Review: Netflix’ GLOW is a splendid blend of many things—from campy female wrestling, satire to telly industry, feminism spirit and rage against racial stereotypes—that work fascinatingly. Presented as a period piece which sees L.A. circa 1985, the show radicalizes the era’s fascination towards glazing neon and devotion to day-time soap opera, then mixes them together in an exhilarating, vibrant ‘fake-sport’ drama.
In GLOW, a struggling actress, Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) is disheartened upon finding out that the industry has suppressed female roles to the brink of marginalization. When she encounters a desperate B-movie director, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron)—who develops ‘The Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling’ a.k.a. GLOW for a TV channel, she surprisingly finds an absurdly empowering opportunity. From there, the line between pro-wrestling and soap opera begins to blur; and a road to stardom emerges. Continue reading A Season with: GLOW (2017) – Season 1
Review: In first two seasons of Fargo—a powerhouse of anthology based on The Coen Brothers’ 1996 film of the same title, Noah Hawley has proven his worth as a hell of most consistently stylist showrunner. Extracting the comedy-of-errors formula from the film and creating hollow modern folklore set in the film’s universe, Hawley also crafts unsympathetically likable characters and throwing them into an awkwardly cunning situation. The result: a pitch black comedy and mayhem at the same time.
As for the third season, Fargo returns with an unpretentious rhythm—smaller in scale, calmer in sense, lesser havoc compared to the first two seasons (the first renders the film quite closely, while the second feels more heavy-metal)—which ends up in a more traumatic result. It’s no longer a rough mix of petty-crime-gone-wrong and wrong-people-in-wrong-place situation, although the shades of it still become this season’s foundation. A stroke of enigmatic evil also presents, this time, in a more contagious fashion. Continue reading A Season with: Fargo (2017) – Season 3
Review: In adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (Logan), take Gaiman’s vision—for a divine story about immigrants and gods in a land of no god—into a whole new level of occultism. While retaining the novel’s tongue-in-cheek philosophical relevance, the show combines it with current real-world issue—about religion and humanity—and revises the author’s neglects towards minor storylines with a more engaging, intertwined ‘war of gods’ epic.
Same as the novel, American Gods centers on Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), a purposeless ex-convict whose wife (Emily Browning) is killed on a car accident a few moment before his release. Upon his despair, Shadow encounters a man-god who calls himself, Wednesday (Ian McShane) and gets recruited as a henchman in war between the Old Gods (Wednesday and comrades) and the New Gods of media, technology et al. Once hired, series of enigmatic events and bands of obscure characters appears, rendering Shadow (and audience’s, too) baffled and puzzled. Yet, as Wednesday said, there’s only one rule among others: Shadow is not paid for asking questions. Continue reading A Season with: American Gods (2017) – Season 1
Review: In Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, the near-future world is depicted as a real horror show, especially for women. A theocratic totalitarian government of Gilead rises from the ashes of what once known as the United States—which has perished in aftermath of a civil war leading to environment contamination and financial crisis. In this dystopian world, stability is built upon sacrifices; but the sacrifice is too tremendous: women’s position in the society.
Gilead—a fascist regime, which lays its foundation upon Biblical inspiration, diabolically confiscates women’s right and subjugates them to the outer realm of society. Those women—who mostly become infertile due to the war—are considered low and no longer allowed to work, even read. Those who are lucky enough to still be fertile aren’t actually lucky. They are enslaved as Handmaids to be legally raped in a ceremony to conceive children for the bourgeois. Continue reading A Season with: The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) – Season 1
Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns elegantly in aftermath of the second season’s ultimate cliffhanger and sees our titular powerhouse, Kimberly ‘Kimmy’ Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), grown into a more empathetically, complex protagonist. While the cult captive PTSD theme is still revisited for once or twice, season three witnesses Kimmy arises above the ground, literally leaves the underground bunker, and gets integrated into a real world problem of empowerment and feminism.
At first, Kimmy’s got to do something to clinch the cliffhanger, where Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) demands a divorce; then, she’s going to college for education and, eventually, career; later, she’s learning something about herself that makes her different from other people. At the same time, creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock insert insightful quests for other characters to deal with, which take roots from their deeds in the second season; and make them a more integral part of the storytelling. Continue reading A Season with: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2017) – Season 3
Review: Taking full resilient force from Justin Simien’s 2014 indie-hit, Dear White People, Netflix’s Dear White People reuses the same force to launch this 10-episode of witty comedy into this year’s most thought-provoking spectacle. This works as an extension of the infamous black-themed white-people party in the feature film, although it starts off with effective reimagining of it; but, it transcends mostly as the aftermath with counter-racism and cross-cultural conversation at its heart.
Set in a fictional Ivy League university, Winchester College, Dear White People follows a tribe of black students living in all-black dorm named Armstrong-Parker house. If the film version combines multiple characters’ arcs in a full-frontal riot, the series presents the story differently. Each pivotal character gets a full 30-minute episode arc in exercising the doomed party’s aftermath. Continue reading A Season with: Dear White People (2017) – Season 1