‘She’s Gotta Have It’: The Love and Labor of Art

Nola Darling

How Nola Darling is an artist of the moment, reclaiming her voice through art in the new Netflix series ‘She’s Gotta Have It.’ In Spike Lee’s debut film, She’s Gotta Have It (1986), Nola is an artist. Her Brooklyn apartment is decorated with her work — in particular, an elaborate wall collage blending drawings and newspaper cuttings that evolves as the film moves forward in time. Nola Darling shares a birthday with Malcolm X. May 19, the cusp of Taurus and Gemini. She is a figure of transformation, a representation rather than an individual, she is the artist of the moment. In 2017, through a Netflix series written and directed by Lee, Nola Darling was reborn into a new era as an artist searching for her own voice. In the 1986 film Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) lives in pre-gentrified Brooklyn. She juggles three men, Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee), Jamie Overstreet        …read more

‘Riverdale’ Is Cheesy, But It’s in on the Joke

Archie comics, Riverdale TV show

With loose ties to ‘Archie’ comics, ‘Riverdale’ is a self-aware and engaging drama for teens and adults alike. SPOILERS AHEAD! In just the first season of the CW’s Riverdale, we see a father murder his own child, a teacher with a false identity have a passionate affair with a high school student, a man thrown in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and a vengeful daughter burn her family’s beloved estate to the ground. In the hands of producers who didn’t understand the ridiculous nature of such a melodramatic and implausible tale, the show would’ve been a disaster. After all, the source material — the long-running Archie comics — bears little resemblance to Riverdale in either tone or narrative. But with a straight face, the show gives us subtle hints that it’s in on the joke, and it’s the reason I’ve continued to tune in week after week. “From a        …read more

‘Master of None’ and the Theater of Food

Master of None

Food is a powerful social tool in ‘Master of None.’ Master of None season two is full of pasta, wine and cupcakes. In this Emmy-winning Netflix series, the main character, Dev (portrayed by show co-creator Aziz Ansari), continues to indulge his foodie passions while living in Italy and returns to the U.S. to work as a host for a food network. In this charming season, food does more than give the characters something to do and a place to have a chat. For example, food is at the center of a family conflict. Dev’s family is Muslim, and as Dev’s mom, Nisha (Fatima Ansari) puts it to a waiter, “We don’t eat pork.” Dietary restrictions, which are common among many religious groups, can be wrapped up in tradition, ethics and faith. A person can display their devotion by the degree to which they publicly adhere to a dietary restriction. Dietary        …read more

‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Lives Up to the Hype

Stranger Things season 2

Massive, massive spoilers ahead. First spoiler: ‘Stranger Things’ season 2 is amazing. Ever since last year’s stunning premiere of the Netflix Original hit, one question was on everyone’s mind: will Stranger Things season 2 live up to season 1? How in the world could they top that? For those somehow not in the know, Stranger Things was something of a dark horse in the world of television. Created by relative unknowns, the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things is a sci-fi action-adventure pseudo-horror steeped in ’80s nerd nostalgia that took the nation by storm. Following a Goonies-like pattern, the series features a group of small-town kids as they try to solve a cross-dimensional mystery involving government secrets, literal aliens and a now-iconic experiment-turned-badass psionic bald girl who apparently loves waffles. With its cinematic eye and its nail-biting storytelling, the show was a tremendous success. But soon after Stranger Things season 2 was        …read more

8 Reasons to Schedule a Binge ahead of ‘Grace and Frankie’ Season 4

Grace and Frankie season

‘Grace and Frankie’ season 4 is sure to wrap up several exciting cliffhangers. If you haven’t been watching the Netflix hit sitcom Grace and Frankie, you’ve been missing out. Luckily right now is the perfect time to get caught up. The show recently just got renewed for a fourth season, which will be on Netflix in 2018 — giving you plenty of time to binge-watch the first three seasons currently available on the streaming service. The show is about two rival women in their 70s who are forced together when their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) both come out of the closet and leave them for one another. Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) couldn’t be more different: the former is a tightly wound businesswoman while the latter is a pot-smoking hippie. As they come to terms with their post-divorce lives, they end up living together        …read more

‘Friends from College’ Gives Viewers an Unlikely Family Drama

Friends from College

‘Friends from College’ is finding its way with a balance of smart comedy and unconventional family drama. They say you can’t choose your family. And Tolstoy famously wrote that “all happy families are alike.” So how do you explain the cast of Netflix’s new sitcom, Friends from College? To be sure, they function perfunctorily as the titular (can we call them titular?) stars of the show (they are “friends from college”), but even such a designation doesn’t properly explain the deconstructed alchemy on display. Just when you think you understand what the show is trying to be, it dives off into another corner of another thought landscape, hurling the viewer down an excursion that is usually, more often than not, worth the ride. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWUBRto1WZQ Starring Keegan-Michael Key (Comedy Central’s Key and Peele), Cobie Smulders (The Avengers, How I Met Your Mother), Fred Savage (Wonder Years) and a fine ensemble cast,        …read more

‘Release the Hounds’ Is Stupid Fun

Reality TV combines ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ with ‘The Running Man’ — with dogs. Contestants who have no idea what they’re in for are brought to a shadowy patch of woods. There, they’re instructed to find keys to unlock chests that contain money — and then leg it from a bunch of dogs. If they get caught, they don’t get to keep the money. Release the Hounds sounds like something 30 Rock’s version of NBC would’ve run. But it manages to be infinitely watchable despite the dubious concept. Release the Hounds — which I can only assume gets its title from the oft-repeated Mr. Burns line from The Simpsons — speaks to the same portion of the brain that makes us unconsciously rocket to our feet for a better view when a college hockey game explodes into fisticuffs while the puck glides away completely ignored. Or what likely drove the        …read more

Are ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Black Mirror’ Really So Similar?

Twilight Zone, Black Mirror

‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Black Mirror’ are frequently compared, but here are three fundamental differences. If you’re just catching on to the series Black Mirror, you’re not alone. Though it first aired on British television at the end of 2011, its acquisition by Netflix in 2016 brought it to a whole new audience. The original press release for the series called it “a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected which taps into our contemporary unease about our modern world.” This particular bit of marketing of the techno-drama series, which mainly plays on insecurities about the digital world, seems to have been particularly effective. A whole lot of articles have declared Black Mirror the heir to The Twilight Zone. That’s a difficult standard for any show to live up to, but Black Mirror does admirably well. Both shows are quite largely concerned with future worlds and the morality        …read more

BoJack Horseman Season 4 Will Break Your Heart

BoJack Horseman season 4

The Netflix Original animated show returns valiantly with BoJack Horseman season 4. We seem to be at an absolute high point for animation. And while those handing out awards don’t always take notice, critics, consumers and creators seem to be putting their eggs in the animation basket. Fall TV has officially kicked off, and on September 8 animated knockout BoJack Horseman season four hit Netflix. The series premiered in 2014 to decent reviews, showing promise but not to its fullest extent. But BoJack didn’t disappoint in the next few seasons, building steam and distinguishing itself as a truly singular show with a dark twist and a bleeding heart. The show was created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and stars Will Arnett as the world’s most beloved and be-hated sitcom horse. For those unfamiliar with the premise of the show, it’s rather simple: in a world similar to our own, save for the        …read more

‘Sense8’ Cancelled, Dealing 8 Blows to Diversity in TV

Sense8 cancelled

‘Sense8’ has been cancelled by Netflix, but fans aren’t letting it go quietly. When Netflix pronounced Sense8 cancelled after two seasons, viewers were stunned. Some questioned if the move was made to legitimize Netflix in its role as a — if not the — major provider of television in the transition from network television to online streaming services. Out with the old and in with the new, now on the internet. What Netflix may not have expected but definitely should have: massive outrage. Sense8, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (The Matrix) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), is the unique story of eight people scattered around the globe with a unique mental link allowing them to speak to each other, borrow each other’s skills, and experience each other’s lives. The characters embody empathy to their cores, something fans believe television — and the world — needs more of. The show        …read more