Graduation draws nearer every day. With the end in sight, I completed a millennial rite of passage and finished watching The Office. (I skipped swathes of the middle seasons, but we’ll conveniently forget that for now.) The last few episodes contained many anticipated surprises. Michael Scott returned right in time for Angela and Dwight’s wedding. So did Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard, who completed their long careers of making audiences squirm by running away and leaving Ryan’s baby in the care of Kelly’s unsuspecting husband, Ravi.
When the trailer for NBC’s new series, Rise, popped up on my news feed a few weeks ago, I cursed Facebook’s advertising algorithm and made a mental note about the pilot airing date simultaneously. I mean, a show about a high school theater troupe putting on Spring Awakening, starring Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) and Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) and produced by Jeffrey Seller (Hamilton)? It practically has my name written all over it. So naturally I had high expectations going in, but I also worried that Rise might fall into the dangerous trap of clichés. And I believe I was right to a certain degree.
On Feb. 7, Netflix released its reboot of mid-2000s hit reality series Queer Eye. For the uninitiated, Queer Eye features a crew of gay men — the “fab five” — who rejuvenate their subjects’ lifestyles. Each fab five member has a specialty: fashion (Tan France), grooming (Jonathan Van Ness), interior design (Bobby Berk), culture (Karamo Brown) and food and wine (Antoni Porowski). At first blush, Queer Eye sounds like an indulgent, if light, watch.
Sherlock’s fourth season was a whirlwind of twists, turns and excitement. While this season was extremely entertaining and watchable, many of the emotional stakes felt forced and it lacked Sherlock’s addictive spirit that made previous seasons so great. SPOILER ALERT THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS. Throughout this season Sherlock takes a more personal look at the characters as their pasts catch up with them and they are forced to finally face their demons. Mary’s mysterious former life comes to light as an old teammate surfaces to kill her after thinking that she betrayed their team, and while she escapes his threat, she ultimately dies saving Sherlock after he’s provoked the woman who betrayed Mary with his cockiness.
I rarely expose myself to anything in the horror genre. Unless there are computerized ghouls emerging from subway tracks, only to be blasted away by comedic goddesses (I see you, Ghostbusters 2), I have very little interest in deliberately scaring myself. I’m more energized by the possibility of a good laugh or cry than the spine-curling, hair-raising horror shows and films out there. Despite this, over the summer, like many, I endeavored to watch Stranger Things. The show gripped me without necessarily “scaring” me in the conventional sense.
The phrase “you only live once” started with Drake’s song “The Motto,” and within the span of a couple weeks, it became the slogan of 2011. The basic concept was “do what you want today because life is short.” It’s an exciting concept — suddenly all those papers and midterms seemed a little less important and living life to the fullest seemed like a better use of one’s time. It appears the CW has taken on Drake’s philosophy in their new series, No Tomorrow, which aired on Oct. 4. The show revolves around the sweet but safe Evie Covington, played by Toni Anderson.
More than 50 percent of startups fail in their first five years. Crackle’s new show will likely join that statistic in its first two: StartUp has all the makings of a top-tier prestige drama — dark lighting, sex scenes, cursing, screaming, serious themes — but comes off as totally average. It features strong (for the most part) performances and an intriguing concept, but doesn’t exactly hit its mark. What it lacks in quality, however, it certainly makes up for in heart. It is clear that StartUp is committed to its message but the follow-through just isn’t there.
When a woman goes crazy in a movie or on TV, we greet the sub-plot with a sigh of comfortable familiarity. Our intellectual subconscious breathes an “ahhhh.” We relax. We see what’s going on; we likely knew all along. As cinephiles and society-existers alike, we have been dutifully trained to unconditionally accept that a woman having lost her mind is a highly plausible explanation for her doing or saying, well… anything really — and also that such a turn of events is a Dark, Provocative and Highly Legitimate plot-thickening cinematic juncture.
“Not only do they talk about you as being the undisputed king of comedy, but your [work] is deeper and broader,” Charlie Rose declares at the beginning of a 30-minute interview with Louis C.K. “You could make comparisons to Lenny Bruce, to Bob Dylan … comparisons to a sort of philosopher-king.” Clearly anticipating some kind of credit for coining the term “philosopher-king,” the self-serious Rose awkwardly pushes the comedian for a response. Upon realizing the talk show host was, indeed, serious, C.K. replies, “I don’t know, man, I’m just a comedian … anything beyond that I always get a little uncomfortable.”
The interview dates back to May 2014, but that goofy exchange remains indicative of just how difficult it can be to define C.K.’s current position in pop culture. His latest offering, a series entitled Horace & Pete, does little to clarify what it means to be “just a comedian.” Set within a hundred year-old Brooklyn dive bar operated by — you guessed it — Horace (C.K. himself) and his brother Pete (Steve Buscemi), the series features the comedian pushing himself into more strictly dramatic territory and exploring new modes of independent production. Along for the ride is an embarrassingly talented supporting cast, counting among its ranks Jessica Lange, Edie Falco, Rebecca Hall and Alan Alda — who frequently steals the show as Uncle Pete, an aged, foul-mouthed bartender resentful of Brooklyn’s hipster invasion (amongst other things). Oh, and did I mention Paul Simon performs the show’s theme song?