I’m well satisfied with the opening paragraph of my review of tonight’s American Horror Story: Roanoke.
text: “For the entire run of American Horror Story: Roanoke, I’ve pointed out its fictionalized images of real horrors visited upon black Americans, some for centuries and some more recent. And for the entire run of the installment, some readers have told me I’m imagining a significance that isn’t present in the show. In ‘Chapter 9,’ where a police officer asks a screaming black woman if she’s survived ‘a lynch mob,’ and where much of the footage comes from police body cams, if you don’t see that underlying theme, it’s because you’re determined not to see it.”
I’ll be donating my payment for tonight’s review to The ACLU, because we woke up to a true American nightmare, and I’ll do what I can to make it easier and make it end.
Over at The A.V. Club, I’m covering Stranger Things, Netflix’s nostalgic summer series full of thrills and throwbacks. Look for my episodic reviews every 48 hours (“Chapter Five: The Flea And The Acrobat” goes up today!) until I’ve covered the entire series, which is all available for streaming at Netflix right now.
Not sure where to start? This sci-fi/horror bonanza needs to be watched in order. Start with “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”:
From its opening sequence in the corridors under Hawkins National Laboratory, Stranger Things is dark, and not just visually. The most obvious influence on the Duffer brothers’ ’80s-inspired series is E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, but under that layer of comfortable fun lurk more ominous allusions, from Tolkien to King to Carpenter.
My affection and respect for this reference-rich, gratifyingly taut story grows with each episode. In my review of “Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly” (remember, all these reviews contain spoilers for their respective episodes), I discuss how Stranger Things manages to make a virtue out of most of its lapses:
The show is occasionally clunky or trite, but its failing are weirdly appropriate, even endearing. It’s hard to distinguish between flaws that arise from Stranger Things’ writing […] and those inherent in its source material—the pulpy, sometimes hackneyed genre films, novels, and shows it so deftly recombines.
Maria Bamford (Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix)
Kate Kulzick and Noel Kirkpatrick invited me back to The Televerse to talk about Lady Dynamite, Maria Bamford, and a weirdly reassuring comedy about mental-health troubles. You can also read my episodic reviews of Lady Dynamite at The A.V. Club — and I hope you will! The show is enormously entertaining, smart, and thoughtful. Reviewing it was a pleasure and an honor.