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.

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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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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — Review

The best thing to come out of the age of the franchise blockbuster is the speed at which “indiewood” movies arrive on streaming platforms. I watched Lady Bird in the springtime, Sorry to Bother You in the fall and now the latest Coen Brother’s outing has arrived on Netflix after a short theatrical run.

I guess they’re no longer worthy of cinema release because nobody is wearing a colourful jumpsuit. Actually, you know what, I think one guy actually was. I should stop my flippant criticisms of the superhero genre — People like them and that’s what matters.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a short film collection of six standalone stories, all connected by themes of death, betrayal and expectation, as well as the setting of the Old West.

The stories are tragic, darkly comedic and strangely uplifting, and due to the timed shifts between the narratives, the film is over before you know it.

There’s something to take away from each of the six narratives and I’m going to attempt to briefly explain just what those things are. Spoilers ahead and all that.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The opening outing sees the two extremes of the western genre mashed together into one piece — The ultra-violent shoot-a-thon and the prairie musical.

Buster Scruggs is a singing, shooting cowboy who dresses like the Milkybar Kid. He rides around the West yodelling his tune, which leaves his enemies unsuspecting of his violent ways. He dispatches of them in a series of comedically violent methods before engaging in a showdown with a black-clad roamer.

Scruggs is instantly shot and killed, as the tone is set for the entire film — Don’t grow attached to any of the characters we will be presenting to you today, for the protagonists will be slaughtered, no matter which end of the Western book we peruse.

Near Algodones

This story felt like quintessential Coen brothers, with 90s-style gallows humour (quite literally) and comedic, almost slapstick action. Despite this, it was perhaps my least favourite of the stories. There was no intrigue because I felt as though I’d seen it before, in another world at another time, with different players.

Stephen Root puts in a great little performance as a bank teller, but James Franco offers nothing to the lead role that any generic male actor couldn’t bring to the table.

Thankfully it’s the shortest of the stories, and we quickly move onto something with a little more depth.

Meal Ticket 

Perhaps the most tragic of the six stories, Meal Ticket sees Liam Neeson travelling from town to town as he puts his act on for ever-decreasing numbers of spectators. His act is a young man with no arms or legs, named Harrison, who recites classical poetry and famous speeches.

Their profits are dwindling and the winter is cold, and Liam Neeson treats his meal ticket as an object rather than another person. Liam Neeson is then conned, as he purchases a “magic” chicken that can perform basic arithmetic.

Of course, the magic itself is in the contraption, but he only sees that a chicken requires less care than a man with no arms or legs. So he drops Harrison from a high bridge and continues on the road with his chicken.

In this story, nobody wants to see a curiosity — A strange twist on some classical narratives — They’d rather watch a chicken. Is this about modern media?

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All Gold Canyon

We follow an ageing prospector as he looks for a gold ore pocket in the middle of a mountain valley. His struggle is uplifting and his connection with nature is admirable, but by this point in the film I knew he wouldn’t make it out alive.

Whilst I attempted to predict his method of demise, a lone gunman approaches him from behind and shoots. After a two minute pause, as the gunman watches the prospector bleed out, the prospector surprises the gunman and kills him.

The bullet has “gone clean through”, he patches himself up, collects the gold and rides off to the horizon. A happy ending! Our expectations have been subverted in part 4/6, so maybe everything will be okay from here on out.

I mean, he’ll probably die from an infected wound, but we don’t know that for sure. The Coen brothers give us hope before…

The Girl Who Got Rattled

We watch two people fall in love on the Oregon Trail, a series of events occur and “the girl” tragically kills herself when she “needn’t have done that”.

This served well as a thirty-minute narrative, but had this been feature-length with the same outcome, even I (captain misery) wouldn’t have enjoyed it. There’s too much natural chemistry between the leads for it to end this way, but it did and that’s the point.

This story is about an uncertainty for the future, but a calm tranquility in the present. The girl chooses the path of the known, the certainty of the now. But by choosing this route she makes a mistaken decision that costs her everything.

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Damn you Coen Brothers.

The Mortal Remains

I’ve seen a couple of reviewers brag about how they “understood the deep meaning behind The Mortal Remains”. Mate, this wasn’t a difficult text, the reapers even call themselves reapers.

This final story is about three souls making the journey from death to the afterlife, as they’re taken in a carriage across the plains to “Fort Morgan”. They explain their personal philosophies, musings and perspectives on the nature of man, before one of the reapers vaguely clarifies what it’s all about.

They arrive at their destination, finally sure of where they are, as the book closes for the final time.


Like with all Coen Brother’s outings, it’s the characters that keep these stories ticking along. Just don’t get too attached to them, as they won’t hang around. Such is the nature of the West.

Not their best work, but deeply enjoyable on a cathartic level. Confront death with the Coen Brothers for two hours, set to the tune of a familiar genre that they’ve proven themselves competent with.

8/10 — Probably don’t need to watch it twice, but you should see it once.


Today is Thursday, November 29th and I’ve almost finished the Spyro games already. Oops.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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GLOW: Season 2 – A Masterclass in Metafiction

(Spoilers-ho!)

The comedy drama about putting on a fake wrestling show, that’s based on an 80s TV show is back!

Even if I wasn’t already a fan of professional wrestling, I would be a big supporter of what GLOW is currently achieving. It’s a masterclass in metafiction, not just with it being a show about putting on a show (that itself is about putting on a show), but you really get the sense that the ensemble group of actresses are working just as hard to make GLOW (Netflix) work as they are at pretending to make GLOW (fictional) work. It’s an ambitious project in itself, and it only gets more daring this time around.

The main arc of season 2 is built around producing twenty weeks of cable television for their small-time network, having successfully produced a pilot at the end of the first season. GLOW stars Debbie (Betty Gilpin) and Ruth (Allison Brie) are still at odds with each other, and must overcome their personal issues to work as an effective creative team. The director, Sam (Marc Maron), battles constantly with the network, all as he attempts to raise his teenage daughter. And Cherry (Sydelle Noel) struggles with her work on the network’s latest cop drama.

All of the colourful lights, 80s music and era appropriate costumes are back. So if you enjoyed the general aesthetic of the first season, or just enjoy 80s pop-culture in general, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re purely a wrestling fan, and care not for the highs and lows of producing a TV show, then you’re also in for a delicious treat. Season 2 is even more faithful to the business than before. With a subplot focused on the etiquette of stealing another wrestler’s moves, an appearance from Chavo Guerrero (the real life fight coordinator for the show), and lots of impressively executed moves and holds which hold true to an 80s wresting style.

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Perhaps the most dramatically impressive subplot of the season, comes with a clear-cut #MeToo moment. Ruth is invited to dinner with one of the network executives, and ring-bells immediately start chiming when she’s told that they’ll be taking dinner in his personal suite. The whole moment smacks of something out of Harvey Weinstein’s predator playbook, which feels oh so intentional. After things get bad, but before they get really bad, Ruth finds the exit.

Her actions cause GLOW to be moved to a 2am slot, as the executive’s twisted way of taking revenge on Ruth for not allowing him rape her. Again, the kind of reaction we’ve read from actress’ testimonials all too many times over the last twelve months.

In a scene I consider to be the highlight of season 2, Ruth confronts Debbie about her experience with the executive, expecting to find sympathy and assurance that she did the right thing. Instead, we get explosive dialogue, expertly crafted and delivered, around the idea that Ruth might’ve done the wrong thing by doing the right thing. The whole sequence felt like an actress from 1986 talking to an actress from 2018. With Debbie declaring that’s just how the business works, and Ruth stating that it shouldn’t have to be that way.

I’m not going to do this scene any kind of justice here. It’s award-winning levels of dramatic writing and performance, and it’s in a show about pro-wrestling! If you check out this season for no other reason that this one scene, you’d still be spending your time wisely.

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The comedic highpoint of the season comes with episode eight. Holy wow, episode eight. The creators of GLOW (Netflix) made the bold decision to show an episode of GLOW (fictional) in its entirety. The episode immediately follows the destruction of the gang’s internal disequilibrium, when they’ve decided to just shoot the show in their own way, because nobody is going to be watching at 2am anyway. What follows, and what we get to see, is textbook 80s homemade television, directed through the lens of a 60s independent B-movie film director. We also get 80s-style commercials, music videos and maybe a wrestling match or two (maybe).

The episode itself served as excellent character development for every single cast member, despite the fact that we never see them play themselves at any point. With every scene I found myself imagining just how Ruth pitched it to Sam, or how all the girls came up with an idea while drinking together, or Sam’s daughter (now a member of the AV club and following in her father’s footsteps) wanting to frame a shot a certain way.

It was brave of Netflix to allow this episode to happen, it really was a do or die idea. And oh man did it do. It needs the context of the rest of the season, and all of the characters, but I haven’t laughed at a single episode of TV so far this year, quite as much as I did while watching GLOW Season 2, Episode 8.

Finally, I want to praise the show’s handling of LGBT characters. My issue with prior Jenji Kohan romps, like Orange is the New Black, has been that characters felt as though they’re gay first, and interesting humans second. Every single LGBT GLOW character feels like a well-rounded human, and not a caricature for the sake of representation. Particularly Bash, the show’s lead producer and wrestling fan millionaire, who is struggling to come out to even himself in 80s America. Much of his arc is subtext, with heartbreaking twists and turns. He’s a realistic representation of growing up gay in a time that’s just as conservative as today, only much less accepting or understanding.

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You can’t go wrong watching GLOW. It’s respectful to every slice of life pie it takes from the piping hot dish of…life – particularly pro-wrestling! Just when moments start to get a little heavy, it pulls you back out of an intentionally dramatic moment with some laugh-out-loud comedy. The cast are all on top form, with the real-life chemistry of the group regularly shining through. Marc Maron has certainly found the role he was born to play, and wrester-turned-actor Kia Stevens shows that Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista aren’t the only former-wrestlers with acting chops.

Season 3 was set-up perfectly, with an interesting new premise in store for the show in 2019. Now all we have to do is wait another year before GLOW sneaks up on us again, and delivers another cheeky german suplex to our ever-loving TV brains.

Today is Sunday, July 1st and my cat was sleeping, then woke up to make huge bug-eyes at me for two seconds, and then went straight back to sleep again.

All images used for the purposes of review

Review: Arrested Development Season 5

Before I dive into reviewing the latest season, let me make something clear. I’m a huge fan of the early seasons of Arrested Development. It’s one of the American sitcoms that helped me fall in love with the genre to begin with. Some of the episodes in seasons one through three are masterpieces in comedy writing, directing and acting.

I’m even one of the few who enjoyed the disjointed story of Netflix’s season four back in 2013. I liked the challenge of trying to tell a story that contained all of the characters, without being able to have them all in the same location for more than a couple of days at a time, due to schedule conflicts.

Now, with season five, they have the entire cast back together and are entirely free to tell any story they want. Only, for whatever reason, the show-runner, Mitchell Hurwitz, has decided to continue with the same disconnected storytelling for the majority of the season, despite not having the same restrictions.

I only re-watched season four about a year ago and I still found myself completely lost. Netflix included a refresher, catch-up montage at the beginning of the show, and much of episode one featured flashbacks to moments from season four. This still wasn’t enough.

This, ultimately, is my main complaint with the series. I found myself not caring about the hijinks of the Bluth family this time around, because I had to keep pausing the show to remind myself of a very specific detail from the fourth season. I’m usually a fan of non-linear storytelling, but not in this instance. It just- didn’t sit right.

I’ll have to go back and watch earlier seasons, but it felt as though the narrator (Ron Howard) had two or three times as many lines this season. This is never a good sign. Narration is often a short-cut to good storytelling, and while useful, is best in appropriate quantities. Ron Howard’s narration is a welcomed trademark of the show, but it should only be used to sarcastically undercut the Bluth family and to transition from one scene to another. It shouldn’t be used to explain the plot.

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Having said that, let’s talk about the cast. I chronicled my opinions on the much talked-about NY Times interview that the cast gave last week. The disfunction between the actors seems to only be rivalled by the fictional Bluths themselves. It doesn’t mean that they can’t all still perform. Every single cast member brought their trademark style and helped to keep the series watchable.

Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat in particular had some excellent scenes, and had some of the real laugh-out-loud lines. As George-Michael and Maeby were discussing some advice from their ‘Gangie’, Lucile Bluth, they recalled a time where she said:

“They should take all the rapists and all the murderers and put them all together on an island and all the murderers can be raped and all the rapists can be murdered until you’re down to only two rapists or one murderer-rapist, but who cares about him.”

This line, delivered in perfect deadpan by the two youngest cast-members, shows that Hurwitz still has a complete understanding of his own characterisation. This is a line that we can hear Jessica Walter delivering, yet she’s not even featured in the scene.

Walter is someone else who fired on any and all cylinders. You might remember that in season four (2013), the Bluth family behaved the same way the Trump family did in 2016. The Bluths certainly called for the building of a giant border wall long before Trump did. Season five is set in 2015, and so Lucile catches Trump making some televised statements about the wall:

Trump (On TV): I will build a great great wall on our southern border

Lucile: Which was my idea!

Trump: And I will have Mexico pay for that wall

Lucile: Okay, that is a clever twist.

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We also get this classic George-Micael moment, no context needed.

The show started to pick up in quality with the final few episodes, which is a little annoying, because that means I feel obliged to watch the second half of the season when it drops. Which is “soon”.

The marked improvement from episode five onwards is probably because they’ve started to shake off some of the lingering cobwebs from season four. Once the cast start interacting with each other more often, the winning formula came back and I would go as far as to say that I actually thought the last two episodes were great, and felt like classic Arrested Development.

The whole season had me asking one question though; Did we need this? There’s a lot of revival culture going on at the moment and I’m not so sure I’m a fan. The TV series that I’ve enjoyed in recent years have been originally scripted, or at the very least adapted for the small screen for the first time.

There’s a part of me that wonders if we could’ve seen a different Mitchell Hurwitz scripted comedy, in place of the time and money spent on another season of Arrested Development. The same goes for the brilliantly talented cast. Minus Tambor, who honestly made little impact on me this season and should probably just retire at this point.

There’s no doubt I’ll watch the second half of the season later this year. Although the entire time I’ll be secretly hoping that they provide some kind of closure to the Bluth family, maybe they should even “kill-off” one or two of them.

A fifth season is about as much as I can stomach, the idea of a sixth is already making me feel queazy.

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If I were to apply some kind of rating to this review, I’d give it a 5/10. It has as many bad elements as it does good, but the performances save the meandering narrative. My recommendation is that, if you haven’t already, you go back and watch the first three seasons. And if you have already seen them, maybe watch them again and remember the show fondly.

It turns out that a family of rich, lying, thieving, out-of-touch crooks is apt for America right now. But with the Trump-show on 24/7, I think my mind wants something a little more escapist than the Bluths.

Today is Thursday, May 31st and there’s always money in the banana stand.

They’ve Become Bluth

I am absolutely not qualified to talk about any of the major stories in the world today; The Irish referendum on abortion, Harvey Weinstein finally getting arrested, Morgan Freeman repeatedly harassing female co-workers. Beyond showing my support for women having more autonomy over their own bodies and condemning the acts of monsters, there’s not a whole lot else that I need (or should) say.

We don’t need another male voice on women’s issues floating around in the echo chamber. So I won’t be discussing any current events surrounding attacks against the liberties of women.

Ron Howard: “He will”

Having said that, the incident with the cast of Arrested Development is at least related to television, an area that I can discuss with a very very minor degree of authority. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or cross a line, so I want to start out by unequivocally condemning the on-set actions of Jeffrey Tambor. Plenty of talented, older comedic actors don’t sexually, or verbally, harass cast, or crew, members. So while I find his prior works entertaining, there’s absolutely no reason anyone should want to work with him again.

I’ve been thinking about the cast’s interview with the NY Times a lot over the last couple of days. I read it on the day it was published and came to similar conclusions as most. We saw Jason Bateman mansplain, Jessica Walter bravely reveal details on an incident that happened on set between herself and Tambor, and where in the ever-loving heck was Michael Cera?!?

So I went to bed that night, thinking about the exchange between the cast members. Among everything else I found it amusing that they seem to be as dysfunctional as the family they play on-screen. Which might actually explain their amazing comedic chemistry. It could be that the casting directors intentionally brought together a group of actors that they knew would rub each other the wrong way.

They am become Bluth!

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Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor as the matriarch and patriarch of the Bluth family.

Then I woke up to see that Bateman and David Cross has been accused of gaslighting Jessica Walter in the moments after her revealing the verbal attack from Tambor. I tilted by head to one side and verbally said, “hmm”. I genuinely had to think about that for a moment. As someone who has previously been a victim of prolonged gaslighting in a relationship, it really made me stop and think.

For those who don’t know, the term ‘gaslighting’ is used when someone intentionally manipulates the reality of someone else, to the point where the victim begins to question their own sanity. Techniques used by attackers include denial, misdirection, contradiction and lying. It’s typically associated with sociopathic and narcissistic behaviours.

In my experience with gaslighting, in what hopefully makes up an informed opinion, I think that’s a pretty heavy word to throw around so quickly.

So I re-read the article from a new perspective, and then dove down the rabbit hole of secondary articles commenting on the reaction to the article. I saw headlines like ‘Arrested Development Men Accused of Gaslighting Jessica Walter to Defend Jeffrey Tambor’ which immediately set off alarm bells in my head.

To dissect this particular headline, it implies that all of the other men in the room were attempting to gaslight Walter. While I can see where the argument can be made for Bateman and Cross, this implies that Will Arnett and Tony Hale were also involved. Which they absolutely were not. Now we have users on various social media platforms branding the entire male cast as toxic, despite the fact that Arnett and Hale listened to Walter and did nothing but condemn the actions of Tambor.

Now let’s talk about the ‘defending of Jeffrey Tambor’ portion. At no point did any of the cast members say that what Tambor did was okay. In fact, the most forgiving person of Tambor’s actions was actually Walter herself.

“I have to let go of being angry at him. He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go. [Turns to Tambor.] And I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.”

And because I’m not a clickbait article writer who needs to produce quotes out of context in order to shock you one way or another, she then went on to say…

“In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times.”

After Bateman’s mansplaining, and man-oh-man did he mansplain, on how the industry supposedly works, Walter corrects him by stating that nothing as bad as Tambor’s verbal abuse has ever happened to her. She even gets the final say on the subject before the interviewer moves on to a lighter topic.

“I’ve just given it up. And you know, there’s something really, really freeing about that now. I realize that. I don’t want to walk around with anger. I respect him as an actor. We’ve known each other for years and years and years. No, no, no, no. Of course, I would work with him again in a heartbeat.”

It’s my opinion that Bateman was not attempting to gaslight Walter, but was attempting to play mediator in a very public media interview that he knew would negatively effect the job that he, and everyone else present, needed to do; Promote their new show.

The only reason I felt as though I needed to say something is because the last twenty-four hours have been about dragging mediators through the fire, whilst ignoring some of the wishes of Walter and seemingly putting Tambor’s actions on the back burner.

Seriously, check out some of those articles. Do a quick google search and you’ll see websites first and foremost condemn Bateman, with a little sidenote about the latest Tambor revelations. With some of Walter’s later comments being ignored at the same rate as Tambor’s actions. It’s twisted when you stop to think about it for a moment.

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It could be that I’ve just mansplained the entire situation. That I’ve just mansplained Bateman’s mansplaining. If I have, then I apologise. Having experienced gaslighting, and the cocoon that it put me in for months, I just felt compelled to comment on a situation where the word was being thrown around with shocking ease.

And I don’t know guys, people are very much entitled to have opinions. I’d love to hear from anyone who has differing opinions from my own. If I’m wrong to not venomously strike out at “the male cast” and only Tambor, then I’d love to be educated. As long as it’s in more than 280 characters.

I just think that, as a society, we should be condemning the actions of an abusive person and listening to all of the words of the victim, before we start attacking third parties.

Did Bateman handle the situation well? Hell no!

But can we please listen to victims and then slay the monsters, before we burn the village idiot alive.

Today is Friday, May 25th and the final track on Modern Vampires of the City sounds like the Bagpuss theme.

You, Intern! Fetch Mrs Obama a Coffee

Imagine being an intern in the television industry. You’ve been at it for two years and nobody wants to listen to your screenplay pitch. It’s about a regular guy named Mark who, one morning, wakes up as a T-Rex. It’s going to be great kid, keep trying.

The majority of your last twenty-four months have been spent fetching coffee for sleazy executives and producers. You hate it, because they’re the worst people, but you really want this. So you try extra hard to remember their no-foam de-caff half and half caffeinated cap. With sprinkles.

Then, just as you’re about to give up all hope on anyone reading Jurassic Mark, a different pair of producers walk into the office building and set up residence. They’re tall, charming from the get-go and are more than happy to smile as you pitch your dinosaur themed body-swap movie. They politely decline, but they at least listen.

Also, you think you might know them from somewhere. They had a starring role in “the news” for about eight or so years.

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President Obama and his wife Michelle have signed a deal with Netflix to produce original content for the streaming service. The exact nature of that content has a pretty vague description, with yesterday’s statement reading that the deal includes potentially making “scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.”

So pretty much everything other than a stand-up special.

It’s a perfect move for the couple. Clinton had his sax and George Bush Jr had his hideous paintings. It just so happens that the latest ex-commander in chief has a penchant for digital media.

I’ve seen a lot of articles joke about the programming that the Obamas could make, such as Orange is the New Barack or Barack Mirror. Which I think are ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. Get it?! Because his name is Barack Obama and the word ‘Black’ sounds just like his first name? Oh man. Wow, such pure genius…

I want to speculate on the kind of content we should see from the Obamas. This very much sounds like it’s going to be in list-form so yes, dear reader, have yourself a delicious clickbait title.

6 Shows or Movies That The Obamas Should Produce At Netflix, Number 3 Is So Shocking You’ll Want To Cry Rectangles!

1. A Family Sitcom

They’re perhaps the least interesting of the sitcom sub-genres. With the all-time greats being made back in the 50s, greats that we can’t even go back and watch because the 50s were a very (very) racist time in America. The 80s tried to revive the genre with shows like Roseanne and The Cosby Show, which…also became awkward viewing.

Let’s face it, the best American sitcoms have never been in a family setting. But they’re a staple of American culture, and one that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. With Roseanne back on our screens as an out-and-out Trump supporter, I think we need a counter-balance to what represents the average American family.

Which, sidenote, that’s not satire by the way. Having a satirical, ageing Trump supporter would provide plenty of comedic moments, and I agree that the character of Roseanne would’ve been a Trump supporter. But the show always seems to have Roseanne get the last word in every argument. Which, when it comes to politics, is dangerous.

roseanne
The character advocating equality is made the butt of every joke. Keep it balanced, or don’t attempt satire.

Make the new family sitcom meta. Make it about a group of actors who play a family on a family sitcom. The genre is dying in favour of work and friend based sitcoms, so we may as well pull the curtain back a little on the whole genre.

Most important of all, make it diverse. Modern Family nearly hit the mark, except everyone was upper middle-class. Sitcoms traditionally have their pulse on where America is at, and America is a brilliant mix of people from all walks of life. It shouldn’t be diverse for the sake of it, but diverse because America is.

2. A Docu-series

Personally, I want the Obamas to produce and champion ideas that revolve around other people. However, if Netflix forces their hand, due to the strength of the Obama brand, then I want them to put their faces on a show that educates.

I’d want an Obama-narrated educational documentary series with zero political spin. Having had conversations with Americans, I think there are gaps in their knowledge of how government works. Or how it’s supposed to work. I know that I personally need a better understanding on a lot of areas of political systems in the USA.

A well-educated electorate is something that the Obamas have always championed. They could narrate episodes centred on the house of representatives, how the electoral college works and what special interest groups are. They could openly and candidly discuss how political campaigns are funded. What’s legal and what’s not legal. They’d all be facts, facts that are written into American law.

Again, zero spin would be the key. Often when you present the truth as bare bones, it speaks for itself. Hard-right conservatives would criticise it as a left-leaning look into politics, but something I’ve found is that the honest truth happens to always land you slightly left of centre. Which makes you think.

3. Alternative Voices

This isn’t genre specific, more the kinds of content creators that I would expect the Obamas to champion. This can include looking to minority groups for writers and directors, but it doesn’t always have to. I, as a consumer of media, just want something different. Show me a perspective that I haven’t seen before.

More often than not that will end up including a female voice, or a non-white voice, or an LGBT+ voice. Which has nothing to do with inclusivity for the sake of it. It’s more that the scales are simply balancing. SWM’s have been producing the majority of content for so long that any voice other than our own feels different and exciting.

I want to live in a world where we don’t need to tout the ethnic background or sexual orientation of a content creator. I want to live in world where we talk about the voice of the writer, the emotive talent of the actor or the visual style of the director, no matter who they are.

We’re not there yet, but I believe that the Obamas can help to balance the scales.

4. A Fantasy Epic

Yes, we have Game of Thrones and Amazon are working on a Middle-Earth TV series, but there’s always room in the fantasy genre for more. The only limits to world-building are our imaginations. Which sounds crass, because it is.

The Obamas are famously fans of the hit HBO show, with one of the producers commenting back in 2016 that “the president wanted advanced copies of the episodes.” Whether or not HBO obliged has been kept a secret, but to even make a request like this shows that the Obamas are as addicted to the fantasy genre as we are.

Game of Thrones is steeped in historical and political commentary, it’s part of what makes the show so great. I’d like to see the Obamas produce an epic fantasy series, set in an entirely fictional world, that provides a social commentary on modern living.

It could be that the characters talk about how a great evil was defeated eighty years ago, but now it’s slowly seeping back into their towns and villages. It’s infecting the minds of the people, and it turns out it’s a group of dark wizards who’ve created potions that make the drinker believe anything they’re told. It’s a Crafty Fox Potion etc.

That’s not at all subtle, but you get my point. I’ve never seen fantasy as pure escapism, but rather an alternative universe in which to tell very human stories.

5. The Daily Show

dailyshow

This is more of a plea to give new life to a specific brand. Back in the UK, during my teenage years, I was lucky enough to be able to watch the latest episodes of The Daily Show on an eighteen hour tape delay. Which, at the time, was pretty current.

Comedy Central have always been half-decent at championing original comedy, but fewer and fewer members of our generation pay for cable, let alone watch broadcast television. I think if the brand was acquired by Netflix, and produced by the Obamas, it could help boost viewership. As well as aiding in the aim for Netflix to produce more “live, ongoing” original content.

Trevor Noah does an excellent job and he’d be a great host to at least establish the first year on a new platform. In recent times Last Week Tonight has, rightfully, taken the place in the public consciousness that The Daily Show once had.

Trust me, in a Trumpian world there’s definitely room for two well-made and well-researched satirical entertainment shows. With the right backing, Daily Show clips could go viral in the same way that LWT clips do. Although they would have to wait until Trevor Noah’s contract with Comedy Central ends, in 2022. If we’re all still here.

This really could be produced by anyone, but imagine sitting through twenty-two minutes of biting satire only to see the credit: Produced by Michelle Obama. Conservatives are already under the assumption that these shows have a bias, when typically they simply present facts and sprinkle in jokes. So why not enrage them further by adding an Obama to the production staff?

6. The Apprentice Rip-Off

Come on now.

Okay…fine.

Keep all of the filming secret and under-wraps. Zero promotion, it just drops on Netflix on a random Tuesday morning. No pre-title sequence. Just open on Barack Obama walking into a room of twelve prospective business partners, with a knowing smile on his face.

“Now, I’ve devoted my life to serving the American people the best that I can. I consider myself a public servant, not a businessman. But apparently anyone can do anything now, so here we are, welcome to Not The Apprentice!”

20 Million people stream and old Donald quits the White House in order to battle Obama in a ratings war. Trump is back in the realm where he belongs and Obama has somehow managed to save the day, again.

Today is May 22nd, 2018 and there’s a tiny part of me that now wants to write Jurassic Mark.