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      • Ken Jennings is done playing Jeopardy!: "I think this is a perfect time to go out on top"
        Source: Variety

        Now that he's won Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time tournament, Jennings tells Variety he doesn't expect to compete on the game show again. “I don’t see how I can top it,” he says. “The win was great. It’s a great punctuation mark, and I absolutely mean what I said about not wanting to play past my prime. And at some point Alex (Trebek) is going to retire, I assume, and it just wouldn’t feel right to play with a different host. It’d be like cheating on Alex. I think this is a perfect time to go out on top.” Besides, Jennings says that despite his recent performance, his Jeopardy!-playing skills are diminishing. “It’s not like how running backs pretty much have to retire at 29 because their bodies fall apart,” says Jennings, who turns 46 in May. “But in this case I had noticed myself slowing down – mostly (in the way of) recall, no longer automatically quick to remember names and facts like I used to. And I notice it every day; it’s like living inside ‘Flowers for Algernon’ – you feel a tiny bit dumber every day, as I move into my 40s. And I think there’s a reason why all the big Jeopardy! champs are men and women around 30.”

        # TOPICS: Ken Jennings, ABC, Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek, Game Shows

      • Lifetime greenlights I Was Lorena Bobbitt biopic and Elizabeth Smart series Smart Justice
        Source: TheWrap

        One year after participating in Amazon's Lorena docuseries, Lorena Bobbitt will serve as executive producer of her own Lifetime biopic. "Lorena Bobbitt became a household name and made tabloid headlines when after years of abuse by her husband, she cut off his penis with a knife in 1993," says Lifetime. "Now nearly 30 years later, Lorena tells her story, and hers alone, for the first time with Lifetime. This fully authorized film in which Bobbitt serves as an executive producer, follows her journey from a wide-eyed, immigrant bride to a battered wife into an unlikely media sensation. I Am Lorena Bobbitt also documents her ultimately emerging as a strong, thoughtful woman who has devoted her life to advocating for other abused women.” In Smart Justice, Smart -- who famously escaped her abductors after being kidnapped at age 14 -- will help victims "on their journey to healing," says Lifetime. "Each hour-long episode of Smart Justice will present real case evidence, including police video, crime scene materials, interrogation tapes and courtroom footage, as well as interviews with the actual victims, family members and others who will offer their first-hand recollections of the crimes. As a survivor of trauma herself, Elizabeth will elicit new information on each case, as she takes viewers through all the twists and turns of these horrific stories.”

        # TOPICS: Lorena Bobbitt

      • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to produce History Revolutionary War documentary Black Patriots
        Source: Variety

        The NBA legend-turned-pop-culture writer's documentary will tell the story of the most significant black figures from the Revolutionary War era, including Crispus Attucks, Peter Salem, Phillis Wheatley and James Armistead Lafayette. Black Patriots premieres during Black History Month on Feb. 19.

        # TOPICS: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

      • History announces specials on George Washington and Auschwitz
        Source: TVLine

        The cable network will celebrate President's Day Weekend with the three-night docudrama Washington, produced by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Jeff Daniels will narrate Washington, airing over six hours between Sunday, Feb. 16 and Tuesday, Feb. 18, featuring interviews from former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. History also announced it will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberaation of the Auschwitz concentration camp with the Auschwitz Untold, a Ben Kingsley-narrated two-hour documentary telling the chilling story of the Nazi persecution and extermination of European Jews. ALSO: Watch Washington trailer.

        # TOPICS: History

      • Lifetime greenlights Surviving Jeffrey Epstein
        Source: Variety

        The four-hour docuseries will follow a similar format to Surviving R. Kelly, telling the story of the late disgraced billionaire financier who was accused of sexually assaulting and trafficking numerous underage girls.

        # TOPICS: Surviving Jeffrey Epstein

      • Survivor: Winners at War will feature classic challenges
        Source: Entertainment Weekly

        All the reward and immunity challenges in Season 40 will be blasts from the past. "It’s all classics," Survivor challenge producer John Kirhoffer tells EW. "We’ve switched up, as we sometimes do. A different classic front end with a different classic back end. So we might have a front end of a challenge from Heroes v Healers v Hustlers with a puzzle from Kaoh Rong, which is something we actually have. So that type of stuff. But it’s classics that you’ve seen."

        # TOPICS: Survivor

      • YouTube renews Liza on Demand
        Source: Deadline

        Liza Koshy's "tasker" comedy will be back for a third season.

        # TOPICS: Liza on Demand

      • David Blaine will do his next live "death-defying" stunt will take place on YouTube
        Source: TheWrap

        The magician's first special since ABC's Beyond Magic in 2016 will not air on TV. YouTube is promising that Blaine's stunt, though "death-defying," will be something that is "lighter and brighter" than the darker and more mysterious stunts he's known for.

        # TOPICS: David Blaine

      • Lifetime greenlights a five-movie series based on V.C. Andrews' Ruby novels
        Source: Deadline

        Australian twins Rachelle Banno and Karina Banno will star as Ruby and Giselle, respectively, in the Ruby movies based on Andrews' Ruby Landry character.

        # TOPICS: V.C. Andrews

    • Earlier news - posted about 12 hours ago
      • The Circle subverts reality TV expectations and treats being fake on the internet like it’s normal
        Source: Vox

        The buzzworthy social media-influenced Netflix reality show looks like a setup for the typical reality show drama. "But that’s because you haven’t gotten to the real premise of The Circle," says Aja Romano. "Improbable as it might seem, that premise boils down to a subversion of the famous reality TV code: What if everyone was here to make friends? Unlikely as it might sound, The Circle differentiates itself from other relationship-focused reality competition shows by emphasizing that, in fact, its contestants really like each other — or at least, they’re really good at pretending they do. It’s less Big Brother and more The Great British Compliment-Off. And Netflix viewers seem to have embraced it as genuine." Romano adds that one of the key's to The Circle's success is embracing inauthenticity as part of human nature. "Historically, one of the biggest and most fear-mongering tropes about the internet is that it allows people to hide themselves from you, with the built-in assumption that if someone is hiding or pretending to be someone they’re not, their motives must be purely duplicitous or malevolent," says Romano. "The Circle doesn’t bother to do any of that. Instead of treating 'being fake on the internet' as a shocking betrayal, The Circle embraces it as something we all do in big and small ways, often in the service of making friends and fitting in."

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: The Circle

      • Larry David proudly hasn't changed in the 20 years since Curb Your Enthusiasm premiered
        Source: The Ringer

        “He’s back. And nothing has changed," touts an HBO promo for Season 10, premiering Sunday. Ben Lindbergh recently rewatched Season 1 and parts of Season 9, and says he "was struck by how little difference the 17 years between them made. Time hasn’t taught TV Larry how to play well with others, and he hasn’t talked others into living like he does. His surroundings have changed in one noteworthy way: Cheryl moved out, and Leon moved in." Curb is able to stay constant because HBO doesn't dictate the pace of production. "David makes new seasons whenever he has new ideas, not when the broadcast schedule says so, so it makes sense that the quality of the output wouldn’t fluctuate wildly," says Lindbergh. "And because Curb comes and goes, it doesn’t wear out its welcome: Its 10-episode seasons last less than three months, and by the time the show returns, the preceding season is distant enough that the old seems somewhat new again. More than that, though, this immutability stems from the fact that for better or worse, David largely hasn’t tried to adapt to shifting tastes, borrow from flavors of the month, overhaul his craft, or comment on current cultural events. His humor, and his series, stay in their well-liked, lucrative lane." ALSO: Curb presents "The Sounds of Susie."

        # TOPICS: Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO, Larry David

      • Chris Hemsworth to star in Nat Geo fitness docuseries Limitless from Darren Aronofsky
        Source: TheWrap

        Aronofsky and his One Strange Rock team will use “their signature high-end cinematic style” to “capture Hemsworth’s epic mission to discover how we all can live healthier, smarter and longer lives,” National Geographic Channel announced at the TV press tour. “No stranger to the pursuit of fitness and health (including the recent launch of his popular app Centr), Hemsworth aims to transform himself by training for six extraordinary challenges, showing how to fight aging at every stage of life.”

        # TOPICS: Limitless, National Geographic, Chris Hemsworth, Darren Aronofsky, Reality TV

      • Peacock is NBC Universal's attempt to keep commercials relevant in the streaming era
        Source: Variety

        The forthcoming streaming service will run no more than five minutes of ads per hour and will remember how often a particular ad plays for each subscriber. Most importantly, Peacock wants to connect commercials to the viewer. "In a different time in the business, viewers understood that 'a word from our sponsor' helped make their experience possible," says Brian Steinberg. "The title of Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater ensured that. But the modern TV model, with handfuls of commercials breaking through to interrupt linear viewings of everything from Sunday Night Football to Better Call Saul, appears to have sundered that connection. TV no longer relies on a 'word' from sponsors, but rather a cacophony. By the time the audience gets through back-to-back-to-back-to-back runs of national ads from Burger King, Apple and Geico and local spots from the regional car dealership, they may well have forgotten what they were watching in the first place. NBCU intends to change that system."

        # TOPICS: Peacock, Advertising

      • Mindhunter is the latest beloved Netflix show to get "Netflix'd"
        Source: The Week

        Even though the David Fincher crime thriller hasn't officially been canceled, it's not surprising that another Netflix show that looked like something special is in limbo, says Jeva Lange. She points out that the Mindhunter team originally had a five-season plan. "While it's true that in-demand directors and producers are often overextended and forced to abandon projects before they're completed, it's not like a third season of Mindhunter would have blindsided Fincher," says Lange. "What's more, Fincher is a veteran of Netflix television: his six-season House of Cards helped establish the streamer as a respectable studio way back in 2013, so he knew what he was committing to with his five-season proposal. But even with the door supposedly open for Fincher and Mindhunter to return down the road, with the actors now released from their contracts, they can potentially commit to other TV series, meaning if there ever were an opportunity to return, they might not even be available to do so. If it weren't for the wishy-washy statement by Netflix, Mindhunter's cancellation would almost be expected at this point."

        # TOPICS: Mindhunter, Netflix

      • Dog the Bounty Hunter's Duane Chapman reveals he's broke and pursuing a "Sheriff Dog" TV show
        Source: The New York Times

        Nearly seven months after the death of his wife Beth Chapman, Duane "Dog" Chapman is without a TV show. "He is working on a pardon from the state of Texas, which could help him realize a boyhood dream: becoming Sheriff Dog," says Adam Popescu in a New  York Times profile of the reality star. "(In 1976, a failed drug deal led to Dog’s murder conviction. Dog says he didn’t pull the trigger — he was in the car — but, according to Texas law, he was an accessory.) He would be a real sheriff, in a real town that needs cleaning up, he said." Popescu adds: "Dog says he has 12 children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He also says he has had four wives, been convicted of robbery 18 times and captured 10,000 fugitives. And he claims God promised to make him famous." As Dog explains, “I need the attention. I wake up every day and say, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the baddest bounty hunter of them all?' I need love.” Meanwhile, Dog is trying to make money doing what he knows best -- bounty hunting because "I'm broke."

        # TOPICS: Duane “Dog” Chapman, Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Beth Chapman , Reality TV

      • Sherman's Showcase's future will be decided after its Black History Month summer special gets an AMC platform
        Source: Deadline

        Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin's IFC variety show-inspired series hasn't yet been picked up for a second season. But it'll return this summer for an hour-long "Black History Month Spectacular," which will be shown on the bigger AMC cable network. “I’m really excited to see how it does on AMC, I think they deserve to be put in front of bigger audiences," says AMC Networks president Sarah Barnett. "It’s cool, I love brands like BBC America and IFC incubating and giving birth to these really original ideas and then migrating them (to AMC) and see what happens,” she said. Barnett adds she'll decide whether to order a second season after the special airs.

        # TOPICS: Sherman's Showcase, AMC, IFC, Sarah Barnett

      • Why was The Mandalorian's fan service more well received than Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's fan service?
        Source: io9

        "The Mandalorian might not be in such a hyperactive mood, but it would be hard to deny that its commitment to fan service isn’t as deep as The Rise of Skywalker’s," says James Whitbrook. "So what is it about The Mandalorian—a show that made some people scream in adulation over a return to the Mos Eisley Cantina and some sand—that makes its catering-to-fans approach so well received in a way The Rise of Skywalker’s hasn’t? If anything, it’s a question of scale. If what makes Rise’s indulgent approach equal parts eminently frustrating and delightfully silly is the fact that its stakes are so grand—that it is shaping our understanding of what Star Wars is, what the Skywalker Saga at large is, on a galactic scale—then having a preponderance for calling back to what came before gets in the way of what could’ve been set up for the future. In turn, The Mandalorian’s intimacy is one of its greatest strengths. To us as an audience, the existence of Baby Yoda is a huge event because we only know of one such other being of his species on the galactic scale, but for Din Djarin and the rest of The Mandalorian’s heroes and villains? The Child is just that: a child. Who he is and where he’s from are concerns, but they are concerns because they want to see the Child protected from harm (or, in Werner Herzog’s case, exploited by the ashes of the Empire). The thrust of The Mandalorian’s season arc is not in fleshing out Baby Yoda’s Wookieepedia page, it is Din coming to care for his new ward and how it changes him as a man and a bounty hunter." ALSO: Why there's no point being outraged over Trump fans trying to co-opt Baby Yoda.

        # TOPICS: Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Disney+, Star Wars

      • Nat Geo has big plans for Earth Day's 50th anniversary
        Source: TheWrap

        Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild will kick off April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with Born Wild: Earth Day Live, an hour-long broadcast, followed by the two-hour documentary special, Jane Goodall: The Hope. Robin Roberts will host Born Wild: Earth Day Live from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, the largest marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation hospital in the world.

        # TOPICS: National Geographic, Jane Goodall: The Hope, Jane Goodall, Robin Roberts, Earth Day

      • Cynthia Erivo: I did my own singing live on the Genius: Aretha set while playing Aretha Franklin
        Source: Variety

        “Singing is my second language, the rumor is true, I do sing live on set,” Erivo said at the TV press tour, promoting Season 3 of the Nat Geo Genius anthology series. “It allows me to connect to her music in a way, to open up and be vulnerable and to express the things that you can’t say. It means I can be in the moment and don’t have to fabricate it, it’s there in the words and the moment and the lyrics.”

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Cynthia Erivo, National Geographic, Genius, Aretha Franklin

      • Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is effective because it's free of true-crime gimmicks, twists and turns
        Source: Mashable

        The Netflix Aaron Hernandez docuseries from Angus Wall and Geno McDermott "details Hernandez's convictions, childhood, NFL career, various stints in prison, his psyche, sexuality, and the effects football had on his body," says Tricia Crimmins. "However, despite the complicated, intense, and fatal outcomes of Hernandez's story, Killer Inside moves carefully and comprehensively when exploring the motives behind his actions. More than that, Netflix uses Hernandez's life story as a cautionary tale and seemingly as a call for change. Hernandez's struggles are treated with a lot of care thanks to the baseline understanding by Wall and McDermott that the tight end's experiences throughout his football career — namely his internal conflict surrounding his sexuality and the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of his head injuries — were not unique to him. In this way, Killer Inside is empathetic to those in situations similar to Hernandez's, less so to Hernandez himself. His life is not used as an excuse or worthy explanation throughout the docuseries for why he was violent and, ultimately, very dangerous...Importantly, Killer Inside is constructed in a way that acknowledges that Hernandez's story has been sensationalized enough."

        # TOPICS: The Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, Netflix, Aaron Hernandez, Documentaries

      • San Francisco's metro system tries to recruit Ali Wong in response to Awkwafina announcing New York City subway stops
        Source: SFist

        The head of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority asked the Netflix star via Twitter if she'd like to record bus announcements after Comedy Central struck a deal with New York City's MTA for Awkwafina to call subway stops to promote her new show Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens.

        # TOPICS: Ali Wong, Comedy Central, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, Awkwafina (Actress/Musician), Marketing

      • Rob Lowe on joining 911: Lone Star: "Ryan Murphy wrote Nip/Tuck for me and my agents never gave it to me"
        Source: Entertainment Weekly

        "How about them apples?," Lowe tells EW with a laugh. "I had lunch with him and told him how much I loved Nip/Tuck and he was horrified as well (that it didn’t work out)," Lowe says of Murphy. "It’s one of the great Hollywood stories! For 15 years, we’ve been trying to find something (to do) together, but I’ve always been unavailable for the most part. I’m a big fan of what he, Brad (Falchuk), and Tim (Minear) did with the genre. I love action; I love a good procedural, but that kind of special sauce they throw on it makes it not only really interesting to watch but really, really interesting as an actor. In any given episode, I’m playing comedy, I’m playing a leading man, I’m playing action, and I’m playing really raw emotion. You just don’t get many opportunities as an actor to go to the kind of places that you can in Ryan, Tim, and Brad’s shows."

        # TOPICS: Rob Lowe, FOX, 9-1-1: Lone Star, Nip/Tuck, Ryan Murphy

      • Psych 2: Lassie Come Home rounds out its casdt with Sarah Chalke, Kadem Hardisan, Allison Miller and Richard Schiff
        Source: Deadline

        They'll co-star in the second Psych movie, named after Tim Omundson’s Santa Barbara Police Chief Carlton Lassiter.

        # TOPICS: Psych: The Movie, USA, Psych, Allison Miller, Kadeem Hardison, Richard Schiff, Sarah Chalke

      • L Word: Generation Q has become like Game of Throne for gay people
        Source: Polygon

        "t would have been easy for Generation Q to feel like a relic of a different time, or worse, completely unneeded," says Patricia Hernandez. "But as it nears the first season finale, the show’s visibility and gloss makes a fierce case for why its voice is still vital. A series can have a queer character or two, but few of these media properties carry the weight of the L Word brand, at least for queer people. Its mere existence is an event, and Showtime is treating it that way, too." She adds: "The genuine queer perspective allows Generation Q to be about more than just standard queer issues. This is a huge departure from the original L Word, which starred Jenny Schecter (Mia Kirshner), a straight white woman who stumbles upon a world that is totally alien to her...Generation Q, meanwhile, seems unafraid to make straight people at least slightly uncomfortable."

        # TOPICS: The L Word: Generation Q, Showtime, LGBTQ

      • Ranking every Bob's Burgers original song
        Source: Vulture

        The Fox animated comedy has staggeringly produced more than 150 tracks across 183 episodes.

        # TOPICS: Bob's Burgers, FOX, Music and TV

      • How can The Witcher be so stupid and incoherent yet extremely enjoyable?
        Source: Vulture

        "The Witcher, a sprawling Netflix fantasy series that catapulted itself into massive popularity since premiering three weeks ago, is a show that makes no sense," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "You can’t talk about The Witcher without starting there, because its illogic is the first thing you confront when you start watching, and it’s what you’re still grappling with when the season ends eight episodes later. But the other thing to say about The Witcher, which is just as important to say right up at the top, is that it’s really fun. Its fantasy trappings and its large audience makes it sound like Game of Thrones, but where that show was marked by bleakness, The Witcher is full of goofy absurdity and catchy tunes. If The Witcher is an indication of what viewers want in the successor to Game of Thrones, then what viewers want is more silliness. Watching it is like riding a roller coaster that short-circuits your higher-order thinking, bypassing reason entirely in favor of spectacle. It is immeasurably stupid; it is extremely enjoyable. And instead of opposing each other, The Witcher’s storytelling works by making those two qualities fuel each other." ALSO: The Witcher has the best memes.

        # TOPICS: The Witcher, Netflix

      • Justin Chambers' exit is the latest blow for Grey's Anatomy and its reputation for messy goodbyes
        Source: Vulture

        "As it stands, Chambers’s exit serves as a reminder: Attachments to characters can get awfully tricky when they’re intrinsically tied to opaque, behind-the-scenes drama," says Alanna Bennett. "And for Grey’s, which has never been a show without mess, onscreen or off, it’s one more blow for a show that’s become known for its sloppy good-byes. It can be hard to emotionally invest in a show when it has the same turnover rate as the average media company. Viewers mourn every loss — most involving viscerally realized characters who were in their lives more continually than most art ever is. Most series with similar longevity to Grey’s are procedurals or daytime soaps, but while Grey’s has heaping elements of both, it is at its core a character drama. And when you’re watching for the characters, what happens to them at the end of the day really matters."

        # TOPICS: Justin Chambers, ABC, Grey's Anatomy

      • Penn Badgley on You's Joe Goldberg: "It seems to me that Joe is an allegory for the history of our country, maybe"
        Source: The New Yorker

        In filming Season 2, Badgley tried to reflect on his character's misdeeds by reading Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. But, Badgley says, “there’s no way that I could understand what it would take for a person like Joe to be redeemed.” So he ended up frequently listening to the rapper Saba. "He’s African-American, in Chicago, witnessing a lot of mental illness and death and murder in his life,” Badgley says. “I started to trace back the reality of white privilege. How many white men in the days of slavery were slaveowners? Or were adjacent to the murder and torture of people because of the color of their skin?” Saba’s music, he says, helped him understand “that the violence of Joe is not that far from the reality of not that long ago," adding: "It seems to me that Joe is an allegory for the history of our country, maybe.”

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Penn Badgley, Netflix, You, Victoria Pedretti

      • Nature shows, an old TV genre, have become all the rage in the streaming era
        Source: The New York Times

        "There has never been more to watch for fans of the genre," says John Koblin, pointing to Saturday's release of BBC's Seven Worlds, One Planet on Netflix. "Netflix, Disney and Apple are investing heavily in wildlife programming as part of their efforts to lure subscribers to their streaming services. And nature shows are thriving on cable and public broadcast networks, with roughly 130 original nature series airing in 2019, more than the previous three years combined, according to Nielsen." Koblin adds: "Interest has been renewed as environmental coverage has migrated from scientific journals to mainstream news outlets, a change that coincided with the rise of high-definition television and streaming services. Netflix and its rivals consider wildlife programming a smart bet because it is appropriate for all ages and works well internationally." ALSO: Seven Worlds, One Planet contains some of the exact same scenes shown in Our Planet.

        # TOPICS: Seven Worlds, One Planet, Climate Change, Documentaries

      • How Catherine O'Hara's Moira Rose set the general philosophy of Schitt's Creek
        Source: Vulture

        Eugene Levy was the first to suggest that he and son Dan Levy cast his longtime collaborator O'Hara as Moira Rose. But O'Hara insisted that her character not be a snob or mean-spirited -- she didn't want Moira Rose to have a "hardened bitterness." “In the pilot, Moira was full of insults — to anyone, especially townsfolk. I think their idea was to have her be very dry and funny and caustic,” O’Hara said, adding that she successfully pushed for her charcter to “show that I loved and supported my husband, and that I always held hope, right to the last second, that he was going to work out a way to get us out of here.” The key to Moira, she believes, is “that self-delusion that we all have, especially in hard times, when we think we’re holding it together. Instead of a futile bitterness, I wanted there to be a weird optimism.” As Dan Levy says: "It’s about kindness, and the power of love and acceptance. There’s nobody that is mean on our show.”

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Catherine O'Hara, Pop TV, Schitt's Creek, Dan Levy, Eugene Levy

      • Watching AJ and the Queen feels akin to pulling a VHS from the comedy rack at a Blockbuster in 1996
        Source: The Atlantic

        "It’s a fish-out-of-water tale like My Cousin Vinny, a road movie like To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (in which RuPaul acted), an odd-couple comedy like Twins, and a precocious-kid caper like Home Alone," Spencer Kornhaber says of RuPaul's Netflix comedy. "To be sure, it’s also a Netflix TV show, which means its episodes bloat to an hour long, with no scene economical enough that you’d miss its gist by waxing your eyebrows during it. But the writing and performances are harsh in a way that once felt like the essence of slapstick and now feels unsuited for easy streaming. Characters are always screeching at one another, or inflicting pointless cruelty, or adopting puppies they can’t care for. For a show so uplifting, it’s weirdly stressful. What’s most retro, in this moment, is the story it tries to tell. Drag may be a subversive art form, but RuPaul rejects the sense of grievance that defines much of LGBTQ politics. If the individualistic 'self-esteem' movement of the ’80s and ’90s has been replaced on the left by calls for 'self-care' couched in terms of political and social oppression, AJ and the Queen wants to rewind. It portrays America as a fundamentally okay place, and the achievement of self-love as simply an internal matter. Cops, doctors, and social workers all do their jobs with sensitivity and humor. Intolerance presents only minor obstacles, surmountable by charm and persuasion. Even the homophobic protesters at a drag convention are humanized and laughed along with. One of the season’s best gags is about how catchy their chants are." ALSO: AJ and the Queen is a happy, important mess.

        # TOPICS: AJ and the Queen, Netflix, RuPaul Charles

      • The Good Place's Michael Schur says the "Good Place Committee" is "the most overtly political that we’ve gotten"
        Source: The Daily Beast

        “It’s not a mistake that they’re all dressed like hikers from Oregon," Schur said on The Last Laugh podcast. "That’s the most overtly political that we’ve gotten and it’s just a straight-up frustration over what I see from Democrats in Congress and other local governments where it’s like, ‘We’re not just going to be reasonable, we’re going to overcompensate and just concede a bunch of stuff.’ That’s not being reasonable. Conceding all the things that you care about and that you want fight for unilaterally is not being reasonable, it’s being stupid. It’s betraying your own value system and it drives me nuts. There’s this weird impulse that progressives have sometimes of ‘let’s be not just reasonable but overly solicitous of the other side. And even when they’re very obviously acting in bad faith, let’s go along with it because that puts us on some sort of moral high ground.’ And it doesn’t work that way. It’s a one-way street. So the Good Place Committee is just my personal frustration with that aspect of progressivism.” ALSO: Jason Mendoza's Season 4 line that left the cast and crew laughing uncontrollably revealed.

        # TOPICS: The Good Place, NBC, Manny Jacinto, Michael Schur

      • The Weather Channel corrects Jeopardy!
        Source: ET Canada

        Jim Cantore and Jen Carfagno said in a video tweeted by The Weather Channel's AMHQ that the game show got nor’easter wrong. "You know what, Alex, I’m surprised you didn’t catch that," said Cantore. ALSO: Jeopardy! fans rally to support Thursday's contestant who struggled with anxiety.

        # TOPICS: Jeopardy!, The Weather Channel, Jen Carfagno, Jim Cantore, Game Shows

      • The New Pope's theme song is the best part of the show
        Source: Refinery29

        Sofi Tukker, a duo made up of college friends Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, created the song "Good Time Girl" as a "tongue-in-cheek song about navigating this nebulous thing called a ‘casual relationship." But, as Morgan Baila notes, in creator Paolo Sorrentino's "whimsical hands, the song morphs into one about nuns grinding on a neon cross in silk white night gowns to synth-y lyrics about being a not-so good girl."

        # TOPICS: The New Pope, HBO, Opening Credits, Sofi Tukker, Theme Songs

      • Watch Pamela Anderson re-create her iconic Baywatch run for an Australian ad campaign
        Source: Hollywood Life

        Anderson slow-motion beach run was remade for an Aussie Ultra Tune car care commercial.

        # TOPICS: Pamela Anderson, Baywatch, Advertising

      • Disney+'s Diary of a Future President is sweet Disney fare, but don't expect much Gina Rodriguez
        Source: The Hollywood Reporter

        The drama series telling how a Cuban-American girl named Elena became president of the United States is wholesome, well-intentioned and solidly produced, but it's aimed at a younger audience, says Daniel Fienberg. "Ilana Peña's Diary of a Future President, the first new scripted Disney+ show to premiere since November — and actually the first Disney+ show from an outside studio (CBS TV) — isn't likely to be a Mandalorian-sized, all-ages sensation, but it's full of sweet moments, positive messages and an admirably progressive streak, even if marks a bit of a bait-and-switch as Gina Rodriguez's first post-Jane the Virgin project," he says. Fienberg adds: "Rodriguez, who directs the pilot with requisite empathy and a light touch, doesn't appear again in the five episodes sent for review, nor is Elena's future status mentioned. I'm not sure the show requires Rodriguez's onscreen presence or the overt foreshadowing to work, but it's an odd thing to promise and then move away from." ALSO: How Crazy Ex-Girlfriend helped inspire Diary of a Future President.

        # TOPICS: Diary of a Future President, Disney+, Gina Rodriguez, Ilana Peña, Tess Romero

      • Sex Education Season 2 is masterclass of writing and performance
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "Sex Education doesn’t just make its adult characters as horny as its teen characters; it rather boldly asserts that there are no real differences between teen and adult sexuality," says Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya. "It’s all the same sticky mess of feelings, fantasies, desires, self-loathing, passion, and hormones. Jean (Gillian Anderson) has been obsessing over her son Otis’ pubescence—and lacking boundaries along the way—but she too begins a major hormonal change in season two: perimenopause." Upadhyaya adds: "The wealth of stories season two tells in its eight hourlong episodes is overwhelmingly impressive. In most ensemble shows, there are a handful of characters whose arcs feel undercooked or who function more like plot devices in the stories of others instead of standing on their own. Sex Education doesn’t let that happen in its second season, even as it threads in new characters and goes deeper on some of the other characters who exist in season one but who we don’t really know until now...So many teen dramas challenge tropes like the Bad Girl, the Idiot Jock, the Bookish Nerd, the Bully, but none do so quite as incisively as Sex Education. The writing, brought to life with effusive and grounded performances, is impeccable on a character level but also in the way it weaves those characters’ stories together."

        ALSO:

        • Sex Education keeps setting aside teen and sex tropes: "Every performer is wonderful, not least because the script is wonderful, playing the sex for laughs and the search for intimacy as something serious, good and noble," says Lucy Mangan. "Not a single character is a cipher – even the smallest parts have a sketched backstory and some good gags. It’s all of a piece with the charm and generosity of spirit that suffuses the whole thing. Sex Education sets so many conventions cheerily but firmly aside that you feel like an entire forest of received wisdom is being clear-cut. Light floods in, new growth springs up. Such a sense of revelry and optimism abounds that you can feel it doing your heart and soul good as you watch. And all without missing a comic or emotional beat or deviating from its moral core, which urges us all to connect."
        • Season 2 is a clarion call for female rage: "All of its comedic escapades aside, this season’s most dramatic subplot slowly burns through the doe-eyed, easygoing Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood)," says Brooke Marine. "In the beginning of this season’s third episode, Aimee stands on the side of the town’s lush forest-green road, holding on to a birthday cake for Maeve. When the bus arrives and she boards, she is assaulted by a man who masturbates on her leg. By the time she delivers the cake to her best friend, Maeve tells the happy-go-lucky Aimee that she has to go to the police, which she brushes off in an attempt to forget it ever happened at all. As much as grown adults can enjoy Sex Education, it is in moments like these that one remembers who this show is really for—teens and young adults who, while mature in many ways, are still young and impressionable. Often praised for its stealth pedagogy, Sex Education pivots to teaching a more overt lesson about assault via Aimee’s season two storyline."
        • It feels like Season 2 is treading water to get to important revelations that won't resolve until Season 3
        • Asa Butterfield has done so many "wanking" scenes that it's become very normal

         

        # TOPICS: Sex Education, Netflix, Asa Butterfield

      • What makes Netflix's Cheer so addictive?
        Source: Vox

        "After watching Cheer’s first 55 seconds, I knew I was going to spend the next six hours of my life breathing, consuming, Googling, and social media-stalking everything about the show," says Alex Abad-Santos of the Netflix cheerleading reality show. "I knew then that it was my favorite new show of this very young year. Cheer focuses on a competitive sport that fuses turgid, erotic tribalism with the body-breaking violence of muscular humans flinging tinier, lighter humans into the air and then catching them — callused hands atop thickly taped wrists, clawing into triceps and ankles. To that mixture, the show adds the us-against-the-world mentality of Charles Xavier’s X-Men and the small-town glamour of Friday Night Lights. This is competitive junior college cheerleading at the dynastic Navarro College. This is Cheer. And this show is ballistically addictive."

        ALSO:

        • Watching Cheer makes you feel alive: "Cheer is an hour-long sensory overload," says Shannon Melero. "It is also incredibly beautiful. The bonds of friendship are nice but the definition these folks have in their bodies is worthy of a Michaelangelo painting. In one episode, Coach Monica is working out in the gym, and the definition in her arms and shoulders was such that I could have cried if not for the fact that I was watching this episode while running on the treadmill. At some point during the season, I started watching the show standing up instead of sitting. The closer the kids got to their national competition in Daytona, the deeper my brain went into competition mode. During one stunt rehearsal, a girl fell out of formation and I screamed, 'where the f*ck is her spotter?!,' as if anyone besides my neighbors would hear it. After that particular episode, I was so pumped I left work and worked out for four hours. Whenever fatigue hits me at the gym I imagine the Navarro coaching staff explaining to their team that the most important time to go full out is when they’re tired because that’s how endurance is built. My endurance is trash but Cheer seems to be the thing giving me enough life to work on it."
        • Cheer is a searing look at never-ending trauma: "Cheer isn’t just about the sacrifices needed to win athletic competitions," says Meghan O'Keefe. "By profiling five specific Navarro team members — Gabi Butler, La’Darius Marshall, Jerry Harris, Morgan Simianer, and Lexi Brumback — Cheer examines the effects of physical and emotional trauma on young people. All five cheerleaders start off with a story that seems straight-forward enough and all claim that Navarro has given them a newfound purpose. However, as Cheer unfolds, we learn that each of the five are propelled by their different emotional demons — propelled to give themselves fully to Aldama’s coaching, even if said coaching results in an avalanche of potentially life-altering injuries for her students. Cheer leaves a bittersweet impression, portraying the physical pain these athletes experience as a fair tradeoff for the emotional security of a makeshift family that accepts them as they are."
        • Cheer boasts underdog-makes-good tales, playing-through-pain subplots, and narrative threads about the weight of expectations
        • Coach Monica Aldama is the Bill Belichick of cheerleading, if Bill Belichick had perfect square French Tips
        • Executive producer Greg Whiteley came up with Cheer while filming Last Chance U: "We were struck by the intensity of the (cheerleading) practices," he says. "The coach was super aggressive and adopted a style of coaching that was very similar to what we were seeing Coach Buddy Stevens deploy while coaching football players. We saw them doing a level of stunts (in practice) that they didn’t do on the sidelines of the football game."

        # TOPICS: Cheer, Netflix, Greg Whiteley, Reality TV

      • Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is a charming dramedy with an oddball voice
        Source: The New York Times

        The comedy from Please Like Me's Josh Thomas is like fellow Freeform series Party of Five: "a variation on the teen-screen tradition of the Orphan Emancipation Fantasy...But where its channelmate deals with a socially and financially precarious family, Gonna sets its kids up comfortably," says James Poniewozik. He adds: "If there is a term for gasping, laughing and crying simultaneously, that is what this scene made me do. Gonna is an ’80s-sitcom premise, executed not at all sitcommily. The series explores story lines that practically scream for teen-show melodrama — drinking, drug use, bullying — and treats them with audacity and deft humor. A story arc involving Matilda’s becoming sexually active seems to be barreling toward very-special-episode territory, but takes a left turn into a nuanced, tricky examination of autism and consent."

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Everything's Gonna Be Okay, Freeform, Josh Thomas

      • Apple TV+'s Little America is dedicated to the immigrant experience -- not the politics of immigration
        Source: Los Angeles Times

        "The beauty of this production is that it never has to make that point with pro- or anti-immigration rhetoric, or with heavy-handed narratives that pit the huddled masses against a cruel, intolerant establishment," Lorraine Ali says of the Apple TV+ immigrant anthology series from Lee Eisenberg, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. "The stories breathe on their own, thanks in part to the inclusion of actors and directors who often share the same county of origin with the characters they bring to life on screen. Each episode opens with music from the protagonist’s homeland, and an 'inspired by a true story' tagline in their native tongue, be it Spanish, Farsi, Arabic ..." Ali adds: "Little America is the crown jewel in the current wave of TV shows steeped in the idea of immigration as a quintessentially modern American story. Its fish-out-of-water narratives are painful and uplifting, funny and heartbreaking. But above all, each story is unique to the individual at its core. The real-life inspirations for these tales are shown at the close of each episode, which seals the deal in terms of the show’s authenticity, and speaks to the aspirational spirit of a nation built on the dreams of Nigerian cowboys, Mexican squash champions and young Indian entrepreneurs."

        ALSO:

        • Little America succeeds by staying focused on the positive aspects of being an immigrant: "Though the episodes clearly depict the hardships — from feeling lost and displaced to horrific acts of violence — Little America prefers not to dwell or drown in them," says Pilot Viruet. "Surely, some may find this to be disingenuous and inauthentic, which is a valid criticism. Little America, despite how much the individual stories differ from each other, does tend to take a similar overall approach to each episode: They are sometimes predictable, rarely surprising, and generally brimming with positivity. Every episode is neatly packaged; like clockwork, I found myself tearing up around the same minute mark for half of them. It can be argued that this isn’t providing the most honest look at immigrant life in America — which, to a degree, is certainly true — but conversely, it is succeeding at showing us a different side to the stories we’re so used to. It’s not pretending that these harsher realities don’t exist, nor is it implying that coming to America is a solution. Little America is trying to provide a truthful but optimistic look at the immigrant experience, and it mostly succeeds."
        • Little America is too saccharine, resulting in a sameness to the stories it tells: "Little America deserves the praise it will surely receive for opening viewers’ eyes to the overlooked stories around us, the stories that are told in languages besides English. For the most part, these vignettes are thoughtfully and pleasingly rendered," says Hank Stuever. "But there is, at the same time, something too uniform about them, a predetermined style of grace, not unlike the stories you hear people tell about themselves and their families on those vaguely irritating public radio shows. There’s a sameness to it that doesn’t seem like a theme so much as a strict format, which tends to undermine the goal of authenticity. The stories have been hammered into the same shape so that they are broadly satisfying and mainly cheerful, leaving little room for surprise or outrage or any other emotion that might overly complicate the structure."
        • Little America is one of the few anthology series that works:  "Watching Little America, I realized that my aversion to episodic anthology shows doesn’t have to do with the form itself," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "It comes from the fact that it’s really, really hard to create characters wholesale, give them lived-in worlds, build an entire plot arc, and find wells of emotional complexity in the space of a single episode. I love stand-alone episodes and episodic storytelling in other TV series because they often capitalize on their own emotional complexity by using all the characters and worlds a series has already built. But few episodic anthologies have managed the trick of making entirely new stories each episode while also ensuring the emotional reality lands somewhere more complicated than 'aww' or 'oh no, dystopia.' Little America is one of the few that really pulls it off. Each episode is entirely different — different casts, different kinds of protagonists, with stories about immigrants from different countries. But while Little America’s main connective theme is 'immigrant stories,' the deeper and more meaningful through line is its refusal to bow to the simplicity of short truisms about its subjects. They are 'hard work pays off stories,' and they are 'immigration is hard' stories, yes. But each of them is also much more lovely and painful and complicated than those easy summations."
        • Little America avoids overt politics, making it a given the prerogative of immigrants to carve out a new home in their adopted country: "For a series comprising such seemingly disparate cultural and geographical elements, there's a sense throughout of care for each installment," says Inkoo Kang. "Every episode is introduced with music from the characters' country of origin and includes a bilingual 'inspired by a true story' tag, and several are directed by filmmakers who share an ethnic origin with their characters. Since many of the stories are set in the recent past, a nostalgic haze suffuses the series, as does a deep skepticism toward American foods. (I nodded along to a less-than-enthralled reaction to chocolate chip cookies, chuckled at an observation about pizza and may never look at a chili cheeseburger the same way again.)"
        • Little America serves as a counterbalance to the negative attention immigrants receive in this era: "We exist in the time of fury and bitterness over the state of immigration, and the writers and directors creating each Little America episode offer its tales as an optimistic counterbalance," says Melanie McFarland. "Every lithe episode is unique and hums with a different tone from one to the next, making this season a thematic quilt as opposed to one bolt of cloth. All of them hang together a celebration of the vastness and breadth of this grand experiment as it has played out across a number of decades as opposed to a critique of our present. And in making that choice, creators Lee Eisenberg, Emily V. Gordon, and Kumail Nanjiani gift the audience with a relief from the negative weight of current events without asking us to forget the existential threat posed by nationalism and xenophobia."
        • Little America is truly stirring, triumphant television: "At its high points, the show is beautifully uplifting, never saccharine or melodramatic," says Promo Khosla. "It steers away from the overtly political or distressing, but characters' quiet heartbreak in the face of adversity makes for some of the most evocative scenes. Family and freedom mean everything in these stories, and only when one or both are sacrificed as a cost for American life do we realize how precious that life is for so many. Characters spend years separated from parents or children in order to ensure a better life for their loved ones in the land of opportunity."
        • All eight stories successfully straddle many fine lines: "They are fleet – just half an hour long – without being insubstantial; uplifting without being schmaltzy; inspirational without being cringe-making," says Lucy Mangan. "They don’t offer direct commentary on current US and others’ attitudes towards immigration, but they don’t need to. It is enough to watch these stories set in the 70s, 80s and 90s unfolding in a recognisably different climate – so near, chronologically, to our own and so far in other ways."
        • Little America’s episodes are each brilliantly crafted, acted, directed, and written works of art
        • Co-creator Lee Eisenberg emphasizes that the "Little" in Little America is just as important as the "America": “I joke that the stakes aren’t, like, ‘The president’s daughter was kidnapped, what’s gonna happen next?'" says Eisenberg. “When you’re doing a story that takes place in an emergency room, the stakes are very high; they’re life and death. For the most part, with our episodes, that’s not the case at all. The stories are very personal, and the stakes are hopefully universal. ‘I want to provide a better home for my family’; ‘I want to fit in at a new school.’ Those kinds of themes and story lines are what we were chasing, and the fact that they were with people that are so rarely front and center was something that really excited us.”
        • How Aziz Ansari's Master of None inspired Little America: “I’ve been a writer for, might as well say 17 years, and I’m obviously thinking about the types of stories that I want to tell, what excites me, and also what I want to watch,” says Eisenberg. “And I was kind of looking at the way TV was evolving over the last few years, and I started thinking Master of None had done an episode in their first season, the ‘Parents’ episode that showed flashbacks to the parents of the characters and how their experiences growing up were affecting them, as far as how they arrived in the United States and also how their first generation didn’t quite understand what they had gone through. And I started thinking, ‘Well, that was one episode that everyone talked about…what if there was a show that touched on those same ideas?”
        • How Little America cast international actors under Trump's travel ban: "We kept adding casting associates because as much as possible we wanted to cast from the country of origin," says Eisenberg. "And you learn things. Like, there's a huge Nigerian acting population — it's called Nollywood — and they're incredible. Or we had an episode about a Ugandan woman who sells cookies in Kentucky, and the village in Uganda where we were casting lost electricity and we lost the tapes, and the embassy's only open one day and we needed visas. There are just logistics that you don't think about. We did a Syria episode, and the actors were from countries under the travel ban, so we ended up shooting a show about immigrants called Little America in Montreal."
        • Why Little America settled on the anthology format: "We weren’t really setting out to do anything radical," says Kumail Nanjiani. "It’s very easy to pigeonhole these types of stories — “the story of the immigrant is one of struggle and strife,” that kind of stuff. Obviously those stories exist and they’re valid, and some of them are in our show as well. But we really focused on the idea that every episode was going to be completely different, have a completely different tone."

        # TOPICS: Little America, Apple TV+, Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani, Lee Eisenberg, Immigration and TV

      • HBO's Avenue 5 may end up becoming a great show, but it starts off looking like an unwieldy mess
        Source: Rolling Stone

        "There are many surprises contained within Avenue 5, HBO’s new sci-fi comedy about a space cruise to Saturn that goes awry," Alan Sepinwall says of Veep creator Armando Iannucci's HBO space comedy. "Some of these are good, and it would ruin many of the show’s jokes to reveal them here. But the biggest surprise is a disappointing one: that Veep creator Armando Iannucci’s first TV series since he left behind Selina Meyer is kind of an unwieldy mess. The good surprises may eventually solve the bad one, but it’s hard to tell based on the four episodes provided for review." Sepinwall adds: "Comedies take time to reach their full potential, even ones from brilliant creators like Iannucci. Veep arguably didn’t come into its own until its second season (when Selina became more crucially involved in her president’s administration, and Ben and Kent were added as additional foils for her). The way Avenue 5‘s mysteries gradually unfold makes it hard to suggest waiting for a key episode down the line. (The fourth installment is by far the best, but it also depends on having seen how the captain gets to the emotional place he’s in.) This means the show will require patience — more than one might have hoped for from Iannucci’s reunion with HBO (he left Veep after Season Five), but about right for many series from lesser mortals."

        ALSO:

        • Avenue 5 does show potential, taking time to find its rhythm: "As Avenue 5 progresses, the writers become increasingly adept at putting (Hugh Laurie's) Ryan in tense situations that reveal further layers of his character, as well as the world he inhabits," says Angelica Jade Bastién. "Part of the fun in watching Avenue 5 is piecing together its gleaming, technologically advanced vision of the near future. While we aren’t given an exact year this is all taking place, the show scatters puzzle pieces throughout its world that give us a broader picture of these characters’ circumstances...even with some early stumbles, Avenue 5 offers such a rich view of the future and such dynamic predicaments that I feel compelled to go along for the ride."
        • Avenue 5 is Veep in space, which doesn't mean it's great: "The Veep elements—unmistakable from the opening moments, when a soon-to-be-ex-wife screams at her husband across a dining room that he can find a chair 'at the bottom of the swimming pool on Deck F*ck You!'—doubtlessly come from that show's creator, Armando Iannucci, who's also the executive producer of Avenue 5," says Glenn Garvin. "Like Veep and Ianucci's other trademark production, The Death of Stalin, Avenue 5 has a big cast, an even bigger collection of subplots, and a penchant for loopy humor that doesn't always land well."
        • It's difficult to see what, exactly, Armando Iannucci is satirizing here: "The politics and commerce of the future are, if anything, underused as targets," says Daniel Fienberg. "Maybe it's the hospitality industry being mocked. Or maybe it's better to look at Avenue 5 as simply Iannucci having fun with a new and not very subtext-rich disaster scenario, resulting in something clever if not particularly smart."
        • Avenue 5 does offer some above average laughs despite not being in the same league as Veep: "Coming right on the heels of Veep, one of the best shows of the past decade, Avenue 5 is almost inevitably a bit of a disappointment," says Kristen Baldwin. "The show feels like a funnier spiritual sibling of Other Space, Paul Feig’s cult sci-fi comedy; it even stars Space’s Neil Casey as Spencer, a cocky, cargo shorts-wearing engineer who helps Billie keep the ship running. But putting aside any expectations for another serving of Iannucci’s savage satire, Avenue 5 is still a sharply-written comedy with a strong cast and an enjoyable mix of highbrow punchlines, broad physical comedy, and silly sight gags, one involving a radiation shield of human excrement."
        • Avenue 5 is breezy and snarky, espcially in the way it mocks hard science: "Part of the fun of Avenue 5 is ... the fun of (Tom Godwin’s 1954 short story) The Cold Equations: getting to watch hard-science truths dismantle the frankly silly genre pulp stories in which people maneuver spaceships like cars, and hop about the galaxy as if it’s their backyard," says Noah Berlatsky. "Suspending disbelief for those kinds of jaunts is entertaining. But it’s also entertaining to stop suspending disbelief just for a bit, and watch Rebecca Front as passenger Karen Kelly explode (not literally!) in magnificent indignation because space-time won’t do what she wants, the way it does for, say, William Shatner."
        • The biggest problem with Avenue 5 is that, ultimately, it’s just fine altogether: "Going into the series hoping for it to be like Veep or The Thick of It will lead to disappointment straight away," says LaToya Ferguson. "But that’s also because it’s clear that Iannucci is going for something completely different: He’s not just making a space epic comedy, he’s making a space epic. You technically can’t do the former without doing the latter, and because of that, the series understandably has to approach the comedy in a different way than expected. At least to begin. There is a lot of setup—which also makes the fact that the lines about this future world are as seamless as they are impressive—because unlike the inner workings of British or American politics, this isn’t an actual real-world scenario (as close as it might be to one sooner rather than later). Simultaneously, the series is also tasked with deconstructing the set-up of that casual space cruise, which, again is not based on a real-world scenario."
        • Avenue 5 gets sharper with each episode sent to critics, which bodes well for what lies ahead: "Veep became the perfect satire for a particularly incompetent moment in American politics," says Judy Berman. "Yet in many ways, Avenue 5 presents a bigger challenge for Iannucci and his writers. Their cast of characters is huge, every room on the vast spaceship they’ve dreamed up has its own function and vibe, they can’t rely on current pop-culture references for jokes and they have to imagine what Earth is like two generations on—a task that yields silly hairstyles and a few small, clever surprises. Iannucci may still be finding his space legs, but I, for one, would follow his sense of humor to the ends of the known universe."
        • Avenue 5 feels much more like an acquired taste than Veep did
        • The real fun of Avenue 5 is in its absolute lack of authority figures to command respect
        • Josh Gad's character was developed with Elizabeth Holmes as an inspiration
        • Armando Iannucci wanted to ditch political satire: “I knew after doing ten years of Veep and The Thick of It, I knew I didn’t want to do another political show,” he said. “There’s an air of uncertainty (in the world)… and a sense of foreboding doom and no one is doing anything about it. The madness of crowds and populism, I wanted to tap into that. But I also love sci-fi, so I thought ‘wouldn’t it be good to put this pressure cooker into space.'"
        • Iannucci expects the Veep comparisons through the early episodes: “I’m sure people will spend the first few episodes wondering if it is going to be like Veep," he says. "With anything it always takes a little while with people not to come in with the last thing in their head. The rapid fire insults of Veep grew because of the setting it inhabited, it was a frenetic, cutthroat world, but this is about survival and people discovering who they are and whether they have anything worthwhile to contribute to the common good, or whether they’re just here for the ride and they’ll be first out of the air lock if things get desperate.”

        # TOPICS: Avenue 5, HBO, Armando Iannucci, Hugh Laurie, Josh Gad