Once again, I’m covering American Horror Story for The A.V. Club. You can check out my review of “Checking In,” AHS: Hotel‘s premiere, here.
Then it’s time for The DVD Shelf, where I talk about the absurdity and downright surrealism of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Remember, if you want to pick a fight with me about Monty Python, it’s one pound for a five minute argument, but only eight pounds for a course of ten.
I didn’t expect my review of the season two premiere to delve into how Forrest MacNeil (Daly) uses his job reviewing life experiences as a pretext for escaping his own life, abdicating decisions and destiny both to the hands of random viewers, boxing off his actions from their consequences. Review allows Forrest to pursue adventures and debauchery without acknowledging how his own desires drive his behavior or how his detachment from his own culpability puts walls between him and the people he loves. Review lets Forrest put his life in a box… or, in this episode, in a hole.
Forrest is right about one thing: It’s possible to find meaning in the most unexpected places, and in assignments that sometimes seem random.
At The A.V. Club, I review Key & Peele’s “Severed Head Showcase,” an episode that asks who’s in charge, what we value, and why.
This week, I sat in on The A.V. Club’s True Detective review. My analysis: True Detective is a ghost story without a ghost, and with a heart of lurid pulp.
Just as the first season was preoccupied with cisgender white men’s desires and the second is preoccupied with their potency, the third season will center around cisgender white women’s bodies, featuring pervasive and powerful vaginal imagery; unsurprisingly, it will take place in the vast subterranean subway system of a major metropolitan center.
The central mystery of Chick Titzolotto’s True Detective S3: Do women exist when men aren’t looking, or do we wink out like a fridge light when you close the door?
[SCENE: A DARK BEDROOM. FEMALE LEAD lies in bed, staring moodily out a window at a light in the distance. Her male companion, whose name is not important, lies propped up on his elbow next to her, listening in attentive silence. She does not look at him.]
FEMALE LEAD: It’s all so uncertain. It’s like particle physics, or like a refrigerator light. It’s all so uncertain. It’s all so uncertain. It’s all so uncertain. Am I a particle or a wave? Do you know where I am, or what, or when? If you stop looking, do I still light up? Or do I just… wink out, like the light in the fridge?
[The distant light goes out. FEMALE LEAD exhales gustily, closes eyes. AND SCENE]
Thanks in advance for the Emmys.
note: Dennis Perkins gets a contributing creator credit on this project, but only under the stipulation that he’s credited as Penis Derkins.
At The A.V. Club, I examine how Mad Men uses images of cowboys and astronauts as symbols of freedom — and just as often, as avenues of imagined escape:
These superficially discordant visions of cowboy and astronaut are fundamentally similar: exploring a frontier, expanding the mapped world, and returning home to tell the tale. Astronauts orbit and return to Earth. Cowboys ride the range and bring the livestock home. These connotations of repetition and return undermine the frontier’s twin promises of opportunity and escape.
That contrast is at the heart of Mad Men, which asks whether people are capable of change—and whether they want to be. Amid the show’s flamboyant parade of changing styles and social mores and its characters’ shifting families and career trajectories, it’s easy to ignore how often they lapse into repeating old patterns and recreating the relationships they learned in childhood, no one more than Don Draper.