Love Online (Television Thoughts: Swiped, HBO)

swipedAs if dating, and online dating isn’t already depressing, I had to go and watch ‘Swiped,’ the HBO documentary about Tinder. I always say that for me, the definition of a good documentary is when you learn something new about it subject. And I can honestly say that I learned really nothing from this film. Rather, it just confirmed all my gripes. I know social dating apps via Grindr, and basically, the syndrome just now extends to the heterosexuals. All the complaints – girls getting dick picks, the proliferation of casual sex – just moved platforms. There used to be bars, and now there are apps.  IS Tindr dangerous? I think it’s in the same league as everything else in life – if you let it overcome your life, it will. The document shames them, though it gives the creators of the app equal time. And in all fairness, the Tindr people are just at a loss. They know what they are doing. The film focuses on singles residing in New York City, and I think it would have been more interesting if they had done research in less congested areas. I wonder if singles fare better there, although, really no one knows how anyone is faring, as Tindr people admit they have no figures whatsoever to calculate *anything* (although they get emails all the time from satisfied people [rolls eyes])  So yeah, I sound bitter and cynical and probably needs to stop writing now.

It Takes Two (Television Thoughts: The Deuce, HBO)

deuI just finished watching the whole first season of ‘The Deuce,’ and I must say I really liked it as a whole, and honestly, after watching the first pilot, I thought I wouldn’t, and almost gave up on it. I think what works best for me is that I need to watch these episodes right after each other, especially in a show like this where the plot is mostly slow burn, and is more character-centric. I know this comes from David Simon, who is very renowned for both ‘The Wire,’ and ‘Breaking Bad,’ two shows that I tried very hard to get into, but realized just not for my tastes.

The subject matter in ‘The Deuce’ was more interesting for me: prostitution and porn in New York City circa late 70s. This is a period in time I ‘romanticize’ in my mind. I got to New York in the mid 80s and only got the tail end of the sleaze and trash period of the city. I did see some, mind you, and compared to the Disneyfied New York of nowadays, I think that period of time definitely had more character.

James Franco, of whom I am very fond of as an actor, lured me in as well. And here he plays twin brothers caught in the maelstrom of the times. Although, honestly, did we really need twin characters – I guess it would be more in line with the ‘deuce’ idea – dual life of people’s paths crossing, intersecting, and passing by. Maggie Gylenhaal plays the emotional heart of piece, playing one of those prostitutes with a heart of gold kind of role, but also a tough cookie, and destined for both good and bad times. I think she is tremendous here, her big beautiful blue eyes doing a lot of the work: wariness, vulnerability, hope.

The series is supposes to be about the foundations of how about porn came to be, and I was waiting for it to happen, and that story only starts on the last third of the episodes. It spends a lot of the ear;y parts building on all the characters, and by the time the storyline came along, we find that we are already invested in these people.  As I said before, I enjoyed getting to know these characters, and look forward for a promised second season.

Desperate Housewife (television Thoughts: Pilot, Divorce, Sundays on HBO)

divorceMinutes into watching the pilot of Sarah Jessica Parker’s new show, ‘Divorce,’  he said, commenting on Parker’s acting, “That’s Carrie Bradshaw right there.”  And indeed, I had to agree, because it does seem like this new character of hers, Frances, looks, talks, and sounds like an iteration of her famous character Carrie Bradshaw. But ‘Divorce’ is no ‘Sex And the City,’ as tempting as it could be to compare both shows. This show is darker, more self-aware, its comedy more black, its tone more cynical. Just imagine Carrie and Mr Big now lived in the suburbs, and she has eschewed her city gal pals and is now friends with similarly unhappy suburban housewives. They long for the good old days in the city. As a matter of fact, Frances is even having an affair with someone Carrie may have dated years ago. the dinner parties here are dirtier – the show starts with one wherein guns and police get involved – and that sets the tone for the show. Folks, we mean serious business here.

I think I like it – the pilot ends with Frances getting a comeuppance, and you cannot help but feel just a little bit of schadenfreude. Frances is unlikable here – selfish and self-serving, even mean to her own kids. And so we go back to Parker – her sunnier disposition style of acting could be a great juxtaposition for her character here, or it could turn up to be one-note. After a month, we could either see the brilliance of her instincts, or ask ourselves, can she only do Carrie Bradshaw for all her characters. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I will be watching.

It’s A City Of Strangers (Television Thoughts: High Maintenance, HBO)

p11724993_b_v8_aaI don’t think ‘High Maintenance’ would have been on my radar if not for the fact that in its pilot episode on HBO, gay porn star Colby Keller was part of the cast. But, apparently, this series started out on Vimeo, and enjoyed success there that HBO took notice and ordered episode. In the  show, Ben Sinclair plays a drug dealer who cycles himself into the lives of his customers.

I don’t know if I like this show, and based on the first episode, my instinct is veering towards the negative. Apparently there are different stories week after week, as “The Guy” (Sinclair) delivers pot. So, this isn’t really a show about pot, but more about the people who buy from him. On the first episode, we got a guy who is a “Vin Diesel” type trying to buy from him, and he has a tough guy persona. We find out later on that he is a British actor method-acting for a role.  the second part is about Max, and his friend Lainey who play annoying hipster millennials – this is where Keller makes a cameo as someone Max meets on Grindr, and takes him to an AA meeting, where Max ‘pretends’ to be a meth addict. In reality, he is addicted to his co-dependency from Lainey. Apparently, these are carry over characters from when the webseries, so perhaps I am missing some context, but these characters are insufferable and I didn’t want to spend one more second with them.

So now I feel like there is nothing for me to come back to here. With so much things to watch, this show doesn’t have the allure for me to come back to.