Television Archive

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“How much of my life has happened inside of a car?”

“How much of my life has happened inside of a car?” Frank Ocean dropped that question on his zine, “Boys Don’t Cry”. If anybody else had asked it, I’d dismiss […]

“How much of my life has happened inside of a car?”

Frank Ocean dropped that question on his zine, “Boys Don’t Cry”. If anybody else had asked it, I’d dismiss it. But from Frank, an artist who often finds meaning in cars as refuge, as freedom, as vestiges from lives past, it was a perfectly valid question trying to negotiate one of his most recurrent motifs with its cultural perception as a “straight boy fantasy”, something that Frank, as a bisexual man, finds anathema.

Frank Ocean’s work is important to me. Hip hop is an environment that’s often hostile to queers like myself. Yes, there are rappers who are LGBTQ (and LGBTQ friendly) but Frank’s hangups about relationships, his desire for isolation and to live life in his own terms are things that I struggle with everyday. To me queerness is not in Pride parades and raising the LGBT flag. Queerness is in not playing by the rules, in not existing in the mazes and the labyrinths. To be free and to be yourself, discovering love in the world, regardless of how it’s packaged and giving it back.

I couldn’t help but stop and think of that as I was watching San Junipero, Black Mirror’s best episode from its latest season. In it, Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw play a lesbian couple (Yorkie and Kelly, respectively) in the 80s who find each other while vacationing in San Junipero, an idyllic California vacation spot. Their romance is relatively straightforward (Girl meets Girl, Girl loses Girl, Girl regains Girl) but it’s heartfelt and it works because it’s not afraid of leaning on the fact that these kids are queer and they’re fighting for happiness in a world where being queer has mostly meant missed chances and lives unlived.

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The Get Down is on a Frustrating Yet Rewarding Musical Mission:

Hip Hop is one of the weirdest cultural movements once you sit down to think about it. An eclectic mix of funk, spoken word, comic books, political rebellion and martial […]

Hip Hop is one of the weirdest cultural movements once you sit down to think about it. An eclectic mix of funk, spoken word, comic books, political rebellion and martial arts imagery that just downright embodies African American culture. It feels almost impossible and once you know how much of it was fueled by sheer happenstance and randomness (hip hop wouldn’t be what it is today without the ’77 blackout, let’s be honest) it really makes sense why it stands apart from other musical movements.

Hip Hop in its current form is not really like that, of course. As every art form, it has evolved into a different beast entirely, one that is quite hard to pinpoint these days. This isn’t a dig, of course, but simply an observation: current hip hop doesn’t feel as driven by a community so much as individual artists and their vision. You have Kanye trying to create gospel rap and Desiigner taking trap in a more gangsta, flow-heavy form. The Get Down definitely believes in the understanding of Hip Hop being exclusively a product of Harlem and the Bronx as a community that was being oppressed by real estate moguls and the City’s neglect. And it makes a very convincing case for that understanding and that vision in the first six hours and a half of its first season.

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My Hero Academia Reminds You Why You Love Superheroes

Japan and America both have a long history with the superhero genre but despite obvious similarities, the differences between the way the cultures have approached the genre make for some pretty […]

Japan and America both have a long history with the superhero genre but despite obvious similarities, the differences between the way the cultures have approached the genre make for some pretty different stories. One only needs to look at the Japanese Spider-man TV where our hero Tatsuya gets his power from an alien from the planet Spider, as well as a giant robot instead of a radioactive spider. Despite the massive differences between the way the two cultures treat the genre, there’s still an immediately recognizable core that makes a superhero. It’s something that makes My Hero Academia, the new anime adapted from the manga by Kohei Hiroshi and Hirofumi Nedi, a fascinating look at the evolution of the superhero genre as our fiction crosses borders at an unprecedented level. It doesn’t hurt that My Hero Academia also represents the best of what it means to be not just a superhero, but someone who loves them as well.

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Daredevil never dares and barely devils.

It’s amazing what a year can do to your opinions. Stories you love become, in hindsight, bloated and ridden with boring passages. Stories you dislike at first sight reveal their […]

It’s amazing what a year can do to your opinions. Stories you love become, in hindsight, bloated and ridden with boring passages. Stories you dislike at first sight reveal their charms. Stories you are indifferent about become filled with meaning as you reconsider what the story tried to do in the first place. In Daredevil’s case, a season that packed quite a punch for me on my original view, felt increasingly stale as I started to think about its treatment of its diverse cast and its anticlimactic ending. Of course, these individual flaws don’t necessarily eliminate my enjoyment of the show and the way it handled things like Matt Murdock’s origin by showcasing his relationships with Jack (his father), Foggy (his best friend/partner in law) and Karen Page (their legal assistant) was thrilling and Charlie Cox’s performance demonstrates exactly what makes Daredevil more than just “Spider-Man meets Batman”.

Of course, it should have been just a matter of emphasizing these elements and phasing out the more hyper-masculine nonsense as well as the pervasive sense that the Asians members of the cast were just there to make direct reference to the worst, most orientalist aspects of the comics. Daredevil’s supposed concerns during its first seasons were about how crime fighting affected life in a melting pot like New York as people from all walks of life were outright steamrolled by criminals masquerading as elite businessmen. There’s a lot of power to this idea and Daredevil was at its best when it explored it, alongside Matt’s relationship to his friends, family and God.

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American Tragedy

  Most stories based in real life events often revel in finding the inner tragedy or comedy of real life and exposing it. They convert a real life event’s actors […]

 

Most stories based in real life events often revel in finding the inner tragedy or comedy of real life and exposing it. They convert a real life event’s actors into characters, with clear goals, convictions and personalities. Sometimes those are not very true to the people they’re reflecting. But often, they are true to the story and the lives they are reflecting. That’s the genius of American Crime Story; a show that is often willing to speculate on the personal lives of people whose lives were very well documented, but doesn’t use that speculation to demean or insult those people. Instead it tries to empathize and understand them.

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In Season 2 Galavant Comes Into Its Own

  It’s funny how much a series can change in a season. When Galavant first came out, it was a filler show placed in the gap Once Upon A Time […]

 

It’s funny how much a series can change in a season. When Galavant first came out, it was a filler show placed in the gap Once Upon A Time left that month and outside of some golden musical numbers, the show seemed to have been given about that amount of thought. It seemed to be directly paralleling itself to The Princess Bride and Monty Python and The Holy Grail by parodying a story so rote I’m not sure it ever actually existed. Even so, I found myself drawn to it. It was amusing enough and Alan Menken’s score was darn good, especially the opening number (which season 2’s opening song bitter points out did not win an Emmy) and there seemed to be some real gold there. The ending for the first season struck me as particularly bold, daring ABC to give it a second season while also acknowledging the unlikelihood of that.

It’s so unlikely that the first song of the second season seems to be simply bragging about the fact that the show was renewed at all. One of the fascinating things about this second season was how deliberately it broke up the structure of the first season. The hero Galavant (Joshua Sasse) was separated from his squire Sid (Luke Youngblood) and love interest Isabella(Karen David) to be trapped with the former evil king Richard(Timothy Odmundson) on a pirate ship, Sid is stuck attending to evil queen Madalena(Mallory Jansen) and her bodyguard/fellow king Gareth (Vinnie Jones) Isabella is trapped in her home kingdom to be betrothed to a ten-year-old. It’s such a defiance of the previous season that this season almost feels like a reinvention of the show. The new Galavant feels less like a parody of some adventure story that doesn’t exist and more like a low-budget adventure show that happens to be really funny.

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RahXephon 4-6

This is part of a series of essays on RahXephon. This particular essay covers episodes 1-3. I do not summarize plot on these essays as they are meant to be […]

This is part of a series of essays on RahXephon. This particular essay covers episodes 1-3. I do not summarize plot on these essays as they are meant to be running commentary, meaning that if you are interested in penetrating these rambles and rants, I strongly suggest you watch the show along with the essays.

A hot take for you: RahXephon is one of the most heartrendingly relevant shows to today’s dangerous situation created by a hotmi of terrorism and American intervention. Consider: Ayato is a kid in high school who is abducted from his home to fight the very same The rationale behind it is that they’re not human and Ayato reluctantly joins them because he thinks of himself as human. But are they not his home and country?

And in exchange, they insert him in a city where his humanity is constantly (and turns out, reasonably) questioned. His value as a person is measured entirely on how useful he can be and what beliefs remain from his life at Tokyo Jupiter. In fact, were it not because of his ability to pilot the RahXephon, Ayato would probably be treated as a prisoner of war, to be interrogated, isolated and maligned.

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RahXephon Part 1: The Meaning of Home

This is part of a series of essays on RahXephon. This particular essay covers episodes 1-3. I do not summarize plot on these essays as they are meant to be […]

This is part of a series of essays on RahXephon. This particular essay covers episodes 1-3. I do not summarize plot on these essays as they are meant to be running commentary, meaning that if you are interested in penetrating these rambles and rants, I strongly suggest you watch the show along with the essays.

Most stories are about the meaning of home, if we expand that definition to mean “An emotional place of contentment” as well as “Place of origin”. Most fictional characters are either desperately looking for the earlier and trying to run from the latter. In most cases, these two goals are correlated. That is the particular case of RahXephon, probably one of my very favorite TV shows and my nomination for “Greatest Anime of All Time”. RahXephon follows the story of Ayato Kamina, a young student who dabbles in painting and finds out that the city he calls home (Tokyo) is actually an alien colony as he’s exfiltrated by the resistance fighting from the outside to retake to Tokyo.

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Better Call Saul and why we’re good, man:

By the end of the remarkable first season of Better Call Saul, Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan have crafted an incredibly confident first season of TV showcasing the many things […]

By the end of the remarkable first season of Better Call Saul, Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan have crafted an incredibly confident first season of TV showcasing the many things that made Breaking Bad one of the most indelible dramas of the last 15 years while finding a fascinating new angle on the morality play they started all the way back in 2008 by reversing the polarity of its protagonists.

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Daredevil is Marvel aiming for the superhero TV throne – and almost winning.

The idea of vigilantes fighting criminals who have taken control of a city so thoroughly and completely that they have turned them into havens for villainy and cruelty is not […]

The idea of vigilantes fighting criminals who have taken control of a city so thoroughly and completely that they have turned them into havens for villainy and cruelty is not really new. In fact, in all honesty, nothing about Daredevil is really new. And yet Daredevil is astounding in every other aspect of its execution. It’s earnest, blunt and it just kicks so much ass. Brilliantly shot and stylized, its aesthetic brethren are not The Avengers or The Guardians of the Galaxy, but rather shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, which is unsurprising considering director Phil Abraham’s stunning work on the latter.

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