Beyond Its Cringe Comedy, 'Nathan for You' Has Real Heart

Nathan for You

The hilarious pathos of ‘Nathan for You.’ Comedy Central’s business-reality show Nathan for You is unlike anything else on television because its host, Canadian comedian and writer Nathan Fielder, is unlike anyone else on television. A master of awkwardness and cringe comedy, Fielder is capable of making everyone in his presence feel uncomfortable in a way that extends to the viewers, who are left squirming in their seats as they wait for someone to break the silence. But look beyond his bizarre conversations and surreal “solutions” to the marketing problems of small businesses, and you’ll find Nathan for You to not only be the funniest show on television but the one with the most heart as well. SPOILERS AHEAD! The majority of episodes in Nathan for You, which recently wrapped its fourth season on Comedy Central, follow the same basic structure: Fielder approaches a business struggling to attract customers and        …read more

'Heathers' Remake May Never Air (Yay!): 7 Shows to Watch Instead

Heathers remake

The out-of-touch ‘Heathers’ remake was postponed, but most early reviewers would be happy if it never aired. Here are 7 fantastic shows to binge instead. The Paramount Network said the Heathers remake, originally scheduled to premiere March 7, is being postponed until later in 2018 “in light of the recent tragic events in Florida and out of respect for the victims, their families and loved ones.” If you missed the Heathers pilot, which it must be said was released online after the Parkland shooting occurred, then don’t cry into your pillow. It’s unworthy of the cult classic source material, and it received well-deserved backlash. A plus-size female, genderqueer teen and Black lesbian (whose sexuality is questioned) are now the popular kids in school? They bully, shame and threaten to end classmates’ lives at will, with social media their weapon of choice. Viewers can only shake their heads at the misguided attempt        …read more

8 'Game of Thrones' Women Ruling the World

Game of Thrones women

‘Game of Thrones’ women govern their world. The men only think they’re in charge. Times are certainly changing, albeit slowly. But if you grew up when I did and were a fan of fantasy comics, books and movies, there was one certainty — the heroes were men. How many video games or books could be boiled down to “saving the princess”? And even when there were women who weren’t helpless damsels in distress, they were often there to be scantily dressed and in the end still had to be saved by men. But let’s look at Game of Thrones women and their powerful roles. Spoiler alert! While most of us are upset the next season won’t be until 2019 (and we’re still waiting for the next book), this article speaks to not only the full book series to date but also the TV series. Ye have been warned… First published        …read more

What Should We Do with Entertainment Plagued by Celebrity Scandal?

celebrity scandal

From ‘Coco’ to ‘House of Cards,’ celebrity scandal has left us conflicted about our favorite movies and shows. Here’s why we should keep watching. You can learn a great deal about filmmaking from Director Roman Polanski (e.g., Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown). When he won the Academy Award for Best Director for The Pianist, the not-present director received a standing ovation. That was controversial because Polanski is guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl (he fled the U.S. in 1978). And there are other accusations of sexual assault against the now-84-year-old director. It seems Polanski knows how to survive a celebrity scandal and have a successful career. You could say Hollywood had its own moral code. Or it was forgiving of members’ transgressions for the sake of artistic excellence. That was, until the fall of 2017. With the wave of outing alleged sexual predators and harassers, the rise of the #MeToo movement        …read more

From Harry Potter to Wonder Woman: Which Adaptations Succeed and Why?

adaptation movie, books that are made into movies

A look at some of the best and worst TV and movie adaptations and what determines a successful transition from book to screen. For voracious readers, it’s often a double-edged sword when our favorite comic books, graphic novels, and novels are adapted to TV shows and movies. Avid fans will always be upset by revisions, and they’ll certainly love the books more. Often changes seem to be made for change’s sake, and adaptations lose the spirit and character that made us love the books in the first place. But even when screenwriters stick closely to the source material, the medium of the screen necessitates changes. And if done right, TV and movie adaptations can leave us with a different yet still noteworthy bit of entertainment. My mother and I both thought the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie (2003) was horrible. When I told her what happened in the comic book, she replied,        …read more

HBO Is Adapting the Ferrante Novels, and We're Cautiously Optimistic

Ferrante novels

The possibilities and pitfalls of translating the powerful Ferrante novels to the small screen. Chances are you’ve read or heard of Elena Ferrante’s popular Neapolitan Novels, or at least caught glimpses of the books’ notably generic “chick lit”–style covers on the subway and on friends’ coffee tables. It’s true that the covers are not very enticing, but you know what they say about books and covers. The Ferrante novels have taken the literary world by storm since My Brilliant Friend was published in 2011. The novel and its three successors follow the story of two friends, Lila and the narrator Elena, who were born in a poor neighborhood in Naples in the 1950s. The two grow up, get married, start careers and have children, all while their friendship waxes and wanes. The book has struck a chord with women in particular because of its brutally honest depiction of a female        …read more

Breaking Bad: The Greatest TV Drama Turns 10

Breaking Bad

Ten years after the premiere of ‘Breaking Bad,’ it feels like we met Walter White yesterday. Ten years ago a down-on-his-luck high school chemistry teacher donning tighty-whities and a raggedy button-down put a gun to his head in the middle of the desert and pulled the trigger. At that time in his life, nothing was going as planned, so of course he’d forgotten to turn the safety off. In retrospect, that broken man seems almost unrecognizable. Perhaps that’s fitting, though, since in the end Walter White barely recognized himself. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are the name Walter White means something to you. The lead character in Breaking Bad, arguably the greatest television drama of all time, maintained the always exciting identity of the antihero — a protagonist who does a mixture of good and bad things for both dubious and noble reasons. Whether you loathe or        …read more

‘Drunk History’ Makes the Driest Subject Go Down Smooth

Drunk History

Before season 5 makes history drunk again, revisit the 5 best episodes of ‘Drunk History’ so far. Disclaimer: in the spirit of Drunk History, I am writing this article with a glass of absinthe. In chapter three of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, after growing to nine feet tall, crying and then shrinking again only to find herself in a sea of her own tears, Alice finally comes ashore with a strange assembly of birds and animals. As they’re wondering how to get dry again, the Mouse begins reciting the history of William the Conqueror, the driest thing he knows. History has a bad reputation as a dry subject, full of dates and names to memorize. Despite being a good student, I personally hated history for most of my school years, at least as it was presented in class. Even Derek Waters, creator and host of Drunk History, says,        …read more

A Closer Look at Media Representations of Jewish People

media representation

How Jews have been presented in film and TV, and why media representation matters. In an episode of Master of None, the characters talk about media representation of Indian people and other marginalized groups. Their conclusion is that there have been great strides recently, if you’re Black or gay. Now, growing up Jewish in the Midwest, I spent a good portion of my life looking at how we were represented. That is, not too well. There are three basic problem areas in media representation of marginalized groups: invisibility, conformity and stereotypes. Let’s look at how these have affected Jews through TV and movie history. 1. Invisibility One problem area in media representation is what I call invisibility. This is the erasure, through omission, of a culture or race. The whole point here is to hide something uncomfortable. I remember the hullaballoo created when Ellen had a lesbian kiss. It was        …read more

‘The X-Files’ Returns as Pentagon Acknowledges Secret UFO Program

In light of the Pentagon’s UFO investigation program, suddenly ‘The X-Files’ doesn’t seem so far-fetched. In December, I spent a lot of time thinking about UFOs and paranormal activity as I impatiently counted down the days until Fox Mulder and Dana Scully returned to my small screen for season 11 of The X-Files. Then fascinating reports published by The New York Times and Politico confirmed the existence of the AATIP (Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program), a UFO program that had secretly operated within the Pentagon starting in 2007. Suddenly The X-Files didn’t seem quite so improbable. Much of the exact nature of the AATIP’s work remains shrouded in secrecy. But Luis Elizondo, the military intelligence official who served as the program’s leader until October 2017, confirmed that the team studied UFOs and observed activity that couldn’t be explained by science. As reported by The New York Times, AATIP received government        …read more