The Fix Is In

In a bizarre twist, the thing I’ve missed most about British TV has been the prolific amount of panel shows on the air. I understand that their rise has seen a drop-off in scripted comedy, but in recent years the genre has championed young and alternative comics, and I miss that.

America’s first real panel show is now live on Netflix — The Fix is hosted by panel show veteran Jimmy Carr, and captained by Katherine Ryan and D.L Hughley. The premise is that they discuss a major issue effecting society today, and offer comedic solutions, or “fixes”, to the problem at hand.

Jimmy Carr’s monologue at the top of the show is familiar, as it’s in the same style as his 8 Out of 10 Cats openers. Even the delivery of the questions posed, and the back and forth between captains feels the same — To the point where I’m wondering if they brought a few of the writers Stateside along with the on-screen talent.

There are two elements that give this panel show its unique hook. The first is the to-camera arguments made by the team captains each week. They’re pre-written in an almost Daily Show correspondent-esq way. With the use of on-screen graphics and over the top arguments for ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek solutions.

These segments play into the strengths of D.L Hughley, and has him competing for most laughs with panel show experts like Jimmy and Katherine.

The second hook, and perhaps best part of the show, is the inclusion of Mona Chalabi in a statistics segment each episode.

My concern when reading the premise of The Fix was that it would be an irresponsible, lighthearted, almost dangerously flippant discussion of serious modern issues that effect real people in very real ways.

And it sort of is that, in a way. It definitely would be without the inclusion of Mona, who adds legitimacy to the topic of the week by providing raw data, and her excellent brand of easily digestible, graphics-based presentation.

Check out her credentials and career history, she’s doing great things and is a welcome inclusion on The Fix — And perhaps even the crux of its potential long-term success.

monachalibi

The guest comics have been a mixed-bag in the four episodes I’ve watched so far, but that’s to be expected of the panel show format. Some people have looked nervous, while others have displayed confidence and competence.

The key thing about the guest choices, whether they landed or not, is that they’re all stand-up comics. When panel shows work well they champion the current stand-up scene and act as a format for promoting new and touring comics.

And who knows, maybe some American comics just need to get used to the format, and they’ll be much more comfortable on a second appearance. Ron Funches, Al Madrigal and Nikki Glaser were the names who felt at home in this new environment.

The Fix also doesn’t shy away from dark, self-aware jokes that would make some of the great “shock” comics of the past blush. It’s clear that both Carr and Ryan haven’t been toned-down in any way. With Jimmy playing the WASP patsy to many jokes, and Katherine playing her usual role of privileged white-woman who’s very aware of that fact.

Netflix has done an excellent job of booking comics from different backgrounds, and I think that’s the only reason they can get away with some of the jokes being made.

With a diverse cast of comics all poking fun at issues surrounding race, sexuality and immigration, it sticks two middle-fingers to all those who say that “You can’t make jokes about anything anymore, everything is so PC and nanny-state.”

No, it turns out if you invite everyone to the table and not just middle-aged white guys, you can pretty much still make jokes about anything.

The Fix might not end up being the greatest panel show of all time, or even the best one produced in America when all is said and done (and by “all” I mean the human race in 2046). But the key thing is that Netflix have put their best possible foot forward in establishing the genre to American audiences.

By taking experienced panel show performers, not straying too far from the British structure, and using (almost exclusively) American comics, Netflix has hopefully secured the first successful show of the genre.

If you’re a fan of panel shows then you won’t be disappointed with The Fix. If you’re new to panel shows then try to watch as much QI and Would I Lie To You? as possible. Cats Does Countdown is also great for championing alternative comics, although I sometimes think it’s too bizarre a premise for a starting point.

I give The Fix, 5/7 or 7/9, but not 8/10. Maybe like a 7.5. I haven’t settled on a ratings scale yet. Just watch the show for an easy, and surprisingly responsible, bit of tele.


Today is Monday, December 17th and women’s wrestling is currently better than men’s wrestling.

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Drinkipedia

Hey, you know that podcast I said we were working on? Well, the first episode went live today!

You can listen to it here:

https://drinkipedia.podbean.com/e/001/

Each week one of us will drink a few too many and then try to explain two subjects we’ve learned about that week. At the end of each episode, the next person pulls topics from a hat, and the cycle of abuse continues.

It’s one part panel show, one part drinking session and three parts fun! (That’s lame)

Some NSFW language, mainly from the drunk person.

We’re having a lot of fun recording these, and it has been a learning process for all of us.

We’ll have a new episode every Thursday and it should be available on iTunes by next week. Our website and a few other things will also be updated over the coming weeks, and you can check out our Twitter, @drinkipediapod for updates.

We would appreciate any feedback you have as we’re looking to learn and grow and all that. So if you could give episode one a try and let me know what you think in the comments below, that would be just excellent of you.


Today is Thursday, December 13th and we did a thing!

Twitch Streaming and Human Connection

I’m a little behind the times, and so I’ve only really just figured out what Twitch is. I’ve always known it to be a streaming platform for gamers, but I’ve never really had a reason to tune in to anyone’s channel.

This autumn has seen the release of many games that have peaked my interest, and so YouTube clips eventually lead me to streams from dedicated full-time gamers. Most are working for tips, as any live performer would, with the more established streamers making a living from subscribers (patrons) and sponsorships.

I remember Twitch being criticised last year for allowing non-gaming streamers on the website, largely because this came in the form of “hot girls” in low-cut tops talking to their camera for tips. It was thought that these streams would take audiences away from the gaming streamers, but the website appears to be as popular as ever.

These non-gaming streams spawned sub-genres such as Music & Arts, Just Talking and Game Shows. Also ASMR — Gently crafted soundscapes to help you relax and sleep.

As someone who dabbled with live streaming around ten years ago, I completely understand the appeal of performing and reaching out to an audience.

Back then it was basic webcams and cheap USB microphones on a now-defunct platform called Blog TV. I never tried to make any extra pocket money from it, but my friends and I put together a 48-hour long livestream to raise money for charity.

Even though huge pockets of that were broadcast were unplanned, I remember having so much fun scheduling segments from various artists, performers and guests — All talented friends who, like me, just wanted to be noticed for a moment whilst doing something to help others.

We switched between webcams to different areas of my attic bedroom that had been converted into an amateur studio. It felt like a reverse Wayne’s World for the digital age.

Life happened, as it always does, and so I stopped streaming — But it was fun while it lasted.

During our two-day livestream we were featured on the front page and peaked at around five-hundred viewers, which is a drop in the online ocean compared to the number of viewers that top Twitch streamers get nowadays.

As I type these words, the two most watched channels in the world right now have 50,000 and 25,000 viewers each. They’re playing the games Fortnite and a little game you may have heard of, called Chess.

The most beautiful thing about this is that twice as many people are watching masters play chess than are watching a Fortnite streamer. I guess you can’t beat the classics.

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The overall Twitch community doesn’t seem to be too healthy, but like all digital social circles it’s hard to pin-down exactly who the average Twitch user is. Some streamers will have an obscene chat, filled with memes and bigotry — Whereas others will have a positive chat, filled with memes and love.

So I guess memes are probably the common trend, and you cultivate a community that reflects your personality.

I find it difficult to keep the chat open whenever I’m watching a stream, because it’s usually a barrage of nonsensical noise, with people looking to connect to the host.

That’s the really interesting thing about live-streaming — The connections people are looking to make.

In the digital age we’re all just looking to connect to others. Every time we post a Tweet, photo or update, we’re asking for people to notice us. We want to be recognised, seen and heard in an increasingly loud world.

As much as I keep this daily blog for personal reasons, I can’t deny that my heart is warmed whenever someone likes a post or comments on some nonsense I’ve written.

Social media induced endorphins man; The real drug that’ll get you.

Streaming though, particularly on Twitch, is a raw and extreme version of that connection. Sure you can glam yourself up, change how you behave and even adopt a persona, but ultimately you’re putting more of yourself out there for the world to see than in, say, a photo on Instagram.

You’re live, you’re unfiltered and you’re asking to be noticed.

I think it takes a dash of ego to be a successful streamer — To plug away for so long in order to gain an audience. But I also think that bravery is a crucial trait, just because of how exposed you leave yourself to a faceless crowd.

I’ve seen explicit and inappropriate things in Twitch chats, largely directed at female streamers who’re just trying to play a video game and, presumably, not looking for men to describe how they would get into her pants.

But I’ve also seen the uplifting — The harmless communities formed around a shared interest and personality, the stories told to each other, and the games played together.

The most interesting part of this platform, for me, is the new streamers. The people who’re playing to an audience of less than five, but are still trying just as hard to gain a following.

This next bit is going to sound a little creepy, but imagine me approaching this with Louis Theroux levels of inquisitiveness and it’ll seem a little better.

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I’ve found myself scrolling to the least-viewed streams of a game and tuning in. In some cases I’m the only viewer, and the person is just sat there, playing their game. Then, after a few moments they notice they have someone watching (me), and so they begin a performance.

They start to commentate themselves, and make a few forced jokes. You watch them transition from someone practicing a routine at home, to performing that same routine on a stage, as they shift from one version of themselves to another.

It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t linger for too long, as the interaction is all one-sided. They talk into a microphone and I watch, both of us gaining some kind of distant human connection for a moment before parting ways for good.

As I said, a little creepy, but it’s so intriguing to witness a live version of someone looking to fill that basic human need of connection. And not only that, but at its very root.

Watching someone stream to an audience of two is like noticing that someone in the room wants to say something — The connection isn’t fully formed yet, but they’re trying, in order to connect to others. And in that seed for potential interaction you see a familiar struggle — You see yourself and everyone you’ve ever known.


Today is Wednesday, November 28th and my cat jumps at windows to get the bird, but she never gets the bird.

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AMC: The ‘M’ stands for ‘Movie’

With announced TV-movies for both The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, it’s as though some new, young executive at AMC has just discovered that long-form series aren’t the only medium for storytelling.

You get a movie, and you get a movie! All our beloved franchises get a movie!

As far as The Walking Dead goes I think this is the right decision for the brand. Robert Kirkman and co have established his world as the zombie fiction universe. We live in the age of franchises, more content is only a good thing. Hardcore fans will watch everything regardless of quality, and word will get out if a specific film or series has a narrative worth watching.

AMC did their usual bait and switch last Sunday, as they had teased the “departure of Rick Grimes”, declaring episode five of season nine as “Rick Grimes’ final episode”. I’d fallen for their tricks before (Glenn, dumpster), so I knew the character wasn’t going to die. But I was curious to see how they would write him out of a show in which death walks on two legs and is around every corner.

Rick has been taken somewhere else in America, so that Andrew Lincoln can star in three films set in The Walking Dead universe. The latest episode was the best written in some time, in fact, this whole series is the strongest the show has felt since season five.

On top of this, they’ve introduced a major time-jump after Rick’s departure, as a way of soft-rebooting the characters and allowing for completely new narratives. This is, presumably, thanks to new show-runner Angela Kang.

I can imagine a world where the old show-runner remained, and we then had a subsequent twelve episodes of our cast crying about Rick. A (minimum) five year time jump allows for the characters to change, and have moved on from the leadership of Rick Grimes. Although I doubt his memory will be at all forgotten.

These movies can be good if they’re kept to small, personal stories — Reminiscent of the first series of the show. Some of the best narratives in modern fiction have been low-concept, character-driven stories, set in high-concept, often post-apocalyptic worlds.

The Walking Dead is a universe filled with sprawling narratives, hundreds of characters, and plenty of comic books to still be adapted. Making TV-movies as spin-offs, that feature the central protagonist of the entire show, makes perfect sense for the franchise. More of those stories can be told, and the world can grow at a faster pace, ultimately pleasing the content-hungry fans.

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But what about Breaking Bad? A show often, and rightly, cited as the best open and close narrative in TV history. Breaking Bad is the very definition of golden-age television. Vince Gilligan took a simplistic, genius premise and allowed both his story and characters to breathe over the course of sixty episodes.

Breaking Bad wouldn’t have the same effect across a two-hour story. There would be room for all of the big scenes, but entire characters, sub-plots and beautiful, small moments would be lost.

Now, rumours are that the film will be about Jesse Pinkman, following the events of Breaking Bad. Even though I think his character’s eventual fate would be best left to speculation, and that more time spent with Jesse would weaken his characterisation, I also didn’t think an entire show about Saul Goodman was necessary, but it remains compelling television.

My main issue here isn’t Gilligan’s need to return to his established universe, but that we’re to only get a couple more hours in it.

If AMC had announced a Breaking Bad sequel, with Aaron Paul as the lead, following the life of Jesse Pinkman ten years after his escapades with Walter White, then I’d be all-in. Gilligan has proven himself a highly competent storyteller, who has a real gift for long-form television narratives.

I’m worried that a TV-movie, two hours of new content, would either feel too rushed OR be kept small-scale, but leave us wanting more. No matter which it is, the Breaking Bad sequel film likely won’t feel as satisfying as a brand new full series, or it not even happening at all.

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Movies based on TV shows rarely work, and a successful transition in the opposite direction is more common. The fact that AMC are slated to be making them as TV-movies work in favour of the projects, as they will be kept on a smaller-scale and hopefully close to the narratives they blossomed from.

I’d like to see Vince Gilligan eventually work on something that isn’t set in the Breaking Bad universe. He can tell a similar story — Character-driven yet still about the deep world of organised crime — with a similar tone, and nobody would complain.

His ability to create richly unique and compelling characters is enviable, and so, personally, I’d like to see that brain put to use on a new story. However, we live in the age of franchise and bankable property, and unless your name is Stephen King, you aren’t going to get by as a writer on your name alone.

It could be that Gilligan has many ideas for other TV shows or movies, but AMC is throwing enough money at him to continue telling the stories of the people he originally dreamt-up a decade ago.

It’s as though AMC have remembered that the M in their initial stands for Movie, and so now they’ve decide to return to the roots of their original branding without thinking too much about the consequences.

No matter how I feel about them, they’ve peaked my interest enough for me to watch the movies of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad universes, and that’s all that matters from a business standpoint.

People, like me, complain about the over-reliance on established franchises in modern fiction, but we only have ourselves to blame. We’re the ones who’re still shovelling it all down, like the filthy little content goblins we are.


Today is Thursday, November 8th and bigger things have happened in the last twenty-four hours, I just needed to write about something light. Stay safe, hold on to each other.

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Jacob Wohl, and Should We Be Talking About Him?

Has anyone else read about the Jacob Wohl story?

This is the guy who tried to fake accusations against Robert Mueller, but was found out due to the most inept faked-conspiracy theory in recent memory. He made hundreds of fake social media profiles, that he used to attempt to corroborate information relayed from his fake “consultancy firm”. Only, most of the profile photos were registered models, and one was actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

I know Superbad was a long time ago, but people don’t forget the Mintz-Plasse. Not with a name like Mintz-Plasse, and a face like McLovin.

mclovin
Wohl’s new head of PR

Yesterday he (Jacob Wohl, not McLovin) held a press conference, before which he said he would pay any woman $20,000 to come forward with information about Robert Mueller in regards to sexual assault. Obviously, nobody came forward. It appears as though women won’t just come forward about sexual assault in exchange for money and fame, as some Republicans seem to believe.

Turns out they’re people who’ve been through harrowing experiences seeking to tell the truth, who would have guessed?

His conspiracy and fake network started to unravel when one of his “associates” office phones lead back to his own mother’s cell phone voicemail! I kid you not, HBO will have a TV movie about this guy out by next summer. Probably starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Jacob Wohl, for no reason other than the delicious irony.

Wohl’s associate/maybe lawyer, Jack Burkman, even co-led the entire press conference with his fly down. That’s not as relevant, but it really ads to the colour of the situation. I think it might be a metaphor for the entire attempt at fraud that, in a just world, would land Wohl with a couple of years in prison.

Wohl, who looks like a seventy-year-old man who made a deal with the devil to be young again, has been on the fringes of the far-right movement for the last two years. He has been a vocal Trump supporter who peddles the grossest of conspiracy theories, hoping that the President will one day recognise him as a reputable news source.

Which in 2018, that’s the most obvious symptom of unresolved daddy-issues.

Just yesterday he tweeted that Beto O’Rourke is financially supporting the migrant caravan. He made this claim without a source and just threw it out into the world in the form of a selectively edited video. Most of us know this to be ridiculous, but some will buy into it, as we’ve seen with other conspiracy theories in recent years.

At aged twenty, he has already been blacklisted from almost all financial institutions in New York, for lying and claiming to be a hedge-fund manager. He still claims to be a businessman, but the only business he is currently in is misinformation. One that, unfortunately, in 2018 is rather lucrative.

He’s sort-of a cross between Steve Bannon now and Donald Trump at age twenty. He’s a living example of the Trump effect on young people, and surprise surprise it’s in the form of an upper-class brat with delusions of grandeur.

The way he delivered his press conference was even in the style of the Trump administration’s upper rank. He pushed questions away like Sanders, had all the slime-ball anti-charm of a Trump Jr, and the train-of-thought arrogance of the satsuma God-King himself.

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The Trump Presidency has given people like Wohl a platform of legitimacy, because even though we’re laughing at him, we’re still talking about him.

And that’s the recurring problem, isn’t it? Many people argue that left-wing and centrist media continually covering the Trump campaign is what ultimately lead to his victory in 2016, and it’s a perfectly valid argument.

Even though we, the public majority, were stood on the sidelines and laughing at the ridiculous claims of “build that wall” and “lock her up”, we helped to perpetuate these slogans by participating in the mocking. Which, in turn, made his supporters double-down, because they didn’t like being laughed at.

So should the media even be talking about Wohl? Should I even be writing these words? Does it do him more good than it does harm? And is the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” actually true?

These are a lot of big questions considering the fact that I’ll only be writing for another three-hundred words. And perhaps I’ve done that intentionally, because it’s a complex issue with no correct answer.

Good journalism, true journalism, will try to best inform citizens on the current events of the world. Their job is to present the facts, the data, and to let the crazy speak for itself. I think if these things (Trump campaign, conspiracy theories) are going to happen, then the people need to be made aware of them. It would be even more terrifying if they operated in the dark, and if we couldn’t explain how or why Trump happened.

They definitely need to shift their approach, however. I was impressed by the level of questioning directed at Jacob Wohl at his “press conference”, as they asked about his credentials, his experience as either an investigator or prosecutor (the roles he’s attempting to take on), as well as calling into question the credibility of his claims.

One reporter closed the conference by asking if Wohl and Burkman were ready for federal prison. Which may seem like a flippant question, but fraud and attempting to defame using self-created conspiracy, well, that can land you some serious jail time. You know, if you weren’t a rich white man from New York.

If reporters managed to ask these questions to Sarah Sanders, and if they demanded that she back up the President’s claims with data, facts and statistics, then maybe it wouldn’t be an us vs them shouting match that serves no purpose beyond fuelling Trump’s long-held media mandate.

Maybe it’s because I grew up on him, but I always refer to documentarian Louis Theroux when it comes to getting the truth of a situation from someone. Point a camera, let the crazy speak for itself, spend time with the crazy to show the motives, and then ask questions that reveal just how deep the crazy goes.

I don’t think a continued mocking coverage of situations like Wohl, or the Trump administration are the right answer, but to not cover them at all would also be a mistake. Insects work best when they’re under a rock, and nobody is shining a spotlight on them. Although lately, these cockroaches have appeared immune to rays of truth.


Today is Friday, November 2nd and I’d love to talk, in person, to the sorts of people who blindly believe the words of people like Wohl. I bet they need a hug.

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The NPC Meme

Over the last few days a meme perpetuated by the far-right has been circling social media. The origins of the meme are 4Chan and the r/the_donald subreddit, and it has taken on many forms.

The idea of the meme is to label and brand any non-Trump supporter as an NPC. The far-right has been using this term for a while now, to describe anyone who doesn’t think the same way that they do. NPC is a video-game term and stands for Non-Player Character. The far-right are using this term because they believe anyone anti-Trump to be a brainwashed sheep, who is incapable of independent thought.

Last week they began making Twitter accounts that were “parodies” of anti-Trump folk. They started operating them individually, and used them to spread misinformation about left-leaning people, centrists, independents and moderate conservatives — Basically anyone who isn’t aboard the Trump train.

Over the weekend, many of these accounts were suspended by Twitter, largely for breaching the policy of you needing to be a real person or business. As well as rules they have against trolling, bot-accounts and misinformation (or “fake news”).

The New York Times put together a little collage of some of the hundreds of accounts. I’ve included it below, for some clarity.

NPCcollage

This was an interesting subject to research. Especially as, just this week, Twitter released many of the account transcripts from its crackdown on state-sponsored Russian “bot-farms”. It’s important to point out that these bots come from “both sides”, in that some were anti-Trump and some pro-Trump.

It has been clear for a long time that Russia don’t really mind who is in power in the US, just that the American people are fighting against one another. They’ve started a war of misinformation without having to build a single, physical weapon. Sure, Russia stand to gain more with the Putin-sympathetic President in power. But even if Hillary had won, America would be just as divided, meaning a Russian victory.

I’m generally okay with people on the right poking fun at my political ideologies, as I also have the liberty to poke fun at theirs. I can see how each side believes that the other is living in a “hive mind” of identical opinions, because many of us do remain in our familiar echo chambers. So the far-right branding the left as NPC’s, actually makes a lot of sense from their perspective.

I would argue that the majority of the people making and using the NPC accounts spend their time on 4chan’s /pol/ and Reddit’s r/the_donald, and very little time anywhere else. Neither of these are news sources, as they’re simply message boards on which people can perpetuate the exact same thoughts, on repetition, forever.

Even my conservative relatives (I love them), have the common sense to watch Fox News. It might be a single news source, but it has a duty to report on a variety of subjects, and the world at large. Here are the current front pages of the far-right message boards, and the sorts of things that non-NPC, “free-thinkers” are consuming on an hourly basis:

FPTheDonaldFP4chanpol

I get my news from a variety of sources, and I even try to keep myself engaged with other voices when topics like this arise. For example, I watched a Paul Joseph Watson video to research this subject. I still can’t decide if he believes the things he says and just fails to see the irony, OR if he knows exactly what he needs to say in order to make a living from the far-right. Either way, it’s dangerous.

He used this voice-changing effect throughout his video to simulate the voice of a hive-mind NPC, but then used the same effect at the end of his video to ask his viewers to subscribe, follow and like all of his content. I almost spat out my coffee. And again, if he knows he’s doing it then it’s sort-of clever, but if he doesn’t then he’s a f***ing idiot, who probably thinks in his deluded mind that he’s the John Oliver of the far-right.

Even if you only get your news from ONE credible source, that’s still preferable to reading the comments of anonymous users and taking it as established fact. Reading through some of those threads on /pol/ was a bit of a nightmare, and I feel as though I need some lab-grade eye-bleach, but it proved something to me — The people who made the NPC accounts aren’t consuming any information beyond each other’s comments. It’s all just repeated statements, back and forth.

Yeah, we might all be living in our own echo chambers, but I think I know where the buzziest of hive-minds are. And ironically it’s the people who’re pointing the finger elsewhere. Please far-right, go watch some Fox News or something — Never thought I’d say that.

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The other interesting aspect of this story is the Russian-bot element. We know they exist in the form of state-sponsored farms, and we also know that far-right message-boards independently created the accounts of hundreds of NPC “bots”. They used these accounts to spread misinformation, and generally troll the electorate. Here’s a source.

I put it to you that the far-right edge-lords on /pol/ and r/the_donald, are doing Russia’s job for them. I’m not saying that they’re being paid by Russia, or that they aren’t Americans — Enough evidence suggests that the far-right acted on their own here. But I am saying that if Americans start making fake accounts in order to influence the opinions of those in the centre, or of vulnerable young people online, then further division will happen. Meaning that Russia get what they want, with even less effort.

The far-right (and I say far-right because I’m not talking about your average conservative voter) have become what they accuse others to be — A hive-mind of bot-accounts who’re seeking to change the views of others by repeating the same phrases over and over.

At least I, and many others (including, unfortunately PJW) have the stomach to put our names and faces to our opinions. We’re individual protagonists or antagonists (depending on your worldview) in a giant, massively-multiplayer online role-playing game called Earth. Anyone who hides on message-boards, who refuses to put a name to their face as they operate a bot account — Well they’re almost the very definition of an NPC.

Pot. Kettle. Black.


Today is Thursday, October 18th and does anybody have any eye-bleach? I need some very strong, weapons-grade, eye-bleach.

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Back to The Good Place

The following jumble of words have been organised into a review of the season three premiere of The Good Place. If you have not seen this episode, or the rest of the show, then come back tomorrow when there’ll be fewer spoilers. I’ll probably write about Trump or Kavanaugh or Brexit — You know, the usual.

Actually before you go, here’s a quick plea — Watch this show. Stop watching whatever you’re currently watching and catch up on The Good Place. The cast are delightful, the writing is near-flawless and it’ll push the limits of what you thought possible of a twenty-two minute sitcom. Also, Ted Danson is better in this than he is in Cheers…okay bye, leave before you can rebut that hot take!

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We’re back with Team Cockroach — Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason — only this time they’re on Earth. In an attempt to prove to his superiors that supreme beings need to revamp the way in which human’s are treated in the afterlife, Michael, and his assistant Janet, are running a little experiment. Team Cockroach have been placed back on Earth, right before the moment of their death, where they’ll be saved by a passing stranger (Michael). This provides them all with a near-death experience, that will (hopefully) push them to become good people.

The plan works, for a while, as all four humans turn their lives around. However, remaining a “good person” proves to be difficult, and before long they’re back to their old ways. So Michael intervenes again, with some protest from Janet, and nudges them a little closer together — All so that Team Cockroach can meet on Earth and once again help each other to be better.

All of this while they’re being hunted by a pack of demons for breaking the rules of the bad place — Specifically Micheal, for being the demon who went rogue. But you know that, you’ve seen the show!

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The transition from the second to third season went a lot smoother than the first to the second. It appears as though Micheal Schur is set on flipping the script on the premise at the end of each season, by jumbling all the chess pieces into a different order, before moving them in roughly the same direction. This helps to keep the show feeling fresh, and both of the soft resets have made sense within the context of the narrative.

Last season felt a little jarring, and it took a few episodes of season two for the show to really feel like itself again. They haven’t faced the same problem this time around, aided in part by the season two finale giving us a little glimpse into what to expect for the third outing. Also because characters are very much behaving like their lovable, imperfect, archetypal selves from the get-go.

Ted Danson continues to give a career-performance, as he expertly blends his brand of sitcom delivery with heartfelt, uplifting monologues. Which isn’t to say that the rest of the cast don’t perform — because oh boy do they. We didn’t get too much of Janet in this episode, which is always a shame, as her arc as a computerised super-being slowly becoming more human is one of the most compelling on the show. Adam Scott’s character has returned, however, and we always need more Adam Scott on our screens.

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We’re introduced to new character, Simone, a researcher and neuroscientist from Chidi’s university who plans on helping Team Cockroach on their journey to becoming better people, by showing them the science-side of their near-death experiences. Her and Chidi hit it off instantly, leading to an incredibly cute scene inside of an MRI.

Eleanor encourages them to start dating, as she sees the overflowing chemistry between the two — Which is gut-wrenching for us viewers, who know that once Eleanor and Chidi become close in a timeline, they’re a great match for each other.

Still, it’s proof that Eleanor is fundamentally a good person, and I for one can’t wait until she’s promoted to the position of “God” or “Supreme Afterlife Guardian” by the end of the entire show.

Jameela Jamil, who plays the egocentric Tahani, continues to be the biggest surprise of The Good Place. Although at this point, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. Despite only recently venturing into the world of acting, Jamil was born to play the role of Tahani. Her opening Vogue-style web-interview is one of the best character reintroductions I’ve ever seen, and her celebrity name-drops are already on-form.

The highlight for Jason came as he bore his soul at a harbour in Jacksonville. Being the dimwitted member of Team Cockroach, Jason is quietly and innocently the most good-hearted of the group. We finally see the urban dance-crew he organises and manages, and although they all still resort to a life of crime, he’s genuinely trying to be a good person to the best of his abilities.

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Nearly every element of The Good Place works to perfection, and as long as Schur has a clear ending planned, then this may well go down as one of the greatest cult sitcoms of all time.

It’s an enjoyable ride with a likeable cast, so no matter what happens I’m in for the long-hall. However, once the show comes to a conclusion (whenever that may be, I can think of a premise for season four and five, but any more than that might be pushing it) we’ll be able to fully judge the overall narrative. I’ve been burned by too many shows with a meandering story that eventually lead to nowhere.

It’s the little things that make The Good Place so good…place; The subtle world-building, the forking curse-words, secondary characters for days, genuine philosophical lessons and Schur’s trademark reaction-shots.

The season three opener matched the overall quality of the show, so I can’t wait to see where Team Cockroach will go next.


Today is Tuesday, October 2nd and the days are getting darker. This is both a positive and a negative; Find balance in all things.

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