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.
notes: You can read my episodic reviews of the end of True Detective‘s season two at The A.V. Club.
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.
At The A.V. Club, my open letter to Lady Edith Crawley. GodDAMNit, Edith.
My notes for the next Downton Abbey review at The A.V. Club.
I could have mentioned this back when the season started: I’ve been covering Benched, a legal sitcom created by Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones and starring Eliza Coupe and Jay Harrington, for The A.V. Club. USA wraps up the first season with back-to-back episodes tonight, and you can catch up with my reviews for the full season here.
It started out as a whip-fast workplace comedy that leaned heavily on Coupe’s facility with physical comedy and open-ended rambling and a plausible but predictable will-they/won’t-they romantic angle between the leads to the detriment of the excellent supporting cast. As sitcoms went, it was entertaining and zippy, but nothing special.
But as the season went on, Benched evolved from a show I enjoyed into a show I loved. The characters developed and deepened (including great roles for Maria Bamford and Oscar Nuñez), the tentative flirtation broadened into a friendship, and the show set its sights audaciously on the legal system, portraying a world where there are no villains, no antagonists, no bad guys or good guys, just an overburdened institution and overworked, underpaid lawyers working within it. I began the season happy to review a new show; I’m ending it hoping — hoping — to see it return for season 2.