Still processing what happened on Survivor this past Wednesday. What happened transcended the game, and one castaway crossed a line that couldn’t be un-crossed, doing something awful that had nothing to do with gameplay: he outed someone as transgender that wasn’t wanting or asking to be outed. Sometimes Survivor brings out the worst in people, albeit usually within the confines of gameplay with the result of being entertaining TV for those watching (case in point: Johnny Fairplay’s lie about a dead grandma who wasn’t really dead! It was wickedly epic.). This was something different altogether. But then, as we see in the other tribemates’ reactions and Zeke’s courage and grace under unthinkable circumstances, Survivor brings out the best in people too. The Tribal Council was upsetting, repulsive, and moving all at once. There’s much to learn here about how such an act can hurt someone (and in some cases put them in physical danger or worse). Just as there are plenty of moral dilemmas that arise on whether CBS should have aired this in the first place. But I think they made the right choice—this is a real thing that happened, and it has consequences for real people. Props to Probst for handling this how he did and being an ally for Zeke. You can read Zeke’s powerful essay to get his perspective and learn how growing up watching Survivor, and now playing Survivor, has impacted his life for the better…and hopefully continues to do so!
Zeke in his own words: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/…/survivor-zeke-smith-oute…
Wednesday night’s Tribal Council: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BXqrOSNKn0
Resource for being a better ally of transgender people: http://www.glaad.org/transgender/allies
Catastrophe is the modern-day adult rom-com we’ve been waiting for. It’s the breeziest three hours you’ll spend this summer, with only six half-hour episodes streaming on Amazon (originally aired on British television screens at the start of the year). It’s smart, funny, and yes, even sexy. There’s something so refreshing about a story that revolves around a simple plot (man meets woman, man and woman have a lot of sex, man and woman have an unplanned pregnancy, and man moves to London to be with woman) involving two forty-something, charming leads. This man (Rob Delaney) and woman (Sharon Horgan) are completely at ease in their own skin, which makes their budding relationship so compelling. They’re both unapologetically themselves – and luckily for them, for the most part, they like that about the other person. Luckily for us, their chemistry is palpable but doesn’t feel at all forced. Add in their raucous humor, plus some miserable but terrifically executed side characters – not to mention the fabulous Carrie Fisher as Delaney’s mom – and you’ve got one of the best shows to debut this year. And after your three-hour binge goes by in a flash, just like that, you’ll be taken aback by how much you thoroughly enjoyed it, and you’ll curse the TV gods that there aren’t more episodes (yet) to devour.
I have to admit something. It’s something that’s weighed heavy on me in recent weeks. Okay, here it goes…I’m late to the Amy Schumer train. Yes, I’ve been aware of who she is since her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer has been on the air and I had seen the occasional clip of popular sketches/bits that made the rounds on the Internet. It was the great “A Very Realistic Military Game” that really caught my attention from last year’s season two, in which Amy’s female avatar in a military-set video game gets sexually assaulted and must go through piles of paperwork just to be told from her boyfriend that she must have done something wrong. It is poignant on so many levels. That sketch set something off in me, that I needed to make time to go back and binge all of her episodes before last month’s season three premiere. For every bit that is extraneous, albeit funny (such as Cat Park), there are two sketches so on-the-nose about social/gender issues, which is where she (and her team of writers) really excel. Whether she intended it or not, Amy Schumer is the feminist icon we so desperately need(ed) – not that there are not feminist icons in the world (there are countless important women doing good work in many different sectors of our lives). But when it comes to someone in pop culture that can have a lot of sway and influence, Amy Schumer’s edge is that she’s so accessible. She’s simultaneously smart, funny, and easy-going and has mass appeal for a younger generation that could use such a relatable voice. She’s hilarious, shocking, but most importantly in-tune with what’s trending online and what issues need to be discussed, especially those that are important to young people.
So far, season three’s first two episodes have not disappointed. The premiere in particular was magical and feminist in every way. From the instant classics “Football Town Nights” (about the rape culture epidemic in sports/schools – and an A+ impression of Tami Taylor) and “Last F**kable Day” (three prominent ladies of Hollywood criticizing the misogyny of the entertainment industry) to possibly the biggest jab at Congress in the sketch where Amy struggles to get a prescription for birth control (with a not-so-subtle but fantastic rip at gun control), Inside Amy Schumer packs a lot of punch towards the right targets. Plus, she’s really funny with every swing. Here’s hoping that her show will do more than just make us laugh – but also make us think and cause some good change in this world.
With Parks and Recreation off the air now, it’s time for a new comedy to take its place in our hearts and minds. Although Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt follows 30 Rock in its absurdist tendencies (which I mean in the most complimentary way), its ridiculousness is paired off with charm, thanks in large part to the amazing Ellie Kemper. If you love the brand of humor in 30 Rock, then you’ll love Kimmy Schmidt, whose creators are Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (creator/writer and writer for 30 Rock, respectively). Plus, Fey and Carlock manage to make a horribly depressing scenario (four women, including Kimmy, trapped in an underground bunker against their will by an egomaniac who has falsely predicted the apocalypse are finally found and have to rebuild their lives) into something hilarious and even poignant. Just like 30 Rock, some of the most on-point jokes aimed at the social/political/racial/etc. constructs of our society are subtle and mumbled under characters’ breaths. But to balance the ‘truth-ness’ embedded throughout, there are equal parts outlandish and side-splitting gags that run throughout this series (blink and you just might miss them). And lucky for us, due to the timing of when Kimmy gets kidnapped as a young teenager in the mid 90s, we get tons of hilarious references to great and obscure pop culture artifacts from the 80s and 90s and many moments of Kimmy coming to terms with the technological and social media developments that she’s luckily missed out on for the past 15 years. To showcase a microcosm of what you’ll find on this show, here are four instances of what makes this show unbreakable.
Season two could not come fast enough!