Laughing at Myself in Silicon Valley

As a native of the place, I have an interesting relationship with HBO’s comedy show Silicon Valley. If it were to lionize the tech industry that gives my hometown it’s name, I would probably not like it very much, but the show’s writers choose to take the route of a somewhat affectionate parody instead. As such, it’s always a bit hard to tell whether the show is celebrating the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that the Valley likes to think it has, or offering a serious critique of those ideas.


The Political Jokes in Veep Are More Realistic Now

Almost every Grey’s Anatomy fan I know went through the “I’m going to be a surgeon” phase. Despite hating every one of my science courses and getting a 2 on AP Bio, I did too. However, Veep pushed me into a more realistic phase: to work in politics or government. I wanted to work on the Hill in D.C. like Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). I thought her chief of staff Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) was absolutely one of the coolest, funniest and most competent people ever.

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Iron Fist Is Surprisingly Soft

Every time I watch an action movie I walk out with delusions of grandeur. I’ve been a kung fu master without a shred a discipline, a fearsome swordsman without a blade and a lethal sharpshooter without a day of training. Rocky turned every mirror into a fierce boxing opponent and the top of every staircase into the end of an epic training montage. Gladiator turned every oblong cylinder I could find into a sword and every room into a colosseum. Saving Private Ryan turned literally every object into a gun — and I mean that!

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Nickelodeon Tries to Join the Tolerance Bandwagon — and Fails Spectacularly

Tolerance. Prejudice. These two concepts are on everybody’s minds nowadays. Racial, ethnic, political and religious tensions are flaring around the world — including in our own country. It’s an uncertain time for children to grow up in, and some aren’t learning about the importance of coexisting with others who differ from themselves. That’s where several media studios are stepping up.

And then there’s Nickelodeon’s new show, Bunsen is a Beast.


One of The Saddest Stories in Animation

Let me preface my column with a countdown of the saddest stories in animation:

Littlefoot saying goodbye to his dying mother in The Land Before Time. Carl and Ellie’s life story unfolding at the beginning of Up.  The demise of Nickelodeon

I’ve written about Nickelodeon and its downfall before, but the issue came back to the forefront of my mind with a big event that got hyped up: Nickelodeon has recently put together the first Nicktoons crossover in over a decade! When I was little, I remember when The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and The Fairly Oddparents crossed over in The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour.  That was kind of a big deal for me.


Santa Clarita Diet Satisfies the Appetite

When I first heard that my hometown was getting its own Netflix Original series, I was amused but thoroughly skeptical. What on earth was in Santa Clarita that could support a genuinely good show? I expected something in the mold of 90210 (though a step down — after all, Santa Clarita is quite a bit removed from the wealth of Beverly Hills), but when the Santa Clarita Diet trailers were released, I was both confused and intrigued to see that the show was actually about… zombies? Turns out that’s not quite the best description. Eric, the show’s geeky next-door expert on the supernatural says he prefers not to use that term as it has a “negative connotation.” Even after I knew it would involve cannibalism, I underestimated its potential.


Legion Flies above the Tropes of the Superhero Genre

Legion already separates itself from other superhero shows through its use of a largely character-driven story and departure from long-winded exposition. The first episode takes its audience on a visually stunning journey as it diverges from typical superhero tropes and commits to its unique style. The series follows the journey of David Haller (Dan Stevens), a young man being treated in a mental hospital after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and attempting suicide. The causes of his illness are vague as he is also a mutant with telepathic and telekinetic powers. While he is undoubtedly able to move things and cause serious damage with his mind, it is unclear whether the voices in his head are entirely hallucinations or if they are a result of his mind-reading abilities.


Sherlock’s Fourth Season Had More Than One Final Problem

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.


A Series of Unfortunate Events: Not an Unfortunate Watch

The series’ opening credits may tell you to “look away,” but if you do, you’ll miss the chance to watch an excellent show with brilliant writing and a gripping plot. Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, adapted from the book series of the same name, focuses on the misadventures of three orphaned children, Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny Baudelaire (Presley Smith). In the beginning of the series, the three Baudelaire children are faced with the tragic news that their parents have passed away in a fire. They are then taken to live with the whimsical Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris). It becomes obvious to the children that Olaf is after their enormous fortune that they will inherit once Violet turns 18.


The Grand Tour: In Hot Pursuit of Top Gear

I’m going to start my review of The Grand Tour by talking about the one thing the show’s hosts can’t: Top Gear. Odds are, if you’ve ever been into cars (or had a “petrolhead” friend), you’ve heard of Top Gear, and I don’t mean the American version (that version sucks). I’m talking about 20 glorious series (which I suppose is British-speak for season) of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May getting up to ridiculous hijinks in even more ridiculous cars on the BBC. Say what you will about the trio’s final stint being “too scripted” or “played out,” but as a whole I remember their time on Top Gear fondly. After Clarkson got into some trouble and his two cohorts followed him out the door, Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc took over and slowly lost me.