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Television

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / The Politician

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / The Politician

At first, The Politician starts strong as a melodramatic satire of high school politics that the protagonist (Ben Platt), wants to ride all the way to the White House. But as the season progresses, Ryan Murphy takes us down a number of subplots left unfinished—all topped off with a few failed attempts at murder. You know, classic high school drama. It’s like Ryan Murphy invited us into his home to talk about politics, but he’s actually a hoarder and you’re stuck staring at unrelated objects for longer than you need to. The best part: Ben Platt singing.

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / Insatiable

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / Insatiable

Season 2 of Insatiable tries to transcend its fatphobic themes from Season 1 and tackle eating disorders, sociopathy, and addiction in different forms. The show still maintains what made Season 1 so brilliant—it’s comedy and commentary on the pageant world. This time, with a Pageant Killer, who is murdering girls in nearly every episode. What the show does well—a big turn from the first season—is show the making of a killer in a modern world. In the end, you’re not sure if you’re rooting for Patty to win. But that’s what keeps you wanting more.

ONE PERFECT EPISODE / SpongeBob SquarePants: "Band Geeks” / Kyle Lundberg

Squidward is frequently cast in more of an antagonistic role, and he is often needlessly cruel to his next-door neighbors SpongeBob and Patrick. But what gets lost in the emotions is the fact that what Squidward wants is completely reasonable: a quiet Sunday afternoon with no noises or distractions. If you had a neighbor as loud and obnoxious as SpongeBob, you’d have a short fuse, too.

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / Undone

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / Undone

Undone travels well-trod territory, with a multi-layered, multi-timeline story told through the eyes of a lead character who is either mentally unwell or, in fact, gifted. But two things set the series apart from all previous TV mindfucks: the brilliant use of rotoscope animation, and the acerbic, vulnerable lead performance of Rosa Salazar (offering her second brilliant performance of 2019 which is hidden behind layers of computer animation). The chemistry of an excellent cast (including Bob Odenkirk) reveals the animation as not just a storytelling gimmick, but as the only proper way to tell this splintered and compelling narrative.

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / Carnival Row

100 WORD TELEVISION REVIEWS / Carnival Row

I admit that I rolled my eyes at the trailer for Carnival Row —Cara Delevingne as a fairy, how unexpected. But within the first five minutes, we see this pixie is a fearless, albeit damaged, veteran. I also had to revise my memory of Orlando Bloom as a pretty elf; he’s the emotional heart of the story. While it leans a little too hard on the immigration analogy at times, the show has some complicated things to say about assimilation and belonging. Missing Game of Thrones? Carnival Row’s world is just as gorgeously realized—and the women characters get treated better.

ONE PERFECT EPISODE / Hannibal: "The Wrath of the Lamb" / Douglas Menagh

Hannibal, played by brilliantly by Mads Mikkelsen, is a poetic, modern, and cool Lucifer. Like Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost, all the best lines in this episode belong to Hannibal. William Blake said of Milton, “he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it.” The difference between Paradise Lost and Hannibal is the latter belongs to the devils, and knows it.

ONE PERFECT EPISODE / Vampire Diaries: "The Return" / Phoebe Cramer

Though the myth of Katherine Pierce haunts the show from its pilot episode, showing up in flashbacks to Stefan and Damon’s human days, “The Return” is Katherine’s first appearance in the present, the first time her actions are allowed to speak for themselves, freed from the framework of the Salvatore Bros.’ memories. 

ONE PERFECT EPISODE / Master of None: "Buona Notte" / Kaylee Craig

Love doesn’t always save you, sometimes it makes you feel worse. In the case of Dev and Francesca, love can prove to actually be an escape from reality. There is no doubt that love is present between these two, but by the end of this episode we see it in a whole new light when it is placed out of its fantasy and given the ultimate test in reality.

ONE PERFECT EPISODE / Mystery Science Theater 3000: "The Pumaman" / Shannon Frost Greenstein

First, there’s the original film being riffed upon by the MST3K cast, “The Pumaman”an Italian superhero flick directed by Alberto De Martino in 1980.  (De Martino refers to the film as, “The only pic I did wrong in my whole career,” so we’re already off to a swimmingly good start.)