Friday, June 09, 2017


Peak TV continues apace. I have more shows on Netflix that I want to see than I have time to watch, let alone the terrific shows on other networks and platforms. I haven't even picked up HBO yet, so I'll probably end up binging Silicon Valley after Game of Thrones starts up again.

Here's what I've been watching lately, in no particular order:

Love. I mentioned this briefly before, but the second season was excellent, and tonally unique. It's terrific at surprising in unexpected, quiet ways: situations that seem to be written to explode instead quietly subside. It also deserves special credit for making such incredibly likeable flawed characters.

Master of None. Another second season, and a close spiritual twin to Love, tackling some of the same subject matter. Dev's journey is excellent: he's searching for love, but really searching for purpose and fulfillment, and while the former project has plenty of setbacks the second one is continuing very well. The second season felt a little less issue-oriented than the first; it doesn't hit as directly about concepts of race and feminism (though it does have a terrific take on religion). But its character development is even stronger, both with the new and returning characters.

Archer. I'd fallen way behind on this and am still catching up. It's really smart of the creators to keep reinventing the show's conceit: animated comedies inevitably start getting stale around this point, but the frequent changes in location and storyline have kept Archer fresh and surprising, even while keeping the exact same cast and general sense of humor.

Better Call Saul. No, not the third season, just belatedly catching up on the second season that's on Netflix. So good! Has there ever been a prequel that's this long and this closely linked to the following show? There's a fascinating inversion of the typical process for story development: usually tension is built by withholding information and causing viewers to wonder where the story will end. In BCS, though, we already know where things will end up, but that makes things even more tense, and we're constantly wondering when the other shoe will drop, how it will end up where it's going. The cast was already terrific in the first season and is even better here, with Kim Wexler getting particular props as she navigates the narrow space between what her heart wants and her determined sense of decency and honor.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Gosh, I like this show so much. Daveed Diggs is absolutely incredible, and used in a really unexpected and delightful way. I'm impressed at how the show continues to honor the trauma of Kimmy's abuse, while not shackling her to it: she can be an incredibly fun, bubbly, optimistic person who rises above but is not defined by (and clearly does not want to be defined by!) her past. This season doesn't have quite as strong of an ending as the first two, but I thought the season as a whole was just as good.

I don't like the phrase "guilty pleasure," so I'll just note that I really enjoy Supergirl. If you kind of squint, it looks a little like Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A young blonde woman with incredible powers has an ongoing duty to save the world, but is much more challenged by navigating her social circumstances than by fighting monsters. It definitely isn't a clone - Kara doesn't have any of Buffy's reluctance and is a lot more comfortable in leadership roles - but it does carry on many aspects that I'd missed from that show. Heh... I was just about to praise its mythology, but of course that mythology is the DC Comics mythology and not an original creation. I haven't watched any of the other DC TV shows, but I absolutely love the tone of Supergirl in contrast with the movie universe of Superman and Batman: it isn't fluffy, but it also isn't relentlessly grimdark. Supergirl faces scary situations, but she does so in order to save a world and people who she cares very deeply about. Speaking of which, the relationships in the show are terrific, another Buffy-esque element, with a very strong supporting cast and believably evolving relationships. Alex Danvers just might be my favorite character on television at the moment.

And that isn't touching on any of the great standup or movies... I have to say, Netflix is probably the best entertainment dollar I spend.

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