What Are You Watching...? No. 5

Greetings earthlings!

It's been a minute! But here is another instalment of the blog where I basically just list and rant about the TV shows I've been watching. I guess the thing is I often write about something I've just started and while I'm prone to bingeing an entire show in an evening sometimes they drag on, so actually it makes sense that there's a small gap between these. Right? Right?? I can be excused? Thanks. I've also been doing some revisiting of older properties, spending a good amount of time on YouTube 'researching' Avengers fan theories and also living my life. Organic wine in a barn anyone?! There's also been some things I've watched which have missed off or I didn't feel were worth talking about here and even I'm a bit confused about whether this is only for series or if movies, especially Netflix originals and such, are included here. I guess I make the rules, so we'll see. Anyway those are mostly the reasons there's been a gap.

But! And it's a big but. I've also been watching some shows and I'm going to talk about them below!

Spoilers and ice bergs right ahead, Stephen!

Unreal - I like this show. It reminds me a little of Point Blank, remember the teen drama about making a teen drama? No? Well, it only had the one season I guess. Still, it was fab. Unreal is about the team behind the scenes of a Bachelor style reality program. They’re a mix of horrible, messed up, ambitious and scheming people and they’re fun to watch. Constance Zimmerman is, as always, fantastically raspy and if you haven’t listened to his podcast I’m sure you won’t be too fed up with Jeffery Boyer-Chapman. My only quibble with Unreal is that I think it’s moment of cultural significance may have ended. The show finished after four seasons and going back nw I’m struggling to see a reason to keep watching other than trashy fun, which don’t get me wrong, is a legitimate reason on its own. I just feel like maybe watching Unreal around the time of its release might have given it more of a contemporary punch. I’ll keep going, but only when I want to zone out and watch some pretty people being horrible.

Special - gedhdhehdwhdsduuuuuurrrrrrrrrnnnnnn… This is really frustrating. I feel like I’m betraying my own people! I’m having a lot of familiar feelings about Special as I did about it’s minority focused, aspiring writer, millennial filtered counterpart Shrill. These two shows share a lot commonalities, they’re pros are the same and their cons are markedly similar as well. The problem I’m having is that these are shows being made by people like me, for people like me. The writers and creators trying to write about their experiences in a minority and they’re almost good, they just aren’t. But I want them to be soooooo much. In Special, Ryan O’Connel’s Netflix original, we get a glimpse into the life of a gay man living with cerebral palsy. It is an inspirational achievement and groundbreaking in its depiction of disability, intersectionality, queer sex as well as sex for a someone with cerebral palsy, sex work and the relationship between gay men and their mothers. The show has an average episode length of 15 minutes, which I’m not against unless your Netflix decides not to auto play after each episode and your required to get up from the couch all too often. The first couple of episodes trade in realism for a swift set up. Ryan gets an internship at a magazine, a best gal pal and wants to distance himself from his overbearing mother. (Overbearing she may be, but the amount of granteds for which she is taken are momentous, more on that in a bit.) Once the awkward setup is done the show does find a groove and yes there are some fun, amazing moments. The empathetic hooker being one of them. If only we could just live in these episodes, even it all feels a bit familiar (there’s an inspirational pool party episode, just like Shrill) and the jokes aren’t that funny. The biggest problem is the same as Shrill’s. It’s as if the writers are trying to create a loveable anti-hero, because minority heroes can be faulted too right?! In both cases, however, they’ve only succeeded in making a really annoying self involved character it’s almost impossible to root for. While Aidy Bryant’s character abandoned her cool best friend, in Special, Ryan lashes out at his mother (who has been quietly developing a sense of independence despite her urge to overbear) for the reason that she is crowding him too much. She’s literally taken care of him forever! He comes off as ungrateful, unthankful and blek!Both shows cross a line where their anti-heroes just become anti. And neither was funny or original enough to get away with it. It hurts me to say because these are the exact type of shows that I would want to write. Speaking of writing. Both main characters are writers and both write a revealing exposé in the last couple of episodes that bring all the season’s bubbling tension to the surface. Sure, it’s not their fault they used the same exact trope to create tension for the finale but still it’s kind of obvious. The thing is I hate being down about these shows because they’re both a first for representation and there are too many lacklustre shows about straight men fucking up which all look exactly the same which aren’t compared to this extent or held up to the same scrutiny because well, there’s too many. It’s the status quo and it’s unfair that two shows which may struggle to find an audience are graded on the same curve when they’re the first out of the gates. I want both of these shows to hang around for more seasons and I want to support them. (Shrill was just picked up for a second season). I just hope they do some work to delve deeper and maybe be a little funnier along the way and really create a couple of protagonists I want to hang out with, even if they are faulted. Hannah in Girls was always watchable, Carrie in Sex and the City was everyone’s favourite despite being a self-centred sociopath, it can be done. Jessica Hecht, of Friends fame, does venominal work here as the mum and the show is probably worth watching just for her performance, so at least there’s that.

Homecoming - Yas Beychella! Honestly this doc/concert is something you have to see to really understand the gravitas. The concert itself is spectacular. At one point over 2oo hundred people are on stage and Beyonce is their leader, she performs with ease and authority. She has the ability to go from expressing her honor and gratitude for Coachella and the next minute commanding the audience to bow dow before her in all her glory. Filmed over two weekend, which allowed for some great costume changes, the first time those outfits turned from yellow to pink is a marvel of editing and had me wondering for a good few minutes what kind of sorcery was in use. If like most of the Beyhive you’d already watched the concert the snippets of rehearsals in between should provide enough new and intriguing material to keep you watching. Shortly after learning about Beyonce’s diet before the show (now meat, no dairy, no fat, no sugar, no alcohol…. Basically, air and cos lettuce) I decided I needed to implement a similarly strict eating regime into my life only to be devouring an easter egg a moment later. Seeing Beyonce in ‘real life’ giving notes to her cast and crew, and interacting with Blue Ivy and Jay-Z is a rare glimpse at what her life is truly like. She says in the documentary that she wanted to bring her culture to Coachella and boy did she accomplish that goal. Even if you have watched the set before those horns and drums are like nothing else. Plus it was fun to see Kelly and Poor Michelle, along with Solange who only came to jive. Seriously great viewing and proof that Beyonce is transcendent. More than a pop star, more than a political figure. Honestly, even if you’re not a fan of her music I don’t see how anyone could not agree she’s the most talented person on the planet. The only minor downside is that whole songs are something of a rarity here, opting for mostly snippets. I guess with so many hits it would be hard to fit them all in anyhow!

Love, Death and Robots - Seriously, what is this hettie nonsense?  I couldn’t get past two of these robot themed shorts before i started looking at my phone and three was so abysmal I gave up midway. It’s not not a cool concept. I love an anthology style show. Easy, High Maintenance are just two that prove how to do it and do it well. This was a mess. The writing was really atrocious and I struggled to find a reason why any of these stories needed telling. Some of the animation was very nice, I guess that’s one positive.

Guys, the magicians finale?! If you follow me even a little you’ll have noticed me going on and on about this finale. But truly, they did something so unexpected and groundbreaking and progressive in terms of genre and storytelling and everyone should watch this show from the beginning. It was one of the first shows I talked about on this blog and so it’s nice to be able to continue the journey. Finally, I did also watch an episode of Our Planet which was as per usual, an amazingly shot nature doc narrated by Sir David Attenborough, with a great message about saving the planet. You'll love it. And as always Ru Paul's Drag Race continues on! Anyway, I'll try and not keep it so long between entries. Or maybe I won't. Maybe you liked the gap. Bye!

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