It’s been over two years since I’ve last written one of these joke analyses, but the… enormity of this one really grabbed my attention. Unlike the last joke where I discussed it in largely positive terms, I want to analyze how a joke can actually hurt a show. Because with this bit of comedy, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend basically ruined a main character within a single scene. Let me break it down.
I see a lot of movies over my summers, and I want to make it a habit to write down my thoughts on them all when my summer is over. Well, it’s long after summer and I haven’t written anything in a while, the reason for this is simple: That I’m lazy and unmotivated even when it comes to things I enjoy doing. It’s time for me to turn a new leaf! I’ll start by finally writing this post about my thoughts on these movies, something anyone still reading this definitely cares about.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of those rare shows where you actually feel like you take how good it is for granted. On top of being a genuinely great comedy-drama, it produces 2-3 original songs each episode as a bonus. They flow into the episode’s stories, they’re usually quite catchy, and always funny as hell. The dream of a comedy-musical as a TV series that so many of us had after watching “Once More With Feeling” on Buffy is here, and it’s beautiful. To honour it, and its upcoming second season (premiering this October), I’d like to list my eight favourite songs so far.
BoJack Horseman‘s third season ended with one impression that was painfully clear to me: BoJack can’t believably maintain the relationships he does any longer. It’ll be hard for him to be buddy-buddy with Todd again after Todd unloaded on his entire life the way he did. He can’t be close to Princess Carolyn again after the way he harshly fired her in her moment of need. It’ll be tough to buy that he’s still keeping the same network of people now that he’s convinced he’s poison to everyone he comes in contact with. There’s also the fact that everyone else he knows is going to be occupied with their own all-consuming plots of their own that don’t connect to BoJack’s story in any way.
Watching the original Ghostbusters and the remake back to back was an interesting experience. I was really mostly struck by how off my expectations were upon viewing the films themselves. The original sure as hell wasn’t the film I thought it was going to be, and Sony’s reboot defied both my expectations that were developed from the fan backlash and from the critics. Here are my observations of these movies.
When people reference shows starring (purposely written) horrible people, they inevitably bring up the Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang. The Reynolds family (along with Mac and Charlie), are self-centred, egotistical, and emotionally immature nuisances who often star in episodes where they take their unpleasantness into the outside world, damage the lives of the people they interact with, then get rejected and forced to find comfort in the awful safe-space that is the bar that they own. On Transparent, much of the same thing happens with the Pfeffermans, a family very much like the Reynolds, but with the only difference being that their awful actions have lasting negative repercussions on the people around them and themselves. While Almost Sunny operates on a cartoon logic of everything more or less reverting to how things were before by the start of the next episode, Transparent forces its narcissistic characters to sit with their bad decisions for the remainder of their sad and empty lives. The comedic fallout of their actions are so dark at times that it almost veers into dramatic territory, but the heightened nature of everything reminds the audience to laugh at what has transpired. It’s shocking how little punches this show pulls, even with its transgender star Maura Pfefferman, who also happens to be a mostly awful person. Much like Frank Reynolds on Always Sunny, much of her role seems to be as the one financing the bizarre behaviour her kids seem to get into, and the fact that the show can make us feel be both sympathetic and angry towards her is a grand feat. Once again like Frank, she has a kid that is an honest to God sociopath, but less in the popcultural serial killer sense and more in the toxic presence that routinely hurts those close to her. Ali, along with her two siblings Josh and Sarah, are really who are at the centre of the show despite it being ostensibly about Maura coming out as transgender. Those three siblings are the beating rotten heart of this show.
Transparent is the story of an L.A. Jewish family based on the life of its creator Jill Soloway. The character that acts as Soloway’s proxy on the show is Ali Pfefferman. Ali Pfefferman, it turns out, is a sociopath. I realize that’s a strange thing to say, considering that Ali is the character one would expect Soloway to give a more sympathetic view of, and because the word sociopath isn’t really a recognized term in the world of mental health anymore, but it’s a very convenient way to classify someone who behaves in the way that she does. She doesn’t just have some anti-social traits, her presence actively damages the society she lives in. The family at the show’s centre is filled with awful people who possess varying degrees of crappy personalities, but at least you can understand what motivates their actions. Sure, there is a listlessness to all of them, moving from interest to interest, not truly knowing what they want out of life and making terrible decisions along the way, but within those moments where they have to make a decision, those crucial little pockets of time, you can understand and even relate to what motivates them. That is not the case with Ali. It gradually becomes clear what lies at the heart of her actions throughout the series, but it’s really difficult to accept as it becomes more and more obvious. One of the central questions of the show is “what does Ali want” and I’d imagine that’s a result of Soloway’s own indecision at this stage in her life, but on Transparent, as it becomes more and more obvious what Ali wants, you just don’t want to accept it. After watching every episode of this show, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that Ali really wants is to cause other people to suffer, whether she’s consciously aware of it or not, that seems to be what truly motivates her actions.
Here to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a list of my favourite episodes of TV of 2015. It was tough to narrow down my absolute favourites, and there’s certainly some fantastic episodes that deserve to be on this list, but this is the list that ended up feeling right. Please note that this list is ordered by date of broadcast and nothing more.
*This article contains massive spoilers
It’s been a while now since this show ended and I’d still like to get my thoughts about it out there. When I last wrote about Scream Queens, I expressed mixed feelings about the show as a whole, and I really haven’t budged from that stance. Like all Ryan Murphy shows, there are elements of brilliance and crap mixed in with this series, and thankfully since it’s so young, it hasn’t allowed the crap to overwhelm the rest of it yet. It’s still up in the air if this show is going to get another season, and I honestly hope it does because – Surprise! – I actually loved the finale. Believe me, I totally realize it had some pretty significant problems, but there were some elements in it that worked well enough for me to overlook the bad. But first though, let’s get the bad out of the way.
Continuing the discussion of Veep from my last post, I started thinking about this show’s best moments. Even though one of the show’s selling points is its satire, it is most certainly isn’t its strength. While it can be amusing at times, it’s rarely ever nuanced or insightful, however, the show’s greatest strength is in its cast of characters. While its ensemble can feel overstuffed, the show’s core cast (and even some of its reoccurring players) are why this has become the hit it is on HBO. There are moments from the show when a character, even one that should be a minor player, surprises you in a way that makes you laugh or, surprisingly enough, feel. Here is a list of moments in Veep that I found to have been the most hilarious, heartfelt, or both.
VEEP SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!