When I am not playing Skyrim to stave off my existential dread, I watch TV. Needless to say, I have been watching a lot of TV. I used to consider myself more of a cinema nerd, but films just aren’t that good anymore. When I compare some of my favorite films from a long time ago, to the franchise drek that is film today, it lacks quality. Sure, there are good films here and there, like The Dark Knight, and Rogue One, but there are a lot of CGI messes too, and some TV shows seem to deliver more consistent quality.
Film sucks for the most part, and I can’t binge watch Adam Curtis documentaries all the time or I will lose my goddamn mind, so I watch TV. Of course I also do family stuff, but with an infant who doesn’t sleep at night, that involves a fair amount of staying up all night holding a sleeping baby, so TV is a big part of my nightly routine.
I have been watching a few new shows and re-watching some old faves, so I’m just going to list them in no particular order and say random things about them.
I watched Stranger Things for the first time a couple of weeks after it dropped on NetFlix. Since then, I’ve probably rewatched it at least 3 times. It’s a great show, full of nods to 80’s movies like E.T. and Stand By Me, but it also captures something essential about my childhood, which was playing Dungeons and Dragons in my friend’s basement for hours at a time and being bullied.
There are lots of neat things to spot in the show (like the fact that Hop’s daughter, Eleven, and Will all have the same stuffed tiger) and I am unreasonably pumped for season 2, which should be out in a few weeks. I have my own theories about what will happen, but I don’t really want to spoil anything if by some odd chance this is the thing that inspires someone to watch the show, and by an even odder chance I turn out to be right. I will say that the kids’ D&D game at the beginning of the game sort of outlines the plot of the season, and their game at the end probably outlines what will happen in the second series, or at least underlines what is still unresolved at the end of the first series.
Rick and Morty (obvs.)
The new season of Rick and Morty is awesome. It’s another show full of details and fan theories to obsess over. My existential angst is both alleviated and agitated by it. The conflicting ideas finding meaning in uncaring universe either helps or makes things worse; I can tell which.
In the context of watching people with beliefs having those beliefs tested at every turn, regardless of their political or philosophical affiliations, is very similar. Rick has all the answers, and that answer is to not to think about it. As power fantasies go, Rick is either the greatest expression because he is essentially all-powerful, or the worst expression because all of his scientific and technological power never seems to get him anywhere. Again, I can’t tell which.
True Detective (season 1)
Speaking of the dichotomy of belief and disbelief, the first season of True Detective is one of the best television shows I have ever seen. Rust (Matthew McConaughey) is incredibly intelligent and yet almost unable to interact with people, except for when he is interrogating them and luring them into making confessions. There are a number of similarities to Rick and Morty, mostly having to do with the juxtaposition of human meaning and savage cruelty, but also the juxtaposition of truth and deception, duty and corruption. There is just barely enough evidence in the show to convince you that Rust is either psychic or psychotic, and somehow not enough to convince you which one.
Season 2 is a good show, it’s just not the masterpiece that is season 1. It’s still worth watching, I just haven’t watched it a half-dozen times like I have season 1. If you are going to commit to both seasons, you should probably watch season 2 first. Also, season 2 unfortunately lacks both the Southern Gothic aesthetic of season 1, and the Lovecraftian symbolism. Season 2 takes place in L.A. and without those motifs, it’s just weird L.A. people doing weird L.A. shit. Kind of like a darker version of Bosch.