Telly Talk #3 – 19th Oct 2017

I’m back again with another instalment of Telly Talk. This time I will be sharing my thoughts on the following shows; The Good Place, Bojack Horseman, Rick & Morty and Big Mouth.

Big Mouth

I’ll start with Big Mouth. The word crass springs to mind immediately. The animated adult comedy’s whole premise revolves around sophomoric humour, making light of the angst and terror that comes with puberty. Some of the comedy includes a teenage boy’s hormonal state personified as a monstrous tempter, as well as parents who have a tendency to overshare about their bedroom activities. I don’t feel like I laughed once for the duration of the single episode that I watched, and I have not been intrigued enough to want to watch another. I do however remember cringing a great deal. Oh, and rolling my eyes a lot too. There were quite a few sighs as well.

The Good Place

This sitcom is right up my street, corner and alleyway. After I first discovered it I had caught up with the show in about 2 weeks. It had me hooked and dangling from the edge of my seat. Not only is it funny, but the story progresses in each episode substantially and you actually feel as though you’ve got your time’s worth. That is rare for a 21-minute comedy, but it works. The episodes are short and sweet. Cliff-hangers are picked up from seconds after they were left in the next episode which makes for great binge-watching, as well as when it comes to trying to remember what happened in the previous episode. All in all, it is a great watch; the characters all compliment each other well, there are lots of twists and turns that keep you on your toes, and as I already mentioned, it’s very funny. I love the concept of the show which takes place in the afterlife and explores what would happen if someone was mistakingly sent to the ‘good’ place if they were not a particularly model citizen (or does it 😉)

Bojack Horseman

On paper, this show shouldn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried to recommend it to several people and they usually end up looking at me like this:

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But somehow it does. Somehow you find yourself relating to a washed-up, self-absorbed, depressed TV star from the 90s, who also happens to be a horse. And the show also features interspecies relationships, including a labrador and a human woman. It sounds ridiculous but it is a great show. I love the sarcastic humour, the exploration of negative emotions and how being depressed can affect those around you. It explores the ups and downs of fame, politics, society as well as relationships between family, friends and lovers. It honestly is a fantastic show and I’m gutted that I am all caught up and have to wait until next year for more Bojack!

Rick and Morty

I’m 5 episodes in and I am still yet to see what all the fuss is about for this show? I don’t find it funny, the characters are not likeable, and worst of all both of the main characters’ voices are SUPER annoying. Rick is always burping and slurping and dribbling and just sounding and looking like a mess. While Morty is always whinging and stuttering and whining. The show is basically Family Guy meets Back to the Future and I might give it one more episode before I call it a day. I also don’t like the way the characters are drawn – especially the pupils of the eyes for some reason. I would rather they were just plain black circles as opposed to whatever scribbly shape they are.

That concludes this instalment of Telly Talk. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and check out the shows for yourself! Remember to follow me on Twitter as well @ChrisCultureUK

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Telly Talk (#2) – 8th Sept 2017

As I’m sure I have mentioned in the past, I have a very short attention span so I can’t really copiously consume episodes of TV shows like we are encouraged to do in today’s society. Well, not unless I am extremely invested in a show, and that is rare. However, I have been watching a couple shows since the last time I made a Telly Talk post; these are: That 70’s Show, Suits, Game of Thrones and Insecure.

That 70’s Show

I had always heard about this show growing up but I had never really been drawn to it. It was recently recommended to me and I gave it a try. I am only around 5 episodes in, and while I’m not exactly blown away, I do think it’s an enjoyable show. It’s ironic as it was intended to be a throwback to the 70’s when it began airing in the 90s, and now two decades later I’m watching it. The show is character-driven rather than plot-driven which is typical of a sitcom, and while the characters are still being developed in these initial episodes, I’m not particularly drawn to any one character, and I’m still yet to get a belly laugh moment from the show. But it is still early days, and I do think it has the potential to make me laugh out loud so I’ll stick with it a little while longer.

Suits

I have a funny relationship with this show. I started it around this time last year as you can see from this post. But I haven’t got very far with it. This is not because I do not enjoy the show, as I really do. I find it very gripping and entertaining; especially an episode I watched recently in which Harvey and Mike bonded and let their hair down together, something which was unexpected but 100% necessary at that point and time in the series. I am just not a fan of 45 minute long episodes as I can’t bear stay watching for that long. However, I do make exceptions if the episode was particularly interesting. For that reason. I tend to watch the show in bursts, and I can go away for months and come back. But, pitifully, I am only now just coming to the end of Season 2, and I have 6 more to go. Wish me luck! At this rate, I should be caught up by the year 2020!

Game of Thrones

I succumbed to the mainstream and started watching Game of Thrones a couple of months ago. I do enjoy it and it is gripping and unlike any show I’ve watched, however, once again the episodes are very long. Though, in the show’s defense a lot of the time I find myself so engrossed that when I find myself at the end of an episode I’m shocked that an hour has passed. So much happens in a single episode that you feel like you got your time’s worth. This is what I need to be happening if I’m going to spend an hour watching a show. I don’t want suspense suspense suspense only for nothing to happen! The show can be gory at times, but it doesn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the show. Although I can already tell it will take me forever to catch up. 😩

Insecure

I’m a fan of this show. I can gladly say that I am up to date! Probably because, while it isn’t a sitcom, the episodes are only half an hour long. Now that’s what I’m talking about! The show is definitely more explicit both in language and sexual content in its current second season, and the choices that the characters are making this time around are very sketchy and questionable, but makes for an intersesting storyline. However, with only one episode left, I am very interested to see how the writers will tie all of the loose ends together as there are plenty of questions I have that need answering. The most important being what kind of miracle will it take to bring Issa and Lawrence together again? Because right now they seem very irreconcilable!

 

What I’ve Been Watching (#1)

Good morning/afternoon/evening, and welcome to this brand new feature that I’m trying out on the site. Since, evidently, I am not the best at putting out regular content, I have found it easier to combine several topics into a single post. So rather than making a single post for every show/movie I’ve been watching lately, I will just make periodical posts about groups of things I’ve been watching.

Currently, TV-wise, I have been watching an eclectic selection of shows; Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development, Atlanta and Suits.

OITNB:

I am extremely late to this show and I’m not completely caught up yet, but I’m midway through the third season. I have to say I see why the show has been hyped up so much. It definitely lives up to it. I love how diverse the show is and how we get to see the backstory of a lot of the characters. I also love how convincingly portrayed the characters are; they don’t seen unrealistic or forced. The character dynamics and camaraderie is great which makes for, what seems seems to be, an authentic representation of a woman’s prison. My only criticism is, and I know so many people have raised this issue already, but Piper’s character is a bit underwhelming to be considered as the main protagonist. I feel like the writers of the show are aware of this as meta commentary often slips into the remarks of some of the secondary characters in regards to her portrayal as the white, privileged, middle-class female who is obsessed with wanting everyone to think she is a good person. I think they did start to improve this by developing the characters surrounding her and making sure we got to know all of their backstories equally, so they did make up for it. On another note, I just wanted to say that the ‘Vee’ character was an abysmal character, and I’m glad she is no longer in the show. Her presence was putting a dampener on the whole dynamic of the show, in my opinion. But the good thing about this show is the fact that it has a rotating cast, which is reflective of the environment it is set in. Prisoners will all have different sentence lengths so it allows for characters to enter and exit the show regularly.

 

Arrested Development:

There are two things I like about this show. I like the mockumentary style of the show; the narration, the following each different character’s daily activities and the camerawork. As a side note; I’m not sure whether it’s intentional but I’ve noticed that the microphone is visible in shot in several scenes in the show. Either way, it adds to the style.

The second thing I like about the show is the ironic brand of humour; a style we would later see in shows like Parks and Recreation and Archer. I love the absurd situations the character always seem to find themselves in. The type of situations you wouldn’t even bother explaining because you know the other person wouldn’t believe you. Another thing that I like about the show is that since I began watching Archer before Arrested Development, I couldn’t get over the fact that Jessica Walter didn’t change her voice at all for her character, Malory Archer, in the series.

 

Atlanta:

Although it’s a brand new show, Atlanta already has that atmospheric feel of a show you’ve lived with for a while; the feeling that you get when you are truly transported into the environment of the show because it is effortlessly characterised. I find this a lot in shows and movies where, objectively, not a lot happens plot-wise, but yet you leave feeling like you know and can relate to the characters a little better. This show is one of them. Donald Glover is great as Earn, a hard done by father of a young daughter, who lives with his child’s mother, although they are separated. The show follows Earn as he tries to manage his rapper cousin Paperboi, after he scores an unexpected underground hit. I love how the show balances comedic elements with a serious undertone. It’s raised questions about society’s attitude towards mental health, as well as the struggles that come with working in a low paid job while having to provide for those around you. Glover has really come a long way from his Community days.

 

Suits:

An instant favourite of mine, Suits is a witty legal dramedy which follows Mike, a formal professional exam scammer (he would use his natural talent for retaining knowledge to take exams for people for money), who finds himself in the wrong place at the right time, and manages to score a job at a top law firm. But the condition is that he must keep it under wraps that he doesn’t actually have a law degree. Under the wing of the pseudo-self absorbed, Harvey Spector, Mike must navigate his way around the law, but on the other side of the table.  All in all the show is a great watch; it’s biggest asset for me is that it is fast moving and doesn’t get stagnant. It keeps you on your toes, and therefore keeps you entertained. I’m still on the first season, but as of yet, I have no complaints about the show.

 

I haven’t really been watching many films lately, although I did watch one earlier today;

Fargo:

I’m going to say from the jump that I’m a huge fan of the way the film juxtaposes the violence of the criminals, with the genuine niceness of people of the suburb. Had this movie been written any other way, it would definitely be mentally scarring. The acting is impeccable, the accents are endearing and the movie is a gem. a definite new favourite for me.

That just about wraps up the first edition of ‘What I’ve Been Watching’, you’ll have to keep watching to see whether I continue this series, though.

Let’s Talk About (#12) – The Get Down (TV)

This big-budget Netflix original series, starring Shameik Moore, Justice Smith and Jaden Smith, focuses on the birth and infancy of Hip Hop and shows us its New York roots, and influences from Disco, among other musical genres. The Get Down is a culturally diverse tale of young love, incorporating music, politics, family and religion.

I have a few qualms about the show, I’ll get them off my chest first before I get into what I enjoyed. First of all, I thought some of the acting on the show could have been more convincing and came across a bit cliché and cringe-y at times. Also, the gangs in the show were not scary at all; the kids looked no older than ten, and definitely were not intimidating , especially considering the ages of the characters they were supposed to be terrorising.

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In addition to this, the whole ‘my dream is to be a singer but my over-bearing, religious parents won’t let me’ storyline is very played out. We’ve seen this so many times. I think, since the show is about the birth of Hip Hop, the show should perhaps have followed an aspiring rapper in a world unfamiliar with Hip Hop. Now that would be original and I can’t recall seeing a movie about this before.

Additionally, there was so much hype surrounding Jaden Smith’s participation in the show, but in actuality, his role was fairly small. Often, he would be the only character missing at pivotal  points of the series as he’d be off doing his own thing, which I found strange. I was hoping he would be able to show some growth as an actor and diversify his image, but it felt like he was just playing himself.

Ok, so yes, there were a lot of negatives about the show, but let’s talk about some of the positives now. It’s great to see Netflix branching out and trying something new with this series. It is unlike anything they have tried before and it is giving a show, which, if broadcast on network television, may have had a very specifically targeted audience. The show is given a huge platform to expose and educate people, who may not usually opt to watch such a culturally diverse show, a chance to try something new. Is it the best content? That’s questionable, but it’s a step in the right direction to creating new original content showing different faces and stories to the wider public, to represent a wider range of people than what we usually see in entertainment.

 

Another thing I love about the show is the music, especially how they incorporate both 70’s soul, R&B and disco, along with new original music by current artists such as Michael Kiwanuka, Miguel and Christina Aguilera, but in the vain of the genres of the time. The music is definitely the show’s saving grace; it adds atmosphere and character to the show, and gives the show a sense of authenticity.

Now I know I said I was done with the negatives, but think of the following as more constructively critical; some suggestions for the second part of the series set to air next year. We’re going to need some major character development. A feature length and several more hour-long episodes and we still don’t know very much about the characters. What we do know, has not given me any  strong emotional connections. I connect with Ezekiel because on the one hand he wants to make a difference in his city and build a better life and future for himself with Mylene, but on the other hand he is invested in his group’s musical project. We already know my feelings about Mylene’s character, so it’s safe to say there’s no emotional connection there for me, however, her desires and conflicts have been made clear, so there is development for her character. There are also sprinklings of development in the secret relationship between Papa Fuerte and Mrs Cruz, and Papa Fuerte’s wish to build a better city. But that’s about it. Shaolin Fantastic is a fascinating character; he has one foot in with his musical inspiration, Grand Master Flash, but his other foot is in trouble. He moonlights as Fat Annie’s run-around boy, helping her to carry out illegal actives around the city. His character is all over the place and too impulsive.

One minute he’s friendly with Ezekiel, the next he is unforgiving, and then they are friends again. One minute he’s giving up his criminal life in order to pursue music, the next he finds himself back in Fat Annie’s lap (quite literally).

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He also acts as the distracting Yang, to Ezekiel’s focused and determined Yin. He distracts Ezekiel from doing what he is supposed to do and get’s mad when Ezekiel doesn’t give him his full attention. I would like to see more of what Shaolin get’s up to with Grandmaster Flash, maybe how he first came to meet him, because all of the running around is exhausting. Nevertheless, he is an intriguing character and I want to find out more about his origins and how he plans to balance his drug life and his music life while trying not to mix them up.

Overall, the show is entertaining and refreshingly new, although there is major room for improvement. Time will tell whether the show’s creators will fill in the gaps with the second half of Season One when it released. Until then, my rating is 3.5/5.

 

 

Let’s Talk About… (#11) – Mr Robot (Season 1)

It’s summer and I’ve had a bit more time on my hands, so I’ve been catching up on shows that I’ve meaning to watch this year. I kept seeing GIFs and tweets about Mr Robot all over my Twitter timeline which caught my attention, but the name of the show sort of put me off. However, I saw a picture of the main star of the show, Rami Malek, who looked strangely like a friend of mine, it intrigued me to watch the show. I guess we all have our reasons for getting into the things we like, and this was mine😂.

Mr Robot is a Golden Globe winning cyber-thriller which streams on Amazon Prime in the UK and airs on the USA Network in the US. I am just going to warn you now, as always, not to read on if you have not completed the series; there are spoilers ahead. I will even tuck the rest of this post below for you so you aren’t tempted to read on if you haven’t started already. You’ve been warned

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About… (#11) – Mr Robot (Season 1)”

Let’s Talk About (#10) – The Flash (Season 2)

It’s that time of the year again when all of your favourite TV shows seem to be ending at the same time, and you start panicking because you have nothing to watch now. Alas, The Flash has come to the end of another season, and an explosive one might I add. If you haven’t watched The Flash this season then I suggest you look away because there are going to be some MAJOR SPOILERS in this post. Also I just want to add, as mentioned in my previous post about The Flash, I am NOT a comic book enthusiast, I am simply a fan of the show. Just to warn you, this post is going to be quite lengthy as I have A LOT of thoughts about this season.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About (#10) – The Flash (Season 2)”

Let’s Talk About…(#9) Updates on Music, Movies & Shows

Movies:

Since the year began, I have been keeping track of all the movies and shows that I have watched (as well as the books I’ve read… notice how that isn’t a category here😂). It’s a tradition I started last year, and decided to continue because I wanted to diversify the types of films and shows that I was watching to become more open minded and ‘cultured’. Before you go on, I apologise in advance for my interchangeable use of the words ‘film’ and ‘movie’ because I can never decide which to use.I won’t bore you with my whole list, and since I reviewed Zootropolis last month, I will continue from there. In the time between then and now I have watched an astounding three films 😂. They are; Maleficent, Barbershop: The Next Cut, and Iron Man. All three are very different, but I thoroughly enjoyed each of them. Come to think of it, I have actually watched two other films in the past month, one of them being Friend Request, however, it spooked me out so much that I just want to push it out of my memory, so I won’t be talking about it.

I loved the cinematography in Maleficent, although, despite efforts not to be, it did still come across as slightly cliché. But Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning’s performances were fantastic and the movie was entertaining overall, if not unusually dark for a Disney film. Similarly to Zootropolis, I appreciated the social relevance of Barbershop 3; the comedy was great,  as was the character development and consistency, especially being the third movie in the series, as well as the representation of different age groups in the film. I chose to watch Iron Man as I have been meaning to enter the ‘Marvel Universe’ for a while; I wanted to catch up so that I’m able to watch the Black Panther movie in the cinema and actually follow what’s going on, as I’m interested what they will do with the character. Also, there is a big hype surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this hype is only going to last for the next couple of years, as we have already reached Phase Three of the studios planned clusters of films being released to follow their narrative arc. My interest in Marvel has also extended to TV, which I will now talk about.

TV Shows:

I’ve been watching quite a few shows lately. The ones I’ve given the most attention to are;

  • Prison Break
  • Supergirl
  • The Flash
  • Daredevil
  • A Different World
  • Agents of SHIELD

Out of the six, shows I would have to say that I enjoy Prison Break the most as the storyline has so many twists and turns, which engages me greatly because, believe it or not, watching movies and TV shows can actually be a chore for me I find it very difficult to sit in one place for an elongated period of time before getting bored a
nd wanting to do something else., which means, often I have to watch movies in episodic bursts, for instance, it took me three days to finish Iron Man because I kept losing interest or getting distracted!

However, with Prison Break, I find myself losing track of time, thinking ‘that can’t have been forty-five minutes gone already!’, and considering whether or not I have enough time to fit in another episode. I love how the characters are forced to get along as a result of their shared common goals and enemies. The only other shows that I’ve watched, in recent memory, that have had the same effect on me are; The Office (UK) and Extras. I could watch them all day! But with shows like Daredevil, I find myself losing interest by half-way, not because it isn’t interesting, but because I feel it is unnecessarily elongated. It could be due to the fact that I have not connected with the characters yet and so have no pull-factor to draw me into the show. I guess over time this will change and I will feel more inclined to give the show my full attention.

Music:

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Apple Music has been a great tool for discovering (and rediscovering) music for me lately. I am also elated to find out that they are introducing new reduced rates for students, which is great if it is true. This month I have been listening to a wide variety of music from the likes of Kaytranada, Tame Impala, Hiatus Kaiyote, Skepta, Sade and Coldplay. A strange mix, I know, but as I said, I am trying to be open to new things. You can read more about what I’ve been listening to in this month’s Fresh Music Roundup here.

That just about wraps up this unprecedented edition of ‘Let’s Talk About…’. Don’t forget to leave a comment and follow me on Twitter @ChrisCultureUK to keep up to date on my latest posts!

Let’s Talk About… (#1) – ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ – TV

In a world obsessed with body image and pop culture, it can be hard to be confident within yourself when you do not look like a Topshop mannequin. In addition to this, society’s pressures upon teenagers including drugs, sex and growing up to fast, can be enough to drive a person insane! Enter, ‘My Mad Fat Diary’.

E4 drama series, My Mad Fat Diary, stars Sharon Rooney as Rachel ‘Rae’ Earl, a smart, funny and strong-willed teen from Stamford, or ‘Stan Ford’ (hahaha inside joke for the fans). She has it all; the enviable boyfriend, the gang of misfits, and a job at her favourite record store. However, two things; she’s overweight, and she is going through treatment with her therapist Kester (played by Ian Hart) because she is suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (due to her weight), and she has had some scares in the shape of self-harm. Let’s just say she’s been to some dark places, and, set in the 90s, the series begins with her returning to her life after a three month stint in a rehabilitation center.

Rae wears her heart on her sleeve, and acts impulsively as a result of being led by it, rather than her head. She often speaks faster than she thinks which gets her into a lot of trouble, namely with her mother, her school and her friends. She also struggles with expressing her true feelings at times which can affect her relationships and push people away who she really cares about, for example, her best friend Chloe (played by Jodie Comer), her gay friend, Archie (played by Dan Cohen), her boyfriend, Finn (played by Nico Mirallegro), and her mother, played by Linda Rushbrook.

One thing I like about the series, is that is portrays mental illness in a believable way, I haven’t seen another show which addresses it from the angles that My Mad Fat Diary does, and as a result it is very insightful and engaging. It allows you to enter the mind of a girl who wants to get better, but is taunted by what others may think of her. Kester often tells Rae that she needs to ‘love herself first’ in order for other people to love her, however, rightfully and understandably so, Rae asks ‘How?’. It’s easy to tell someone to love themselves, but it is not easy to when they haven’t got the slightest incline how to do so.

Today, the final ever episode of the series will air on E4. Right now in the series, Rae and her friends are recovering from a car crash, whilst in the midst of taking their exams. Chloe’s dreams of entering the world of business have been challenged after being significantly injured from the accident and this is having its toll on Rae, who believes the incident was her fault. This, among other factors, is causing Rae to question whether or not she even wants to go to uni after all. It will all come to a conclusion tonight, at 10pm on E4.

If you’re a fan of the show, why not leave a comment below telling me what your favourite moments from the show are!

Image credits: E4 and Tumblr.