If your binge high is over after watching American Horror Story and now you are chasing that feeling, check out this list of shows.
Messy writing keeps this solid cast from shepherding Hotel to strong Yelp scores.
Hazbin Hotel is not for me. That is not a bad thing. If every piece of media appealed to everyone, the homogeneity would be stifling. I can see the appeal of a big, bombastic, gleefully violent, heart-on-its-sleeve musical cartoon for grown-ups (heck, I've enjoyed my fair share of them)—I just don't click with the show's ice-pop made-of-blood aesthetic, and I'm not a huge show-tune guy. Acknowledging the disconnect between the show's vibe and my personal tastes, as a critic, I have two primary takeaways from Hazbin Hotel's first four episodes:
In terms of animation and voicework, Hazbin Hotel is solid—and Keith David's turn as the burnt-out bartending demon Husk is a standout among a game cast.
In terms of writing, Hazbin Hotel is a mess, awkwardly careening between silly and dramatic without precision—most noticeably when it delves into the horrific life of one of its lead players.
Hazbin Hotel's aesthetic is built on contrasts—primarily between series heroine Charlie Morningstar (Erika Henningsen)'s deliberate good cheer, bright smiles, and crayon drawings and the continual viciousness of Hell and most of its denizens. Visually, the cast (both the show's core ensemble and the wider community of Hell) is expressive and distinct. Hell's assorted players and agents are united across factions by the frequent use of red and black either alone or in concert in costume design. Each faction, in turn, has its own visual signifiers—the staff and residents of the Hotel tend towards a hybrid of casual and professional wear, while a powerful gangster clique goes all in on decadence. Heaven's murderous, brotastic angels, meanwhile, opt for a more uniform style. Continue Reading →
A Murder at the End of the World
Hulu’s crime thriller/environmentalist warning is less than the sum of its references, but star Emma Corrin earns viewers’ attention.
The plot for A Murder at the End of the World goes a little something like this. A wealthy tech genius invites a group of similarly impressive individuals—including a detective who seems not to belong—to an isolated location for not entirely clear reasons. A murder sets everyone on edge as competing interests suggest several suspects and impede a proper investigation. Things only get worse as more die, and a storm ensures the group has no means of immediate escape.
If you find yourself thinking back to Glass Onion, rest assured you can’t be the only one. Functionally, the series plays as a kind of Anti-Glass Onion, the film’s cracked mirror image. While it is still plenty critical of the rich, it treats them with significantly more credulity. Their reputations earned, they’re genuinely talents apart from the rabble. The big issue isn’t that they're idiots and buffoons but that they’re squirreling away their gifts from the masses. Continue Reading →
Lawmen: Bass Reeves
Screenwriter Josh Olsen (A History of Violence) used to tell anyone who would listen that his passion project was an account of the life of Bass Reeves, a man whose life and career were the stuff of fables. Reeves was the first Black deputy sheriff west of the Mississippi, with an arrest record in the thousands by most accounts. Best of all, legends assert that he almost never killed or shot anyone he didn’t have to. Continue Reading →
The 2019 adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel Good Omens was a charming show that succeeded in translating the book’s strengths and weaknesses to the small screen. It was clever like the book, with an ingenious plot (what if there had been a mix-up at the hospital and the Antichrist went home with the wrong family) that parodied The Omen while conjuring an apocalyptic tale all its about an angel and demon whose millennials-long rivalry grew from mutual antagonism, to grudging respect, and finally admiration and even a kind of love. But it also carried over the book’s weaker elements, its wonky pacing, plurality of uninteresting characters, and the fact that the first two thirds of the story is essentially table setting for the final third. Continue Reading →
The Horror of Dolores Roach
On a fundamental level, The Horror of Dolores Roach confirms that old chestnut, “You can never go home again.” The titular Dolores Roach (Justina Machado) tries it twice over the course of the limited series—adapted from a Gimlet podcast which, itself, was adapted from an off-Broadway play—and each time finds an increasingly hostile environment has overtaken the “home” she knew. Continue Reading →
Betty Gilpin is a dramatic arts treasure. Capable of ringing tears or laughs out of any situation she deserves all her flowers and more. She is so good, her portrayal of Sister Simone nearly pulls Mrs. Davis across into great television. Continue Reading →