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Stranger Things

Stranger Things

Stranger Things is the perfect show for someone who can’t handle genuine horror films but loves coming of age films, sci-fi, and Stephen King type scares. People are calling this Netflix show an homage to Spielberg films and King stories. I couldn’t ask for more. Spielberg films have a special place in my heart and film-adaptations of King’s books are the only scary movies I legitimately enjoy watching. Everyone knows Spielberg is great with kids (just watch Jurassic Park and try and figure out how he managed to keep those kids likable when no other similar film can) but King is also great at portraying the fragile nature of childhood and navigating the complications of the teenage years.

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Can you see the Spielberg and King homages?

The basic plot of Stranger Things is simple. Boy goes missing and his friends and family go looking for him, only to find supernatural occurrences, and a little girl named Eleven, in their small town. The 3 young boys looking to find their friend are, as others have written, the best example of onscreen friendship in a longtime. They argue, make up, and genuinely respect each other. After the events they witness they are surely bonded for life if they weren’t already. They are depicted as nerds who get picked on and play Dungeons & Dragons for hours at a time but us savvy 2016 viewers know these kids are the future of our tech-focused world. Not since Freaks and Geeks have I wished I’d played Dungeons and Dragons growing up. They take the game so seriously, as if their lives depend on it, which they might.

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Dungeons & Dragons as played on Stranger Things and Freaks & Geeks

The casting throughout Stranger Things is amazing. The girl who plays Eleven does more of the heavy lifting than most of the other characters combined and does it with ease.

The teenage side of the story, a love-triangle shoehorned into the more horror side of the show is less appealing to me but only because I’d rather be one of the kids riding bikes and strategizing over walkie talkies than reliving the awkwardness of first loves and teenage melodrama.

The adults, for the most part, are either played as “dufus dad” “meddling mom” or “skeptical adult.” Neglectful parents who have no idea what is going on with their children only works by setting the show firmly in the past. In 2016 calls to CPS would be ringing off the hook. In the 80s though, that neglect meant freedom to discover and have real, or imaginary, adventures with friends. Not the scheduled/supervised visitations kids call playtime now. Okay, this paragraph got a little preachy but I couldn’t help thinking about how different this show would have to be if it was set in present time.

Joyce, the mom of the missing boy, played by Winona Ryder, seems to be played as just another frantic emotional woman but she’s the first person to realize something isn’t right and screams for help until she’s finally heard and believed. I won’t give too much away but Winona’s emotional connection with inanimate objects in this film is a master class in acting. I’ve never felt more towards less interesting objects.

Lights are a main character throughout the film.
Lights are a main character throughout the film.

Everyone is talking about the nostalgia and references that fill every scene and it’s there in spades if you want to dissect the show. The show knows you’re looking for them and flips some of the expectations on their heads to make you remember you are watching a new story.

The show is most inventive with the props and the monster. The use of lights (not lighting) is clever from a visual and emotional perspective. It should remind filmmakers that using everyday items gone awry as an indicator of other-worldliness always works. We have to look and use this stuff every day so when they don’t work as intended, or work on their own,  it is the perfect indicator that it’s okay to freak out. The monster stays firmly where I like it, in quick flashes at the far corner of the screen. Nothing can turn a monster movie from scary/suspenseful to funny/ridiculous faster than a good hard look at the creature (I’m looking at you Signs).

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I want to go to there.

I was genuinely scared, surprised, impressed, and intrigued throughout Stranger Things. It’s only 8 episodes and definitely best to watch at least two at a time. The first couple episodes really build up the cast and the vibe and then the end of episode 3 will make you question what kind of show you thought you were watching. Make sure you watch episodes 3 & 4 together.

Parental/child viewing suggestion (I don’t have kids):

I think this show is okay (if not still possibly too scary) for 10 and up. The kids in the show are about 11 or 12 so depending on the types of shows and movies you already let them watch I would say this could be a fun show to watch together. Fair warning to parents – while this show is mostly about childhood it is also very much about parental love and loss of a child so you may need a hanky handy.
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Other Thoughts To Read After You’ve Watched The Show:

  • Dustin’s ““Why are you keeping the curiosity-door locked?” should win an Emmy for best line of dialogue ever.
  • Poor Barb. She’s the real tragedy of the show. So, in the 80s if a kid ran away it was cool to just not go looking for her?
  • How does no one in this small town know there is a large government facility built next door?
  • That scene with Winona Ryder in the cabinet talking to her son through the Christmas lights. All the feels as the cool kids say.

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  • How cool was it when the kids were escaping on bikes from the caravan of white vans. We all thought El was going to make them fly like in ET but instead she flipped the van LIKE THE BADASS SHE IS. Did you catch my winking nod to this in the paragraph above?
  • Observation from Kevin: The government had time and forethought to create an AV Club pamphlet but not enough strategy to capture the kids?
  • Isn’t Mr. Clarke the best teacher ever?
  • So the main message of this show is “don’t trust the government” right? Very timely.
  • I appreciate that Steve isn’t the straight up jerk they could have made him out to be. Proving once and for all you can be a “Steve” in the pejorative and a “Stand Up Steve” all at the same time.
  • The scene of Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan waiting and fighting the monster makes the love triangle almost worth it.

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  • I hope Nancy goes full Ripley in season 2.
  • Eleven calling her Dr. Brenner “papa” is the creepiest thing in the entire series.
  • I totally fell for the scene where Lucas shoots the monster with his slingshot and it pins him to the wall. I was so excited for him. He did it. He defeated the monster! When it was revealed that it was actually El who did it with her powers I was equal parts laughing at myself for falling for that trick and happy the show made me so invested that I was able to fall for it. Kind of sums up the entire series.

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Death, Grief, and Pop Culture

Death, Grief, and Pop Culture

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death. I thought I’d have at least another 20 years to prepare for the death of a parent but instead my loss, and the loss for my entire family, came suddenly and unexpectedly. The most important lesson I’ve learned in the past year is that everyone handles the grieving process differently and its impossible to get everyone to say and do what you need in order to feel emotionally supported. For some people, they want to grieve in private and don’t want to talk about it. I had my brief time with that urge but it passed and then I desperately wanted to talk about my heartache but found that many people think its uncomfortable or impolite to ask me how I’m doing or even acknowledge the situation. In turn, I didn’t want to burden my friends and family with a constant barrage of tears. I went where I always go for comfort, television and movies, but found there is no safe place to be when you are trying to hide from grief.

Growing up I always prided myself on the fact that I never cried at movies. I would brag about it and make fun of my mom for crying at commercials. I thought crying equaled weakness and I never wanted to be perceived as an “emotional” girl. Of course, there’d been times in my life when I cried over a boy or a lost friendship but to me, crying over some piece of pop culture always felt beneath me. I’ve cried more in the last 365 days then I knew was humanly possible which, looking back on my childhood, seems like that damn was bound to break at some point.

The week after my dad died I was flipping through the TV channels and stopped at The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and watched for a few minutes just as the scene where Eowyn’s uncle (basically her father) is killed and she must say goodbye to him. I completely lost it. My husband held me as I cried and then I started laughing at how absurd it felt to be crying uncontrollably at a movie I’ve seen before and a scene that never made my eyes well up previously. If only I’d known that was just the beginning.

I’d been a big fan of the television show Parenthood. The father in the show, Zeek, always reminded me of my dad. So, in the final season (spoiler alert) when the show started dealing with Zeek’s heart issues around the same time my dad was having a procedure on his heart, I got very nervous. I thought, “Please don’t let Zeek die because it will make me nervous for my own dad.” And then my dad died before Zeek. I saved the last six or so episodes of Parenthood on my DVR for months because I wasn’t ready to watch my reality play out again on television.

Three weeks after my dad died I went and saw Interstellar over Thanksgiving weekend. I spent two and a half hours watching what is essentially a love story between a father and his daughter. A story about how love has no bounds in time or space. I cried quietly to myself throughout the ending everyone else thought was confusing or cheesy. This was my new emotional state.

In the months that Parenthood was holding a spot on my DVR, I couldn’t escape what felt like a constant onslaught of men having heart attacks on television and in movies. Fathers dying seemed to be everywhere.

When did the trope of male characters having heart attacks become such a prominent thing and how can we make it stop?

I found myself avoiding dramas at all costs. I tried sticking to mindless television and comedies to escape the theme of loss prominent in every show. I’d watch Shark Tank to withdraw from my emotions only to have one of the entrepreneurs say she was doing this for her dad who had passed away. I’d listen to Nerdist, a generally funny and lighthearted podcast, and come across episodes where host Chris Hardwick talked with guests about the death of his father. I went to see Trainwreck thinking it would be a fun lighthearted movie to take my mind off things. And then I had to sit in a dark theater with no tissues as I watched Amy Schumer’s character eulogize her dad at his funeral. I wanted to run out of the theater and cry in the bathroom but I stayed and felt a bit of comfort crying alongside the characters.

There’s a moment in Pixar’s brilliant Inside Out where the characters Joy and Sadness realize that previous memories that were once only filled with Joy had become tinted with sadness. They think this is a mistake and try to fix it, only to realize memories change based on current circumstances. This moment rang true to me in regards to the process of dealing with loss and grief. When my dad died, all the previous, once joyous memories turned blue. Moments like my wedding, which were pure joy only months earlier, became too painful to think about. I couldn’t bear to look at family photos. I had to remind myself that there can be joy without sadness but part of what makes sadness so powerful is the joy that came before. My sadness was coming from a place where joy was once so prevalent and that should be something to be grateful for. If I didn’t have such happy memories I wouldn’t be as sad about all the memories I’ll no longer get to make with my dad.

Months passed and I finally sat down and watched the final episodes of Parenthood. By this time, I knew what was going to happen to Zeek but instead of running from it I embraced it. I sat on my couch and cried along with the Braverman’s for hours. It was cathartic in a way I didn’t think possible. I still catch my breath when I’m watching something and a father dies but now I find myself embracing it much more. Sometimes I find myself seeking out a sad story so I can have an excuse to let my emotions run free.

Joe Biden recently said, “…My family has suffered a loss, and I hope there would come a time, and I’ve said this to many other families, that sooner rather than later when you think of your loved one, it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes.” I’m not quite there yet. I still have a hard time looking at family pictures or listening to my dad’s favorite songs but now I know I can turn to myriad stories within pop culture that remind me that I’m not alone in my grief. Am I feeling angry at the loss today? Do I want to curl up in a ball and cry? Do I want to laugh in the face of this new version of my life? I know now I can find a piece of media that will match my mood and my place in the grieving process. I now know that when and how I choose to process my grief is up to me and that if I want to cry at a commercial showing a loving father and daughter it shouldn’t make me feel weak. It should make me proud to have had such a wonderful dad who still impacts my life every single day.


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Fall TV: 8 New Shows Worth Watching

Fall TV: 8 New Shows Worth Watching

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Originally, I was going to write a review of all the new fall shows. Then I thought, “No one wants to read about that many shows.” So instead, I’ve weeded through the new fall TV for you, narrowed it down to only the best or most entertaining new shows, and left the mediocre behind. I gave all the shows a fair shot by watching at least two or three episodes since I don’t think its fair to ever judge a show based on only the pilot episode. Without further ado, here are the new shows I’m sticking with for the rest of the season and you should too.

You can find the first few episodes of almost all these shows online so go catch up now.

New Fall Shows

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
This musical comedy with original songs, about a woman who quits her job in NYC to move to California after a run-in with an ex-boyfriend, is unlike anything else on TV. And that’s a good thing. Its smart, funny and different. All pluses in my book.
Mondays, 8pm, CW
Premiered October 12th

The Grinder
Rob Lowe plays an actor who played a lawyer on TV moving back home to “help” his brother (Fred Savage) run his real-life law firm.
Tuesdays, 8:30pm, FOX
Premiered September 29th

American Horror Story Hotel
LADY GAGA! Blood. Ryan Murphy’s messed up humor/horror aesthetic. Other than a cohesive story, what more could you ask for?
Wednesdays, 10pm, FX

Quantico
Everyone’s calling it Grey’s Anatomy meets Homeland. Or Grey’s Anatomy meets How to Get Away with Murder. Hopefully, this show can figure out how to continue being interesting and entertaining passed season one, (unlike Homeland and Murder). But there is no mistaking the similarities between it and Grey’s Anatomy. FBI recruits live together, flirt and, eventually, one of them is accused of being a terrorist. The show is fun and exciting to watch and rests on the fantastic performance of Priyanka Chopra, who is doing a fantastic job.
Sundays, 10pm, ABC
Premiered September 27th

Life in Pieces
I wasn’t sold on the conceit at first. Each episode is 4 short stories each revolving around the parents, children and grandchildren in one family. Certain storylines are more interesting and funnier than others but there is enough interesting commentary and thoughtful jokes to keep me watching. It’s closer to a comedic version of Parenthood than it is similar to Modern Family. Also, Wizard Fingers!
Mondays, 8:30pm, CBS
Premiered September 21st

Blood and Oil
Taking the place of Revenge, The O.C., and Dallas, this show is about rich and poor people (all beautiful) living and working together in an oil boom town in North Dakota. The drama is ridiculous but it’s the only soap I watch and sometimes you just want to watch a show that makes you happy that you and your parent aren’t sleeping with the same person.
Sundays, 9pm, ABC
Premiered September 27th

Heroes Reborn
If you didn’t see the original version of Heroes, you may want to go back and rewatch the first season. Otherwise it is a bit confusing to figure out the relationships between all the Heroes, villains and corporations in this “Save the World” epic that spans countries, time and, in the most interesting new story, skips between reality and a video game.
Thursdays, 8pm, NBC

Fargo
Season 1 was amazing and season 2 takes place in the 1970s. Same fascinating tales of human error, pain, and murder. Much cooler clothing and hair.
Mondays 10pm, FX
Premiered October 12th

Returning Shows You Should Be Watching

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There are plenty of great returning shows on TV both big (The Walking Dead) and small (The Mindy Project) but four, all in their second seasons, prove that some truly great shows premiered last year and are staying strong in round two. Interestingly, they’re all comedies.

You’re The Worst
I just discovered this show a couple months ago, binged on the first season and am now hooked on the second season. Don’t let the title fool you, the show is about a couple and their friends but they aren’t the worst, in fact, they’re pretty fun to spend time with. And where else outside of a gangster film do you get to watch people casually do cocaine?
Wednesdays 10:30pm, FXX

Jane the Virgin
The most charming show on tv is back. This show is a comedy, telenovela, and family drama all rolled into one big heartfelt story.
Mondays, 9pm, CW
Premiered October 12th

Fresh Off the Boat
This comedy takes place in 1995 when Eddie Huang’s family moves to Florida. The show started out about the immigrant experience but it’s become more about this family all growing together. Hudson Yang as Eddie is the most adorable kid on television.
Tuesdays, 8:30pm, ABC

Black-ish
Definitely the best family sitcom to come around in years. The show recently spent an entire episode on the use of the “N” word and did it brilliantly. Playing off the generational and economic differences between the parents and kids is great 21st century comedy.
Tuesdays, 9:30pm, ABC

Premiering Soon

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Supergirl
Melissa Benoist stars at the cape-wearing hero. I loved early Smallville and we need a strong, interesting female super hero so I’m hopefully optimistic.
Premieres October 26th, 8:30pm, CBS

Wicked City
Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl) stars as a serial killer in Los Angeles in 1982.
Tuesdays, 10pm, ABC
Premieres October 27th

Angel From Hell
Jane Lynch plays a foul-mouthed guardian angel. Sounds like the movie Michael with John Travolta but I’m going to check it out because of Lynch.
Premieres Thursday November 5, 8:30pm, CBS

Aziz Ansari Master of None
Autobiographical sitcom where each episode focuses on a specific topic.
Premieres November 6th, Netflix

The Man in the High Castle
The show I’m most excited about is an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel based on the premise of an alternate reality where the Axis Powers won WWII.
Premieres November 20th, Amazon

Jessica Jones
Private detective Jessica Jones is Netflix’s latest Marvel super hero show. I’m excited for a Superheroine and to see what Krysten Ritter can do with the role.
Premieres November 20th, Netflix

Did I miss anything? Is there a show you’re watching this year that I should be? Anything you want me to review?

Summer TV: 12 Reasons to Stay Indoors

Summer TV: 12 Reasons to Stay Indoors

Summer used to be fresh air, time at the beach, backyard BBQs and relatively no time in front of the television. That’s all changing this summer. Since the beginning of June, new shows have been premiering to rave reviews every week. Summer television now seems to be the time for inventive, fresh, and exciting new shows. There is truly something for everyone with sci-fi, romantic comedy, crime dramas and lots of dramadies to keep you glued to the TV and stuck on the couch all summer long.

Catastrophe

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I once complained about the lack of adults on tv comedies. Finally, my wish has come true for a romantic duo who are intelligent, funny, and act like grown ups, albeit ones with a catastrophe on their hands. Sharon Morris (Sharon Horgan) and Rob Norris (Rob Delaney) have a one-night stand that lasts a week and ends up with Sharon getting pregnant. This cliched setup is turned on its head by the fact that the decision to keep the baby and Rob’s move to London to be with Sharon all happen in the first episode. This show is fast paced and so unbelievably witty in the characters’ complete honesty about the crazy situation they’re in. When Rob arrives back in London after finding out about the pregnancy, Sharon is holding a sign that reads “Rob ?” because she doesn’t know his last name. People are comparing this to FX’s You’re The Worst but, unlike the characters on that show, I don’t think these people are terrible or unlikeable. They seem normal if not a little brash. Since its already been picked up for a second season you can relish in delight knowing there is more to come.

Available on Amazon Prime.

Another Period

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Another Period is one chaotic ride of laughs and OMGs. Created by and starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome as Lillian and Beatice Bellacourt, the show is an amalgamation of The Kardashians and Downton Abbey. If that sounds confusing and anachronistic, you’re right and it’s hilarious. The show is filled with a “I know that actor” cast including some actors normally more prone to dramas like Christina Hendricks and Paget Brewster. Michael Ian Black and Jason Ritter also delight as the head butler and the incestuous brother of Beatrice, respectively. The show is raunchy and ridiculous and everything you’d ever want out of a period drama re-imagined as a reality show. If watching Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan have a “cocaine wine” drinking contest with the Bellacourts sounds like your kind of humor, you can watch episodes on Comedy Central Tuesdays 10:30pm.

True Detective: The Western Book of the Dead

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Season two of this crime drama anthology series stars Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch. This new season of True Detective is set in Los Angeles County and revolves around the death of a city official. The season premiere of was rather slow and boring but had a promising noir vibe. The second episode, which has already aired but which I’ve yet to see, apparently could be a game changer for the rest of the season. I’m willing to stick it out for the short number of episodes and see if the show can become more than the pilot’s premise of alcoholic cops who hate their lives and Vaughn’s vague criminal trying to hold together some fraudulent land deal. My praise for the show falls solely on the back of Farrell who conveys a rage scarier and more out of control than anything I’ve seen on television in quite some time.

HBO Sundays, 9pm

Sense8

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Sense8 is one of those shows that is as difficult to explain as it is to comprehend when watching it. Created, written, and executive-produced by Andy and Lana Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, the sci-fi thriller focuses on eight people around the world whose consciousnesses become linked. In short, they get flashes of each others lives, a woman in a sunny city in Indian hears rain and thunder which is happening in a city across the world where another one of the 8 lives. The premiere episode did a brilliant job of introducing all the characters without getting bogged down in their backstories. It gives just enough context to feel for each of these people as they start hearing, seeing and feeling the intermittent links with the other characters. It is inventive and complex storytelling with the potential for greatness  as long as it can keep up the pace and the ability to shift from character to character in ways that advance the story.

All episodes available on Netflix

The Brink

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The Brink is an absurd political comedy created by brothers Roberto Benabib and Kim Benabib. The surprising thing about The Brink it that unlike other contemporary shows about politics, this show uses names of real countries and real companies (Lockheed Martin) keep it grounded in some form of reality. This first season focuses on a coup in Pakistan with the idea for the series being that these same characters will deal with a political crisis in a different part of the world each season. An offhanded comment about the lack of wages for military personnel makes this show smarter and more relevant than the zany characters initially portray.  Tim Robbins plays the Secretary of State as a hard-partying cad who relies on his assistant played by Maribeth Monroe to basically do his job for him.  Jack Black is playing it goofy but professional as a low-level embassy worker who tries to prove himself as a helpful spy. The interplay between Black and his assistant in Pakistan, played by Aasif Mandvi, are some of the quickest banter on the show and that’s saying something. My only complaint is that I wish there were more women on the show but since this is a show about high-level politicians, I like to think its a subtle commentary on how few women actually hold positions of power in our government.

Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO.

 

Ballers

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Ballers didn’t do much for me in the first episode except remind me that The Rock has swagger for days. A lot of people have been comparing this show, created by Stephen Levinson and starring Dwayne Johnson, to that other HBO show about making money, being famous and partying hard, Entourage. I enjoyed Entourage because I liked the insider Hollywood feel. I don’t care about watching football players drive fancy cars or have sex with random women in clubs any more than I liked watching the guys of Entourage do that stuff. If this show deals more with the realities of retiring from professional sports, and the realities of head injuries and domestic abuse within football, then this show may get to deeper levels that make it worthwhile. If it’s just going to be the “Football Entourage” then I’m out.

Sundays at 10pm on HBO.

Mr. Robot

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Mr. Robot is a new show on USA that feels and looks more like it belongs on HBO, and I mean that as a compliment. Created by Sam Esmail and starring Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, this Cyberpunk thriller is about a hacker group led by Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) taking down Ecorp, the largest corporation in the world. Ecorp is a not so subtle stand-in for Enron with the 2015 power of Google. Elliot is a computer genius attracted by Mr. Robot’s desire to redistribute all the wealth by erasing all of Ecorp’s banking and debt history. Malek’s Elliot is the reason to watch this show. In one two minute montage he mentions the hypocracy in our society of idolizing people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs while they profit from the destruction of any real human interaction. You wonder in the first half of the pilot if Elliot is a delusional schizophrenic or if he really is being followed by the top 1% of the top 1% for knowing too much. Mr. Robot could have been a film, given the concept and set up, so we’ll see how involved and complicated they make the story to keep it going long term.

Wednesdays at 10pm on USA.

Humans

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Written by the British team Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, based on the award-winning Swedish science fiction drama Real Humans, Humans is my favorite kind of sci-fi, relatively quiet and subtly creepy in its implications. It seems to take place in current time with nothing suggesting this is the future, just an alternate version of now where we have advanced robots. While hundreds of thousands of these “synthetics” have been sold to corporations and families for domestic work, five of them are sentient and trying to escape. One of they synths is captured and then purchased by a family. The mother in the family feelings she is being replaced as she watches the synth read a bedtime story to her daughter. The oldest daughter says their is no reason to do well in school since there will be no jobs for her due to the synths. The push and pull between the synths making life easier at first while creating complications for society in the long term make this a very topical and intriuing show.

Sundays at 9pm on AMC.

 

UnReal

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This show had me hooked from the establishing shot of the main character, Rachel (Shiri Appleby), a producer for a Bachelor-like reality TV show wearing a shirt that says “this is what a feminist looks like” while trying to get a bunch of the contestants, dressed in ball gowns, ready to meet “the suitor.” Unreal is the best show of TV right now. It’s a smart, funny satire about the inner workings of Ever Lasting.  I’ve never seen The Bachelor but the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast panel was saying it adds a new level to watch both together, as some of the stories mirror each other and make you wonder if they got to the same destination though similar manipulation. Its probably more real than we want to admit given that one of the creators,Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, actually worked as a producer on The Bachelor.

There’s one scene where a black producer pulls aside the two black contestants and tells them they either have to play mean bitchy black women with attitudes or they won’t move forward because black women aren’t marriage material. Its a sad and infuriating critique of the way minorities are really treated and portrayed in reality TV as well as scripted shows.

The entire cast is brilliant but Shiri Appleby, as the troubled producer forced to come to work at a job she loathes but where she also shines, conveys so much depth in her watery eyes. Everyone on this show, and the show within the show, is conflicted yet everyone stays. You feel sorry for the women while also wanting them all to just walk out or unionize!

I’m not sure how they’ll transition this to a second season but right now this first batch of episodes is entertaining and layered in such a fresh and nuanced way that it’s the show I’m most excited to watch each week.

 

Mondays at 10pm on Lifetime.

The Strain (season 2)

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If you didn’t see season 1 of this nouveau vampire story, based on the graphic novel of the same name, by you should really binge before season 2. The tv show is produced by Guillermo Del Toro and Carlton Cuse, two guys who know something about suspense and beautiful imagery. The exciting thing about this show is its basically a prequel to The Walking Dead but with vampires instead of zombies. You get a sense of the confusion and chaos that goes with the initial collapse of the internet and all mass communication systems. I like that these vampires make vampires scary again. One of the main changes they go through is that their sexual organs fall off (or out for the women) making them non-sexual beings. The only weak part of the show is the protagonist, the head of the CDC Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stall) and his random group of allies who are all too whiny, with the exception Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) who’s been hunting vampires since WWII. There are two levels of vampires, the zombie-like ones who retain no personality or human qualities and then the others who are a higher level and can mask themselves to pass as human. I hope the show will continue in the state of “recent panic” for at least another season.

Watch season 1 on Hulu Plus or buy it on Amazon.

Premieres July 12th

Sundays at 10pm on FX.

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

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Denise Leary plays a washed up “rock star” more famous for his bands dissolution than any music he ever made. Co-starring John Corbett, I’m excited to see what tone the show takes. From the previews it looks very fun in the same way Leary’s previous show, Rescue Me, could also make you laugh at how horribly depressing the character’s lives turned out.

Premieres July 16 10pm

Thursdays at 10pm on FX.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

If you’ve never seen Wet Hot American Summer, finish reading this and then stop whatever else you were going to do today and go watch it. Its rich with people who are now uber famous but were only on the brink of stardom back in 2001. See Elliot Stabler from Law and Order : SVU be funny! Enjoy all the awkward humor and sexual tension between Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Paul Rudd, Christopher Meloni, Michael Showalter, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Zak Orth, and A.D. Miles, just to name a few. The film takes place during the last full day at a summer camp in 1981. The series is, hilariously, a prequel which takes place on the first day of camp that same summer.  As long as it as equally as random and zany as the original, we’ll all have a great summer.

All episoded available on Netflix July 31.

Have you seen any great summer television yet? If you’ve seen any of these shows, leave a comment telling me what you think. Happy watching.

Broad City: Your New Best Friends

Broad City: Your New Best Friends

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Broad City is the funniest show you’ve probably never heard of but should definitely be watching.  I heard about it when it premiered on Comedy Central last year.  It is produced by Amy  Pohler and based on the web series created by the two fabulous leads, Abbi Jacobson and  Ilana Glazer. Broad City is a comedy about two women living life, having fun and being best friends in New York City. The jokes are smart and the friendship depicted between Abbi and Ilana will make you fall fast for these two irresponsible, crazy-fun ladies.

I never watched Broad City when it first aired because I thought it was going to be a bunch of skits like Key and Peele or SNL. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Key and Peele are hilarious (SNL not so much). But I’ve never been a fan of shows that are just skit after skit. My brain prefers continuous story lines that build over 30 minutes or an hour.  I tend to only enjoy sketch comedy in very short segments. I’ve watched Key and Peele’s East/West College Bowl skit more times than I can count, but I don’t enjoy sitting down to the full show as much.

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The Lack of Adults on TV Comedies

The Lack of Adults on TV Comedies

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Three new comedies debuted this year and two are already cancelled, Manhattan Love Story, A-Z, and Marry Me. I think Manhattan Love Story and A-Z didn’t connect with people for different reasons but these three, and current shows like New Girl, all have one thing in common that is becoming a bigger annoyance in comedies. The trend of adult characters having incredibly immature views and reactions to dating and romance.

Manhattan Love Story was the worst culprit because from its very first scene it pitted a douche bag boy against a clueless girl (use of children terms on purpose). It was the most like a romantic comedy film which is why it was the first cancelled. In a movie you only have to suffer with poor decisions, child-like behaviors, and hate/love back and forth for two hours. How a network show thought they could sustain that conceit with two miserable characters is beyond me. MLS would probably have been refreshing if they’d just switched the gender roles.

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