Pop Culture

Pop Culture Summering

Too much going on over the past month. Too much and, still, far too little. Just got back from a trip to my old college haunt, Macon, GA. Waiting for the roofer co. to call me back, but here in Florida, everyone has a leaky roof during the storm season. My current goal is to get the first draft of the horror novel done by mid-August, just before school starts, and I am keeping to that goal, even while I’m stuck in a rut (and I am right now — I blame the recurring bouts of depression as the house caves in and the mold takes over).

As for everything big-and-small screen-summer-related thus far…well…

SMALL SCREEN DISTRACTIONS

Claws. TNT’s new Florida-based crime drama about sisterhood bonds, pain clinics, skeezy crime bosses, and strip mall nail salons seems to be comfortably at ease in its home alongside of Animal Kingdom. Niecy Nash as salon manager Desna takes what could have easily been just a sexy, brassy stereotype and molds the character into a believably empathetic, complex woman…and one who’s definitely Floridian. Here’s hoping it stays the course. The pilot’s end already had an interesting cliffhanger, and it continues from there.

Sense8’sย demise. Speaking of cliffhanger, Netflix royally screwed Sense8 fans in that it not only canceled the series, it did it so abruptly, the show didn’t even get a reasonable ending. It ended on a goddamned cliffhanger. The most sophisticated superhero series on and it just…ends. So unfair. I only hope another network, if even a cable network with the right budget, picks it back up again.

Twin Peaks‘s return. One series dies and another makes a comeback after 26 years. Like Sense8, it ended after only two seasons and with a cliffhanger (of sorts — my mom had thought it was just David Lynch’s “up yours” to the network). My mother and I had watched the show together when it was on, both of us entranced by its effortless retro-chic style, murder mystery, and small town oddities, and she and I completely redid my wardrobe so that I could go to school dressed like Donna Hayward (or Audrey Horne, much to my mom’s dismay as she hemmed and hawed over it), but sweaters and plaid skirts would be fitting only when I came home during Christmas break since my family lived in England, and I was going to college in the sticky, paper mill stinking town of Macon, GA.

I now watch the new return to Twin Peaks, with my mother in mind, but I don’t think she would’ve cared care much for this comeback. All the things she’d hated about Lynch’s movies — the creep factor, the sex scenes, the sudden bursts of gory violence — play well on Showtime, but they detract from what made Twin Peaks unique. There’s so little charm to be had in this “return” to the series, and, six episodes in, I feel like it cares little about the characters of the fictional northwestern town of Twin Peaks. Instead, so far, it focuses primarily on bizarre events involving Agent Cooper…and Bob (true fans will know of Bob). I suppose it’s an attempt to resolve the cliffhanger from the original, but…well…mehhhhh.

(Hey, at least we finally get to meet Diane though.)

American Gods. First of all, Neil Gaiman is a brilliant author. I loved his novel Neverwhere, and his funny short story “Chivalry” is among my all-time favorites. But I didn’t care for American Gods. Too many things happening, too many characters. As a result, the TV version doesn’t sit well with me either. Frankly, as I’m attempting to watch it, it’s kind of like Twin Peaks in that I’m all…

The Handmaid’s Tale. My favorite new series this year so far. It’s incredibly dark and aptly timely, and the season finale made it all the more heartbreaking to watch. Hopefully, the (#resist) rebellion in the fundamentalist dystopia of Gilead will be next season’s focus. Elisabeth Moss is mesmerizing as Offred, and everything else, from the cinematography to the costume colors to the soundtrack… it’s all…perfection.

And new seasons:

Better Call Saul: Now we’re getting into the whole how-Jimmy-became-Saul goodness.

House of Cards: Those Machiavellian schemers, the Underwoods, keep on keepin’ on.

Animal Kingdom: The shady Cody boys are, so far, finding it damned difficult to cut business ties from head honcho (Mama) Smurf, and her grandson, J, is quickly becoming her new favorite.

Orange Is the New Black: Oh, those crazy girls in Litchfield Penitentiary, taking the prison over, holding guards hostage. It may have been Taystee’s season to avenge all of the wrongdoings that have happened at Litchfield, especially Poussey’s death, but it’s Flaca and Maritza, BFF’s foreva and newly minted Youtube stars, who have always held my adoration.

Fear the Walking Dead: Like its originator, FTWD always seems to need a push to gain the momentum it’s severely lacking. Unlike TWD, however, it doesn’t have comic source material. It’s its own world, so it can explore other possibilities that would more than likely happen in a zombie apocalypse. This season, thus far, we’ve an anti-NWO community of paranoid survivalists and a gangster who controls a major source of uncontaminated water, something TWD never seemed to touch upon (food, yes, but clean water sources free of rotting bodies…not really). This past episode involving a character’s return was the best episode of the series as it offered the pathos that had been sorely lacking during our protagonist family’s journey. I cried at the end of it. Hope it has another episode like it at some point.

Fargo: New story involving two brothers, one a wealthy businessman with a parking lot empire, the other a down-and-out parole officer involved with one of his parolees. Throw in a decades-old fight over a stamp, a case of mistaken identity, a handful of murders, an adorably awkward female police chief (well, sort of one in title), a nasty villain with a tooth-rotting case of bulimia, some utterly brutal shocks and you have…well…Fargo in a nutshell.

 

BIG SCREEN DISTRACTIONS

Wonder Woman (Girl, you so fly). Loved the action, the heart, the humor…oh, and the fact that Patty Jenkins made the tiresome Zach Snyder look like a jaded amateur in her success as a (first-time) action movie director. Here’s hoping DC can learn a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t in their current batch of superhero films.

It Comes At Night. WARNING: I AM ABOUT TO BE SORT OF SPOILERY… Basically, It Comes At Night is a horror movie that isn’t a horror movie at all. I mean, when the critics and the film’s PR advertises it as a horror film, one would assume it would be just that, right? I think people have forgotten the elements of horror. Scares help, and there were no scares in this film whatsoever. There’s dramatic tension, certainly, but let’s call this film what it actually is: a post-apocalyptic chamber piece. Two families stuck in a cabin dwelling, plenty of paranoia, and an emotional gutpunch in the end. There you have it. Not a bad film but, again, not a horror film.

Rough Night. Good god, was this movie stupid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Pop Culture Summering

  1. I feel like I’m really behind on my pop culture! I still haven’t started watching The Handmaid’s tale or Sense8 (and since it got cancelled I’m not sure I want to start it) but I’ll be leaving my for summer home soon so I’m glad to have several shows on the back burner (no wifi access there!).
    I was never a huge fan of David Lynch and I guess I was too young to appreciate the weirdness of Twin Peaks, so I’m not too enticed by the new season. Maybe I’m due for a re-watch?
    As far the returning shows, I’m loving this season of Better Call Saul! I thought HoC was a bit underwhelming, especially because I had almost forgotten what happened last season and it took me a while to get back into all the Machiavellian machinations and intrigue. The whole “it was all planned” angle felt a bit too forced, and I can’t for the life of me understand what possessed Frank to invite that civil war reenactor guy into the White House… Plus, we never got a clear answer about Conway’s secret and it’s not clear to me how that Davis woman became such a key player – she totally appeared out of nowhere! And don’t get me started on Doug and pour Tom Yates… :/
    I gave up on OITNB around season 3, how is that woman still in prison? I also didn’t make it past the first couple of episodes of FTWD, it just failed to capture whatever magic is also now missing from TWD. But yay, Animal Kingdom is back! Need to catch up on that one too.

    Anyway, sorry about the ramble. I hope you get your leaky roof fixed soon babe, and I’m sure you’ll get tons of inspiration for your novel! (can’t wait to read it!)
    xxxx
    L.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, you! Hope you have a lovely time at the summer home. I’d love a summer getaway, an ANY getaway actually. Spring, fall, winter, summer, any season will do. Okay, I don’t want a “getaway” really. I just want to move out of here. Hell, I’d do it in a heartbeat if jobs with benefits were readily available for someone my age. That and cheap places to live. Good people around. A nice political mix. Plenty of things to do on a budget. If someone could sell me that, they’d have me. I’d buy.

      I don’t readily recommend Twin Peaks to anyone at all. I realized while watching the last episode how unsophisticated it actually is, despite the otherworldly weirdness of it. The characters are too simple. The dialogue, childish. I think I watch it now solely out of curiosity as to where it will go. Other than that, I don’t know why I stick with it.

      Did you get to see the season finale of BCS? I don’t want to say anything until you have, but I will say this… I thought it so heartbreaking. On FB, there’s a fan page, and everyone there has been debating the ending and whether or not it’s righteous. I was appalled that anyone would even suggest that though. It’s like none of them have ever experienced dealing with a mentally ill relative at all.

      FTWD is developing into something interesting, but I fear that due to its fandom producers will try to take advantage of cheap tactics they use constantly for TWD.

      HoC is about as involving as it intends to be. I don’t find it memorable as a whole, but I remember scenes here and there (IMHO, nothing will ever top “You’re a motherfucker, Mr. President”).

      Watch The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s fantastic. Granted, I know you’re not keen on scifi, so I’d treat it as a retro-futurist, dark thriller rather than alien-robots-and-lasers scifi. I think it’s general story is wholly familiar to most (Atwood knows formula). The dystopian premise is always the same, even formulaic — Nation has horrible disaster, nation undergoes radical change in governance that’s nightmarish (in this case, extreme fundamentalist leadership), a rebellion forms and the oppressed plan revolt, uprising happens. I treat the series as almost a horror show and definitely a reactionary to the far right’s version of a happy America. (It’s especially frightening to those of us women who enjoy thinking for ourselves around here.)

      Btw, off topic, am loving your cakes! You’re incredibly talented!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Kenzie!
        Ah, a job with benefits in a place surrounded by good people and a decent political climate, sounds like a dream! Have you thought about moving north? If I could handle leaving my family behind I’d move to New England in a heartbeat.

        I’ve heard mixed reviews of Twin Peaks… those who loved the original show seem to really enjoy the reboot but I was meh about the old one so yeah, not gonna bother.

        I haven’t seen BCS yet, it’s been a super busy week so far. Hopefully tonight! I’ll let you know what I thought.

        I don’t see myself giving FTWD another chance, simply because I’m sure it’s not as good as it could be: if the ‘A team’ of writers/directors are giving us a sub-par show in TWD, I can’t really expect whoever’s working in FTWD to do a better job… Man, they just piss me off. Both shows could have been fantastic and instead we’re getting faux cliffhangers and garbage people.

        Haha that HoC line was AMAZING. Too bad most of the interesting side characters are either dead or written off the show :/

        You definitely make the Handmaid’s Tale sound promising, so it’s on my download queue!

        Thank you so much for the compliments! The whole cake thing is my creative outlet these days so it really means a lot that people like them ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so much more gratifying than my ‘regular’ job, which by definition means I do all the work behind the scenes and someone else always takes the credit….

        And you’re always welcome to join me at my summer home, should you feel like making the long trip across the pond ๐Ÿ˜‰ We could binge watch crap and bitch and moan and drink all day long! Heh ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aww, shucks, Lina. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I had the money, I’d visit you there in a heartbeat. As it is, I am probably going to be taking out a home equity loan to pay for a garage and breezeway roof that’s coming to pieces, among other things around here just to be able to sell the place sometime. (“Investment” my ass. Home ownership can bite me.)

        Yeah, re. moving north, my little sister lives up in New Hampshire, and she moved there for exactly those reasons (well, except it’s not cheap to live there, really). I mean, she was moving to get away from the hell of Texas, so go figure. If I could be guaranteed a secure job there beforehand, at the very least, I’d sell what I could and high-tail it on out of here for sure. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I hear you on the home ownership thing, believe me. Ever since the financial crisis hit us hard, property values have taken a nosedive so all of us who thought it was a good idea to invest in land or a second home are now stuck with property that we can’t sell unless we settle for 1/10 of the original value, and the taxes are freaking insane.

        Are you looking for jobs in NH? One of my closest friends works for Dartmouth and I’ve visited a couple of times (he lives in VT though – apparently it’s cheaper there, or at least the tax situation is better?) it’s so beautiful up there! Harsh winters but I’d take 3 ft of snow over constant heat and humidity any day. (The first heatwave of the year just hit us and I’m dreading working with melting buttercream and collapsing cakes… the struggle is real! haha)

        xxx
        L.

        Liked by 1 person

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