TV Features

How To Watch the Tokyo Opening Ceremony — And Why You Can't

Because while so much has changed, one thing remains the same: NBC still sucks.

On Friday evening in Tokyo — 6:55 AM EST — the "2020" Olympic games officially kicked off with an opening ceremony taking place almost exactly a year after it was originally scheduled.

The global upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a number of changes to these games, beyond the obvious delay. For a start, the local feelings about the games have ratcheted up from the usual simmering resentment regarding ballooning costs and the disruption of daily life all the way to full-blown hatred and mortal terror.

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TV Lists

7 Black TV Shows You Forgot Existed

For every "Martin" or "Fresh Prince" there's another Black show that's been lost to time.

The Cast of "On Our Own"

The '90s were the golden era for Black television shows in primetime. The success of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, Living Single, and others dominated the ratings and made stars out of their casts.

They would show the world that Black people weren't a monolith and had various stories that needed to be seen by a mainstream audience.

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TV News

The "30 Rock" Reunion "Upfront Event" Sounds Annoying as Hell

Fans are being deprived of a true 30 Rock reunion in favor of a weird meta-marketing event

Update 7/15/2020: As it turns out, the promotional nature of the upcoming 30 Rock reunion special is not a hit with everyone.

According to a new report from The Wrap, several large NBC affiliate groups have opted not to air the hour-long special which amounts to little more than an hour-long infomercial for the next year of NBC programming—and for NBCUniversal's exclusive streaming service Peacock—interspersed with some comedy from Liz Lemon and the TGS crew.

This means that many viewers who tune in to their local NBC channel to when the reunion special is airing at 8:00 Thursday night will instead be greeted by... something else.

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TV Features

Before Its Time: "Freaks and Geeks"

20 years ago, Freaks and Geeks aired for an audience that expected a modern Wonder Years but instead got something closer to Dazed and Confused.

The main cast of Freaks and Geeks pictured.

Photo credit Den of Geek

If Netflix announced a new, upcoming series produced by Judd Apatow with a cast including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, Martin Starr, Busy Philipps, Lizzy Caplan, and Shia LaBeouf, it would be one of the most anticipated projects in Hollywood.

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission is responsible for monitoring broadcast media, enforcing its guidelines on "obscene, indecent, and profane content," and fielding complaints from the public.

In the case of the Super Bowl halftime show, a Freedom of Information Act request from WFAA in Dallas, Texas revealed that the FCC had received more than 1,300 complaints, many of which called for fines to be levied against Fox, NBC, the NFL, or the performers themselves. While the complainants obviously have the right to express their distaste for the sexually suggestive performance that interrupted their three-hour marathon of CTE-inducing violence, many of their concerns were touchingly naïve.

Many viewers felt that J. Lo and Shakira's dancing amounted to pornographic material, with one Wyoming viewer stating that the show "would have been considered soft porn not many years ago." A Maine viewer, describing himself as "a father of 2 teen girls," said, "That 'show' should have been reserved for late night cable TV." Another person in Tennessee complained that, "I do not subscribe to The Playboy Channel, we do not buy porn for $20 a flick, we simply wanted to sit down as a family and watch the Super Bowl… we expected to watch football and a quick concert but instead had our eyes molested."

Eyeball licking

Leaving aside what it means to have your eyes molested, that latter comment seems particularly illustrative of the disconnect between many of these complaints and the reality of our interconnected society. The idea that pornography is confined to specialty cable channels and feature length films that cost $20 is so sweetly outdated that it's almost satirical. In 2004—when the FCC was overwhelmed with the furor of more than 200,000 complaints that Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the halftime show had exposed children to the appalling sight of most of a woman's breast—young Internet users were already assaulting each other with links to disturbing so-called shock sites, like "Goatse," "Lemon Party," and others that should likewise never be Googled.

But at that time the phenomenon was still fairly new, and the lack of awareness more forgivable. Today—more than a decade after the advent of "2 Girls 1 Cup"—estimates place the proportion of Internet content that is pornographic somewhere around 10%, and there is a virtually endless availability of videos and images that are far more offensive than "Goatse." Even restricted platforms like Instagram and Youtube offer much more sexually explicit content—much of it featuring former Disney stars—than anything in the halftime show.

On top of that, the prevalence of "sexting" among adolescents means that in many cases there is no company or platform to complain to—young people are exposing each other to sexually explicit material. It may be that these parents were not so much uncomfortable with the idea that their children were being made aware of the existence of sex, but with the fact that they happened to be in the room together while it happened.

The good news is that the proliferation of internet porn has given us a lot of information on the subject, and there is little evidence to suggest that this kind of exposure is damaging to young viewers' psychological development, or that it leads to sexually risky behavior. So while it's understandable that a viewer in Arkansas would say, "I don't want my kids imitating that behavior," they can probably rest easy knowing that their children will neither take up pole dancing, nor start recreationally slamming into one another in disputes over balls.

In reality, while the idea of acknowledging sex may make them uncomfortable, many of these parents could probably learn a lot from having the sex-talk with their kids, as their confusion seemed to go much deeper than assumptions about pornography and cable TV. Many seemed to mistake J. Lo's flesh-tone bodysuit for actual nudity, and several complaints betrayed deeply confused understandings of the terms "striptease," "orgy," and "masturbation," that any modern teen could probably help to clarify. Here are some highlights:

"It was indecent and inappropriate - with crotch grabbing, cameras zooming in on aforementioned crotch grabbing, a pole dance in a barely-there outfit, and other raunchy acts performed above a group of dancers imitating an orgy. [sic]"

"JLo was not only wearing a thong but bent over and showed her whole butt to the camera. Also, FOX cameramen kept zooming in on her crotch throughout her performance AND at one point her backup dancers were simulating an orgy while she writhed around on a stripper pole. [sic]"

J. Lo Pole Dancing at the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show Pictured: Not what an orgy looks like Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

"The Superbowl halftime show was pure filth and not suitable for on air broadcast. Pole dancing, crotch grabbing, simulated sex acts, and even a brief masturbation by J-low all beamed into our family TV room! [sic]"

"JLo did a striptease pole dance while barely-dressed backup dancers simulated an orgy underneath her [sic]"

"1. exposing practically naked backside (looked like thong with leather straps in place?? and crotch area in the camera while gyrating in a sexual manner. This went on for quite some time of the performance. 2. coming down a stripper's pole doing a striptease practically naked, hardly anything on clothes-wise, same with the dancers depicting an orgy-type of activity. It was disgusting!! [sic]"

"They had stripper poles and on stage masturbation on display. [sic]"

"Allowing soft porn with stripper poles and assholes being shown when children are watching. Totally inappropriate!!! Jennifer Lopez did not need to bring her stripper movie and outfits to the Super Bowl. Thanks for supporting porn! [sic]"

"The half time shows need to have tv ratings as it is not appropriate family viewing to see pole dancing, crotch grabbing and extreme booty shaking. [sic]"

J. Lo and Shakira at the Superbowl halftime show Pictured: Extreme Booty Shaking Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

"The Super Bowl halftime show was 100% pornography w women mimicking masturbation in close up crotch shots, imitating sex acts with men while twerking with bare bottoms. [sic]"

It seems unlikely that the FCC will be compelled to take legal action—nor should they—but it's actually kind of nice to see such heartwarmingly sheltered perspectives shared with the world. It's like visiting a historical reenactment village, or imagining the kind of scandals that caused fainting spells at Victorian dinner parties. We hope you never change, FCC complainers—and that you never check your loved ones' search history.

This Is Us is like a TV adaptation of a slam poem: so dependent on emotional outbursts and heavy-handed symbolism that you're captivated by the raw, emotional purge.

The cute actors don't hurt, either. The fourth season of the NBC hit has brought troublesome news about Rebecca Pearson's (Mandy Moore) deteriorating memory, Kevin Pearson's (Justin Hartley) hopeless search for a fairy tale romance, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby's (Chris Sullivan) conflicts over raising a blind son, and Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) growing anxiety under the pressures of his job and family. But one of the most disturbing aspects of This Is Us is Kevin Pearson's twisted concept of love.

Kevin Pearson NBC

For instance, this season's "Light and Shadows" episode reinforced how committed Kevin is to re-enacting his parents' perfect love story, as told by Jack while Kevin was growing up. Of course, through intermittent flashbacks to young Rebecca and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), we see that they had an imperfect romance riddled with Rebecca's parents' classism (and later racism) and Jack's PTSD (and later alcoholism). Kevin, who's insecure that he's nearing the ripe old age of 40, hires a matchmaker so he can meet his goals of being married with his first child on the way within half a year (the Big Three were born on August 31, with each season premiere of This Is Us focusing on the Pearson kids' birthdays). He tackles his mission with gusto, but after a few bad dates with a Ph.D holder who's "way too smart" for him and a perky, casual racist, he gives up.

Then, the moment (literally, the exact moment, because TV timing is all about obvious irony) Kevin says he's leaving his love life up to the universe, he spots a beautiful girl named Lizzie (Sophia Bush) across the coffee shop. Apart from the fact that Lizzie doesn't live in LA and is leaving town the next day (and she keeps receiving incessant calls from her mother), the two hit it off spectacularly. They banter, they tease, they shoot enticing side-eye at each other, and Kevin proceeds to utterly freak her out with his over-the-top romantic gestures–because seriously dude, you got private access to the Hollywood Bowl and convinced John Legend, the "sexiest man alive," to play an entire concert just for you and your girl? Actually, she's not your girl, because regardless of TV timing this sequence of events couldn't have happened in more than five hours, and the five hour anniversary is not meant for a private concert with her favorite singer in an empty Hollywood amphitheater.

First, that's the kind of serial-killer-level of intensity that straddles the border between creepy and sweet. Kevin shows the kind of immediate hyper-focus on an object of affection, particularly one he doesn't know well (or at all), that indicates he isn't seeing the person in front of him but rather an ideal version he's created in his mind. He's repeatedly placed himself in the middle of his ex-wife Sophie's life, dropping emotional bombs like "I'm still in love with you...even though it's been like 12 years, and I cheated on you, but here I brought your favorite fries" (which is something, at least). To be fair, Kevin and Sophie reach surprisingly poignant closure in part two of this season's dramatic trilogy of episodes, "A Hell of a Week: Part 2."

Still, obsessive thinking often gets mistaken for "love at first sight," especially in twisted romances a la Twilight and Joe from You. Yes, infatuation is not an uncommon reaction when first meeting someone you're very attracted to. However, it's usually the product of underlying anxiety. Bored psychologists who have studied love–and all our weird behaviors while we're drugged up on it–have pointed out that "love at first sight" is mostly reported by people with "anxious attachment systems," or patterns of being very insecure and needing a lot of reassurance in their relationships. (In other cases, "love at first sight" is largely a label applied retroactively as the result of biased memories). Insecure anxious attachment means individuals often overthink and obsess over small details in a burgeoning relationship, particularly over communication. Cue every scene of Kevin anxiously pacing back and forth while speeding-talking his way through a decision–not to mention his infamous emotional monologues, like showing up on Sophie's doorstep and not letting her say more than his name before professing, "I was head over heels in love with you the moment that I saw you…I never should've let you get away…It's like you were a part of me."

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Could this just be lazy writing? Surely. For some reason, the This Is Us writers have honed some sharp, funny, and vulnerable voices for characters like Randall and Beth Pearson, and even Toby, but they've really let Kevin stew in a primordial soup of generic movie-of-the-week tearjerkers. But based on "Light and Shadow," the brightest possibility is that this was intentional so that Kevin's bubble of romance is abruptly and brutally popped when Lizzie confesses that it's not actually her mother who keeps calling but her husband; Kevin is her "hall pass," the one celebrity whom she's allowed to sleep with without her husband considering it to be cheating. Kevin's genuine, over-the-top attempts to form an eternal soul bond with her, within the same afternoon they first meet, freaks her out and guilts her into telling him the truth. In a hilariously cringey exit, Lizzie shuffles out of the Hollywood Bowl while Kevin slumps down in his own disappointment and embarrassment at having gone too far to chase a fantasy.

Kevin has another habit shared by all creepy-intense men: He verges on the razor edge of self-awareness and comes so frustratingly close to getting his sh*t together when something happens to pull him back into his old habits. As he vents on his movie set that he needs to stop trying to force a fairy tale love story to happen, his phone rings to reveal that Sophie is calling him. Why? Because TV timing is amazing, Kevin has one of the lamest character developments in all of primetime, and despite it all we cannot stop rooting for him to find his way. When the midseason finale jumped forward in time to reveal that he does, indeed, celebrate his 40th birthday with an unidentified pregnant fiancee, we rejoiced and scrutinized each one of his relationships to suss out his future wife. While Sophie and Madison remain in the running,

Sure, intense, insecure, and hopelessly romantic men like Kevin Pearson make us cringe inside, but we can't stop watching their desperate antics because we need self-aware fairy tales: the relentless pursuit of a happy ending by someone who isn't sure they deserve it.

Tonight, the Pearson Big Three will meet up at their family cabin after three weeks of revisiting their own separate traumas. What else could happen before the season finale on February 25, 2020?

Justin Hartley as sad Kevin Pearson NBC