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      • High Fidelity's cancelation is devastating because it served as pandemic escapism
        Source: Wired

        The Zoë Kravitz-led gender-flipped reimagining of Nick Hornby’s book and John Cusack 2000 movie, which was canceled after one season this week, premiered on Valentine's Day, a month before the coronavirus shutdown. Watching High Fidelity in quarantine amid Zoom hangouts "was like a broadcast from an alternate timeline where impromptu meetups at dive bars were still happening," says Angela Watercutter. "In many ways, High Fidelity is just one of many shows and movies that have come along to fill the void during quarantine," says Watercutter. "Everything from Twister to Tiger King has proven to be a comfort, or at least a distraction, as people while away the hours. Hulu’s show tapped into a certain kind of layabout, day-drinking malaise that is currently missing from a lot of people’s summers." Watercutter adds: "Of course, the thing that makes High Fidelity great—the hangout vibes, the hours spent in record stores and friends’ apartments—is the same thing that likely makes it hard to produce. Hollywood is slowly figuring out how to make TV shows during a pandemic (::waves at Tyler Perry::), but on High Fidelity there was a fair amount of hugs, making out, close talking—all things that break the rules of social distancing. Sure, Hulu could’ve bought some blow-up dolls, but that definitely would’ve chipped away at the show’s authenticity. Still, Rob (Kravitz) and her coterie deserved more time. We would’ve waited." UPDATE: Zoë Kravitz calls out Hulu for lack of diversity: "It’s cool. At least Hulu has a ton of other shows starring women of color we can watch. Oh wait.”

        # TOPICS: High Fidelity, Hulu, Zoë Kravitz, Coronavirus

      • Comedy Central's revival of The Ren & Stimpy Show is a bad idea -- not just because of its creator's sexual misconduct scandal
        Source: Paste Magazine

        ViacomCBS says Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, who was accused of underage sex abuse in the 1990s, won't have anything to do with the Comedy Central reboot. But, says Garrett Martin. "you can’t have Ren & Stimpy today with Kricfalusi, but the problem is you also can’t really have it without him—at least the Ren & Stimpy that people might be nostalgic for. The first two seasons of its original run were the episodes that built its reputation, and they all bear Kricfalusi’s trademark absurdity and love for the grotesque. The series ran for three more seasons after he was fired in 1993, but they weren’t well-received at the time and aren’t fondly remembered today. Kricfalusi himself had an opportunity to return to his show in the early ‘00s, but even with the original creator on board the Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon revival was a notorious disaster that was cancelled after only three episodes aired. So here’s a show that’s heavily dependent on the vision of a creator who’s now completely toxic and already proved almost 20 years ago that his creative tank for new Ren & Stimpy episodes was utterly dry." Martin adds that "even the once-popular and supposedly good episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show absolutely do not stand up today. Kricfalusi’s vision might’ve turned the show into a phenomenon at the time, but today it mostly feels like empty shock value. It’s gross for the sake of being gross, and its characters are little more than loose collections of obnoxious traits that exist solely to set up jokes. Kricfalusi was inspired by the old irreverent shorts of Bob Clampett, and it shows; Ren & Stimpy lacks the character development and commitment to storytelling that cartoons have cultivated from the ‘90s on, which wouldn’t be a problem if its jokes were funny enough. They aren’t. The Ren & Stimpy Show is a great example of a short-lived fad that doesn’t really work outside of its specific moment in time. Does that mean a new Ren & Stimpy is destined to fail? Not at all. Perhaps a genuinely talented and creative mind will be put in charge of the revival, and recalibrate it into something that somehow fits the current culture without completely disregarding the spirit of the original. Still, of all of these nostalgic remakes coming to Viacom networks in the upcoming months, this is the one that makes the least amount of sense—and one that, in turn, makes the other ones lose a bit of their luster."

        # TOPICS: The Ren & Stimpy Show, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, John Kricfalusi, Revivals, Sexual Misconduct

      • Ellen DeGeneres niceness facade began showing cracks with last year's disastrous Dakota Johnson interview
        Source: Vox

        "DeGeneres’s reputation began showing wear months ago," says Alex Abad-Santos. "A pivotal moment in the dismantling of DeGeneres’s persona as TV’s friendliest talk show host happened in November during an interview with actress and celebrity scion Dakota Johnson. The interview, like most of DeGeneres’s interviews, seemed to be casual, as if DeGeneres and Johnson were old friends. But this typical pattern was subverted and dove into awkward territory when DeGeneres asked Johnson about why she wasn’t invited to Johnson’s recent 30th birthday party. The implication: Dakota Johnson is too cool for nice Ellen, or maybe she’s even a mean girl...Through admonishing Johnson, DeGeneres was caught fibbing and inadvertently drew attention to her controversial hangout with (George W.) Bush. For DeGeneres, who has built her career on being seen as authentically nice, her fib tarnished her reputation even more than watching a game with George W. Bush did." Abad-Santos adds of Ellen's recent toxic workplace controversy: "At this point, more and more people are coming forward about how awful it was to work at certain television shows with certain actors, writers rooms, creatives, and Hollywood bigwigs, bringing the reality of what it’s like working in Hollywood to light. The stories about abuse and caustic workplaces seem like symptoms of a bigger problem — an industry with little to no oversight or protections for its workers. But what makes The Ellen DeGeneres Show production team’s alleged transgressions more shocking is that DeGeneres has built an entire career and celebrity status by assuring us that she wasn’t like other celebrities. DeGeneres’s brand is about being so relentlessly kind and so interminably inoffensive that you didn’t have to worry about Ellen ever being problematic."

        ALSO:

        • How Ellen DeGeneres could win back her audience: Celebrities coming forward in defense of Ellen over the past week seemed like crisis management tactic -- and, in Kevin Hart's case, paying it forward after she defended him over his LGBTQ Oscar-hosting crisis in January 2019. "What both parties surely see as friendship is difficult to distinguish from mutual P.R.-crisis management, a way of closing ranks against the anonymous masses," says Michael Schulman. "Super not relatable. Misguided comity is one thing. Presiding over a toxic workplace is another. If DeGeneres wants to win back the trust of her audience—and her staff—she’ll need to earn it from the people who don’t have publicists and verified Instagram accounts, first among them the employees who took the risk of speaking out. It would be a shame if the accusations overshadowed DeGeneres’s consequential career, which really did change the world for the better. The bigger shame would be if the accusations are justified."
        • From Tig Notaro to Eric Andre: Here are five stars who should replace Ellen

        # TOPICS: Ellen DeGeneres, NBC, Ellen, Dakota Johnson, Daytime TV

      • Perry Mason has been able to fuse the antihero show with the procedural show
        Source: The Ringer

        "The antihero saga has become the new procedural. In Perry Mason’s case, that transition just happens to be literal," says Alison Herman. "Of course, 'antihero show' and 'procedural' aren’t mutually exclusive; one genre pertains to character, the other to structure. There’s currently a cop show on Netflix about the literal devil! The two just have distinct sets of tropes, one of which is slightly newer to the TV lexicon than the other. The late-’50s Perry Mason discovered the efficiency of reusable sets and consistent characters as TV was transitioning from stage-like anthologies to filmed serials, a format that would soon come to define the medium. (The show’s use of legal consultants for factual bona fides, too, would become standard.) The 2020 Perry Mason is less a leader than a follower, but it’s adept at transplanting the dark-and-gritty treatment to its latest host with the help of a talented cast and a $75 million production budget...Shows like this latest Perry Mason inevitably earn unflattering comparisons to Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and other iconic series they’re squarely in the shadow of. But Perry Mason and its peers aren’t trying to replicate a now-20-year-old revolution; they’re invoking a legacy so integral to modern TV it’s become almost background noise. What Perry Mason aims for is something closer to Ozark, Netflix’s rote crime yarn that largely nonplussed critics but garnered a massive viewership and a slew of Emmy nominations. Another tale of a white-collar cartel associate, Ozark is less challenging than Breaking Bad, but also more accessible. Violence and amorality don’t guarantee shock value like they used to. Instead, they’re familiar tools, deployed with muscle memory and received with a knowing embrace. Originality isn’t the selling point there—nor with Perry Mason. The predictability is the point."

        # TOPICS: Perry Mason (2020), HBO, Peak TV

      • I May Destroy You's Black Britishness is as specific as it is universal
        Source: Vulture

        "It speaks to the gift of the show itself, its ability to draw recognisable experiences without flattening or homogenising, without smoothening its hard edges and making it easier for the audience to swallow," says Bolu Babalola of Michaela Coel's portrayal of Black Britishness on her HBO/BBC series. "I May Destroy You is as specific as it is universal — Blackness and Britishness infused in its essence. To watch this show without understanding that it is Black and British is to willfully ignore the fact — and yet, it exists not to be seen. It exists to exist, just as we do. This harks to the themes of complications, contradictions, and tensions that helm the series: Its Black Britishness is not notable, and to understand that it is not notable, you must first recognise that it is present and important. You must recognise that it matters. Black Britishness need not be removed to relate to the show. I May Destroy You, as a piece of art, is not in the business of servicing those who ignore the needful. It is an intellectually and emotionally vigorous show that gloriously presents its world without explanation. It is a show that states that when one says rah, you don’t need to understand to understand, babes."

        ALSO:

        • I May Destroy You might be the best TV show of the year: "At the center of I May Destroy You, which aired on the BBC in the UK (where it was primarily made) and airs on HBO in the US, is the very vagueness contained in its title," says Emily VanDerWerff. "Who’s going to destroy who? Each and every episode answers that question a little bit differently. And with nine episodes of its 12-episode first season having aired in the US, it’s safe to say this is one of the best shows of the year."
        • Michaela Coel explains how much changed in her 191 drafts for I May Destroy You: "In many ways, a lot has changed," she says. "In other ways, it hasn’t changed a bit. At the origin of this show, I knew I would begin with sexual assault, and I had a version of the ending, which meant I understood the beginning and the end, but didn’t know how I would get there. I always knew where I was going, but there were hundreds of different ways to really get there. So it changed in loads of ways."

        # TOPICS: I May Destroy You, BBC, HBO, Michaela Coel

      • Bravo to air a special on Race in America
        Source: Page Six

        E!'s Nina Parker hosts Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment on Sunday at 10 p.m., featuring Bravolebrities talking about everything from racism to Black Lives Matter to white privilege. “This is unlike any other conversation,” says former Real Housewives producer Dorothy Toran, who's producing the special. “You could talk to someone and have a conversation with them for every day for five years and you would never have a race conversation. So I think when you open the door to a race conversation you will be surprised at what everyone says.”

        # TOPICS: Bravo, Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment, Nina Parker, Black Lives Matter, The Real Housewives Franchise

      • The Witcher cast and crew share what filming is like amid a pandemic
        Source: Winter is Coming

        Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich posted a picture of herself on set wearing a mask and face shield.

        # TOPICS: The Witcher, Netflix, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, Coronavirus

      • TV industry needs to get over its fetishization of Muslims as solely religious and political beings
        Source: The Hollywood Reporter

        While Muslim-Americans have made great strides on shows like FBI and Ramy, there is still a need to show the nuances of being Muslim on television, write Sue Obeidi and Evelyn Alsultan. "Netflix's Messiah, for example, offers a complex context that includes a refugee crisis and U.S. military interventions," they explain in a Hollywood Reporter essay. "However, Muslim characters are reduced to their politics and religion, and culture and faith are often conflated. There are about 1.8 billion Muslims globally, and Muslim identity and appearance are incredibly diverse. It is lackadaisical how Hollywood was able to create a 'Muslim look' that is Arab and South Asian, and often times with actors outside of those communities. Black people make up the largest group of Muslims in the U.S., comprising 20 percent of U.S. Muslims. And the Latinx community is the fastest-growing Muslim community in the U.S. But we rarely see these portrayals. Expanding storylines that include Muslim characters really requires reflecting the diversity of Muslim communities."

        # TOPICS: Messiah, FBI, Ramy, Muslim Americans and TV

      • Brec Bassinger has only been recognized once in public as The CW's Stargirl due to the pandemic
        Source: TVLine

        "It’s been interesting, because I’ve been (quarantined) at home for so much of it," Bassinger tells TVLine while discussing the Season 1 finale. "I’ve gotten recognized once, because I just don’t go out. Nothing’s open! But I had my mask on and sunglasses — I have to tell this story, because it’s so exciting for me! — and I was talking to this security guard. He goes, 'Take off your sunglasses.' I was like, Um, OK, why?' He was like, 'You know why.' So I slowly took them off, and he was like, 'You know why… Stargirl.' I fangirled more than he fangirled, because I was so freaking excited to meet a random person who loves this show. He was so into it, and it was the best feeling. My heart was so thrilled."

        # TOPICS: Brec Bassinger, The CW, Stargirl

      • Chrishell Stause is using Selling Sunset to tell her side of the history after Justin Hartley's divorce filing
        Source: The Ringer

        "Plenty of public figures get divorced," says Alison Herman. "Not as many have a former spouse who’s wearing a microphone pack when they get the news via text. And yes, Chrishell did learn of Hartley’s divorce filing via text." Herman notes that "what follows is a fascinating mix of raw emotion and deliberate response. Stause’s shock and devastation come off as far more genuine than the show’s other ginned-up interpersonal conflicts," adding:  "But by blindsiding his then-wife, Stause would surely argue, Hartley set the tone himself. To an outside observer, the mid-production timing is odd: Couldn’t he have waited a few months to make himself look better—or, more cynically, until Stause didn’t have an entire production’s worth of resources to shape her own narrative? But in the absence of an explanation, we get a firsthand look at the fallout."

        # TOPICS: Chrishell Stause, Netflix, Selling Sunset, Justin Hartley, Reality TV

      • Diego Luna's Amazon Spanish language dinner series Pan y Circo fails to offer stimulating conversation
        Source: The Hollywood Reporter

        Luna's dinner conversation series Pan y Circo ("Bread and Circus") offers an invaluable perspective too seldom offered in mainstream English-language media of what Mexicans think of pressing issues like the drug war and the refugee crisis, says Inkoo Kang. But, says Kang, "shows like Pan y Circo depend on the suitability of the topics for group conversation and the chemistry of the guests — and unfortunately, the producers mostly flounder on both counts."

        # TOPICS: Diego Luna, Amazon, Pan y Circo

      • From Devs to Star Trek: Picard to Westworld: Why is science fiction TV so awful?
        Source: Entertainment Weekly

        "What intrigues me is the common plot thread between all these divergent series: godlike technology run amok," says Darren Franich. "Westworld and Picard back into identical sagas about vengeful synthetic life. The former's noirish reboot in season 3 relegates great characters like Thandie Newton's Maeve behind bland tycoons controlled by a nefarious orb. That supercomputer sees everything — just like the device in Devs, which peers across time and space. Brave New World adds its own omniscient artificial intelligence to the 1932 source material. And Picard's finale climaxes with genocidal time-traveling megamachines. Actually, that's the second straight neo-Trek season to end with bad robots. Last year, Discovery stared down an all-powerful security system: Skynet for Starfleet, basically. Meanwhile, ambient techno-paranoia informs the new Twilight Zone's mood. In the season 2 episode 'You May Also Like,' iPhone-ish device anticipation becomes a spiritual fixation in a colorless world. I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology. CEOs with tragic origin stories in Westworld or Devs are puppets for machines they can't control. Higher-tech powers in Brave New World and 'You May Also Like' control whole civilizations comprised of unaware humans."

        # TOPICS: Star Trek: Picard, Brave New World, Devs, The Twilight Zone (2019 series), Westworld

      • Harley Quinn is a nonstop joy, one of the most pleasant pop-culture surprises of quarantine
        Source: The Muse

        Now available for widespread consumption on HBO Max, the DC Universe series "looks like so many DC animated properties, but it announces itself as being its own ridiculous thing practically immediately," says Rich Juzwiak. "The opening scene takes place on a yacht where rich white dudes are partying. Harley smashes one guy’s leg, the Joker impersonates another by wearing his face as a mask (there’s no shortage of gore here), and there’s a prominent golden shower joke. As compelling as Harley’s arc as female supervillain learning independence after being mistreated for years is made to be, the joy of Harley Quinn comes in what feels like an infinite reserve of quick jokes and random asides, such as her eventual crew member Dr. Psycho getting canceled for calling Wonder Woman the C-word, or an extended bit when another member of her team, Clayface, loses his hand and it becomes an anthropomorphized cuddly pet companion to Police Commissioner Gordon, who’s a disheveled disaster of a man in this rendering." ALSO: Harley Quinn was made so much more compelling by ditching the Joker.

        # TOPICS: Harley Quinn, DC Universe, HBO Max

      • Bret Micheals' Rock of Love was one of the most perfect reality dating shows ever made
        Source: The Muse

        The Poison singer's 2007-09 three-season VH1 reality show was perfect because of its shamelessness. "For three seasons," says Megan Reynolds, "Micheals pawed his way through a bevy of good-natured women with curious fashion choices for the entertainment of a horrified general public, eager to witness the spectacle of a cock rock impresario making an attempt at establishing a real connection."

        # TOPICS: VH1, Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, Bret Micheals, Reality TV, Retro TV

      • Brave New World showing how systems cause violence is especially relevant today
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "David Wiener’s sprawling, intermittently daring sci-fi drama makes several updates to (Alduous) Huxley’s story," says Danette Chavez. "World Controller Mustafa Mond (played coolly here by Nina Sosanya) and Helmholtz Watson (now Hannah John-Kamen’s “Helm,” an emotions-and-orgy 'conductor') are rewritten so that they are played by women of color, which adds an interesting texture to their respective storylines. But the most promising developments in this Brave New World look beyond the framework of the source material to tap into real-life challenges to the established order. Wiener ventures into new territory by keeping the locale and introducing new characters. These additions don’t just question their place in the world—they eventually come to interrogate the system that creates a paradise for some and a life of servitude for others. Comfort breeds indifference in the upper castes; even the death of an Epsilon, a member of the lowest-ranking division in New London’s social order, only briefly snaps them out of their soma stupors. This tragedy is viewed as an anomaly that’s swiftly corrected by Bernard handing out drugs. The Alphas and Betas go right on about their hedonistic day, as is their duty, their place. It’s this idea of systems and the brutality people enact through them—which can take the form of redlining, food deserts, and gerrymandering in our world—that feels most relevant today."

        # TOPICS: Brave New World, Peacock

      • Vanderpump Rules stars Danica Dow and Brett Willis now have restraining orders against each other
        Source: TMZ

        After Dow filed a restraining order against ex Willis alleging he broke into her home, he fired back by getting his own temporary restraining order and alleging that she tried to choke him during an argument.

        # TOPICS: Vanderpump Rules, Bravo, Brett Willis, Danica Dow, Reality TV

      • Why The Boys made Stormfront female
        Source: TheWrap

        “We wanted to sort of create Homelander’s worst nightmare. And his worse nightmare would be a strong woman who wasn’t afraid of him and proceeded to steal his spotlight,” says showrunner Eric Kripke of casting Aya Cash. “I think that would hurt him way more than if it were a male character because he is a gaping hole of insecurity.”

        # TOPICS: The Boys, Amazon, Aya Cash, Eric Kripke

      • Last Chance U boss talks filming parents and lessons he's learned from five seasons of junior college football
        Source: Indiewire

        Director Greg Whiteley says exploring off-the-field stories, including players' upbringing, has helped differentiate Last Chance U. "There would be no show if we simply edited out every uncomfortable, offensive thing that was said or done," says Whiteley. "By that same token, the show is made better if we do everything we can as storytellers to try and give proper context to why a father may be behaving in a certain way why a player may be behaving a certain way, why a coach might have said something. The story becomes more interesting, not less, when you don’t treat those people like villains and antagonists in your movie script, but instead as real human beings whose stories are complicated and nuanced. If you honor that, I think the show becomes better, not worse." ALSO: How Oakland's Laney College is handling its newfound Netflix fame.

        # TOPICS: Last Chance U, Netflix, Greg Whiteley, Reality TV

      • Presenting 10 calming home design shows on Netflix that are alternatives to the HGTV empire
        Source: HuffPost

        Shows like Amazing Interiors, The Apartment and The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes offer alternatives to the homogenous HGTV aesthetic.

        # TOPICS: Netflix, HGTV, Reality TV

      • Quibi's Sex Next Door humanizes sex workers
        Source: Indiewire

        The eight-part docuseries following four sex workers living and working in Seattle "grapples earnestly with the societal challenges facing its subjects, which it presents without any judgment or perspective about the individual choices," says Jude Dry. "The series comes from a POV of genuinely caring about humanizing sex workers and de-stigmatizing sex work. Such uncomplicated support is almost non-existent in onscreen portrayals of sex work — and even if Sex Next Door does slip up at times — this fresh take is a victory worth highlighting."

        # TOPICS: Sex Next Door, Quibi, Documentaries, Sex

      • Showtime's British crime drama We Hunt Together is a bit too twisty
        Source: The Hollywood Reporter

        In the cat-and-mouse thriller about a pair of London killers on the lam, writer Gaby Hull pulls the rug the rug out from under the audience again and again, until there's little reason to care about his characters or their fates, says Inkoo Kang. ALSO: We Hunt Together is grisly and gripping.

        # TOPICS: We Hunt Together, Showtime, Gaby Hull

      • Surviving Jeffrey Epstein focuses on the billionaire financier's victims, avoiding the romanticization of his backstory
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "Jeffrey Epstein was a monster, a smirking sociopath who believed he was superior to everyone around him," says Stephen Robinson. "It’s no wonder he appealed to so many powerful people, including princes and presidents. Film and TV have an unfortunate tendency to romanticize monsters, especially if their lives boast a veneer of glamour. Epstein, who grew up in working-class Brooklyn, has been compared to Jay Gatsby and Tom Ripley (the charming murderer from the Patricia Highsmith novels). Like Gatsby and Ripley, Epstein achieved great wealth (arguably through just as questionable means), but as the saying goes, behind every fortune, there’s a crime. In Epstein’s case, his fortune was both the weapon used to carry out his crimes and his personal shield against any accountability. Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, a two-part Lifetime documentary that airs this Sunday and Monday, doesn’t romanticize Epstein’s backstory or attempt to whitewash any of his deeds. It centers on his victims, whose lives he maliciously upended with precision and cold-blooded calculation. If you’ve followed the Epstein case, as well as the recent arrest of his alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, you are aware of what survivor Virginia Giuffre describes as Epstein’s 'pyramid scheme,' where his victims were used to recruit fresh victims, who would go on to do the same. Unlike Epstein and Maxwell, these women have consciences, so their pained faces reveal the remorse they still feel for their involvement." ALSO: Surviving Jeffrey Epstein's interviews highlight the extent to which Epstein's high-profile associations validated him in the eyes of those he preyed upon.

        # TOPICS: Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, Lifetime, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, Virginia Giuffre, Documentaries