Judith Light, Finn Wittrock, Joanna P. Adler, Jon Jon Briones, Mike Farrell, Cody Fern, and Max Greenfield. Do Not Kill I’m not planning on becoming a serial killer. Seriously, never. But I find the most recent anthologized story on the assassination of Gianni Versace to paint a quasi-sympathetic portrait of a killer. Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) was a terrible person, and the Memento-style reverse storytelling technique ensures you see the worst of Andrew first. But Andrew’s back story is somewhat tragic. A product of his circumstances, he can never quite feel like he… Read More →

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 →

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: 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 →