Sunday, September 13, 2020

What I’m Watching: Coastal Elites

Coastal Elites (B+)

I’ve been watching a lot of HBO lately and so I had seen short trailers for this special a number of times. At first, I thought it was a new comedy series, but now I understand that it’s merely the latest “special event” put together during this new existence of ours. There’s absolutely something gratifying about hearing people on TV talk about things like social distancing and wearing masks since so much of the content airing these days features people behaving normally and doing crazy stuff like hugging and kissing each other! I didn’t expect there to be quite as much of a focus on Trump, but his presidency has had just as much of an impact on what the United States has gone through over the course of the past year as the outbreak of coronavirus. This special was unapologetically political, with each of its characters boldly and unambiguously conveying their liberal beliefs (even the last formerly independent speaker). I would presume these five people do represent, to a degree, most of progressive Hollywood, all firmly on board with coronavirus protocols and riled up, for the most part, with everything that Trump is doing. I predicted all five of the actors featured here to be up for Emmy Awards next week, but Sarah Paulson and Kaitlyn Dever didn’t end up making the cut for “Mrs. America” and “Unbelievable,” respectively. Opening with Bette Midler, most recently seen in “The Politician,” as a very strong-willed and energetic Jewish New Yorker was entertaining, and Dan Levy, most famous for “Schitt’s Creek,” was well-cast as the actor who was overly typecast and not typecast enough for supergay roles. Issa Rae from “Insecure” is always fantastic, and playing a former acquaintance of Ivanka’s who wasn’t having any of her tokenizing or clueless attempts at a relationship was superb. Paulson was the most visible presence in the trailers, and the arc of her monologue was actually the most involving, aside from Dever’s closing more serious bit, which references Midler’s Miriam and brought it all to an emphatic close. As I’ve said with reunion specials that have aired recently, I’m all for this kind of programming while in-person shooting isn’t nearly as possible or safe at the moment. Bring on more like this!

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