When last we saw Aniq (Sam Richardson) and Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) in The Afterparty, both were doing great. Aniq had exonerated himself for the murder of classmate Xavier (Dave Franco)—albeit at the cost of sending his friend Yasper (Ben Schwartz) to jail—and had a date with his high school crush Zoe (Zoë Chao). Danner had solved the crime of her career and put her rival Detective Germain (Reid Scott) to do it. Continue Reading →
You Season 4 Part 1 depicted its antihero protagonist, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), at his most straightforwardly heroic. He was teaching classes, avoiding romance, and trying not to commit any more murders. At least, that’s what Joe told himself and the audience in his omnipresent narration. It was a notable and perplexing turn for a character who viewers first met stalking, kidnapping, and murdering the object of his demented affections. Continue Reading →
There is something delightfully ghastly about Netflix fictionalizing the existence of that last Blockbuster location on Earth. It’s the streaming equivalent of you or I parading the carcasses of our slain enemies through the town square. Alas, this “really rubbing salt in the wound” touchdown dance of a move is about the only thing unique about the sitcom. Continue Reading →
Top of the Lake
Trigger Warning: assault, sexual assault, date rape Continue Reading →
How I Met Your Father
Hulu’s new series How I Met Your Father attempts to recreate the magic of the - wait for it! - legendary status of the original series How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM for short). This update proves a nostalgic ride for fans of the original series and an enjoyable journey for newcomers, even if it lacks some of the fresh qualities of its predecessor. Continue Reading →
Search Party, the TBS-turned-HBO Max comedy from co-creators Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter, has never been afraid of reinventing itself. While it started off as a satire of New York millennials trying (and failing) to find their own identities, the show kept evolving and playing with so many genres — from whodunit to legal drama to abduction thriller — throughout its run. The fifth and final season is no different, except this time, the story has higher stakes and doubles down even more on what makes the show so fearless and wildly entertaining in the first place. Continue Reading →
Master of None
After a four-year absence, Master of None returns to Netflix with a new tone and new focus, but it still grapples with the same emotional beats of the first two seasons. This time around, creator Aziz Ansari focuses his efforts behind the camera, only appearing in two brief cameos in season three’s five-episode arc. Instead, all of the action is focused on Denise (Lena Waithe) and her partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie), who are rusticating in a cottagecore fantasy that not even TikTok could call sustainable. Rather than the buzz of traffic and the cramped quarters of the city, we see Denise and Alicia’s relationship develop against the bucolic splendor of open fields and towering trees. Continue Reading →
During our pandemic lockdowns, who amongst us hasn’t recruited quarantined friends and family into a baking project beyond our experience? Now imagine the pressure of concocting an elaborate bake with a pal or family member for all the world to see. With Netflix’s Nailed It! Double Trouble, bakers pair up in teams of two to recreate extravagant bakes and win $10,000. While some elements have changed in this new season, host Nicole Byer still panics at the push of a button, chef Jacques Torres still imparts wisdom to the contestants, and the bakers reach new heights of spectacular cake fails. In the words of guest judge Ron Funches, “I love a good hot mess.” Nailed It! Double Trouble is the good hot mess we need, seeing twice the fun and chaos from amateur bakers. Continue Reading →
As TV’s best series about mental illness and addiction comes to an end, our hero BoJack doesn’t get closure, exactly (because there’s really no such thing), but is further down the road to self-awareness and real insight than he ever was. He may end up making yet another bad decision based both on self-loathing and selfishness, but there has to be some reason he keeps getting another chance, another hit at the reset button. If you’ve ever struggled with depression and/or addiction, then you know how both wonderful and absolutely terrifying that feels. Though the final season stumbles a bit with extended bits on cancel culture and open relationships, it ends on a subtle, melancholy note: “Life’s a bitch, and then you go on living.” [Gena Radcliffe] Continue Reading →
The Letter for the King
Netflix's latest overstuffed fantasy adaptation is a challenge for viewers' time & patience.
Visiting the source material before watching an adaptation can be a difficult decision to make. On the one hand, going into a viewing experience as fresh and free of expectations as possible typically feels like the best-case scenario. On the other hand, some level of awareness can make it easier to follow the early installments of, say, a six-episode Netflix series.
To be a little less opaque, not being familiar with The Letter for the King’s source material -- the Dutch 60’s fantasy novel De brief voor de Koning -- makes the early goings of the Netflix series a bit of a slog. The first episode of newcomer showrunner Will Davies’s effort in particular feels very nearly inert. Too many characters are introduced with little clarity on their back story, and there's too much switching from location to location without giving us a true feel for the world. It's so much setup to achieve so little connection with the audience.
However, as Tiuri (Amir Wilson) begins to undergo the trials of becoming a knight more in earnest in episode 2, the world starts to take shape. More important, the show starts to develop a personality. In addition to finally separating Tiuri out as our lead, the supporting characters snap into relief. We see the mix of nobility, arrogant callousness, and underhandedness of Tiuri’s adopted father and namesake Sir Tiuri the Valiant (David Wenham). Sir Fantumar’s (Omid Djalili) thirst for power and disgust for others starts to reveal itself. Additionally, characters who ultimately do not figure stronger into the narrative become easier to spot. Continue Reading →
I Am Not Okay with This
Netflix’s latest sci-fi/drama/comedy/thriller features realistic characters, but lifts heavily from “Stranger Things,” “Carrie,” & just about everything else in the same genre.
Say what you will about Netflix’s baffling business model, particularly when it comes to its practice of releasing hundreds of original programs and promoting perhaps 10% of them. It understands winning formulas, however, none so much as teenagers + supernatural powers=a guaranteed fan base. Filling the gap between seasons of Stranger Things and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (though season three of the latter only just premiered last month) is I Am Not Okay With This, yet another comedy/drama/thriller/etc. in which a teenage girl struggles with both burgeoning mystical powers, and the slings and arrows of growing up. Based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel, it brings absolutely nothing new to the table (other than a “Dear Diary” narrative device), but features a believable, complicated, often realistically frustrating protagonist.
Sophia Lillis, late of Gretel & Hansel and the IT movies, is Sydney “Syd” Novak, a lonely high school student given to outbursts of anger ever since her father committed suicide. On top of grieving, a strained relationship with her mother, new responsibilities at home, and acne in unfortunate places, Syd harbors a terrible crush on her best friend, Dina (Sofia Bryant), who is blissfully unaware of her feelings. Much to Syd’s dismay, Dina begins dating not just any jock douchebag, but the biggest douchebag of them all, football player Brad Lewis (Richard Ellis), who can’t get through a class on the reproductive system without making a snide joke.
Insincerity all but oozes from Brad’s pores, but Dina is inexplicably over the moon for him, calling him “babe” and wearing his letterman’s jacket. A heartbroken Syd stares at Brad with hate in her eyes, and it’s only when Brad’s nose spontaneously starts to bleed that she realizes she possesses some sort of telekinetic power beyond her understanding. This power only seems to exhibit itself when Syd is angry, which is unfortunate, because she’s angry just about all the time. Syd is propelled by anger, stomping around her drab little Pennsylvania town and scowling at anyone who isn’t Dina or her younger brother, Liam (Aidan Wojtak-Hissong). She’s a prickly heroine, which is the lifeline I Am Not Okay With This clings to to keep from drowning in cliches. Continue Reading →