Shrill Aidy Bryant

While staring at an exercise advertisement in a coffee shop, Annie (Aidy Bryant) is confronted by “Toned Tonya,” the woman pictured in the ad. She speaks to Annie in a condescending manner, talking about her weight as if it’s a burden of some sort. “There’s a small person inside of you, dying to get out!” Tonya says with enthusiasm (and unknowing disrespect). Annie’s weight (and the conversation surrounding it) is something that many plus-size women experience.

The first two episodes of Hulu’s Shrill work to set the tone that Annie’s weight, living as a plus-sized woman, is apart of her life – but there’s more to her life than that. And it makes for an endearing, personable and funny start to the series.

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Star Trek Discovery Project Daedalus

Can Star Trek: Discovery not destroy my soul every week?

While the show has done its best job of keeping tension and emotions high, this week’s episode, “Project Daedalus,” is the season’s saddest and most intense yet. At the same time, it was also a masterclass of how to write a great death. As we’ve seen already multiple times, Season 2 has made it a point to show up Season 1 in terms of characterization, storyline, and overall depth of meaning, and this week’s sad death continues that trend. Here’s how this tragedy is evidence of this season’s rise to Star Trek prominence, as well as how the death highlights another tragedy – underutilizing an awesome character until it’s too late.

I don’t usually give a spoiler warning with these recaps, but if you are reading this and you haven’t watched this week’s episode, don’t read further because you will find out who dies. Okay? The recap begins now. Read More »

The Magicians Home Improvement review

Several characters in “Home Improvement,” the title of this week’s funnier-than-normal episode of The Magicians, deal with some concept of home. First, there’s Fen, who does whatever she can for her homeland, even if that that means undergoing back-breaking yard work for the supposed prophet in her dreams. There’s also Alice, who must visit her mother to cast a location spell for Zelda, the Librarian who has her own home-related desire to find her daughter in the mirror realm. And then there’s a very-pregnant Poppy (a recurring character played by Felicia Day), who is expanding her own home — first by stealing dragon sperm to inseminate a dragon egg, and then by embracing the human baby growing inside her. Home for the gang is a fickle thing, something so flittering it’s hard to hold on to, yet something so powerful that it drives our characters to go great lengths to preserve (or push away). Read More »

Cobra Kai season 2 review

Viewers who were hoping to see Daniel-San crane kicking through Miyagi-do in the first season of Cobra Kai may have been disappointed. The YouTube original series from Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald wisely saved their most crowd-pleasing moments for the beginning of Season Two, after viewers were already in the bag. Season One of the Karate Kid sequel, set 34 years after the original film, focused instead on Daniel’s rival Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) as he climbs out of a decades-long run of bad luck and worse decisions and re-opens the infamous Cobra Kai dojo. On the other side of the San Fernando Valley, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is a happy husband and father and owner of a very successful car sales empire. But the season ends with Daniel’s determination to open a dojo of his own to combat Cobra Kai’s dominance – and just in time for the return of Johnny’s bad-news sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove).

It’s a clever move. After having earned accolades on the strength of its original story in the first season, Cobra Kai finally makes with the crane kicks in the opening episodes of Season Two, picking that low-hanging fruit and giving fans what they’ve been clamoring for since the beginning. The first two episodes of the sophomore season are such a good time, tossing around entertaining melodrama and heartwarming Miyagi nods in equal measure. Read More »

NOS4A2 Review

Joe Hill‘s NOS4A2 is a dense, twisty, unlikely tale, so it feels exactly right that the pilot episode of AMC’s adaptation should be so stubbornly unwilling to explain itself to viewers unfamiliar with the source material. Nothing is spelled out here; nothing is synopsized or tidily introduced. Unlike so many pilots – that act as a string of bite-sized quotes built in service of future “Previously on…” segments – NOS4A2 is interested only in telling this story at its own pace, with an admirable confidence that the audience will eventually catch up to where it’s going.

But even for those new to the world of Christmasland, to Charlie Manx and his Rolls-Royce Wraith, this first episode is deeply compelling, hooking viewers on an emotional, visceral level well before the plot fully reveals itself.

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David Makes Man Review

Series creator Tarell Alvin McCraney spoke to the audience about his show’s protagonist David during the Q&A at the premiere of OWN’s David Makes Man“I said to myself, ‘This is the job,'” he said. “Not to change him into somebody else, to take his gifts outside of the community. But to make the community greater by giving all that he’s got back to it.”

Like Moonlight before it, the drama series’ source material comes from McCraney’s own personal life, specifically the experience of being told he was gifted. For many black students, being deemed “gifted” comes the pressure and expectation that you will be separated from peers that look like you.  The warring concept of the community that made you who you are being a deterrent to your gifts is explored in the first episode – which makes for a promising and stylistically start to the series. Read More »

Idris Elba Hosted Saturday Night Live

Idris Elba is best known for his roles in shows like The Wire or Luther, and big screen performances in the likes of Pacific Rim, Thor, Beasts of No Nation and Molly’s Game. But he’s certainly not known for his comedic chops. However, we’re hoping that changes after his hosting debut on Saturday Night Live this weekend. Not only was Idris Elba surprisingly hilarious, but he was extremely comfortable, and the result was an exceptional follow-up to last weekend’s stellar episode with John Mulaney.

So let’s run through the best and worst sketches of the Idris Elba hosted Saturday Night Live. Read More »

What We Do in the Shadows TV Show Review

Entire television series shouldn’t be critiqued on pilots alone, but that’s all What We Do In The Shadows had to offer eager South By Southwest victims (aside from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s uproarious improv introduction). Episodics often require a few inaugural chapters before hitting momentum strides, and pilots bare the weight of hypnotizing audiences while establishing tonality to come. In this bubble, FX’s new take on What We Do In The Shadows transplants the same approach, expressionism, and aesthetic of Waititi and Clement’s effortlessly entertaining “vampire world-shattering documentary” from New Zealand to Staten Island.

“Documentary” in quotations because, you know, *if* it were real (which Waititi and Clement both insisted). Read More »

Star Trek Discovery If Memory Serves review

Finally, in Star Trek: Discovery’s eighth episode of the season, “If Memory Serves,” we get Ethan Peck as Spock. As a huge Spock fan, I found it pitch perfect.

There were actually several pitch perfect moments in this hour, even though the entire episode hit a depressing chord overall. Yes, after several high-flying, adventure-filled episodes, we have gotten our first truly sad one. It was deeply emotional: haunting, heartbreaking, and just downright somber. Here’s how my heart broke throughout the episode. Read More »

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The Magicians The Side Effect Review

The Magicians is an ensemble show, with the gang of main characters flitting across interwoven storylines in perpetual battles to save their lives and/or magic. In “The Side Effect,” one of my favorite episodes this season, the roles that characters’ play gets flipped; the spotlight moves away from the core gang (Quentin, Julia, Margo, Eliot and Alice) and shines on four side characters: Zelda the Librarian, Fillory’s own Fen, the warrior-woman Kady, and the kinda dead Penny 40.

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