Pop Culture, Television

Quarantine Bingies

Being holed up in your home for the past month or two means LOTS of TV time. Realistically it should also mean lots of reading time but most of these shows I’m about to recommend were based on books anyway so you’re really killing two birds with one stone here. (JK, I’m a book nerd and I stand by the fact that books are better than movies, but that opinion doesn’t really align with laying horizontally for 10 hours straight watching an entire series in your pajamas.) You know all those things that have been sitting on your “watch list”, well no excuses now. Play like a champ and smash “I’m still watching.” I’ve done a little recon for you and I’ll let you know below which new series to consume in full immediately, and which ones you’ll be #blessed to miss out on.

SKIP

Tiger King – Netflix.

This one came out early quarantine and me telling you to skip it is a WILDLY unpopular opinion but honestly it was a dirt doc and I’m not afraid to shout it from the rooftops. The premise of the doc was to uncover the weird, trashy world of exotic animal owners and ended up mostly following the feud between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin and an eventual jail sentencing for Joe attempting to do a murder for hire. The documentary is 7 episodes too long. There’s episodes that dive into things that could have their own doc and are completely irrelevant to the story, then they gloss over things like someone committing suicide in front of someone else. I’m not going to go on and on about this doc because you’ve most likely heard about it non-stop since it was released. There were certainly entertaining parts as you watch the underbelly of white trash commit crimes and bang each other, it’s a lot like a horrific car wreck that you can’t look away from. But don’t waste 7 hours of your life on it. Just watch a highlight reel of Joe Exotic if you want to be in the know. On TOP of that, there have been two specials released since the world became obsessed with  the story–no new info was provided, they were both basically repeats of what we already knew and now everyone in Hollywood is fighting over who should play these “characters” in a movie. WHY DO WE NEED A MOVIE OF A DOCUMENTARY? WE ALREADY SAW THE STORY IRL, WE DON’T NEED TO THEN WATCH A MOVIE SO I CAN SEE NICHOLAS CAGE PLAY JOE EXOTIC. Obviously I’m very triggered about this because it takes everything that is lazy and un-inventive about Hollywood and magnifies it. We didn’t have a movie made about Making A Murderer. We just tweeted about getting justice for Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey and made fun of how the entire Dassey/Avery compound answered the phone “Yeah? Yeah.” for a few months before forgetting completely about it. And you know what?! That’s what we should’ve done with Joe Exotic. Laughed at a few memes and the fact that there are people in this world who take wedding photos with their husband on a leash in a one-shouldered tiger toga and move on with our merry lives.

PS the more attention we give these trash machines, the richer they become and as someone that is forever in debt, that is NOT something I can support.

Normal People – Hulu.

I didn’t have high hopes for this show because it is one of the very few books that I gave up on after a couple of chapters. I have an annoying habit of not being able to not finish something that I’ve started even if it’s horrible, so I only have a few movies/books I’ve ditched halfway through –so you KNOW this one really stinks on ice. Then everyone was buzzing about how it was made into a TV show and how obsessed they were and I was like eh let’s give it another shot, maybe it’s more visually stimulating than the book. It was not. There is literally no substance to this show, it’s the blandest thing on this earth–at times I literally felt like it was moving in slow motion. It’s like staring at a glass of skim milk for 12 episodes–their only saving grace is that they’re 30 minute-rs, thank God because the hour long epis for all these new shows were starting to wear on me. This series follows a friends with benefits sitch between a weird, smart girl and a popular athlete. Tale as old as time, the athlete wants her to keep it a secret that they’re having sex and basically treats her like dog shit yet still bones her every day after school. (The series also follows them throughout college.) He’s not even attractive so we can’t even call him a hot douche, and the story takes place in Ireland, so I had to use subtitles to even know what the hell they’re all saying. There’s a LOT of sex, so if you’re into Irish softcore porn, this series is for you. Otherwise, you can get the same amount of bland plain bagel boning by turning on E! this weekend as they undoubtedly show another 50 Shades of Grey marathon for the 500th Saturday in a row. ALSO: let this be a lesson to any TV show moving forward, if you play Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap, the only thing I’ll be seeing is Marissa Cooper shooting Trey to stop him from kicking Ryan’s ass…so putting in the background of a montage of you banging just won’t work. That song retired out of the TV game with the OC and everyone knows it.

Double also, props to me for sticking it through all 12 episodes and you cannot even for a second try to convince me that the lead girl isn’t Anne Hathaway 10 years ago. It’s creepy as hell and I spent most of the time wondering if Anne traveled back in time to do this show because I was so bored and I had a lot of time on my hands to brainstorm.

Marianne Normal People 5

Hollywood – Netflix.

I gave this one episode. I know that’s kind of cheating and shit but I knew from that one episode that I wasn’t going to be into it. JK I knew when I heard it was a Ryan Murphy joint that I wasn’t going to be into it. So this is more a personal preference skip. If you, like me, think everything Ryan Murphy does is sensory overload then opt outta this one. It’s a re-imagining of the start of Hollywood basically but with more inclusion on sexuality and race. Since Ryan Murphy is a big ole big booty baller in Hollywood (the real one, not the Netflix one) he’s got budgets through the roof so there’s a heavyweight cast of A-listers and the set/visuals are movie quality. Unfortunately for me, (as you might have also assumed from my previous review of Normal People) I’m just not into watching shows where everyone bangs each other…and that’s pretty much how this one started out. So it’s a no for me dawg, but make your own grown up decisions about if you’ll like it.

Upload – Amazon Prime.

Honestly, it says a lot about the quality TV they’ve been dropping during Quarantine that I’m scrounging for stuff that’s so bad, I’m telling you not to waste time that you have seemingly endless amounts of watching. This was another personal preference skip but not because it’s a bad show…just because thinking about death and what happens after we die gives me MAJOR anxiety. I tend to avoid shows that deal with the afterlife because who the hell wants to think about that, especially right now?! So I gave it one episode and was like ok I need to quit…then in the last few minutes of episode one, they trickled in a little mystery and suddenly I was starting episode 4 in the same sitting. So like I said, to each his own. This futuristic series (just picked up for season 2) follows the untimely death of a young guy in a world where you can choose to just die and go to heaven, or you can choose to be uploaded to a simulated world and become an avatar like you’re in Sims heaven or something. Also, real world can communicate with uploaded world. Super weird stuff all around. I don’t typically like to think this hard about how things work in a made up world when I’m watching TV (plus DEATH) but it’s actually pretty funny–same creators as The Office & Parks and Rec–and like I said, there’s a little bit of mystery to how he died and damnit if I get hooked by a mystery EVERY TIME. Plus Robby Amell ain’t too shabby to look at, amirite ladies?! And there’s a love story to it as well. Truly something for everyone! [Update: I finished the series in a day and will absolutely be tuning in for season 2 to find out what happened. Sue me.]

Middleditch & Schwartz – Netflix.

I was pretty amped up to check this one out because I have a huge boner for everything that Ben Schwartz does. I’ll watch any movie he’s in and instantly like it, I’ve even been dabbling in indies just because he’s the lead so I guess you could say Ben Schwartz has made me supes cultured. Plus, as I’ve yapped about before, he gave us Jean Ralphio and nothing can top singing stupidity. Now that I’ve gone deep in the B.Schwartz droolfest, I regret to inform you that I lost interest in this almost immediately. It’s a short series–only 3 episodes and the first time that a full improv show has ever been brought to TV (not just bits like Whose Line is it Anyway.) And if I might add my two cents, I’m not sure that it translated. I had a super hard time keeping up with what characters they were playing and following the story. Definitely a few laughs here and there but way too much brain work for comedy. I guess I’m too dumb for improv so I’ll just tuck my tail between my legs and go back to watching low budge flicks featuring Ben.

 

WATCH

Little Fires Everywhere – Hulu.

Based on a book, this one was a Reese Witherspoon specialty. Typically I read every single book that Reese recommends and then her all-ladiezzzz production company turns the book around into a very dramats series with a bunch of A-list actresses. It’s a win, win really. The story follows a mom and daughter who move around a lot and barely scrape by, everything they own fitting in a car. They move into an elite neighborhood in Ohio and a super ritzy family rents out an apt to them then the kids become friends and their lives are intertwined but it’s very clearly a class struggle and the two moms hate each other’s guts. The series has Reese and Kerry playing the two moms and added race as a main focus to the story as well. Despite the fact that Kerry Washington’s only face for the entire series is this with a quivering lip:

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Which is annoying beyond belief, the rest of the cast managed to act their asses off without a weird face. The last episode was definitely the best, special shout out to my boy Joshua Jackson who kind of stayed under the radar for the whole thing then had an epic shouty meltdown in the last epi that had me triumphantly raising my fist from the couch. Bonus points that the story takes place in the 90’s and therefore has the best music–Chumbawamba, Mariah Carey, Alanis Morisette, Collective Soul, 2Pac…all the classics. If I may add my final words of wisdom, however, let’s leave this at a one and done. The book ended the same way, we don’t need to unearth multiple seasons of everything. Learn your lesson from the giant waste that was Big Little Lies season 2, Reesey Piecey. I don’t need an entire season dedicated to a Meryl Streep cameo with no plot. Tysm.

Never Have I Ever – Netflix.

The latest in Mindy Kaling projects, this one is definitely the most inclusive peek at high school you’ll ever see (or I’ll ever see…I don’t know where you went to high school but the FM Hornets were not aflush with black, Indian & Asian teens.) It follows an Indian-American sophomore who just lost her dad and is trying to cope with that while also smooch boys and be a cool sixteen year old except that she’s a real nerd-bomber. Narrated by John McEnroe for an interesting twist–and making it feel much more acceptable to watch as an adult, it has the typical sassy Mindy writing that I love and plenty of awksies teen moments. The real hero of this show is main character Devi’s mom, who has to tolerate her salty AF daughter and knows just how to put her in her place–like not making bagel bites for her and her friends as an after school snack because Devi called her a bitch. A bagel bite-less homework sesh is the worst kind of punishment if you ask me. I used to eat a hot pocket with soda every day after school so if my mom ever took my snacks away I’d run away from home too. But anyway, I was expecting this to be a real uproarious teen comedy with some To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before teen crush vibes…but it was actually much more emotional than I expected. I teared up a few times and thought they had a good mix of funny and sad plus a great cast of characters that all pulled their weight in different ways. AND they left it hanging on a love triangle cliff hanger, which I’m nothing if not a sucker for. Sign me up for season 2, yo.

Dave – FX/Hulu.

I’m going to preface this one with a little “it’s not for everyone” disclaimer (Mom and Dad, I’m looking at you.) If you’re not familiar with Lil Dicky at this point, then if I had to guess, you won’t enjoy this show. Lil Dicky is famous for being a white Jewish rapper who can spit bars but mostly raps about funny stuff and makes himself the butt of the joke. I’ve blogged about him here and there for his ridiculous tunes and when I heard he was making a semi-autobiographical show, I gave it a chance fully realizing that I have no street cred. BUT the great news is, neither does Dave/Lil Dicky, which made me feel right at home. The show follows him and his weirdo friends as he chases his dream of becoming a rapper. There’s a couple of early episodes that are touch and go but he really hits his stride toward the end of the season and the second to last episode had everything from a family wedding with an emotional toast to diarrhea in the woods. A real emotional rollercoaster, if you will. I literally cried real tears, both from laughing so hard at the poop and sadness from the maid of honor speech (no spoilers.) Dave has the ability to create a real storyline for an episode and then typically tie it into a song by the end. Mad props for creating something original and interesting in TV times where nothing is original, and tossing in a Kourtney Kardashian/Justin Bieber cameo for the basic betches too. Also, Gata is hands down one of the coolest characters and I would like to be his friend.

The Last Dance – ESPN. (Final two episodes to air this Sunday)

I feared that I wasn’t the target demo for this one because I’m not a boy who was born before 1990 and the only thing I know Michael Jordan from is Space Jam. However, propelled by my severe FOMO when Twitter only talked about MJ every Sunday night, I decided to give it a whirl and I was PLEASANTLY surprised, which compelled me to include it in this list even though the entire series isn’t available yet, but will be after this weekend. Plus credit where credit is due, this doc was set to be released in June and everyone was so desp during quarantine that ESPN threw us an early bone. Also, it’s about time because the majority of the footage they created this with is 22 years old and was just legit collecting dust until Jordan finally said IT’S TIME. As someone who knows literally nothing about Michal Jordan’s career, especially the 1997-1998 season, I find the doc very interesting and I can’t wait to see what happens! Will they win the championship again? Will Phil Jackson furrealz get the boot? Will Scottie Pippen ever grow into his teeth? Will Bugs Bunny take down the Monstars? I CAN’T WAIT TO FIND OUT. Other things I’d love clarification on: why the hell did all of the Bulls chew gum on the court like their jaws were going to stop working at any moment? As someone who has accidentally kept gum in her mouth during gym class, I can tell you that it only makes you thirstier and the gum gets rock hard much more quickly when you’re salivating for some agua. Weird move by that team. Is that what made them so good? Did they have a Winterfresh sponsorship? Also, why does MJ have milky yellow eyeballs? Feel free to report back to me with legitimate or silly answers to any of these questions. This is what ESPN gets for a non-target demo consuming their product. Sorry not sorry. [Last minute tag-on comment: my favorite two episodes so far have been 7 & 8 as they jump us back and forth from the early 90’s to the late 90’s making ties to where Michael was emotionally in those time periods and drawing parallels. And if that sentence just made me sound like an educated film critic, let me completely ruin that by saying THE best part of these two episodes was how much Michael Jordan called his teammate a ho. Bully Jordan is WAY more hilarious to watch than gambling Jordan. Couldn’t stop giggling. May LaBradford Smith rest in peace.]

Outerbanks – Netflix.

I was fully prepared to put this on the skip list after hearing mixed reviews and feeling like the only positive reviews came from people much younger than me. Advertised as a cross between The OC and The Goonies, Outerbanks just didn’t seem like it’d be for me. Then I started it one night and finished it by the next afternoon, gripped the entire time. I’m half and half about recommending it because I don’t know that I would want to be that stressed again while watching TV. So I guess if you’re looking to be on the edge of your seat and having a whole lot of anxiety at dumb teenagers doing everything they can to put themselves in danger, then definitely watch this. If you’re just looking for a hot teen drama (like I originally was) this probz isn’t for you. There was FAR more violence than I was anticipating. Like every episode the same 4 characters get their asses kicked to the point where I genuinely wonder how they’re all alive, let alone not severely injured. They all just manage to escape with some shiners (which just make them look kewler), no biggie. Plus there’s a kid who just illegally carries a gun everywhere and everyone keeps telling him to stop bringing his gun and he’s like nah I need it, yet never has it on him when he actually needs it. Plot twist. But anyway, the real shining star of this series is the lead character, John B. Yes that’s right, he is addressed as his first name and middle initial for the entire series by every single character–to an excessive amount. It’s very hard to take seriously. No JB, or John Jr because his dad’s name was John. It’s literally John B. ALWAYS. It’s a good thing he’s a real babe soda in his mostly open-button Tommy Bahama shirts to make up for his dumb AF name (relax, pedos, he’s 27 IRL.)

Now that I’ve thoroughly distracted you with a John B thirst trap, let’s talk about how the first episode was very misleading that we would mostly be served with John B’s hot musings on Pogue life and then BAM all the sudden I’m watching an old lady with glowing eyes chasing a bunch of kids with a gun and I was scared to brush my teeth before bed that night thinking the old blind bag would emerge from the guest room and chase me with a fire poker into my room. At least we all have new stupid terminology to abuse all summer when we want to call someone rich or poor. Kooks and Pogues. STAY OFF THE CUT.

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(If you haven’t realized it yet, my lifelong dream is to be a beach babe who lives on the shore and only dresses in beachy casj so this show really fulfilled that for me and much like when I came back from Hawaii and refused to take off my backwards Hawaiian floral hat and shoved hang loose down everyone’s throats, I will continue that tradition of pretending to be an islander with Pogue Life. I’m already halfway there because in quarantine I’ve been brushing my hair out and letting it air dry, thus creating a very frizzy beachy wave. Mahalo. Pogues til Death. ‘Guna for Lyfe.)

Seriously check out those beach waves. Lettuce for DAYZ. Also yes, yes I did put on my bikini and reenact going to the beach on the kitchen floor for a TikTok, thanks for asking. Maybe if it stopped SNOWING, the world would be able to appreciate my big beach energy.

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Happy Quaran-streaming!

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