FILM

Stop Putting Jared Leto in Movies

Jared Leto will reprise his role as The Joker in Zach Snyder's "Justice League." Below, read one whistleblower's unheeded warning.

Sony

There's a big problem with the trailer for Morbius, Sony's upcoming Marvel outing that is definitely not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe even though it has Michael Keaton reprising his role as Vulture (please let us keep our license, Disney!).

See if you can spot it.

MORBIUS - Teaser Trailer www.youtube.com

If you answered, "Sampling Beethoven's 'Für Elise' to line up with blue-tinted action shots is the absolute lowest effort, brain-dead attempt to signify 'gothic vampire movie' in the entire history of movie trailers," you're correct, but that's still not the biggest problem with Morbius. No, the biggest problem is that Morbius is played by Jared Leto.

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History

The History Channel, now known simply as "History," is the biggest joke of a television channel in...well, history.

Anyone unfamiliar with History might understandably assume that the channel airs documentaries and educational content related to its namesake. But while that assumption might have been correct back in the mid-90s, modern History is an unapologetic wasteland full of the worst reality TV shlock humanity has to offer. In some sense, though, maybe this is the History we deserve. Maybe humanity really is just a vapid, brain-dead virus destroying our planet in the name of empty profit, and History Channel truly is the history of us. And if that's true, if these History shows are reflective of who were are as a species, then perhaps global warming is the reckoning we deserve. Just take a look at what's on this channel.

5. Ice Road Truckers

Ice Road Truckers History

Ice Road Truckers is a show about truckers driving trucks down long, cold stretches of icy roads. 3.4 million people watched its premiere for some reason, and it aired for 11 seasons from 2007 to 2017. I don't know who watched Ice Road Truckers in the first place, and I don't know who kept watching it for 138 episodes. But I do know that if the only good thing that comes from global warming is that Ice Road Truckers can't get a reboot because all the icy roads are no longer icy, then maybe we're on the right track.

4. Swamp People

Swamp People History

Swamp People is like Duck Dynasty except stupider. I never thought I'd need to type that sentence, but here we are. The show revolves around a bunch of Louisiana hillbillies hunting alligators in a swamp. That's it. There are spin-off shows and mobile games and absolutely none of it makes a lick of sense. Millions of people tune in every week to watch a middle-aged man shout "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' 'BOUT!" as he shoots alligators in a swamp. This is all anyone needs to know about humans to know that we're fully deserving of being destroyed by the planet.

3. Pawn Stars

Pawn Stars History

If you replaced all the old, kindly appraisers from Antiques Roadshow with four yelling obese men, you'd have pretty much created Pawn Stars. It's certainly more entertaining than Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People, what with its deeply unlikable cast of overly dramatic pawnbrokers, but it also somehow offers less educational value, which should be impossible. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Pawn Stars is most popular in rural Kentucky. Luckily, Las Vegas is already pretty hot as is, so if we're lucky, global warming will destroy it first.

2. Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms History History

This History Channel masterpiece follows two Army veterans who now run a gun shop in Utah where they build souped up weapons and harass their daughters about wearing make-up. It's an absolute pandering dumpster fire geared towards the kind of gun owners who are frankly too stupid to be anywhere near a bathtub, let alone a round of live ammo. When global warming destroys Utah, it will undoubtedly be for the best.

1. Ancient Aliens

Ancient Aliens History

If ever there was a show that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt why humans no longer deserve planet Earth, that show would be Ancient Aliens. The premise of the show is that a group of lunatics lie about and attempt to decontextualize human history in order to pretend that ancient humans once made contact with aliens. There are 14 seasons of this show. It is still running, and it airs on a channel called History. I pray these idiots are correct, because while global warming might destroy us within a few centuries, aliens would be a whole lot faster.

TV

An Ode to Randall Pearson and His "This Is Us" Adoption Story

No parent is perfect, adoption is a lifelong journey, and Sterling K. Brown is a marvel.

On paper, This Is Us has all the staples of the perfect, corny family drama that networks like NBC love to exploit: saccharine speeches about family solidarity, impromptu monologues about inner demons, and a sappy instrumental soundtrack.

And so far, it's working. As the show wraps up its fourth season, the intergenerational, multiracial, and flashback-loving Pearson family still captures millions of Americans' attention every Tuesday. At the center of the show's pull is the magnetic Sterling K. Brown, who's garnered an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as Randall Pearson, the adopted black son of white parents Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Kate (Mandy Moore). Randall and his outspoken wife, Beth (played by the lovely Susan Kelechi Watson) bring dry humor and vulnerability to discussions about anxiety disorders, child welfare, racial politics, and, as last week's episode highlighted, interracial adoption.

Brown is aware of his character's significance to those at the margins of mainstream representation, particularly those of us who aren't white or neurotypical or raised by our biological parents. "I just love there's a sort of diaspora of African American representation," said Brown. "'This Is Us' is all about family and all about connection, and the world of the show continues to expand over the years. But it really does my heart good when, every once in a while, the show becomes very focused on the African American experience through Randall's family, through these other families that we've added to the fold, and they're not the same." Indeed, last season writer Faye McCray of blackgirlnerds published, "Just Admit It, NBC: 'This Is Us' Is (Almost) a Black Show," in which she praised the (sadly rare) realistic depiction of a black family. (And that was before Randall defended himself against someone erasing his black experience just because he was raised in a white family, asserting, "Don't get it twisted, sis. I wake up every day to a headscarf and coconut oil. I'm married to a black queen, not that it's any of your business." Go Randall, you hard-working, bespectacled, anxiety-ridden nerd who became a proud man and king of dad jokes!).

Aside from giving the show incentive to diversify its writing team (the show's white creators added three black writers to the final team of 10 to "get a bigger voice in [race-related] stories"), Randall also shows that mental illness can look strong, refined, and put-together, even on the cusp of a mental breakdown, of which he's had two. Brown said of his character's battle with anxiety, "I felt a responsibility because of people in my family who have anxiety or different mental disorders, I've been witness to it, and it's important to put it out there in a way that releases the stigma of it."

That brings us to season four, when the flashbacks to the Pearson triplet's adolescence coincide with Randall's own children's adolescence. Among the many growing pains, Randall's seen his oldest daughter experience a panic attack for the first time. He silently stewed at the kitchen table while jouncing his knee, while Beth looked on with the knowledge that fidgeting is Randall's tell-tale sign of his own anxiety. When he finally spoke, he recounted to his wife that he grew up without sharing any biological connections to his family, so it's particularly difficult to accept that he's passed on what he perceives to be his worst trait to his children. After the episode aired, Brown tweeted about the importance of mental health: "Tess had a panic attack. It runs in the family as we all know and have seen with Randall," he wrote. "Let's open up a dialogue about mental health. How do you navigate the sometimes overwhelming stressors/anxieties in your life?"

The incident was also the first time Randall opened up about being an adoptee whose only living biological relatives are his own children: It's a strange inevitability for all adoptees. As Vulture's Rebecca Carroll wrote in her piece "What This Is Us Gets Right About Being a Black Kid in a White Family," "Adoptees often need to make families that are of our bodies, and we need to make people who look like us, because it's a lot to be the only one in the room, in the family, the town, at the pool, for your entire childhood and youth." As a black adoptee in a white family herself, Carroll illuminates one of the show's most daunting tasks: how to portray interracial adoption accurately without the Hallmark platitudes, without invalidating mixed race families' bonds with each other, and without erasing the reality of being a person of color in America.

After all, the unquestionable throughline of This Is Us is that Jack and Kate are likeable but flawed people, whether in flashbacks to their youth or many years into their marriage. Still, Carroll succinctly writes, "...But add to that the historic and presumed assertion that white people can, will, and should decide the fate of black people, and love is just not enough. Obviously, there are exceptions, but white parents raising black kids often think they know what it means to raise black kids — 'If I say I'm raising a black child, I'm raising a black child, and he/she is mine,' as Rebecca later intones—when it's so much more fraught than that for the children."

So what This Is Us is finally addressing, beginning in the episode "The Club" and reaching daring heights in "The Dinner and the Date," is how 12-year-old Randall first realized that his parents' love has limitations. In season four, we've met Mr. Lawrence, the only black teacher at Randall's elite private school, with whom he's closely bonded and from whom he eagerly accepts reading recommendations, like James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr. When Randall tries to articulate how valuable these black authors are to him, his father doesn't understand. "Jack sees his son. He doesn't see color," Ventimiglia said. "But it's important to note that, as Randall said in a previous episode, 'If you don't see color, you don't see me.' As wonderful as it is that Jack just sees this young boy who grows into the young man that he loves ... he also comes to understand that there are things that he can't teach through experience, there's things that he can't show his son."

"this is us" randall adoption This is Us - Season 1 Ron Batzdorff/NBC

But This Is Us doesn't simplify the problem or completely absolve Rebecca and Jack of their ignorance. Jack's first impulse is to compare his past struggles with classism with the systemic racism Randall is going to have to face his entire life. After he realizes the deep flaws of that analogy, Jack decides to invite Mr. Lawrence and his wife over for an incredibly tense but brutally honest dinner. Ultimately, Jack confronts his own feelings of intimidation and insecurity that Mr. Lawrence stirs, because, as Jack struggles to articulate, "I can't teach my son how to be black." Jack's struggles to even articulate what it means to be a person of color lead him to a hint of revelation: He can't know what it's like, so what he can do is listen and learn, alongside Randall as he navigates his own self-discovery.

So for interracial adoptees like Carroll (and me), it's comforting, strange, and refreshing, however sad, to see this discomfort being aired on the fifth most popular show on TV, before 12 million weekly viewers. In fact, scriptwriter Kay Oyegun wants to bring this conflict (originally conceived by creator Dan Fogelman) to life this season. "I'll be very frank: A lot of white people feel uneasy talking about race," she said. "Black people talk about race quite often, mostly because it's something that's a part of our daily lives. I think one of the things that we wanted to do with this episode was make it OK to talk about race, was to destigmatize, normalize and begin a fluid conversation about differences, about similarities, and about where and how we can find — not even common ground, there's just ground, right?"

SPOILERS

But all of that underlying conflict culminates in Randall's decision in the season's penultimate episode. He outright emotionally manipulates his elderly mother, who's just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, into entering a clinical trial. That means being separated from her family when she may only have precious little time left. "I've been a good son," Randall repeats. "I've never asked you for anything." This comes after telling Rebecca that he hasn't resented her for lying to him about his biological father. It's a scene so well-acted by Moore and Brown that die-hard fans of the show were divided by Randall's uncharacteristic pragmatism: He says he needs his mother to do this, regardless of whether she wants to or not.

"I've already lost three parents," he tells his therapist before calling Rebecca, referring to his biological parents and Jack. "I know that losing my mother would break me. I can't lose her. I will do anything to keep that from happening." After four seasons of Randall fortifying himself against his buried issues because he saw himself as the pillar of the family, he carefully orchestrates to whom and when he shows his insecurities in order not to be hurt again.

Does Randall's complicated past as an interracial adoptee justify the manipulation? What's the ultimate cost of Rebecca's sacrifice?

The season four finale of This Is Us airs Tuesday, March 24.

TV

What Are Kate's Relationship Demons on "This Is Us"?

That feeling when your older boss looks up your address and appears on your doorstep, uninvited: RUN

What do you do when the co-worker you've started making out with at work suddenly shows up at your door to have dinner with your family?

Don't worry, he just knows that you're dreading it, so he looked through your job application to find your address and decided to show up uninvited. You're also a teenager, he's in his twenties, and he's also your boss. What do you do? Slam the f*cking door.

Kate and Marc This Is Us TV Insider


Unfortunately, it's truly not that simple when a charming individual starts pushing personal boundaries—especially if you're a young woman ages 18 to 24, especially when it's your first relationship, and especially when it's not long after your father just died (from a janky crock-pot, no less). That's what we know about Kate Pearson's teen years so far on season 4 of This Is Us. Among the most tear-jerking moments from last week's episode were Randall's realization that he's passed his anxiety on to his daughter and Uncle Nicky's bonding moment with Kevin. But then Kate and Rebecca shared an ominous moment while reminiscing on Kate's first boyfriend, Marc. After Kate discovers an old Polaroid of herself and Marc, her mother reflects solemnly, "I was trying so hard to hold it together that year after your father died, and I wanted to believe so badly that you kids were happy, I didn't see what was happening." Kate responded, "I didn't see it either."

Based on executive producers' and young Kate actress' (Hannah Zeile) thinly veiled hints and the show's typically dramatic build-up, signs point to Kate's first love turning into an abusive relationship. The twenty-something-year old has recently hired the teenager to work at the record store, and we see Kate and Marc spending most of her shift kissing in the back room. While Kate introduces Marc as her "friend from work," he ignores that to introduce himself as her boyfriend. While Marc seems charming and affable (not to mention his 90s grunge, laid back vibe), his charisma is paired with a slightly possessive hold on Kate's arm throughout his visit.


Co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker hasn't been coy about the show's exploration of this dark time in young Kate's life. He's confirmed that fans "should have a healthy amount of concern" over what occurred in Kate's first relationship. "I mean, there's something ominous looming there, the way that Rebecca and Kate are speaking about that relationship in present day," he explained. "And although he seems like a sweet guy now, it certainly seems like that did not end well for Kate." Fellow showrunner Elizabeth Berger has been more to the point, highlighting red flags in Marc's brief appearance on the show. He arrives, uninvited, at the Pearson home for a tense family dinner, passing it off as a seemingly charming gesture so Kate wouldn't have to "deal with this alone." But Berger notes that the act is particularly "telling" about his character. "That will definitely prove to be symbolic of Mark's larger personality," she revealed. "He's obviously somebody that goes for what he wants and feels entitled to show up to a place even when he's not invited."

Dan Fogelman's NBC family drama has managed to address a litany of delicate issues without exploiting trauma for higher ratings. From addiction and miscarriages to mental illness and HIV/AIDS, what's jokingly referred to as the show that makes America cry is a well-crafted tableau of a flawed family that doesn't always handle its demons well. As Aptaker notes about Kate's teen years, "I think Kate's at an incredibly sensitive, potentially vulnerable time in her life, a little bit aimless, searching for meaning and searching for a plan in the wake of her father's death." Compounded with the fact that the highest rates of partner violence occur among females ages 18 to 24, Kate's long-standing struggles with body image, self-confidence, and food could easily be influenced by an early abusive relationship.


It's also sadly reflective of society, as nearly 1 in 3 (35.6%) of women in the U.S. "have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime," according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Nearly half of all women (48.4%) have experienced "psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime." And while there are many forms of partner abuse (all varied, but all valid), whether emotional, physical, verbal, sexual, or even economic, anyone can fall into an abusive relationship if preyed upon during a vulnerable time. Furthermore, teens who experience abuse become alarmingly more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and harmful behaviors like substance abuse. After working with One Love Foundation's #ThatsNotLove campaign, 20-year-old Mattis Collier reflected, "It's not just bruises that are giveaways for an abusive relationship… It's how someone talks to you. It's how someone treats you. It's how someone talks about you to others."

TV

Who Is Cassidy Sharp on “This Is Us”?

Maybe it's Jennifer Morrison's stoic face or her impeccably plucked eyebrows, but we're dying to know who Cassidy Sharp is.

Warning for SPOILERS

In the first two episodes of This Is Us season 4, we see Randall's family adjusting to Philadelphia, Kevin's career taking off while he focuses on his sobriety, and Kate and Toby taking their newborn son home after learning that he's permanently blind.

But what's driven over 7 million viewers crazy is that season 4 introduces a bevy of new characters and barely a hint of how their lives connect to the Pearson family. In particular, Cassidy Sharp (played by prime time darling Jennifer Morrison, Once Upon a Time, House) is a military officer whose return home is complicated by symptoms of PTSD, struggles to find employment, and a drinking habit that grows steadily out of control. Who is she and how is her life entwined with the Pearsons?

This Is Us Season 4 Trailer (HD) youtu.be

One of the show's greatest strengths is its diverse team of writers (spanning races, genders, and body types) who have perfected a formula of curveballs and high drama twists that practically begs for out-there, elaborate fan theories. In eschewing the campy drama of soap operas, This Is Us also manages (for the most part) to avoid exploiting trauma for the sake of high stakes plotlines. Showrunner Isaac Aptaker says the production has "really, really tried to make the writers room a place where we can have those kinds of conversations—the kinds you don't have permission to have in your daily life." Combined with their time-warping twists, dry wit, and ability to script a chaotic family argument that spans from childhood slights to not being worthy of a dead father's memory, anything could happen on season 4. But we'll bet these Cassidy Sharp fan theories are onto something.

She's the Mother of Kevin's Son's

Struggling with PTSD, she's separated from her husband and has inadvertently lashed out at her son. After sharing her growing drinking problem at a VA meeting, Uncle Nicky suddenly appears by drunkenly throwing a steel chair through the window.

Season 4, Episode 3: Truth Comes Out - This Is Us (Promo) youtu.be

The season finale of season 3 revealed that perpetual bachelor Kevin ends up having a son, prompting fans to comb through every female character to appear on the show to sleuth out who the mother is. One theory postulated that Kate's best friend, Madison, bore a striking resemblance to the boy—in so far that she was blond(e) and attractive. But so is Kevin, himself. But the promos for the next episode tease Cassidy's introduction to Kevin, and odds are strong that they form a bond through Kevin's Uncle Nicky and their struggles with sobriety. Cassidy and Kevin forever?

OR Cassidy Sharp Is...a Pearson?

Days before season 4 premiered, showrunners took to Instagram to call for fan theories. For some reason, one popular one is that Cassidy Sharp, rather than being a love interest for Kevin, is his long lost relative, namely his cousin or even his sister. While fans have readily placed Jack Pearson on a pedestal in TV's hall of fame of greatest dads, part of the show's appeal is its realistic depictions of people's flaws, from perfect Randall's mental breakdown to Rebecca Pearson admitting that she plays favorites with Randall.

So, the theory goes, maybe Jack had a child out of wedlock before he met his soulmate, Rebecca? Or, maybe he even had an affair? There's not much evidence to support this theory other than the fact that Cassidy is a strong soldier who struggles to discuss what she saw on duty when she returns home, which is similar to Jack after Vietnam. But another iteration of this theory is that she's actually the estranged daughter of Kevin's Uncle Nicky, which, sure, is perfectly plausible since we know next to nothing about Nicky's life. We have yet to see Cassidy or Nicky interact beyond Cassidy's long, shocked look out the broken window Nicky's just smashed.

Maybe it's Jennifer Morrison's stoic face or her impeccably plucked eyebrows, but we're dying to know who Cassidy Sharp is. You can find plenty more theories on the This Is Us Instagram. Let us know if you're onto something.

Cassidy sharp this is us NBC

FILM

The "El Camino" Trailer Is a Trauma-Fueled Nightmare

"El Camino" picks up where "Breaking Bad" left off—which is very bad for Jesse Pinkman.

[This article contains Breaking Bad spoilers.]

Sequels are always crapshoots, especially when they come years after the conclusion of a widely lauded and definitively concluded franchise.

The sequel to Breaking Bad comes six years after Walter White bled out to the tune of Badfinger's "Baby Blue," cementing his place as one of television's best antiheroes. But Walter White's story could never have happened without his foil and second-in-command: the erratic, impulsive Jesse Pinkman.

We last saw Jesse, blood-soaked and shattered, driving away from the neo-Nazi meth lab where White died. He'd suffered through an unimaginable amount of trauma and violence, and it was hard to imagine how he'd continue on.

Now, we'll get our answer. El Camino picks up where the series left off, diving straight back into Jesse's storyline. The trailer, at least, looks promising. Through a series of dark, dimly lit vignettes, it provides a window into Jesse's distorted state of mind and his scarified body, seemingly choosing to reflect his internal world rather than providing hints at any form of the movie's plot. The song "Black Water" by Reuben and the Dark makes the whole thing feel surreal and dreamlike.

Though it mostly remains abstract, the trailer offers glimpses of the violent fallout Jesse certainly faces from his connections with Heisenberg. Jesse's identity was largely shaped around and controlled by Walter White, who also controlled and manipulated the show's entire narrative, so it'll be interesting to see how Jesse and the story fare on their own.

While it's hard to imagine that El Camino could actually provide a satisfying follow-up to Breaking Bad, in some ways it seems fitting that Jesse has been reborn from the ashes. He frequently draws comparisons to Jesus Christ, as he always seemed to suffer for Walter White's sins and maintained a shadow of morality as he spiraled deeper into drug-fueled chaos (which is more than most characters on the show can say). Judging by this trailer and by the nature of Vince Gilligan's writing, Jesse won't catch a break anytime soon.

El Camino debuts in some theaters and on Netflix on October 11.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie | Official Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com