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The Leftovers: Thoughts on the End of the Series

The last time Damon Lindelof wrote a series finale I cried for three days. Personally, I found ending of Lost highly emotionally satisfying, but I know that’s a controversial topic. Nonetheless, Damon Lindelof has proven himself capable of writing really powerful, emotionally affecting scenes between complex characters and I have a feeling we’re dipping right back into that well with tonight’s finale of The Leftovers. (more…)

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#TryPod: For Cord Cutters

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For Cord Cutters

We all know it. Cable sucks.

I am a huge TV and movie junkie and even I couldn’t justify what I was paying for my cable package after a while. So, a couple of years ago I cut the cord. I got HBO Now, Hulu (which includes a seasonal upgrade to Showtime), continued my Netflix subscription (proud member since 2006!), tacked on an Amazon Prime membership and I am set. No DVR fees. No impossible cable company bills or millions of channels I don’t care about. It’s saved me at least $50 a month or more. I can’t recommend it enough.

However, one of the casualties of that decision were little things like cable news – not required viewing, but it’s nice to have from time to time. I found myself in need of this as the 2016 election was looming so I browsed through my podcasts and discovered that many TV networks release the audio of their programs as podcasts for FREE. 90% of my job involves me creating visual content, so I hesitate to say this, but…it’s surprising how little you need to see to get the full value of the program.

6952Anderson Cooper 360, CNN
I look forward to listening to Anderson Cooper 360 every weekday. I like the array of guests he has on and though I think he has a bit of a liberal bend, Anderson Cooper does a great job of playing devil’s advocate and challenging the liberal pundits on his panel. He’s also a GREAT interviewer, there’s an interview that he did with Kellyanne Conway shortly after the Russian dossier was released that is excellent. This program doesn’t rely too much on visual content, so only rarely do I find myself misunderstanding a segment because I’m only consuming the audio portion.

6602The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC
I really like Rachel Maddow but I understand why some people don’t. I don’t know that I’d say that her show is overtly biased, but she’s definitely coming at her stories with a perspective, but I still appreciate her candor, her interviews and her reporting. It’s easy to surround yourself with media that affirms your beliefs, but listening to Rachel Maddow on a daily basis gives me the opportunity to exercise my skeptic muscles. Occasionally her show will reference some visual content, but for the most part I find the audio-only version of the show to be pretty comprehensive.

Here’s a few other programs that you can listen to as a podcast:

  • Amanpour (CNN)
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN)
  • Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
  • NBC Nightly News
  • Meet the Press (NBC)
  • Face the Nation (CBS)
  • State of the Union with Jake Tapper (CNN)
  • This Week with George Stephanopoulos (ABC)
  • Fox News Sunday
  • 48 hours
  • Frontline (PBS)

Girls – “American Bitch” S6E3

While the Oscar debacle was unfolding on ABC on Sunday night, HBO was airing what might be the strongest and most important episode of Girls that the network has ever produced.

Lena Dunham is a divisive figure and as a result Girls has always been a divisive show. Life through the eyes of the narcissistic, self-indulgent Hannah Horvath provides a very unique perspective into this strange period of a young woman’s life as you’re finishing your education and trying to understand what it truly means to be an adult. Girls came on the air at the perfect time for me, it was right when I was finishing up my second semester in college, so as this group of young women have progressed and matured (or not so much so) my life has changed with them and I’ve always felt like the tone and the themes of the show are incredibly relatable.

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One topic that 20-something women (and men) have been particularly vocal about is rape culture and how the imbalance of power contributes to non-consensual sex. Girls took that topic on Sunday night and they handled it in a very, very smart way.

In a standalone episode that only follows Hannah, she meets with one of her favorite authors in his home to discuss a piece she had written about allegations college students on his book tours had made about coercive or potentially even non-consensual sexual encounters with him.

In her conversations with this author she defends her work, revels in his praises and they disagree about the nature of sexual relationships and the role that power plays in consent. Their conversation started out tense, but grows warmer as he opens up to her. You can see this hard line that Hannah has drawn between consent and coercion begin to blur in their own conversations, in the way that he’s treating her, but she doesn’t realize he is manipulating her until it’s already happening. It was very smart to show how a confident, empowered young woman could spout rhetoric about rape culture and the male power complex and mean every word of it, but not see it coming when it’s directed at her.

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There’s a great segment that at the end of the episode where Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner discuss the episode and they rightly point out that people who might adopt sexually predatory behavior aren’t always overtly evil and cartoonish. It’s not always that black and white.

If you’re not into Girls or just haven’t seen the show before, you can still enjoy this episode. It’s a standalone episode, so you don’t need to see episodes prior to follow it.

I was super impressed by this episode. It was a good narrative for the episode and the subtext was super powerful and relevant. Nicely done, Lena Dunham & Co.

 

You Should Be Watching: The Leftovers

The Leftovers

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Starring: Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Margaret Qualley, Chris Zylka, Carrie Coon, and Ann Dowd
Created by: Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta
Airs on: HBO

Last summer HBO premiered a new series written by Damon Lindelof & Tom Perrotta (author of the book upon which the series is based) called The Leftovers to positive reviews and consistently good ratings. Seeing Lindelof credited again, many viewers were skeptical. It’s hard to see Lindelof’s name and not immediately think of Lost and its controversial ending, but I promise you, The Leftovers is worth your time. (more…)

You Should Be Watching: The Knick

The Knick

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Starring: Clive Owen, Andre Holland, Jeremy Bobb, Juliet Rylance, Eve Hewson, Michael Angarano, Chris Sullivan, Cara Seymour, Eric Johnson
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Airs On: Cinemax

The Knick launched its first season on Cinemax around this time last year, to critical acclaim but a very small audience. In an effort to boost viewership for season two (I assume), HBO, parent company to Cinemax, is streaming The Knick on HBONow for a limited time. If you don’t have Cinemax and want to get caught up on this excellent, very underrated show, now is the perfect time! (more…)

Oscar Predictions: Part 2

This is the second installment of my Oscar predictions; this round has some of the hardest categories to predict including: Best Animated Short, Animated Feature, Documentary, Documentary Short, Live Action Short, and Visual Effects.

You can read my first round of Oscar picks here.

<> on October 19, 2009 in Santa Clarita, California.

Best Short Film (Animated)
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Feast
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life
disney-feast-bowlWill Win: Feast
Could WinThe Bigger Picture
Should Win: A Single Life
I don’t pretend to know a lot about animation, but I really, really enjoyed A Single Life. It was quick and funny and witty and original. Feast is the favored nominee, and with good reason; it is adorable, but A Single Life was the most memorable short out of the batch. You can also make a strong case for The Bigger Picture; even though it is pretty bleak it has a great animation style and the way that the scenes bleed into one another is beautiful. (more…)

The Golden Globes Predictions: TV

On Sunday the Hollywood Foreign Press will award the winners of the 2015 Golden Globes!

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Below I have my picks and predictions for the TV nominees.

Best Television Series – Drama
The Affair
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
House of Cards

frank-underwood-house-of-cards-806x590Should WinHouse of Cards
House of Cards is far and away the best show on this list. Netflix should be preparing to celebrate; a streaming-only released series winning one of the big TV titles marks a fairly significant moment in the transformation of the television industry.
Could Win: ………..
It’s a draw. The Drama Series nominees seem so random this year. Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and The Good Wife are all great shows but seem like the obligatory nominees at this point. The Affair is a new show on Showtime with great potential but has hardly earned a spot on this yet.  Where is Mad Men? What about The Knick? Maybe even The Leftovers?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Ruth Wilson, The Affair
Robin Wright, House of Cards (more…)