Thursday, March 31, 2022

What I’m Watching: Bridgerton

Bridgerton: Season 2, Episode 7 “Harmony” (B+)

Simply pretending that the biggest wedding of the season hadn’t been called off without a great explanation is an interesting strategy, and while we did get to watch the Bridgertons and the Sharmas dance together, which was fun, it didn’t end up working out too well. Part of that is that, rather than tell Eloise that she was in fact Lady Whistledown, Penelope chose to ruin her best friend’s reputation so that Queen Charlotte would forget the idea that she was actually the writer. It’s also going to have negative implications for Colin given that Portia endorsed Jack taking him on as an investor even though she had previously said the Bridgertons were off-limits. There were plenty of awkward moments in this episode with Anthony and Kate being way too close to each other, and now that Edwina knows about them, she’s rightfully kicking herself for not seeing how obvious their affection is for one another. They tried not to act on that but then shared a very passionate time out by Anthony’s father’s grave, which we got to see glimpses of in vivid flashes, but she was apparently so distressed and ashamed that she set out on what may have been a purposeful attempt to end her own life. I’m not sure this show would give us quite that much heartbreak, but I’m definitely curious to see how it all ends in the finale and whether Edwina will be able to find a happy ending if Kate and Anthony are able to be together.

What I’m Watching: Bridgerton

Bridgerton: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Choice” (B+)

I’ll admit that I hadn’t expected the MVP of the wedding episode to be the bride herself. All along, Edwina has been sweet and agreeable, and seemed to find a true happiness in what she thought she could have with Anthony. But in this episode, as soon as she finally understood the connection that her sister and her husband-to-be shared when she saw them close to each other, she allowed her true self to come out, finally championing her own happiness and her right to determine her own destiny. To his very belated credit, Anthony was honest with her, refusing to say that he loved her and rather arrogantly saying that he was her in a way, which I do understand even if it’s quite a stretch to compare the two in a patriarchal society like theirs. Edwina came through when the king suddenly appeared, and she got to relate to Queen Charlotte on a level that even Eloise hasn’t in the past. That passionate kiss can’t be the last that we’ll see of this couple that wasn’t fated to be, and it’s hard to believe that there are still two episodes left in the season. While Colin acknowledged that he might finally be able to see Penelope’s feelings for him, she was too distracted by Eloise’s desire to run off to see her forbidden crush, one who teased her for not finding words before giving her books he had saved for her. It was also a treat to see Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton bonding after their earlier steely interaction, and as if this drama wasn’t enough, now we’re going to have Cousin Jack courting Portia while defrauding his investors and pretending to be into her daughter.

What I’m Watching: Bridgerton

Bridgerton: Season 2, Episode 5 “An Unthinkable Fate” (B+)

After essentially challenging Kate to deny her feelings for him moments before proposing to her sister, Anthony got even more direct by telling her that he had to back out of his engagement to Edwina since they would always lust for each other, which would be torture. He did have an excuse to be able to do that, which was the unfortunate airing of family drama with potential new family, which was all the fault of Mary’s mother. I did recognize her father as Anthony Head, who plays Rupert on “Ted Lasso,” though he didn’t have nearly as much to say. It was good to see Kate and then Anthony rise to the defense of Mary, a character we’ve barely seen who is played by an actress I really like, Shelly Conn. There’s no good way for all of this to end, especially since too many people – namely Lady Danbury and Daphne – for it ever to be truly forgotten if Anthony did try to continue pretending that the lack of a dowry was the issue. Portia is certainly thinking outside of the box about how to resolve her own predicament, and Jack seems equally concerned and impressed by her creativity in suggesting that he sell worthless shares to eager investors to help them out of their hole. Eloise is definitely engaging in some unendorsed activities, and it looks like Penelope is going to act defensively even though she’s no longer pursuing the same goals Penelope believes her to be. Benedict doing some painting quickly turned into him being the model, and it’s funny to me how we got to see two naked bodies after the characters just met when we’ve been watching sexual tension between Anthony and Kate all season with nothing more than some whispering and a calming touch to show for it.

What I’m Watching: Bridgerton

Bridgerton: Season 2, Episode 4 “Victory” (B+)

The fact that Edwina can’t see the passion that’s developing between her sister and her new fiancé is only going to make the eventual reveal of his feelings that much worse, especially since Anthony made the very questionable decision to follow up a moment of intimacy with Kate where he essentially dared her to confess her affection for him with a proposal to Edwina. While it is theoretically possible that Edwina could have a nice and comfortable life if Kate instead married Anthony, she isn’t likely to be willing to forgive Kate for taking the man she wants, if society will even accept their union at this point. Edwina’s suggestion that Kate go hunting was another opportunity for them to get closer, though Anthony only egged her on by reacting in a way that doubted her abilities. I like that Lady Danbury gets what’s going on, but she’ll probably push Kate to get with the program and accept what has now been officially disseminated to the ton by Lady Whistledown. Eloise is not going to stop her pursuit of the truth, and Penelope seems like she’s now being influenced by what others expect her to print and could slip up and reveal something only she knows as a result. Portia’s meddling with Prudence and Cousin Jack led to an unfortunate sequence of events, one that may now result in ruin for her family unless they can figure out a family to call off that necessary engagement and turn it into an opportunity for Jack to be set up with Cressida again. Colin’s visit to see Marina left him thinking he should still be with her, something that she won’t be happy about and will surely upset Penelope even more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What I’m Watching: Bridgerton

Bridgerton: Season 2, Episode 3 “A Bee in Your Bonnet” (B+)

While it seems very obvious that Anthony is going to end up with Kate and not Edwina, I like that it’s all playing out in dramatic fashion and no one else has any idea that it’s the inevitable conclusion. Leave it to Daphne, who last season got to have her own rebellious romance, to tell Anthony what love is supposed to feel like and get him to doubt himself enough to not propose to Edwina. I do think that Edwina is enamored with him, which makes it all the more miserable since she’s not going to have any idea that her sister’s feelings for Anthony are gradually changing from hatred to affection. Kate was thrilled about the idea of a game where you have to infuriate your opponent, and she did manage to get under Anthony’s skin until they were alone together and she got him to follow her into the mud. He’s still suffering from the trauma of losing his father to a bee sting, and both Anthony and Kate felt something they hadn’t before when she was able to calm him down. I think Daphne might catch on soon enough, though the rest of the siblings seem far too distracted to notice. Colin giving Benedict something to calm his nerves led to an excessive dose with humorous results, and Eloise was far more interested in Kate’s successful life as a spinster. While Portia was trying to set the hapless Prudence up with her cousin the new Lord Featherington, Penelope figured out a way to preserve her secret identity and gain a new ally, one that should hopefully prolong the eventual discovery that will truly rock the ton.

What I’m Watching: Bridgerton

Bridgerton: Season 2, Episode 2 “Off to the Races” (B+)

I’m loving the prominent showcase that Kate is getting as she’s literally having all of the potential suitors – with the deliberate exception of Anthony – line up outside Edwina’s door for the chance to court her. That didn’t stop Anthony from barging in and trying to one-up all of them before he was shouted down by the other men, and things got even more contentious at the race. Anthony’s big display of how the Bridgertons were a great family and his ability to get rid of Lemley by insinuating that he should have gotten the ladies drink worked well enough for him to worm his way into the seat right next to her, and his competition with Kate to back the winning horse was fun to watch. She was gleeful at his complete misunderstanding of Edwina’s horse enthusiasm, and he managed to get the upper hand again by showing up with Benedict’s poem and then taking it in his own direction. Penelope was delighted by Colin’s return, and his having sworn off women might have been worse if he didn’t consider her a woman, which wasn’t quite the insult he meant it to be. Penelope is going to great lengths to keep Eloise off the scent of Lady Whistledown, but now she’s been recognized, and Queen Charlotte is also doing her best to investigate a relatively small pool of contenders. I did enjoy the brief conversations between Kate and Eloise and between Edwina and Penelope, and I hope we’ll see more of that in the future.

What I’m Watching: Bridgerton (Season Premiere)

Bridgerton: Season 2, Episode 1 “Capital R Rake” (B+)

I’m excited to be watching this show at the same time as everyone else this year after forgetting about it following the pilot and only returning to finish up season one once it earned plenty of Emmy attention. I do think it’s a very good show, and given that it has such a huge ensemble, having Daphne appear only briefly and Simon not there at all may actually be a good thing to give others the opportunity to shine. Eloise managed to have her miserable debut interrupted by Lady Whistledown’s triumphant return, and I like that, now that we know that Penelope is actually the mystery author, she’s not changing all that much as a character. Her negotiating skills when she puts on that Irish accent to pretend to be her assistant are impressive, and it was great to see Lady Whistledown officially take a stand against the entire scene. The one who may be impacted most, unfortunately, is Edwina, whose debut was rather spectacular, even if Anthony is going to be pining for her sister. Kate and Anthony did get off to a very rocky start when she overheard his conversation about the high standards he has, and it should be entertaining to watch that play out. I’m thrilled to see Shelley Conn from “Terra Nova” and “Liar” as Mary, even if it’s not clear how much of a role she’ll have with Kate and Edwina instead at the center. The new Lord Featherington is going to shake things up in a big way, and Portia being evicted from her bedroom was not a great start.

Pilot Review: Pachinko

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey: Season 1, Episode 4 “Coydog” (B+)

It’s crazy to think of the potential wealth that Ptolemy has access to but hasn’t cashed in on, which says a lot about who he is as a person. He knows what he needs and what he doesn’t, and the only reason that money is an issue now is because he’s losing his memory and has to pay for the possible cure, as well as ensuring that it goes to the right place after he’s gone or unable to appropriately take care of it. Bringing in those gold coins for a casual appraisal was startling to Robyn, and she was much more comfortable with the idea of having access to his new checking account. It was amusing to see the banker worried about her potentially having access to the $4,000 he had in savings rather than the $40,000 he brought in cash. Buying her a new couch bed was a sweet gesture, and she was so genuinely happy to receive it, which was nice to see. I liked the way he responded to Roger when he came over, and how he was sincerely supportive of his prospective romance with Robyn. When they went over to see a few characters we haven’t seen since the first episode, there was expected tension, and Robyn was intent on defending herself from the accusations that were leveled against her. Ptolemy’s nephew admitting that he had stolen the money from him only because he knew that he wouldn’t realize was honest at least, even if it didn’t say much about his character.

What I’m Watching: Severance

Severance: Season 1, Episode 7 “Defiant Jazz” (B+)

Mark didn’t exactly get more information in his meeting with the mystery woman who apparently put the chip in his head in the first place, and I would have loved to learn why Grainer was there pretending to be a friend who seemed to expect that Mark might recognize him. Instead, he got swiftly and bloodily killed by baseball bat, and Mark got given his keycard, which proved what Helly suspected all along, that the elevators weren’t actually monitored and that Milchick had to see something either in the moment or later on a camera to know that it happened. Dylan was understandably upset when Milchick refused to tell him anything more about what he had seen on the outside and expected him just to forget about it, and the brief serenity of the Music Dance Experience was interrupted when he lunged at and bit Milchick. When he shared with the rest of the team what he had experienced, Helly was ready to go and to prove her theories, and that was the perfect opportunity for Mark to show the card he happened to have found in his pocket. Irving was the only holdout, but a trip to see his old friend Burt, who was being forced to retire and being shown a video from his outie that underscored just how absurd the idea of severance is, was enough to get him to crack and be on board with burning the place to the ground. I’m certainly nervous to see what comes of this, and to unpack the photo Mark put back together after ripping it up, suggesting a much more relevant purpose for Ms. Casey than it had previously seemed. Harmony’s behavior is also getting more intense, and I’m very intrigued about her in-person meeting with the board that she demanded.

What I’m Watching: WeCrashed

WeCrashed: Season 1, Episode 4 “4.4” (B+)

As if the show’s title didn’t portend doom enough, the continued refresher on how much money – in the millions – this company is losing each day is certainly foreboding and foretells an inevitable failure. Adam citing other ultimately successful businesses that lost $400 million in a year wasn’t productive since they haven’t yet made that pivotal switch, and doing things like offering to double someone’s salary before enticing him further with food flown in from Japan and then hiring an expensive musician just after laying off seven percent of the company show that he’s completely guided by impulse in every situation. Prepping the vibe for his dream investor led to a number of false starts, but then he made the big $4.4 million deal when he finally showed up, which could save his money but also cause it to implode if it fails to come through. We saw a few worthwhile guest stars in this hour, starting with Sasson Gabai, the Israeli actor best known for his performance in the film “The Band’s Visit,” as Adam’s father, who objected to being referenced negatively than recognized in the audience in Mumbai. America Ferrera, typically the lead of comedy series like “Ugly Betty” and “Superstore,” was Elishia, whose costume intensity rivaled Rebekah’s and who then somehow ended up working for WeWork despite Rebekah forging a genuine friendship with her. Lastly, we saw O-T Fagbenle from “The Handmaid’s Tale” briefly, with a great accent and a dubious attitude towards Uber. I had a great conversation with him on the red carpet for this show, and I’m looking forward to seeing his role in all of this. The sight of Adam getting ready to eat his Popeye’s chicken as Rebekah glared at him with fury is indicative of the anger so many will surely feel towards Adam when all his promises come gloriously crashing down.

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 3, Episode 2 “Sinterklaas is Coming to Town” (B)

We may have gotten our regular characters back, but this still wasn’t a straightforward episode. Not having the players we know interact with each other but instead with other people makes it more interesting to see how their lives are even if it might be nice to have conversation other than momentary exchanges or Darius being insanely high to the degree that Van doesn’t even know what he’s saying. The relationship between Van and Earn is particularly interesting because they’ve been through a lot and are now at different stages of their lives, and him not being able to pick her up from the airport wasn’t a great start, which led to a surprisingly casual encounter in the hallway late at night. Alfred was reveling in the luxury that he was being treated to in Amsterdam, but unfortunately the two women that he started a nice night with made enough of a mess to get him arrested. His experience in custody was a far cry from a jail cell in the United States, and of course that would result in him being disappointed that he was bailed out so quickly. The Zwarte Piet was very off-putting and predictably led to Alfred pulling out of the concert, which resulted in someone dressed in that offensive garb taking a beating that the furious Dirk meant for Earn. The living funeral was an interesting concept, but watching someone be suffocated in front of a crowd took it to an entirely different level that was understandably disturbing for Van to watch.

Monday, March 28, 2022

What I’m Watching: Atlanta (Season Premiere)

Atlanta: Season 3, Episode 1 “Three Slaps” (B)

It’s been almost four years since this show concluded its very well-received second season, and I suppose it’s hardly surprising that this show, which has never conformed to any expectations, wouldn’t feature a single member of its regular cast until the final frame in its latest opener. It still felt jarring to me because I’m used to watching shows with straightforward narrative arcs, and I was concerned that maybe I had missed something and should have known who these characters were. I was also pretty sure that the less terrifying of the two foster mothers, Amber, was played by Laura Dreyfuss, the actress who originated the romantic leading role of Zoe in “Dear Evan Hansen” on Broadway and then took on a distinctly different kind of part on “The Politician” for her follow-up. It’s disheartening to learn that this episode was in part based on true events of a couple who did continue to be allowed to foster children despite repeated issues being reported and who ended their lives – as well as the lives of all the children in their custody – in a similar manner. There’s a very dark humor to be found in the idea of making “fried chicken” in the microwave and being obsessed with eating and living healthily to the point that the exact opposite is happening, and this show has always known where to find that line and stay uncomfortably on it for a while. This episode will definitely stick with me for a while, but I’ll be glad to see Earn and the rest of the characters presumably return to the forefront in the next episode.

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 13 “The Shipping News” (C-)

It seems like it’s remarkably difficult to kill someone on this show, though maybe that should have been obvious since Rick got shot in the head by Cassie with nothing to obstruct her aim and still managed to survive before someone else ended his life in a different way. So maybe it’s fitting that the same fate befell Wolf, who probably should have died based on his gunshot injuries in the three-way shootout but instead got suffocated by a plastic bag in the back of an ambulance because this all-powerful syndicate, who we haven’t seen doing anything else all season, was able to infiltrate a crime scene and take him out for execution. I thought Scarlet was dead but apparently that’s not the case, and I’m not sure why we have to continue following her. The teenagers who have been in focus this season got to have their farewell scene since they’re being dismissed from the storyline, and now things are turning much more sharply to the Bhullars and also the rogue undercover cop after them. It probably would have been helpful for Travis’ true motivations to have been mentioned by his handler to Jenny long ago, but that’s not how things seem to work on this show. I’m not sure what Tonya thought she could do by following a truck in her car which didn’t allow her to see what was in front of it, but, like Travis, quick thinking and a desire to exact violence on others apparently assuages the concerns of villains enough to buy more time. All the allegiances and partnerships are too intertwined to make sense, and, with Cassie and Poppernak out of commission, Jenny is going to be on her own to combat all the bad guys.

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 2, Episode 12 “Call Me a McCluckhead” (B+)

I enjoyed the character pairings in this episode, giving us the opportunity to see people together in a different context than usual. Kat spending time with her mother may not have seemed like something new, but instead it was a chance for Kat to investigate when she realized she knew nothing about her mom. There was a surprising tenderness to Sheila stopping and telling Kat that she welcomed hearing all about her daughter since her mom never knew anything about her. All the stories Sheila tells do seem larger than life, so it’s possible that they’re mostly made up anyway. Randi and Max living together is already making for great entertainment, mainly because of Max’s absolutely ridiculous habit of storing all of his food in the couch so that he had immediate access to it, which I can understand but is also quite impractical. Carter’s get-along shirt seemed like an absurd idea, but it did allow them to find common ground and talk about all the things that he did that annoyed them. That may come back to haunt him, and I do hope that he’ll need to intervene again because these roommates will continue driving each other crazy. Phil being subtly irritated about Oscar using the word “we” to describe their progress in duplicating the sauce was an amusing subplot, one that led to an incredible success and a quick need to cease and desist thanks to the legal challenge to the secret sauce recipe that they outright stole.

Pilot Review: Halo

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Picard

Star Trek: Picard: Season 2, Episode 4 “Watcher” (B+)

One thing I was concerned about – that no one else would know that Rios had been taken by ICE – didn’t happen, but he did get moved around quickly enough that it’s become a big issue. I know that Star Trek series have always been critical in an allegorical way about societal problems, but this is definitely a very direct manner in which to showcase the destructive power of an organization that exists right now. Cristobal being misheard as “Crystal Ball” was another example of baseless discrimination that nearly got Rafi and Seven noticed because of their outrage, and Seven’s maniacal driving was enough to do that before Agnes managed to get them to stop long enough to be safely transported away. Now we’re waiting for a “Fast Five”-style bus heist, but one that somehow makes it so that Rios isn’t moving when they grab him and doesn’t leave any butterflies will be a challenge. The Borg Queen is trying her best to get under Agnes’ skin but it’s Agnes who seems to be having more of an effect on her. Picard meeting Guinan was a nice moment for him even if she wasn’t nearly as pleased. Having the Watcher transfer from host to host in the park was an intense experience that Picard dismissed as unnecessary, and, though he recognized the last face he saw, I’ll have to wait until the next episode to understand its significance. Q’s snap not working is surely more concerning because he can’t fix what he broke if he no longer has the same power.

What I’m Watching: Minx

Minx: Season 1, Episode 4 “An exciting new chapter in the annals of erotica” (B+)

It’s a lot of fun to see Joyce try to educate everyone else about what feminism means, and that was particularly true with Shane. He is the epitome of what people think about models, which could have been appropriate given the gender flip that made him just like the female models who might have graced the covers of Doug’s other magazines. But, as we know, even though they may not be well-versed in egalitarianism and other concepts, there’s more to them than meets the eye. In Shane’s case, he was attracted to the fact that Joyce always sounded smart but he was most certainly not on the same page as her regarding the fact that they were just having fun. Doug was enjoying the opportunity to gloat as Joyce was the one being irresponsible for once and mixing business with pleasure, and fortunately Joyce found a way to apologize to Shane while still maintaining a level of professionalism. The press conference didn’t go all that terribly, and it was a relief that Glenn volunteered to take it from his group of cruel chauvinists so that he could help her get things back on track. I like how Tina is trying to keep the company afloat while Doug puts way too much of his own money into this one magazine, and seeing it now come to fruition should be interesting since it’s likely going to be quite popular but also attract some negative attention from those who absolutely do not want it to succeed.

What I’m Watching: Minx

Minx: Season 1, Episode 3 “A roll of film, a 3-iron, and a pearl necklace” (B+)

It’s particularly interesting to see how this new business in which Joyce finds herself is being redefined, classified as something deplorable and almost criminal, as she is beginning to realize is inherent merits. Finding out that they usually get tips before completely expected police raids so that they can expedite the process of paying fines and getting their art and supplies back left Joyce scrambling to figure out how she could possibly get this issue ready in time, while Doug took some unscrupulous steps to try to compel their new contact to work with them. I was thrilled to see Amy Landecker, who played one of the adult siblings on “Transparent,” as Bridget, the woman with no sense of humor and a determination to put Minx and everything associated with it out of business. I love that her scouts had prepared right-wing answers to Joyce mentioning the ERA, and that Doug and presumably Joyce made it so that the uniform they delivered back to her just in time for the photo had a badge reading “Troop 69” for her. Eugene’s visit to the office could have been a lot more scandalous, as Shelly feared that it was when she saw all of the actresses and models gathered around him, but it turns out things can be considerably more wholesome than others expect for people involved in this line of work. Shelly definitely does need to get out of the house, and as long as Joyce learns how to recognize the contributions of those around her, the two of them working together shouldn’t be a problem. Doug complimenting Joyce on making the headlines more relatable should be exactly the kick she needs to realize that there is tremendous value in others helping to interpret, refine, and reimagine her important mission-driven talking points.

What I’m Watching: Bel-Air

Bel-Air: Season 1, Episode 9 “Can’t Knock the Hustle” (B+)

I like that this show travels to expected places but doesn’t go in the exact direction that it might seem. One example is Phil and Fred planning to use dirt on each other and Phil instead opting to drop out of the race both in support of his family’s privacy and Viv’s desire to put her career first rather than having to focus on her family as she has so much in the past. That was a productive development given the potential implications of staying in the race. It also meant that Lisa finding out about Will getting arrested wasn’t something that tore them apart as a couple but instead rallied her to try to protect him. Phil and Geoffrey did almost come to blows, and there’s clearly something very strong at the root of their friendship that Geoffrey was willing to walk away without making a big thing of it regardless of how angry he was with what Phil was doing. I’m sure that won’t be the last we’ll see of him, and I’d especially like to see him again given my very positive interaction with actor Jimmy Akingbola on the red carpet for another show, “WeCrashed.” It was fun to see two familiar faces in Viv’s meeting with the people who were perfectly ready to offer her the fellowship, and that would be Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson, who played Aunt Viv and Will’s mom on the original series. I’m all for that kind of casting, since the surprise factor was meant to mirror Viv’s own shock at getting to pitch to two Black women and not distract from the rest of the plotline. I’m curious if there will be consequences to Hilary going to get her stuff back, and her budding relationship with Jazz is interesting since they’re connecting but don’t always appear to see eye to eye.

What I’m Watching: The Dropout

The Dropout: Season 1, Episode 6 “Iron Sisters” (B+)

I had the chance to speak with Dylan Minnette, who plays Tyler, shortly after I watched this episode, and one of the things I discussed with him was how terrifying Amanda Seyfried was as Elizabeth here. She’s been deceiving plenty of people and lying straight to their faces, but Tyler is one of the few who she feels has considerably less power than her. For her to tell him that he didn’t know what he was talking about and then just a few minutes later insist that he play the song he wrote for her a second time showed how manipulative she is, a far more well-executed move than her similarly calculating filmed ad that she had to perfect over and over. George’s reaction to Tyler and Erica’s accusation was equally harsh, conveying what most people surely felt, which is that this all seemed so great and there’s no way Elizabeth could have misled them all. Ebon-Moss Bachrach’s Wall Street Journal reporter has a pretty good handle on what’s going on, and with the team of Rochelle, Richard, and Phyllis and others like Kevin Sussman’s Mark feeding info to him, all he’ll need will be that in-house perspective from Tyler to break this story open. Sunny buying Elizabeth a $12 million house shows how much of a different page he’s on than the reality of the situation demands, and it’s easy to see how all this implodes in a truly catastrophic way after this, with no way to remedy the reputation of the company and to actualize this long-held and still-impossible dream.

What I’m Watching: Our Flag Means Death (Season Finale)

Our Flag Means Death: Season 1, Episode 10 “Wherever You Go, There You Are” (B+)

This was an impressive finale, one that sets the stage for a somewhat different season two, should that be in the cards, with Blackbeard on the warpath and Stede maybe a slightly more serious pirates than he’s been thus far. Mary having to adjust to having Stede back was not great, since she felt that being a widow had actually been good for her and that she had grown because of his death, and that was about more important things than him just pushing her out of bed. His kids were equally unimpressed by him, and Mary had moved on with Doug her painting instructor. Fortunately, after she almost stabbed him in the earhole with a skewer, Mary and Stede were able to connect and he concocted the perfect exit strategy, combining his love of theatrics and his desire for all, including Mary to be happy. Coordinating it all was an extraordinary effort, but he pulled it off spectacularly. Now that his crew has been marooned on an island by a melancholy and angry Blackbeard, it should be entertaining to watch him rally them back to whatever degree of productivity and livelihood they were at before Blackbeard first showed up. Oluwande was overjoyed when Bonifacia returned, and while Lucius ended up seeing some things he couldn’t unsee, they were able to express their repressed passions for each other for a brief time. This show was certainly silly but I’d happily watch more of it, especially considering the delightful Stede-Blackbeard romance that I hope might be possible again in the future.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Taika Waititi as Blackbeard

Saturday, March 26, 2022

What I’m Watching: Our Flag Means Death

Our Flag Means Death: Season 1, Episode 9 “Act of Grace” (B+)

This was an unexpectedly sentimental episode, one that showed the true friendship that has developed between Stede and Blackbeard. It didn’t seem to matter to Blackbeard that he would be confessing to something he hadn’t done since he’s all for taking credit for acts of piracy, and it was particularly affirming to hear the entire crew speak up and read from that incriminating journal that Frenchie literally tripped over himself to reveal to prove that Stede was indeed a serious pirate. Chauncey was understandably furious that the man he hated so much was escaping justice, but, like his brother, he ended up meeting his death in a way that could have been interpreted as Stede’s fault but really was his own. It was jarring to see Blackbeard without his beard, though he accepted his new identity with an inspiring sort of serenity, and he was very genuine about his feelings for Stede on the beach. He may now feel betrayed, however, since Stede went home to confront the family he left behind who apparently believes him to be dead. It’s going to be a big adjustment back to normal life for him, one that likely won’t prove satisfying. Izzy’s reign as captain didn’t last long, though he did it to himself by being so deliberately cruel and not finding any loyal allies among them. While the clean-shaven Blackbeard may now be taking charge, I’m curious to see what Captain Oluwande’s time will be like after he was reluctantly elected to be their leader.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 17 “Workout Leggings, $29” (B+)

It’s fun to see the two more creatively-minded Hayward siblings try to work together and realize that they were only able to accomplish great things by being at each other’s throats, while the more business-oriented one got to bond with the two outlaws in a way that they didn’t find quite as endearing as he did. Tom doesn’t make things easy on Sarah when he jumps to correct her every grammatical error, and giving her a whole set of notes was definitely an aggressive way to approach their professional collaboration. Seeing them try to get along by being polite was fun, but ultimately it just didn’t yield the results they needed. Connor was quite intense as a trainer for Denise and Marina, who preferred gossiping and not putting in the full effort required. It’s not a surprise that he wouldn’t be able to read social cues and get that they didn’t want him to invade on their hangout time, something they required since they did appreciate being married to his siblings but helped them to decompress and just be normal. I was pleased to see Vincent Rodriguez III from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “With Love,” and it made sense that he didn’t just have a one-scene role as an instructor in the park but instead someone who told her about how he’s donated his sperm a number of times in the past to lesbian couples trying to have a baby. Even if that doesn’t end up happening, I have a feeling that Denise is going to become attached to the idea and seriously pursue it.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 8, Episode 8 “The Fire Next Time” (B)

Barry believing in someone’s inherent goodness is not exactly a new thing, though this time was an extreme given that everything Birch was doing made him look even guiltier. I couldn’t figure out where I knew actor Max Adler from, and a look back at my review of the season four episode he previously appeared in indicates I didn’t focus on that, but now it makes perfect sense that Max Adler played Karofsky on “Glee.” Barry was all about channeling the look on his father’s face which he felt was present on Birch’s, and that led to a cool opportunity for him to run really fast and let Birch be a hero, allowing him to show his son that he could do good and they should have a relationship. That they’re looking for a meta serial killer is a more concerning development which ended without many clues, and that’s now coming into focus as the potential focus of a season which thus far has been devoted to crossovers and avoided futures. The other new subplot that got started came from an unexpected place, with Allegra choosing to ignore the clickbait assignment Iris gave her in favor of a passion project, and then ultimately owning up to her poor mentorship of new writer Taylor. But instead of accepting her apology, Taylor vowed to destroy her, a worrisome claim that Iris is unlikely to believe if Allegra does bring it to her since she’ll think that she’s just upset about having to work with her. I’m curious to see what comes of that and if that destruction she has planned involves some powers that have yet to manifest.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 6, Episode 9 “The Hill” (B+)

It’s great to see the actors taking an active role behind the scenes on these recent episodes, with Chrissy Metz credited as a writer on this hour and Mandy Moore making her directorial debut. I remember what a surprise it was during last season’s finale to learn that Kate was going to get remarried since Katoby was always one of the more stable and endearing relationships on the show. But this episode showcased the last straw and how it went from the two of them realizing that they were happy in the lives that they had carved out separately to Toby presuming that Kate would give up what was important to her to make it all work in San Francisco. His unwillingness to share the salary discrepancy for the Los Angeles job he had never even mentioned was indicative of the fact that he didn’t even want to consider it, something that didn’t show a fairness in the marriage that Kate understandably needed. And it wasn’t even him working a lot of the time or abandoning her at the party that did him in, but rather that he had planned it all out and taken active steps to find a house without bringing her in at any point. Seeing a younger Kate tell Jack she wasn’t going into the water and then an older, frustrated teenage Kate have difficulty scaling a fence was the perfect segue into her defiantly walking up that hill and calling Phillip to ask about her own dream job. I’m not sure how much of this marriage’s dissolution we’ll see, but all the key pieces we needed were in here.

What I’m Watching: Mr. Mayor

Mr. Mayor: Season 2, Episode 2 “Mayor Daddy” (B)

Sometimes this show has a tendency to be just as infantile as its characters, but there was still some humor to be found in this half-hour. Mikaela being honored for her work in reducing homelessness in Los Angeles was ruined by Arpi telling her that they count people on Oscar night when they know the numbers will be virtually nonexistent, and that sent her spiraling in a different way than everyone else who needed approval from their father figure the mayor. The notion of all the empty Souplantations (a terrible name for a decent chain that on the east coast was known as Sweet Tomatoes) being turned into homeless shelters is not actually a bad one given that most, as far as I know, have yet to be purchased or converted. Betsy Sodaro has a tendency to play obnoxious characters who don’t want to let other people off the hook, like basement ghost Nancy on “Ghosts,” and her Teri was funniest when she welcomed Mikaela treating her in a petty manner rather than being nice to her. I liked the mention, during all of Neil’s inability to relate to his employees, that Orly and Neil had two Hulu accounts because they were both trying to watch “Normal People” (an excellent show) in secret, and Tommy’s historical parking sports and Jayden’s Citibike, but for lizards were among the worst ideas pitched. Jayden’s other idea, about inviting all the sister cities, made a lot more sense, and I enjoyed his defense of one of the most-maligned victims of an expression: chopped liver.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 2, Episode 8 “Into Oblivion” (B)

It’s nice to see a good balance of universe-impacting seriousness and humorous parenting techniques in the same hour, with Clark and Lois cutely playing rock, paper, scissors to determine which of them had to start the conversation with their sons. Jordan’s developing powers came in handy, first when he heard Candace being threatened and then rushed to the scene to take down Jonathan’s inhaler-enhanced assailant. It’s just a shame that he decided it would be better to skip meeting Aubrey since he couldn’t explain the bruises he had rather than show up no matter what, since this could be a breaking point in his newly-rekindled relationship, one that could likely have led to a worthwhile three-way friendship if he had just been there. It’s an adjustment for Lana and Kyle to not be together at the moment, and even if it came out in the form of very legitimate resentment, it was helpful that he was there to coach her on how to answer obnoxious questions. Ally trying to travel through to the other world was a formidable and frightening undertaking, and it didn’t end the way it appeared when Lucy revealed her true reason for returning. At least she didn’t kill her father, but it’s still a bad sign that she was willing to pretend things were normal in order to drug him and take his access card. What Anderson experienced was jarring enough, and being sent back with a message from the other Ally was a trippy moment that indicates just how powerful she can be if her plan works.

Friday, March 25, 2022

What I’m Watching: Better Things

Better Things: Season 5, Episode 5 “The World is Mean Right Now” (B+)

I’m so fascinated by how Duke has become the one firmly defending Sam, never to her face but when her siblings are too harsh to her, and I think she’s grown the most since the start of this show, finally coming into her own as a character. Phil showing them the wedding album and continuing to do so even after Sam indicating how much it upset her was unkind, but nothing was quite as cruel as Frankie’s slow clap. At least she apologized later for it and acknowledged that she knew it was triggering, something we saw in the flashbacks to Sam’s own attempts to get attention as a child. Frankie selling Sam’s baseball cards save for one that was valueless because she had written her name on it was a nice surprise, and I enjoyed how she kept pushing the seaweed smoothie when Sam just kept repeating “coffee” over and over. The feng shui consultation was not terribly affirming for Sam, reminding her of the many reasons that her children think she could do better and invoking that haunting gift that Xavier had given Sam which she had tried – apparently not hard enough – to dispose of forever. The Usman Ally’s Dr. Babu was a humorous presence, and I was absolutely thrilled to see Lennon Parham as Paige since I just interviewed her about her role on “Minx” and she’s so nice, so seeing her in this part was hilarious. Dr. Babu giving her his cell phone number but shutting down the idea of a house call was a funny way to resolve Sam’s issue.

What I’m Watching: The Gilded Age (Season Finale)

The Gilded Age: Season 1, Episode 9 “Let the Tournament Begin” (B+)

This finale featured two major revelations with their own implications that turned out to be not all that problematic, and a few other developments that will forever change the social scene. I was worried, as I’m sure many viewers were, that Peggy and Aurora wouldn’t reach Marian in time to tell her the news about Tom, but given that he had no intention of leaving with her anyway, I suppose the stakes weren’t all that high. It was sad to see her so dejected, but at least she was able to get to the note she had left for Agnes before she ended up reading it, which would have made it seem as if she had done the unforgivable even if she hadn’t gone through with it. It was sweet to see the bond between Ada and Marian, and how she stepped in to help even when she didn’t approve of what she was doing. Monsieur Baudin’s charade was revealed, and it really was jarring to hear him speak with an American accent. Bertha may be traditional but George is willing to be forward-thinking when it doesn’t get in the way of business, so he too didn’t need to lose his job. Peggy learning what her father did was devastating but did reunite her with her mother, and she will likely be emboldened to further seek independence and success as a result. Bertha nearly saw her entire event fall apart but instead managed to compel Mrs. Astor to come to her home by withholding Carrie’s invitation, and she even managed the unthinkable and had Agnes step foot in the house too. Church and Bannister acknowledging each other at the end was a sign that maybe these two houses will be more united, though I’m sure there’s plenty more drama to come in season two. I’ll be watching – this show is well-done and engaging, and I’m glad it’s continuing.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Carrie Coon as Bertha and Morgan Spector as George

What I’m Watching: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer: Season 3, Episode 9 “A Beacon for Us All” (B)

Melanie just came back and she’s already wreaking havoc, an interesting choice given that things were generally going pretty well. But presumably she’s learned that lying about anything can be very problematic, and so now she immediately chose to lock Layton out of the engine and announce to all of Snowpiercer that New Eden wasn’t real, which is sure to create chaos. The bigger issue that she didn’t account for is that Wilford, who was feeling perfectly jolly at the start of the episode, was able to engineer his escape by poisoning the cigars he gave to his guard, something that probably should have been prohibited even in a post-law civilization. The hope that people who used to be enemies can get along is that Audrey and Till are now close enough that Till was willing to skip a party full of people who couldn’t give her to make sure they had a great and special night together. LJ is not a great supporter of that theory, on the other hand, and she’s likely to be one of the people helping Wilford to stage his likely coup. There was definitely an awkwardness in Ben pushing Layton to talk to Josie about how he feels given that he slept with her recently and that Melanie, another romantic interest of his, has now returned. Thinking about romantic entanglements right now probably isn’t paramount given the seriousness of what’s going on, and I’m sure it will be a very eventful finale leading into the fourth season that was already commissioned before this one even started airing.

What I’m Watching: Super Pumped

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber: Season 1, Episode 4 “Boober” (B+)

Travis being perfectly okay defending his “public persona” to Gabi suggests that he really doesn’t care how he’s perceived along the way to his success, and that’s one of the main reasons he’s going to bring about his own downfall. It was particularly disheartening to see Austin speak to Travis about Gil’s unwelcome advance and then adapt his unacceptable answer as her own when Susan came to her with a report of how she had been mistreated. It’s good to see actress Eva Victor from “Billions” as Susan, and another guest star from the same show was Rob Morrow, who played Eddy Cue. I could also tell that the music was similar, which makes sense given that it also comes from that show’s composer, Brendan Angelides. Other notable actors in this episode included David Krumholtz as Sergey, who was especially happy to snub Travis, Chelcie Ross from “Mad Men” as David Bonderman, and, most significantly, Uma Thurman as Arianna Huffington, who didn’t need much convincing after initially taking herself out of consideration. Bill stopping Travis to make sure he understood the significance of Gil’s back porch was an important moment that he didn’t heed, and now Travis is going to have a major problem on his hands thanks to Quentin’s implementation of a geofence that didn’t account for employees who lived a substantial distance away from the Apple headquarters in Cupertino. Something tells me we’re still far away from Travis being ousted, but this is definitely bad news for him and he is absolutely to blame for getting creative to ensure that he can break the law.

Take Three: Winning Time

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Best Is Yet to Come” (B+)

Jerry’s a pretty nice and happy guy, and seeing him angry and ripping West to shreds was an intense and terrifying experience to behold. It’s going to get confusing to call any character Jerry given how many of them there are, and Dr. Buss was excited by the convenience of just having to change the last name on West’s door since he hired the controversial Tark the Shark, who’s sure to generate problems but also deliver in a way that West just wasn’t going to, and his preferred replacement might not have either. Offering Tark ten times his current salary to become the highest-paid coach in sports was a bold move that he probably shouldn’t have made given that he’s hemorrhaging money, and a dead body in the trunk of a car with mob ties isn’t going to help anyone. Magic coming to Jerry’s house led to a very awkward misunderstanding when he thought that Jeanie and her mom were both dating Jerry, and it’s hard to deny the convincing power that Jerry has when, for instance, he’s turning his hair into something marketable and highly appealing to the right audience. Though she’s unhappy at the moment, Claire continues to be one of Jerry’s best non-player assets, and that big idea is surely not too far away. I was excited to see another familiar face in the cast, Adrien Brody, who recently appeared on “Succession” and stars in “Chapelwaite,” as Patrick James Riley, who wants a new role that no one else seems to want to give him.

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 6, Episode 9 “Hindenburg” (B+)

Well, it didn’t take Prince long at all to exact his revenge on Chuck for scuttling his Olympics plan, and it’s arguably a much more crippling blow. It’s interesting to see Kate be so on board to help, though she admittedly did find that Chuck often abused his office and wasn’t always interested in serving the people. Just as Prince and Axe before him couldn’t resist an apparently easy target, Chuck saw the park across from him when he went to meet Dave, who wasn’t let into the club, and just had to go and make them all suffer. Unfortunately, it was a trap, and even if Prince had some trouble winning over one particular senator, it was Chuck’s refusal to even answer a phone call that did him in. It will be interesting to see what he does next. His speech about Hindenburg was compelling, but not enough to keep him from getting officially voted out of his post. Dave being the acting AG might mean that he still has an influence, but it’s a crushing blow. Scooter and Wags paying all the actors means that they did break laws, something that could eventually lead to Prince getting in Chuck’s sights should he be given any legal authority again. It was good to see Dollar Bill and Mafee again and to see how Taylor acted in a way to preserve two of the best assets on the team while making it very much known that they won’t tolerate the poaching of any of their talent.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

What I’m Watching: Killing Eve

Killing Eve: Season 4, Episode 5 “Don’t Get Attached” (B+)

It’s interesting to see the flashbacks to the formation of the Twelve, and I’m particularly by impressed by the matching of the accents that signaled who Carolyn and Konstantin were. It’s hard to imagine that all these people survived so many years when everyone is so duplicitous and able to fake their deaths, but that’s the nature of this show. Yusuf was a bit too curious when he showed up at Eve’s door with the intel, and he was quite surprised to find Hélène’s daughter there. She really did develop a closeness with Eve, and while Hélène indicated that she was impressed when she finally found them, she was also quite shaken and upset. Her method of exacting revenge was calculating and what she knew would hurt her. It’s hard to imagine that Villanelle would be dead with three episodes left to go, and we’ve seen her recover from worse than an arrow in the past. I liked that she showed up to see Konstantin and seemed very upset only to share in a very warm hug they both badly wanted. Pam is a worthwhile apprentice for Konstantin, and I’m curious to see what happens if Villanelle is in fact dead, and the two of them will join forces with Carolyn and Eve and everyone else who is now sympathetic to her to take down Hélène and the Twelve once and for all. I’m not sure what to expect next, but I hope we’ll at least see Jodie Comer again in flashbacks if Villanelle is truly gone.

What I’m Watching: Life and Beth (Season Finale)

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 10 “Kiss from a Rose” (B+)

Starting off this episode with Beth going to see Liz was nice, and I like that it was realistic in that Liz said they weren’t going to be close after all this time even if it was good to have the reunion. Her volleyball coach showing up at that moment brought it to a quick close, setting Beth up for the chance to have a legitimate do-over in saying goodbye to her mom. John was much better at recognizing that he’s not great at communicating or doing the right thing all the time than I had expected, and the sweetest gesture he made was to show her the TV he bought which had thirteen channels there were all just static. The meal that they had together to honor Jane was both entertaining and fitting, with John interrupting to ask how long she was going to take because the food was going to get cold and Matt suggested that they put it to a vote. Gerald even got an invite, and he’s definitely softened since their first very unfriendly meeting, and was among the politer guests. It was particularly endearing to see how Beth’s relationship with Ann improved, and to see Ann introduce a new relationship to her because she was letting her in to her life. Ending with Beth playing basketball with everyone during the credits was a great way to close out this season, though I do worry that it’s possible this is the last we’ll see of this show. I’ve been very impressed with that and would love to see more.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Michael Cera as John

What I’m Watching: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 9 “MRI” (B+)

Beth always has interesting encounters, and of course her MRI technician would be operating his first full solo effort and obsessing over his wannabe DJ career rather than encouraging her legitimate use of the panic button. Noting that her leg injury from the boating accident may have caused a lot of what ails her today was a great point, one that she’ll hopefully look into mending since that could explain plenty and help her move through the world in a much more comfortable way. It was quite an experience for her to be in the MRI machine, flashing back to memories of her mom beginning to have an affair with her best friend Liz’s dad and then a cycle of men coming in and out of her mother’s life and her getting way too attached. The fun that Beth and Ann had with their father when he taught them how to eat oysters with their hands was replaced by a cruel discipline from Liz’s dad when he brought them to a fancy restaurant and chastised them for not using the right forks. Jane did not like when Beth joked that she got a cat to replace their dad, and Beth’s follow-up comment that she always thought that she could do better was a surprising sentiment that seemed to earn a great deal of gratitude from her mother. I like that she’s now inspired to reconnect with Liz, and I hope we’ll get to see that reunion in the finale. It was strange not to see John at all in this hour, but it did feel something right since this is Beth’s story and he’s not necessarily central to it.

What I’m Watching: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 8 “Homegoing” (B+)

Starting off in a new career is probably a good idea for Beth, but her father’s mistaken enthusiasm for her volleyball prowess was likely better left to the imagination. It was very awkward when she showed up and her old coach thought she was there looking for an AA meeting even after she identified herself, and throwing a ball at a girl and suggesting that her coach retire shortly were not great moments that were fortunately quickly forgotten. She was pretty great at selling produce at the farmer’s market even if she had no idea what Swiss chard was and the things she made up happened to be true. But John isn’t fond of the tactics she uses in order to get people to pay more than they should or to get them a better spot due to her fabricated IBS, and that’s only part of the trouble that’s showing up in this budding relationship. Bringing him to the funeral was unpleasant since he made it all about his concern for his boat, which I think has more to do with anxiety than with his desire to think only about what mattered to him. His stage whisper about them being the only white people there was uncomfortable, but not quite as much as his rude refusal to even acknowledge the impossibly kind Shlomo. Her anger at John for simply repeating himself was very relatable since I think that does happen in real-life fights, and I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to reach a positive place where they can communicate in a good and supportive way.

What I’m Watching: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 7 “Leonard” (B+)

Well, this episode was quite a rollercoaster. Beth wanting a hug from her Manhattan doctor was a nice sentiment, and I’m glad that he obliged even if he had to bring a nurse in to observe. The process of moving Beth out of her apartment was different than they had expected, mainly because Matt was in a complete tailspin, disheveled and living out of a shopping cart in the park because he had been buying his own wine as a way to keep up profits. Not having paid rent and having spent the money she chipped in while her name is on the lease got her understandably furious, as did him misreading her saying that she loved him (like family) before he very messily snorted cocaine. It was stunning to see Leonard’s transformation from also living in a park and repeating himself almost instantly to shaving and showing up as Beth’s possible wingman to close an incredible sale. Though he did mention Italy a few times, he seemed to understand that the confusion he saw on people’s faces could be easily remedied by him laughing to indicate that it was just a joke. It’s an interesting cover, one that’s likely used by people in real life who are able to tell that they’re forgetting things but are able to present in a way mostly hides it. Even if he thinks she should go into a career that isn’t exactly possible, he did see that Beth wasn’t happy doing what she was doing, hence her decision to quit after landing that major sale. Dancing with the women in the fountain seemed like a productive release, and I’m curious to see what she’ll do next.

What I’m Watching: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 6 “Boat” (B+)

Of course Beth would have a traumatic memory from being on a boat, and John would happen to ask her about the scar on her leg at just the moment when she was getting onto his. I like that Beth forced a character we haven’t seen all that much of, her sister Ann, to come hang out so that she could offer her take on John. Ann has her own hang-ups, like her name always being spelled wrong, which it was before she abandoned her coffee for a so-called emergency, and she seemed to think highly of John as soon as he heard them talking and confirmed that he wasn’t a murderer. The fact that he broke up with his girlfriend via text and she sent back a thumbs-up emoji doesn’t suggest that he’s a great emotional communicator, but maybe that’s what Beth needs. I loved watching them eat apples together that he somehow had stored in his pockets as he was about to have the fish hook pulled out of his hand, which ended up being much easier and less unpleasant than Beth expected. It took them very little time to go from being work associates to making their relationship official, and what could be sincerer than lying in bed together with John reading through the bargain barn deals available for under $100? Hearing about how John was bullied as a kid but didn’t consider it like that was intriguing, and he definitely does not process the world the same way Beth and Ann do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

What I’m Watching: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 5 “Fair” (B+)

After Beth’s transformative night, we got to see the effect of her throwing out her boots and then start then day off even earlier than planned when John called her to wake her before 6am. I love how literal John is, asking her not to dunk her head since it would pollute the entire sample and then stating, quite unexpectedly, that they are obviously so attracted to each other but that they work together. Finding out that Katie hates the outside suggests that she and John really aren’t a great pair, while John obviously makes Beth feel good and more seen than she has in the past by any man. Planning to watch “Fear” together on his computer since he doesn’t have a TV or Internet was specific and indicative of them spending more time together, but that may have changed after what started as a wonderful evening with him paying close attention to what she wanted turned into her feeling betrayed since there was indeed a man inside the house. I did enjoy Beth’s banter with the mean kid who was cheating at the game, and her desire to get his mom’s number even after finding out their relationship was definitely awkward. I’m intrigued by the presence of Shlomo and his healthy relationship to Judaism – and apparently communication during sex – and how Beth and others approach him. Beth’s conversation with her friends where she compared herself to a sea otter having sex with a slab of marble was also entertaining.

What I’m Watching: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 4 “Pancakes” (B+)

I’ve spent plenty of time on Long Island – my grandparents lived there since before I was born – and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen quite the same city envy that Jonathan Groff’s personal trainer exhibited. I did think it was hilarious that Beth thought he had never been to the city before, citing all the things that were most notable about it like the smell of the nuts and whether she would take the LIRR or a different form of transportation. Groff was the perfect choice to play that part, and I loved how Amy Schumer played off of him. Her reaction to him saying that his place was messy was great because she didn’t immediately recognize just how horrific it was, but the best part was seeing her let him have it when he offered her a bottle of water to take the morning after pill while they were still in the pharmacy. It was also therapeutic to see her toss her boots into the garbage truck and flash the workers riding on it, taking back the power that she had lost when no one had told her that they were only lifting their shirts so many years earlier. John continues to be an amusing and eccentric character, telling Beth that he doesn’t name the rabbits before serving her rabbit liver for lunch and then introducing her to his girlfriend shortly before forcing her into joining him for a 6:20am start the next morning. At least that’s a productive relationship, even if it’s not the romantic one that all of her friends are pushing her to explore.

Take Three: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 3 “Out on the Island” (B+)

The many flashbacks we’re getting to a younger Beth are informative, even as they no longer include her mother but instead look at how romance for her has been shaped. Going on a walk with someone when she was ready to go to second base – a concept she seriously misunderstood – turned into him being with someone else, and she had to pivot to make it look like she wasn’t embarrassed from an early age. It’s good to see her finally standing up for herself, years later, even if everyone else in her office continues to be entirely insensitive and accost her for breaking up with Matt when her mother had just died. He wasn’t too mature or kind when he sad she was bad at sex and that he hadn’t even wanted to go out with her initially, and then he reached a new low when he showed up on horseback to force her to get back together with him, whatever that was meant to be. I like that he said he was counting to three and then just kept going, ultimately riding off into the trees at thirteen before getting thrown off. I enjoyed the introduction of Michael Cera as John the groundskeeper, who assured Beth that the horse would turn and suggested to her that she was an introvert. He doesn’t have much in the way of social skills but seems to see her so much more than anyone else. It was also fun to see Jon Glaser as the very unfriendly Gerald, who immediately pegged Beth as someone invading from the city and then warmed to her before misidentifying a moscato as a non-dessert wine.

Round Two: Life and Beth

Life and Beth: Season 1, Episode 2 “Funeral Proposal” (B+)

It’s hard to watch this show because it really does feel like no one can see Beth at all. Matt is the worst offender, eating the sandwich out of her mom’s fridge that Beth definitely hadn’t prepared for her and focusing on his needs much more than her own. Proposing to her in a flash mob that made her cringe and then running off to spend time with another woman showed his complete lack of regard for what she wanted, and he literally spoke for her when he went up and started by saying “Beth feels.” It’s uncomfortable to see someone who is not considered in any part of her life, and the flashbacks to her childhood with Michael Rapaport’s temperamental father are very informative. Hearing her tell the doctor about how she eats pasta as a breakfast snack, lunch, and a meal after dinner was just bizarre, and he seemed more concerned about her four to six alcoholic drinks per day. I enjoyed seeing Hank Azaria as the frazzled and incredibly hungry funeral director who also had a questionable demeanor when he came up to Beth after services, which reminded me of my own experience of my mom going to say the Mourner’s Kaddish following her father’s death at a synagogue service and having the cantor greet her with “What’s up?” after she had been introduced as a mourner. I do think that the relationship between the sisters has some depth and sincerity, and I’m looking forward to seeing that explored more in future episodes.