Culture News

Will Anyone Miss the Golden Globes?

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association just realized that it might be a problem that they have no Black members.

HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, HFPA President Ali Sar, and HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne at the Golden Globes 2021

To say it plain: Award shows are a farce.

Every year, the same routine: the same kinds of films (read: films by and about white men) are nominated, the same kinds of people (read: white people) take home most of the awards. Occasionally, there are surprises — this year it was Chloé Zhao's winning streak for Nomadland, Minari's delightful cast, and the joy that is Daniel Kaluuya — but more often, we leave disappointed and at least a little angry.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture Feature

Best and Worst of the 2021 Golden Globes Awards

Between racism, fashion faux-pas and technical difficulties, there was certainly a lot to unpack in the ceremony, so we did it so you don't have to.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes

Another awards season is upon us.

Despite delays for some major shows due to COVID, the Golden Globes kicked off the virtual awards season this weekend. Hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — another win for white women before the show even began — the 2021 Golden Globes were held in a bicoastal ceremony between New York, LA, and the internet.

Keep Reading Show less

FADE IN:

EXT. BEVERLY HILLS MANSION — NIGHT

MICHAEL (71, balding, white) sits across from LISA (64, slim, white) at a poolside table, looking out over Los Angeles lit up beneath them. Michael's tie is undone, and shirt partially unbuttoned to reveal a shock of greying chest hair he takes a long, satisfied drag on a CIGARETTE, then passes it to Lisa, who draws on it thoughtfully, looking into the middle distance.

Keep Reading Show less
TV News

Golden Globes: HFPA Nominates "Emily in Paris", Snubs "I May Destroy You"

What is wrong with the Golden Globes that a brilliant show gets snubbed while mediocrity is honored?

Here's the setup: a young but accomplished social-media maven is in over her head in the professional world where she finds herself in a major European capital (for the sake of argument, we'll pretend England is still part of the EU).

She has a complicated romantic life, and she wants to be successful — just not quite as much as she wants to enjoy herself. We follow her as she learns to navigate often overwhelming circumstances and how to stick up for herself — with a lot of help from some close friends.

Keep Reading Show less
TV Features

"Ramy" Creator Ramy Youssef Is Humble About His Show's Historic Emmy Nominations

The lovable young star and creator of Ramy was just nominated for Emmys for his acting and directing.

At just 29 years old, Ramy Youssef—not to be confused with his character Ramy Hassan—has already created and starred in his own breakout series on Hulu, and won both a Golden Globe and a Peabody award.

But it wasn't long ago that the country at large hadn't heard of him.

His stand-up comedy got him booked on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert back in 2017—in the lead-up to his three-episode stint on Mr. Robot as Elliot's obnoxious, rambling co-worker Samar. Prior to that performance he had never been on network television, and he jokes that even his mother didn't take his Hollywood ambition seriously—encouraging him to get into acting with the idea that he could infiltrate Hollywood and eventually "become a lawyer for actors."

Keep Reading Show less
TV Features

Binge-watching Challenge: Start a Show at Season 3

It's possible to spare ourselves the slog of shows when they're just starting out.

Quarantine: when jobs have either been lost or relegated to the living room, wherein social functions are limited to Zoom, wherein the 24-hours in a day can really be felt.

With less to physically fill the time, the time remains unfilled. Fortunately, sequestered humans have never had such a bevy of entertainment options available to them. But that kind of freedom can be paralyzing. Never has there been a better time for binge-watching, but what are we to binge? And how?

Since all this free-time demands discipline, here's an unconventional suggestion: Pick one of the all-time great shows, something you've always wanted to watch but couldn't find the motivation nor time to do so, and start not at the beginning, but at season three instead. Whether it's a comedy or a drama or simply something you've put off watching because the plot is too involved or the show is too hyped, ignore the first two seasons entirely, and fall into a world that's already in motion. Using our knowledge of television in general, and by tapping into the cultural conversation of characters and references, we can spare ourselves the slow starts of seasons one and two, and get right to the meat of the matter. Why sit around waiting for a show to find itself? Why settle for less than the best?

First seasons are often uneven or uncertain, anyway. Second seasons are often better and more compelling, but shows that make it to season three emerge with a clear tone and complete characters: two necessities for any show with long-term success.

Examples abound of shows finding themselves in their third seasons. Arguably, the greatest comedies of the 21st century are The Office and Parks and Recreation, though contenders such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Curb Your Enthusiasm are important to the discussion, as well. As for dramatic examples, look to the Olympic podium of TV's Golden Era: Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men.

Mad Men Season 3 Promo Photo

A weighted-review aggregation site like Metacritic is not the law, but it is useful. The numbers almost universally favor third seasons and beyond. Parks and Rec improves in score from a 58 in season one to an 83 in season three, a change signifying an ascension from "mixed or average reviews" to "Universal Acclaim," in the critics' words. The Office's highest overall score is season three's 85. Breaking Bad starts solidly with its first two season garnering scores of 73 and 84, but in its final three earns marks of 89, 96, and 99, an unprecedented run of greatness. Game of Thrones' two highest marks of 91 and 94 are for seasons three and four, respectively. Mad Men is the lone outlier of the bunch, as its second season outscores its third by a single point. However, its fourth season, ruled a 92, is the series' high-point. Why? Shows generally hit their strides in season three.

First, character development peaks at season three. First seasons tend to be myopic about their characters, hoping that closeness will lead viewers to love them. Season two is the experimentation room, wherein worlds shift, and season three is the fruit of that labor, with confident characters and expanded worlds.

By season three, the main characters have been poked and prodded for two full seasons, experimented on until their truest selves have been revealed. How? Conflict. Characters are made complete, in mold and mindset, through consistent conflict. They are built through what are essentially a series of thought experiments: How would x react if y? A byproduct of such conflict is a fleshing out of a show's world. Conflict requires fresh subjects to be placed before a character, be they fresh faces, strange circumstances, or unfamiliar situations.

For instance, two of Parks and Rec's most iconic characters, Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger aren't introduced until the very end of season two, where they immediately begin foiling Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones, the series leads. Breaking Bad's first two seasons lack the series' big bad, Gus Fring, creator of the fictional restaurant, Los Pollos Hermanos, the logo of which adorns the show's most popular merchandise; yet, it's only introduced in concept at the tail-end of the second season. The Office changes dramatically in season three, adding mainstay Andy Dwyer, flirting with a young Rashida Jones, and cementing Jim and Pam's relationship, which was until then a typical will-they-won't-they situation. Once resolved, it formed the literal backbone upon which the show is built.


Once they got together, Jim-and-Pam as a concept burst outside the confines of the show they were in, taking up real-estate in the general pop culture consciousness. The great shows, the all-timers, the ones you really should be watching in this quarantine time, share this Jungian trait. One doesn't need to have watched Seinfeld to understand the terms "shrinkage" or "close-talker." "We were on a break," is just part of our dialect.

Though this principle doesn't inform our viewing of many great shows, it does so with some of our touchstone comedies, like the aforementioned It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Curb your Enthusiasm. Shows of this format don't have one cohesive story pulling them along; it's possible, if not normal, to jump around to the great episodes through seasons, without care for continuity. Once it's known that the characters in Always Sunny are narcissists who work at a bar, it's easy to understand any episode, to jump in without further background. Ditto Curb, where Larry David is culturally understood to be an off-putting schmuck, and that's all one must know for maximum enjoyment.

Because the DNA of these two shows, and their dramatic brethren like Grey's Anatomy and NCIS, is accessible via collective unconscious, we culturally understand that it's unnecessary to sit and watch every single episode in a row. We know enough from our general human wanderings that we can skip the fluff and enjoy the standout performances and pieces, allowing superfluous details to slowly fill themselves in, as they always do.


Grey's Anatomy Season 3


Which of the truly great shows don't also already exist in our cultural consciousness? Nobody goes in blind to any piece of art nowadays, so it's hard to think of even one. Everyone knows Tony Soprano is a gangster in therapy. Lost takes place on an island post-plane crash. Jon Snow in Game of Thrones is a bastard, and if that isn't abundantly clear, they'll say it five or six times an episode.

No show is ever entered into truly blind. Between our bevy of previous cultural knowledge and the practice we've had in consuming other content en media res, it's possible to spare ourselves the slog of shows when they're just starting out. We've just never strayed from the unimaginative formula that shows are best began at the beginning. But that's clinging to tradition alone. Shows in season three will contain characters at their most compelling, jokes at their most pointed, worlds at their most alive. The show itself will be easier to enjoy, and that enjoyment will come quicker. Is that not the point? Maximum enjoyment, minimum commitment.

And when it's all over, when you love these people desperately and want so bad to live in their world for just a few minutes more, you can rejoice! For there are two more seasons for you to watch, saved, untouched. Their growing pains will seem quaint, their iffy characterizations cute. And the exercise alone will make you feel powerful, able to ground yourself in a world in movement.