As the leaves begin to change and it starts to get darker earlier, fall feels nearer and nearer which means it’s prime television season. So we find ourselves once again looking back at the last several months of stuff I watched and stuff I might watch in the coming months. Looking back at my spring and summer lightning round, I’ve been putting off trying to wrap my head around what was evidently an extremely confusing second season of Westworld and even Jessica Jones can’t draw me back into the Marvel universe. Everything I did watch was mostly miserable or paranoia inducing.
It Sure is Tough Being a Lady: The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 and Sharp Objects
After a promising and critically-acclaimed first season, The Handmaid’s Tale returned to Hulu at the end of April with enough piss and vinegar to fill three quarters of a fourteen episode bottle. Despite possibly proving to the rest of the streaming services that releasing all of your episodes at once might not be the best idea when you’re trying to keep a viewer’s head in the long-term buzz game, I’d say my biggest complaint with the second season was that it suffered from wheel-spinning endemic of a show with too many episodes ordered by the network. Plot threads went nowhere or consistently stalled and started, MacGuffins were abound, and while wishy-washy emotional decision making might let a show feel more “true-to-life”, it makes for infinitely frustrating television watching. While remaining almost oddly politically prescient from a writing perspective, it’s a show carried primarily by fantastic acting from the cast and was a great week-to-week watch I scheduled my Tuesday nights around. Generally, unless I thought about plot holes and character motivations for more than ten or fifteen minutes after it was over, it was riveting. With the longer season issues and a lack of real concrete “wins” for the oppressed women in a United States overtaken by right-wing religious fundamentalists, I fear unless some aspects of the plotting are changed, it will devolve into a feminist version of The Walking Dead: circular, aimless misery porn disguised as prestige TV. June and escaping Gillead is the new Sam and Diane. (Pam & Jim?) 7/10
Personal bias: watching Amy Adams drive around in a shitty Volvo, smoking Parliaments and drinking vodka out of a water bottle while listening to moodier, late-period Led Zeppelin is my idea of a good television show regardless of where it’s set or what the story is. Based on the debut novel by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Sharp Objects was about a St. Louis reporter returning to her small hometown to investigate a murder. Criticized for pacing issues, which I considered interesting scenery chewing and some creative if-at-times confusing editing tricks, it was a fairly straight-forward character study about toxic femininity, family dynamics, Southern manners, substance abuse and mental health issues. Like the first season of True Detective, the show kept you invested enough in the mystery’s red herrings as a procedural, but ultimately was anchored by wonderful performances from Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, and Eliza Scanlen. Mercifully, it’s been marketed as a miniseries, ensuring that it likely won’t return for a second season and suffer a loss in quality with no source material to draw from. Cough. 7.5/10 Continue reading →