How The Sopranos Finale Made it a Masterpiece – And What People Miss When They Don’t Really Pay Attention

Tony Soprano is sitting alone in a booth as Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing is playing on a jukebox, and in walks Tony’s wife Carmela. They’re meeting at a diner tonight to eat, and Tony has some bad news to discuss, but before things can go further, their son AJ arrives and starts complaining about the tedium of his job. Tony assures him that he’s building contacts, that even the pointless stuff is all part of something larger for his career. Their daughter Meadow is late because she had to go to the doctor to switch birth control. AJ reminds Tony of something he was told years ago, Tony doesn’t remember it, but he thinks it sounds right. Meadow is having trouble parking her car, but she finally manages it and arrives. Tony looks up as the diner door opens – CUT TO BLACK. Thus ends The Sopranos. On its face, it’s a mundane evening with an American family, so how did it become such an iconic ending that it helped elevate this already lauded show into something of a legend?

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How Persona 5 Diagnoses our Deeply Sick Society Within its Story

Over the course of 2021, I played and beat Persona 5‘s gargantuan storymode. It took me over 110 hours, and that was without grinding for level ups to get through a challenge, as the fights for the most part were fairly easy, even on hard mode. No, a lot of that time spent playing the game was actually just watching cutscenes for said story mode. There was so much ground to cover because the game possessed soaring ambitions atypical of JRPGs. A lot of the time the story fell short on those ambitions, but in some of key ways, Persona 5 is a game with the most trenchant political critique on society since Metal Gear Solid 2. This really comes down to the story’s villains, which consist of specific corrupt individuals with institutional power, rotted institutions themselves, and ultimately, your every day person. It’s that last step that really takes really takes Persona 5‘s critique to the next level, but we should start from the beginning.

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Sex and the City and Steve’s Dark Streak

Sex and the City probably qualifies as “underrated” these days. That’s a description that is probably too often applied to genuinely mediocre properties, but Sex and the City today is commonly used as a punchline. A show about women who talk like the middle aged gay men who wrote for them that’s frequently taken to task for “not aging well” by media illeterate Op-Ed writers. I could write a whole separate blog post about this that boils down to “having characters with wrongheaded beliefs isn’t the same as advocating for them”, but today I want to talk about Steve’s dark streak.

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Insincerely Me

Fascinating and flummoxing, 'Dear Evan Hansen' still strikes a chord | The  Spokesman-Review

Probably weird that I’m coming back after almost 2 years of not posting to talk about a controversal adaption of the polarizing musical starring Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen. I’m gonna get real specific with this post though. I’m not going to talk about how Ben Platt looks too much like the Cryptkeeper to play a highschooler, I’m not going to talk about how weirdly bleak and sterile the whole vibe of the movie is, I’m not going to talk about how weirdly bad Amy Adam’s performance in this is, and I’m definitely not going to say a word about how goddamn creepy it is that Evan actually dates the sister of the suicide victim he’s basing his long term deception on. No, I’m going to talk about one song, and how everything wrong with the movie (and the broadway musical to a lesser extent) can be traced back to it.

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How The Good Place Lost its Way

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SPOILERS for seasons 1-3 of The Good Place

I remember how I felt after the end of The Good Place’s amazing season 1 finale. It was that rare storytelling twist that was both surprising and the only outcome that made any sense. Of course the lead characters were in hell I thought, where else could they be? The angelic neighborhood architect played by Ted Danson was actually a malevolent demon this whole time, torturing our four main characters by simply setting them loose against each other. Eleanor’s dirtbag behaviour, Chidi’s indecisiveness, Tahani’s narcissism, and Jason’s… Jason’s being an idiot (there’s no nice way to put this), were perfectly suited to torture each other. This was done by thrusting them into familiar sit-com episode set-ups artificially created by Michael in an elaborate attempt to make them miserable without them ever realizing it. For an NBC network sitcom, this was without exaggeration, a genius conceit. It suggested that all a sitcom amounted to was a writer torturing their characters with the stresses of mundanity and the toxic combination of their wacky personalities. This was a brilliant direction for a show, it would take a lot to ruin it all. Unfortunately, they did.

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Here Comes Some RED HOT Takes!

I googled “Smug man face” for a picture to use in this article and got this photo of Martin Shkrehli

Coming out of blog retirement with a new kind of post. Today, I’m sharing with you some of my hottest takes. Sure I’ve shared one or two controversial opinions on this space before, but never have I made a post that is nothing but hot takes. Takes you may feel entitled to cancel me over. Takes that are so red hot that I wouldn’t blame you for doing so. I will definitely regret this post in the future! Let’s get to it then:

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Dear TV Writers: You Don’t Have To Write Love Interests The Way That You Do

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Duncan Kane from Veronica Mars, the All-Father of boring love interests. Truly a legend and a dark sign of things to come.

I’ve had enough TV writers. I say no more! I don’t know what is compelling you to write love interests for your main characters as the most boring people on the planet, but it needs to stop. At this point, it doesn’t just feel like a failure, it feels like a choice. You are choosing to write these people as the most bland toast imaginable every chance you get and I can’t for the life of me figure it out. What is making you do this? Why introduce someone and make a conscious effort to make them as bland and unlikable as possible? Not only are they characters on your show, but they are also people you are expecting us to believe that one of your main characters are potentially falling in love with. They should be better than the average character introduced, but instead we get these milquetoast duds who are too plain to approach anything resembling memorability.

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The Kavanaugh Controversy and the Great Conservative Fear

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The Ford and Kavanaugh hearing was one of the most significant political events in an era rife with chaos. What Trump brought to US politics is much of what he brought to television, namely, shocking twists, moral turpitude, and an insatiable hunger for attention. So it should come as no surprise that the hearing to weigh the sexual assault claims made against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Ford Blasey, and his subsequent confirmation, reflected this environment. Just to get this out of the way, I believe Ford, I think Kavanaugh is lying, and he absolutely shouldn’t serve on the Supreme Court based on his performance in that hearing alone (specifically his partisan meltdown and conspiracy mongering). What got me interested in writing this though was the pathology of how many Americans responded to this, particularly the mainstream “respectable” conservatives in America. Some analysis has claimed that it was the anti-Kavanaugh side that was informed by misguided emotions, but it seemed clear to me that the American conservative movement was deeply terrified about what was happening in ways they may not have fully understood. There was palpable fear from huge swaths of of them, a fear that’s been written about before but never put on display like it was those last few weeks.

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Crazy Rich Asians Review

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Haven’t done a straight up review in a long while, and since Crazy Rich Asians is #CulturallySignificant, it’s the perfect film for me to return with. Are these crazy rich Asians crazy good? The short answer is yes, the long answer is mostly yes. This film really succeeded as a story about an American confronting the disapproving mother of her boyfriend and navigating her way through what is basically the Singaporean aristocracy, but I’m not sure if it was a great romance. It was a fantastic film sure, but not for the reasons I feel like the advertisers were selling us.

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