Don’t Bother They’re Here (Television Thoughts: We’re Here, HBO)

We_re_Here_TV_Series-694763964-mmedDrag queens are fun and all, but I just find the mainstream incarnation of them to be pretty boring. I come from that age when the ones I like had different personalities, and their personalities came from their brains and not their eyelashes. I have not really seen any Ru Paul’s Drag Race anything, so I found myself wondering why I sat there sitting and watching the premiere episode of  HBO’s “We’re Here.”

I mean, it’s such a product. I cannot see anything original in this show. Three queens – Shangela, Eureka O Hara, and Bob The Drag Queen go from one conservative town to another to try to convert some of these closed-minded people to accept diversity. It’s a noble concept, but it is also a blatant ripoff of Queer Eye.  And I don’t know who I have less patience with – the queens or the bigots.

Mystery, with a side of Fries (Television Thoughts: McMillions, HBO)

MV5BZjQ0ZWQxOWQtMDA4Ny00ZTg2LWE1NGUtYjYwZWI4MzZkZTI0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_Who would have thought s documentary about the McDonalds Monopoly game fraud would be so…exciting for me? At first, I didn’t really think I would be too interested in ‘McMillions,’ the HBO Documentary about the Monoploy game from McDonalds from the late 90s. I remember playing the game myself, matching the pieces with a paper game board I got from the Sunday magazine. But I was never a fanatic of the game, and for some reason I am not sa big McDonalds fan, too. I like their fries, and their breakfast sandwiches, but their burgers bore me. And where was I when all this was going on and being reported in the news? I have no recollection of this big story, or I wasn’t paying attention? I don’t know if that helped my enjoyment of the series, but I was definitely fascinated by the story. The six-part series is well done, and it is one of those binge-worthy show. I had other things on my plate, but I found myself going back to the show over and over to see how it all played out. The cast of characters are fascinating, starting with FBI Agent Doug Matthews, who seems like an instant film. character – over the top, larger than life. I don’t know if I would trust him myself, but for the show he is pure gold. And the rest of people involved were all interesting, and the narrative took you places you didn’t would, from the New York area mob families to Mormon parishioners. I was riveted, and there were mysteries upon mysteries: How did Jacobsin get the tickets? Who was the informant? In the end, I was craving a Big Mac.

I Believe The Future (Television Thoughts: Years and Years, BBC One/HBO)

yyI have been meaning to watch ‘Years and Years’ for a while now, even before it aired on HBO. Firstly because of Russell Tovey, and second because its creator, Rusell T Davies, also did ‘Queer As Folk’ years ago, so I thought this would have substantial queer content (it has) But then I read this article from The Guardian warning me that this is the worst time to start watching the series. When this global pandemic started, I had seen numerous people saying that what we are experiencing now was covered in this show, so I was more than curious to start watching.

So the verdict? Well, don’t follow The Guardian. The series is not scary in a horror kind of way, but it will suck you in and make you think about what is happening in the world. It is also an addictive soapy series, and once you start watching, you will be hooked. It is about the Lyons family, and while the series starts in 2019, it goes up to 2032 and we see what happens to the world along those years (and years)  Russell Tovey indeed is a charmer here, as the gay brother, and I admit I was drawn to his storyline the most. We see him at the beginning of the series married, but falls in love with an illegal alien from Eastern Europe, and we see them get together, be taken apart because of British Immigration laws, and then we see him try to get Viktor back tot he UK, with disastrous results (I dare you not to cry at their fate)

But Emma Thompson steals the series from everyone, playing Vivienne Rook, a politician quite unlike a figure we all can recognize: an oily snake salesman who promises everything but is only out for herself. The series lights up whenever she is on, and if there is a God she should win everything for the series.

Does it make the future scary? Perhaps it does, but you can see that while the world spins to a lot of change, it also spins to make everything go back, as is what is happening right now.  We just need to embrace and adapt.

 

Desire (Television Thoughts: Mrs. Fletcher, Season 1, HBO)

HBO+Mrs+Fletcher+Pop+Up+Preview+Party+SctpZR9mVVclI have been watching, and fascinated, by Mrs. Fletcher, the mini series on HBO. I saw and wrote about the first episode, and I have only been enticed by it, binge-watching the rest of the episodes. I was engrossed and enthralled by it, by the story of Eve Fletcher, who suddenly finds herself caught in an empty nest after her son goes to college. I noted in the first episode that Eve instantly caught my empathy, after her son treats her like shot before leaving for college. Brendan, the son, finds himself in a uncomfortable environment now that he is away for school – he used to be the popular guy, the king of his high school, but now he has to find his way around his new environment. I found these two parallel stories very interesting, as they are both thrust into their respective situations and need to find their ways.

I just wish it ended with a little bit more clarity. It is structured with an open-ended finale, and I thought the series would be open-ended as well, but there doesn’t seem to be any plans for a second season. It kind of makes you ask – did they learn a lesson from whatever they went through? Brendan, in the final episode, walks in on his mother in bed with a young man and a woman, and it is the young man he used to bully when he was still in school. It would have been nice to see some kind of resolution on this – the story was framed with questions that are left unanswered. Some story lines were haphazardly set up – the trans teacher and her budding romance with a student, Eve;s friend going through marital problems – and we do not gleam any insight from them. I just feel like we should have been given an episode, or three, more to wrap everything up.

Left To Her Devices (Television Thoughts: Mrs. Fletcher Episode 1)

MV5BZTVlMDViYzItMGVhMS00YmQyLTg4ZTAtYjA4ZDZlY2RlNmExXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY0MTE3NzU@._V1_I have not read Tom Perrota’s novel ‘Mrs. Fletcher,’ but I am told it is about porn. So that has made me interested in the new HBO limited series ‘Mrs. Fletcher.’  You kind of do nto get that from the first episode of the show, which just sets up Mrs. Fletcher’s scenario. Played by Kathryn Hahn, who is almost always sensational, this Mrs. Fletcher is a sad sack of a mother, whose son is off to college, and the son is a huge ass-wipe, who has no manners, treats his mother – all women, actually – as crap. When she tearfully leaves him in college, he responds by wanting her out as soon as she can, and she is left with a bottle of rose and her laptop. You feel for Mrs. Fletcher at once, her situation is dire, and you know she is bound for some kind of awakening (from the looks of it, sexual) While I look forward to that, it also seems like her son Brendan is due for some kind of comeuppance when he is left in college, no longer the big and popular guy in school. I am immediately hooked in the show now, and look forward when porn comes in. Well, the idea of it in relation the series, anyway. I don’t think the show is one.

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.