Doll & Em is a lot like Hello Ladies. It’s quintessentially British, which somehow makes it really boring. In the case of Doll & Em, we’re watching two women navigate Hollywood. Everyone knows Hollywood is a strange place. Fiction likes to fill it with a bunch of self-absorbed jerks. So what happens when you take a town full of unlikable people and throw two more unlikable people into it? A very uncompelling show.
Dolly and Emily have an extremely close, but complicated relationship. When Dolly calls up Emily because she lost her job, Emily instantly hires Dolly to be her assistant. Since Emily appears to be a well-known actress, she is forced to go to Hollywood parties. After she comes home, she constantly complains about how terrible they are. You would think, by now, she would have found a way to get out of them. Secretly, Emily probably likes complaining about them because hanging around them makes it easier for her to ignore her own bad qualities. For example, Emily had no problem making out with a guy Dolly was interested in. The kicker: Emily has a husband, albeit one she never sees.
In just eight episodes, HBO’s True Detective will take detectives Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey back to a case they couldn’t solve in 1995 Louisiana whose killer may now be resurfacing. After the first two episodes, seemingly occult-based murders have begun to lead the two down a path of drugs, flop houses, and a burnt-out, backwoods church of ‘redemption’ looking for answers.
The ‘history’ of the case in True Detective unfolds through a series of flashbacks as the former partners retell their tale(s) to two current detectives who lost the files to storm Rita. The pace flows slower than most television crime shows as if McConaughey and Harrelson are actually reliving their partnership and a case nearly two decades old (within a slow, southern atmosphere no less). The show’s mystery and acting help carry the viewer through the proceedings at a decent pace, but the current detectives are quite distracting when you’re trying to figure out if they’re hiding something or if they’re just giving each other goofy looks whenever they can because they think it’s funny.
Enlightened was a two season HBO series written by Mike White,who we all may only remember from School of Rock, although his catalog covers some ground throughout the 2000s. Starring Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, a former corporate meltdown turned progressive peacekeeper through an emotional rehab, who is just trying desperately to get back into the good graces of her old company, while trying to simultaneously clean up their act is a show of just that: desperation.
Season one focuses on Jellicoe’s desperation to ‘stick to the script’ of her self-help books as she returns to work at Open Air, Abbadon, the company where she had had her infamous breakdown just a month before. Many of the same faces now inhabit the upper levels, which makes Jellicoe’s rise back that much more difficult as no one but Jellicoe is open to second chances.
Out of all the characters, Stuart Pritchard is the worst. Stuart thinks he’s a player, but he doesn’t even know when a woman is hitting on him. When Jessica does point it out, Stuart awkwardly tries to act cool, which demonstrates exactly how uncool he is, yet sometimes he gets the girl. “The Date” had him ask a girl from his gym’s smoothie bar appear clearly interested in him, but Stuart thinks she’s just making fun of his Britishness because she says things like “top of the morning to you” and “cheerio.” Once Stuart understands the situation, he ends up knocking over all the drinks in the refrigerator. In his head, leaning against the fridge is cool. Everyone else knows attempting to look cool only makes you look clueless.
Hello Ladies may take place in Los Angeles and air on an American channel, HBO, but it is a pretty standard modern British sitcom. Every character is an awkward person, who doesn’t know how to function in normal settings. In this case, Stuart Pritchard (Stephen Merchant) leads his group of awkward male friends around LA nightlife as an attempt to pick up women. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t have the outcome they wanted.
Stuart’s best friend is Wade, whose wife recently left him. Wade somehow manages to walk into doors that don’t exist. This is a man who introduces himself to women in a bar as Wade as in Roe vs. Wade. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then goes on to remind the women- he and Stuart barely know, yet want to have sex with- that it was the court case about abortion. Stuart digs the hole deeper by saying, “Let’s not talk about abortion before we have to.” That line pretty much sums up Hello Ladies‘ premise in a blunter fashion: men looking for cheap meaningless sex. You could easily think of Stuart as a gawky unsuccessful Joey Tribbiani.
I have a theory that nightmares are our brain’s way of saying “hey, your life could be worse,” which is why the horror genre is increasingly becoming popular in television. So what if you have crippling debt because of student loans. At least, you don’t have to kill your zombified friends and family. According to this CBC article, that’s why zombies are so popular.
There is no doubting that times are tough. When you find yourself in times of trouble, mother television comes on to make things all better. Since the dawn of primetime, TV has always been an escape from our daily lives. It’s why we never saw our favorite nuclear TV families broken apart by war. Instead of living vicariously through our favorite TV characters like we used to, we’re saying, “hey, my life could be worse”.
True Blood (HBO)
True Blood came out in the height of that whole Twilight fad that some of us don’t like mentioning being part of. I remember girls complaining that True Blood was a blatant rip off of the saga. Aside from having vampires, the protagonist happens to have telepathic abilities, just like a certain sparkly vampire. Except The Southern Vampire Mysteries that inspired the TV show came out before Stephanie Meyer dreamed up Twilight.
The difference between True Blood and any other vampire movie or TV show is that it dealt with current issues. Gay rights to be specific. This is made obvious by the “God hates Fangs” sign in the intro, which is a lovely jab at The Westboro Baptist Church. The show has continued to use vampires as an allegory for the LGBT community. You know, vampires are people too!
Despite airing in the summer, which is usually a death sentence, this show became insanely popular. So popular that HBO has been pushing out more and more TV shows ever since its 2008 debut. Since so many people took time out of their busy summer schedules of doing nothing, it showed that horror is something channels should strive toward.
Assume the Position with Mr. Wuhl was a two part comedy special on HBO about American History. While both parts of the special contain pop culture references that clearly date Assume the Position 101 to 2006 and Assume the Position 201 to 2007, that doesn’t make it less funny. Despite only being an actor and comedian, Robert Whul makes every college student want to have him as a professor.
Parts 1 and 2 are combined in the video below.
The second season of Episodes has been superb so far. Sunday’s show was only the second episode. Considering how good the series has been, it’s probably not slowing down. The main arc of this season is about repairing damages and it’s working very well. The main issue is simple in that it is very difficult for everyone to move past the turmoil of the first season. The biggest struggle is not for the civility of Sean and Beverly Lincoln, but for Matt LeBlanc to win Sean over. Everything came together extremely well.
The episode opens with Sean and Morning Randolph in bed together. Randolph is leaving and Sean seems confused. He feels that their sleeping together deserves more attention. He asked if they should talk about what happened and Randolph simply said “I had fun.” Sean was confused again, and he asks, “That’s it?’ This really highlighted the emotional states of the characters well. Sean isn’t used to the dynamic of the one night stand. After all, he’s been married for several years. Sex that doesn’t mean much is new territory for him. That being said, the subtexts of the scene were executed very well. There were a few moments of silence between the two as if to communicate an uncertainty that they are both getting comfortable with. In this sense, there is still a feeling of emptiness. He’s separated from Beverly and he isn’t cheating. Out of familiarity, he almost seems to crave for the situation to be more complicated than it actually is. Instead, Randolph has the right idea, simply telling Sean she would see him tomorrow.
If you missed the premiere of The Newsroom and want to catch it before tonight’s episode at 10pm, you can watch the full first episode for free on YouTube.
After the controversy surrounding the use of a mask depecting former President Bush’s head, the HBO series Game of Thrones has made some changes After HBO pulled the episode and stopped DVD production. The producers then apologized saying it was out of necessity and that they had to use the heads available. Now that the story went viral, the production team has altered the George W. Bush mask. It’s chin, nose, and face are now considerably smaller.
The changes to the mask may not erase the inappropriate mistake that the Game of Thrones staff made, but it is at least a step in the right direction. By altering the mask, the show did the right thing in trying to make amends. It acknowledged its mistake. Of course, the staff should not have made the mistake in the first place but at least it was handled with some grace.
For those who are aware of who the mask originally depicted and were offended, changing the mask may not help because the damage has been done. Using the mask of a former president to depict a beheading will always be inappropriate, but trying to alter the head was the right thing to do. The mistake will still be remembered, but so will the correction.
Did HBO and the Game of Thrones do enough?