HBO’s Sharp Objects is the best-edited series on TV right now. It’s certainly the one that goes the farthest beyond standard TV storytelling, where the main goal is to advance plotlines and feed data to the viewer. It’s not wrong to describe it as a small-town murder mystery — each episode ends on a cliffhanger, a standard technique in both TV and literature to entice us to experience the next chapter — but if you were to make a list of things that Sharp Objects cares about, getting from plot point A to plot point B wouldn’t rank too high. It’s more of a show about how, to quote William Faulkner, “The past is never dead; it’s not even past.” The same-titled source novel, by Gillian Flynn, is already a memory piece, delving into the tangled backstory of Wind Gap, Missouri, and the pain of its prodigal daughter, reporter Camille Preaker. Played on the show by Amy Adams, Camille is in town to investigate what turns into … [Read more...] about What Sharp Objects Understands About Memory
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An early contender for one of Vulture’s best shows of the year, PEN15, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle’s unsparing — and hilarious — portrayal of female adolescence set in the early 2000s is a delight from beginning to end. But one of the most powerful episodes is right in the middle. In episode six, “Posh,” the show’s dorky protagonists — the 31-year-old creators playing their 12-year-old selves — are paired with the popular girls on a school project. This is a dangerous proposition, since as any middle schooler well knows, mixing cool and uncool can be as disastrous as pop rocks and Coke. Indeed, the group’s plan to film an osteoporosis-prevention video featuring the “Old Spice Girls” begins to go south when the cool kids, all of whom are white, force Maya, who is half-Japanese, to play Scary Spice. “Because you’re different from us, you’re, like, tan,” one says. It’s a slippery slope … [Read more...] about PEN15’s Spice Girls Episode Was ‘Traumatic’ to Film
From the presenters, to the host bits, to the musical numbers, Oscar night is filled with comedy. But if you want your movie to actually win an award, your best bet is to be as serious as possible. The last movie to win Best Picture that you could conceivably file under comedy was Birdman in 2014, preceded by The Artist in 2011 (and even those would be considered untraditional comedies). Before that, you’d have to go all the way back to 1977 for Annie Hall to find another example. However, there was a time in the history of the Academy Awards when one didn’t have to wait decades for comedy to be recognized. The early days of the Oscars found the Academy still defining what its awards would be. The first ceremony, held in May of 1929, couldn’t be more different than it’s modern version. About 270 celebrities and producers attended the private dinner, paying $5 a ticket. It’s the only Academy Awards not to be broadcast by television or radio, but there … [Read more...] about What Happened to Oscars Dedicated to Comedy (and Should They Be Brought Back)?
Netflix’s Tuesday night announcement that it was signing superstar showrunner Ryan Murphy to a five-year overall deal came as no surprise to anyone in Hollywood. Bloomberg Businessweek reported back in December that Disney’s pending purchase of 20th Century Fox TV, Murphy’s longtime home, made a jump to the streamer highly likely, and Murphy’s own remarks to reporters last month only served to back up the speculation. That the agreement was expected does not make it any less of a seismic event for the TV (and film) industry. Coupled with last year’s megabucks deal for Shonda Rhimes, it’s yet another confirmation of Netflix’s relentless determination to dominate both the consumption and production of filmed entertainment no matter the cost. It will also almost certainly usher in a wave of even more blockbuster talent signings, both at Netflix and other media giants. Neither Ryan nor Netflix were speaking to the press Wednesday, and Netflix … [Read more...] about What Ryan Murphy’s Massive Netflix Deal Means for Hollywood
Russian Doll, the new Netflix series that debuts Friday and stars Natasha Lyonne, is an ideal weekend binge. It’s eight episodes that clock in at under 30 minutes each, telling a self-contained story that is at once funny and twisted and scary. It’s a Groundhog Day–style premise, a story about a woman named Nadia (Lyonne) who keeps dying and waking up again in the middle of her 36th birthday party. It’s a great show, both surprising and affecting, and it neatly dodges the standard tropes of its familiar premise. By the end, Russian Doll builds to a climactic discovery that involves Nadia reconsidering her past, sorting through her childhood and her relationship with her mother without ever collapsing into a simple reductionist takeaway. That’s one of the most refreshing things about the show: It’s an uncompromising portrait of Nadia as an imperfect, messed-up woman who does need to examine herself, but doesn’t need to sacrifice her … [Read more...] about Russian Doll Is a Brilliant, Surreal Show About Women in Power
RuPaul’s Drag Race is back! Are you ready to be gagged all over again? No!?!?! Why? Because All-Stars literally ended, what, like 15 minutes ago and the ending of it was, well, you know … Well, let What the Tuck, the first and only (do not fact-check this — we see you) RuPaul’s Drag Race podcast, pump you up and help you stretch out all those tight and sore Drag Race–watching muscles. With the show returning for its 11th season this Thursday, February 28, oh, you know, we got a little preview, henny. WTT’s season-two hosts — Vulture’s very own Drag Race recapper and one half of Las Culturistas, Matt Rogers, and Horny 4 Horror co-host Mano Agapion — ask and answer all the important questions: Where are we with the show? Who are the new queens? Which has star quality? Based exclusively on their Meet the Queens videos, where do we peg the contestants to finish? Will A’keria Chanel Davenport, Ariel Versace, Brooke Lynn Hytes, … [Read more...] about RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 Preview