- Saying goodbye to Orange Is the New Black
- A good Taylor Swift song?!
- About that Big Little Lies finale…
- Surely, this Ben Affleck news is an Onion report.
- Jennifer Lopez is an immortal goddess.
The final season of Orange Is the New Black is really good and more topical than ever. We will tell you more about that next week, as we are so restricted by Netflix in what we can say about the new season that there’s honestly no point until then.
(Listen, there’s not much about my job to complain about. HOWEVER. The increasingly ridiculous practice of attaching riders describing “spoilers” that critics are forbidden from revealing has not only gotten out of hand—for Stranger Things 3, we were not even allowed to say that Russians, introduced in the first scene, were the season’s villains—but has also completely ruined the viewing experience for some of us. Surprise deaths and major plot points for Stranger Things 3, Veronica Mars, and OITNB are just a handful of what we learned in an email before even being allowed to press play on Episode 1.)
But we can tell you about how this show has completely changed television. On an industry level, it is the series that arguably granted Netflix the prestige it has now. House of Cards had come before it, a drama that could have been on Showtime. But it’s OITNB that played with tone, structure, theme, pacing, morality, and inclusivity in ways that defined Netflix while shattering the television landscape as we knew it. And it’s on that latter point we want to focus.
The acting on OITNB, most of it done by women in their first major television roles, has been the most impressive on TV during its seven-year run. Tour de forces by veterans like Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Laura Prepon, and, in Season Two, Lorraine Toussaint built the show a solid foundation. A mesmerizing, undersung turn by Taylor Schilling as one of TV’s trickiest characters made it exciting. But the breakout turns by Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox, Yael Stone, Selenis Levya, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Diane Guerrero, and so many more made watching the show a thrill.
But it’s Danielle Brooks’ work as Taystee that I want to talk about. It might be my favorite performance of the last decade. A bubbly scene-stealer has become the show’s most tragic figure, and through it all Brooks has remained towering. She has such a command not just of every frame, but of Taystee’s darkness as well, that it’s almost hard to breathe when she’s on screen.
Taystee’s appeal is her strength. Her relatability is her vulnerability. Her tragedy is her loss of hope. I can’t believe she never got an Emmy nomination. But she’s won the more prestigious award: MY HEART!
I frankly don’t have the energy anymore to keep up with what’s going on with Taylor Swift, whether we like her or not, why we like her or not, or attempting to figure out who Scooter Braun is. I am, however, very concerned with whether or not she is giving us bops. Friends, she has not been. She has been giving us some garbage. “Me!” “You Need to Calm Down.” No! And rude!
This week, Swift finally released a song off her upcoming Lover album that is legitimately good. (At least, I won’t change the radio station immediately when it comes on.) “The Archer” is a soft, synth-heavy ballad that has Swift dialing back the brassy attention-seeking of her last two singles for something more introspective. I like it!
I’m getting Cyndi Lauper vibes and Donna Lewis vibes. Some pretty blatant Lana Del Rey and Carly Rae Jepsen appropriation, but I’m not mad about it. The lyrics are simplistic and relatable, returning to the fairy tale motifs that earned her legions of young fans. She quotes the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, bless.
This is Taylor Swift, so it’s still petty AF, with the song boasting analogies in which she is both the hunter and the prey—more meta commentary on her personality. But for a change of pace, it doesn’t seem indulgent.
Well, that was underwhelming. I mean, not the season as a whole. Remember those brighter days of Big Little Lies—Season Two, Episodes 1 through 3—when we were going crazy over Meryl’s scream, Laura Dern screaming “pussfuck!” and Amabella having an anxiety attack over climate change?
That gave way to utter narrative nonsense, total plot stasis, and the sad realization that our initial suspicions—maybe there shouldn’t have been a Season Two—were correct.
Don’t get me wrong, the show was still a blast to watch. Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline Martha MacKenzie is still iconic, even if they forgot to write her a plot this season. That courtroom scene between Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep featured badass acting, as far as the world’s most outlandish legal proceeding goes. But the way it ended, you were kind of just like, what was the point? Oh well. I’m still going to use those GIFs forever.
So far, 2019 has taken a giant, steaming dog shit on our ability to feel joy and hope, so I try to keep this newsletter positive and enthusiastic—your very own pop-culture pooper scooper, so to speak. But nah, not with this.
Projects coming from the Affleck brothers were both in the news this week, providing a brain aneurysm to polish off your rage stroke. First it was announced that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are reteaming to write a new screenplay. Great! We like Good Will Hunting. Nicole Holofcener is working on it with them. A dream! She’s a goddess among shitty men.
The plot takes place in the 14th century, centering on two best friends, one of whom goes to war and learns that the other raped his wife. No one believes her. The court exonerates the rapist. The friend is angry. I’m sorry... what?!
Let’s recap: When the #MeToo movement began, Damon sparked controversy for asinine comments urging for more attention to be paid to the men in Hollywood who aren’t sexual harassers and rapists, worrying that we were unfairly conflating all bad behavior. And Affleck? Video resurfaced of him groping actress Hilarie Burton.
Should you have mistakenly thought that with these last few years of near-constant talk about gender disparity, safety, responsibility, and accountability in the wake of #MeToo, that everyone in Hollywood stopped sharing one hummingbird-sized brain, this should settle that for you. How is THIS the project these assclowns decide to embark on?
As fathers of daughters, you’d think they’d be concerned about YET ANOTHER project in which a woman’s rape is a plot device.
But just in case you have a mouthful of coffee you’re looking to spit out at your computer, here’s a screenshot of a tweet describing Casey Affleck’s (read about that guy here) next movie:
And I recently purchased Rogaine.
What to watch this week:
Orange Is the New Black: It really sticks the landing.
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood: Honestly, just see it so that you don’t have to listen to film bros tell you why you need to see it. Just looking out for you.
Honeyland: Support independent film!
What to skip this week:
Pennyworth: Batman’s butler, Alfred, is basically a young James Bond. Maybe that sounds interesting to you. It does not to me!
Lights Out With David Spade: What 2019 definitely needed was a late-night show hosted by David Spade.