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Indians on TV- Aziz Ansari’s Master of None (2015)

10 Nov

master of none posterHas Netflix been hounding you to add it to your queue already? Well, you should.

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None has that Louie vibe that I love, mixed in with some High Maintenance; it combines a sarcastic and deadpan sense of humor with musings on relevant and often complex issues. Four episodes in, and I am already loving how Ansari tackles race issues with couth (in episode 4, “Indians on TV”), sex issues with realism (in episode 1, “Plan B”), and the ever-pressing question that society pushes on 30-somethings like me, “am I a kid person?” (also from “Plan B”).

Plot: Aziz Ansari is an actor, making his way through auditions and life. The episodes tell a continuous story, but not in such a strict way that you need to necessarily watch them in order. A main theme is tackled in each episode, societal woes are solved, drinks are drank, dates are gone upon.

Each opening scene, accompanied by credits, is straight up cinematic; each episode title is teased in at the beginning with vintage font that gets you guessing where the episode is going to go; and the cameos don’t disappoint, either (Busta Rhymes, H. Jon Benjamin, Ansari’s parents, Orange is the New Black‘s Taystee?!). Some of the acting is not so great, but you have probably noticed that I love Da vid LynchHarmony Korrine, and mumblecore so…yeah, that doesn’t bother me so much.

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Ansari as Dez, with on-again off-again love interest Rachel, played by Noël Wells Photo: K.C. Bailey/Netflix

Master of None definitely earned at least another hour of my attention simply by using Aphex Twins’s “Come to Daddy” in episode 1. And don’t stop episode 3 before the tititular track comes on- Beach House’s “Master of None.” And don’t you love it when you realize about a celebrity, “aww he’s just like me?” because thats kinda how I felt when Aziz refers to Mark Morrison’s hit 90’s classic, “Return of the Mack” by saying, “well, this is maybe the most amazing song that has ever been created. Would you be opposed to dancing?”

Master of None gets a solid A in my book so far. As far as I’m concerned, if you laugh out loud at least once an episode (and you are watching it by yourself) it is a clear winner. I couldn’t wait any longer to write a review because I hope that this can convince at least another person or two to watch it too.

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High Maintenance

8 Sep

Ben Sinclair High MaintAlright y’all, time to breathe in the good shit and breathe out the bullshit. This week’s TV Tuesday feature is my favorite new show: High Maintenance. Available for free streaming on Vimeo, you are going to want to bookmark this badboy ASAP and get watching. Available in a variety of snippets from 5 to 15-minutes long, it becomes easy to binge watch the entire series in one sitting. As you may have already surmised, I did.

When it comes to catching a new show or movie, I have a “two-strike” system: If I read about it or it is recommended to me twice, I pretty much drop whatever I am doing to watch it. In this case, I read about High Maintenance in a Bust Magazine interview with Ben Sinclair, the show’s creator. He works on this show with his wife, Katja Blichfeld, which is my secret dream: being part of a husband and wife writing/directing duo. About a month or two later, a friend told me that I had to check it out (thanks Meghan Bender!). Within 24-hours, in the middle of a ladies lazy mimosa Sunday, I put it on. And we watched the whole thing.

My new BFFs, Sinclair and Blichfeld photo by Sam Comen (samcomen.com)

My new BFFs, Sinclair and Blichfeld
photo by Sam Comen (samcomen.com)

Let me cut to the chase already! In this show Sinclair plays a weed delivery guy who maintains the high in NYC. Each episode revolves around a different delivery. Each episode has a name, like a first name, which in some way reflects the characters he delivers to in that episode. You don’t have to watch them in order, but I would recommend you start with the episode “Stevie” and work your way from there. (This episode is aptly named for Stevie Nicks, not because he delivers to her, but you’ll find out why soon enough). You will love the colorful cast of pot smokers that Sinclair delivers to throughout the series. Dare I say it acts as a community service in that it normalizes marijuana consumption by showing the gamut of people who partake? As it is on Vimeo, this show is shot in beautiful high definition, and certainly doesn’t take on the amateurish qualities of other web series.

I cannot wait for the next installment of this fantastic show. Until then, I’ll certainly be re-watching the episodes I have already seen (a la Broad City, Kimmy Schmidt and Portlandia).

Difficult People- Perhaps a Reference to YOU?

25 Aug

Difficult People Banner

Difficult People is a new Hulu exclusive, and as such, I didn’t expect anything racy or controversial. That is until someone posted this humorless article (or one like it) about one of the show’s jokes.

Billy and Julie (Image Source: Entertainment Weekly)

Billy and Julie (Image Source: Entertainment Weekly)

In the show, Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner star as themselves: crass, snarky, gossipy actor/comedians living in NYC. So if you expect people of the aforementioned qualities to make wholesome, non-offensive jokes…well, I can’t help you there. So here’s the deal with the joke, as you no doubt already heard about: Julie’s character is at times despicable, but THAT is what makes her also lovable, don’t you see?! She says ridiculous things with no filter, but not in that asshat Donald Trump way that everyone is talking about these days. At one point, Julie’s character posts on Twitter: “I can’t wait for Blue Ivy to be old enough for R. Kelly to piss on her,” which is followed by such a major backlash that she has to go back and delete the tweet out of existence. As they are wont to do, Julie and Billy encounter many “garbage people” along their daily journey, and one such person, a real piece of work, continues to berate Julie for posting such an offensive tweet.

When I heard the joke, sure, my jaw dropped, and a little gasp came right afterward…followed by a pretty sizeable guffaw.  Because that is what this sort of humor is supposed to do! “Oh NO she didn’t!” you are supposed to profess. And I am pretty sure that in the backlash that Julie’s character received in the show, we were supposed to also see that yeah, she was crossing the line a little bit. I think what is happening here is that the joke has a few too many layers for some fly-by-night viewer to quite fully grasp. The person spreading this article on FB, by the way, most certainly did not watch the show herself, further removing the context of the joke within the show and tearing it to shreds while simultaneously declaring “I hate Julie Klausner anyway.” (Sounds like you should avoid the show anyway then, amirite?).

Amy Schumer has also been slammed for being racist, insensitive, slutty, the list goes on.... (Image  source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/)

Amy Schumer has also been slammed for being racist, insensitive, slutty, the list goes on…. (Image source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/)

I am seeing a death of comedy, and it makes me sad. Luckily, my often-offensive humor is mostly hidden, and reserved for those whom I know can take a joke. I am a feminist, I have advocated for people of color, immigrants, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, and other marginalized populations since I became aware of the world around me. I’m fucking 21st-century-civil-rights-aware, motherfuckers, and the fact that I can see through the punchline of this joke is a testament to just how easily-offended we are becoming. And I am scared for the future of comedy. How can we be humorous if we are no longer allowed to push the envelope a little? It’s snowballing out of control at this point, with commentary such as, “This is disgusting, there’s no way a tasteless joke like that would be made about baby Apple or Suri Cruise.” (from this “Bossip” article). Ri-diculous, you guys… If you wanna defend your Bey squad so hard, I will happily write off your illuminati-scum friendship. (Another tongue-in-cheek joke that you probably didn’t get).

I must get off my rage soap box now, but it’s worth mentioning that people are attacking Amy Poehler, the show’s

producer, for the joke, and not so much Julie Klausner even. I guess she’s just not a big enough target for these people.

I am loving Difficult People, and I will continue to be a staunch supporter. I am hoping that this most recent press that the show has received will be more of a blessing than a curse.