Aziz Ansari Used His Saturday Night Live Monologue to Ask Trump to Denounce “Casual White Supremacy”

Aziz Ansari did about as well as anyone could under the circumstances, denouncing the casual racists of the alt-right and encouraging President Trump to join him. 17, 2001 as an example of the kind of statesmanship he hoped to see from Trump. Bush’s speeches, here’s another one, in which he was also careful to speak of his great respect for Islam. It’s true that Bush was less terrifying than Trump—who could have imagined that press conference Saturday, even a week ago?—but this is a step on the road to George W. Let’s not hold our breaths on that one. You just want to get the crowd pumped up for the “Loud Family who Talks Loudly” skit you’ve been working on, but everyone else expects you to use your monologue to respond to history. Ansari, like a lot of people lately, pointed to George W. Don’t tweet about me being lame or the show being lame, write a speech. After making a deliberately unconvincing case against demonizing all Trump voters (he compared them to Chris Brown fans), Ansari zeroed in on the ones he’s fine with demonizing, “the people that as soon as Trump won, they’re like, ‘We don’t have to pretend we’re not racist anymore! And that can’t be allowed to happen, no matter how many Saturday Night Live monologues it ruins. We don’t have to pretend anymore!’” Calling them a “lower-case KKK movement” founded on “casual white supremacy,” Ansari then moved from comedy to some sort of fantasia where our new President wasn’t part of the problem:

I think Trump should make a speech, a real speech denouncing the lower-case KKK. Bush’s remarks about Islam on Sep. The day after the inauguration of a bozo of world-historical proportions and the same day as nationwide protests against that same bozo is probably not the ideal night to host Saturday Night Live. So as long as we’re getting nostalgic about George W. Bush reemerging as an elder statesman, like Nixon did. And Iraqi civilization:

Al Gore Prepares to Fight Climate Change Under President Trump with An Inconvenient Sequel

We want this movie to recruit others.”
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power hits U.S. The follow-up to the landmark documentary focuses on Gore’s continued efforts to combat climate change with “human ingenuity and passion,” vying to help influence global environmental policy and helping to educate potential leaders of the movement. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is finally hitting theaters after years of speculation. “No one person can stop this movement. It appears to have been made very much in the spirit of the original, which is credited as a major catalyst for the environmental movement’s revitalization and won two Academy Awards, including Best Documentary. Whether Truth to Power can capture the country—and the world—as An Inconvenient Truth did, however, remains to be seen. “We will win,” Gore told the Sundance crowd. theaters on July 28. At the very least, Gore striking a combined note of paranoia and optimism should resonate strongly for those concerned about climate change and environmental protection under a President Trump. (It’s worth noting that Gore unveiled “Flooded,” the first footage of Truth to Power released so far, on the day of Trump’s inauguration.) The movie was reportedly met with a “rapturous response” at its Sundance Film Festival Opening Night premiere, with a post-screening Q&A quickly delving into our turbulent political climate.

CNN’s Inauguration Coverage Was One Long Existential Crisis About How Not to Normalize Trump and Still Be CNN

CNN didn’t treat the trappings of the inauguration like some grand, fluffy soiree—it talked about them like they were a life raft. All you need is a heartfelt lecture from Andrea Mitchell about how this is what our forefathers wanted, the transition of power without tanks in the streets, when you’re a little worried about tanks in the streets. Pretending everything was normal was not a viable option. As the Trumps and Pences waved goodbye to the Obamas from the steps on the Capitol, Tapper solemnly pointed out that this entire tableau is staged for our benefit. One question hanging over the cable news networks as they covered President Trump’s inauguration was whether they were going to “normalize” it by covering it as though it were any other inauguration. It painted a vision of America that was dark and pessimistic and at odds with statistics. But neutral as its panelists tried to be, CNN had already communicated its deep underlying anxiety about the new normal and its fantasy that tradition and protocol might be able to keep the abnormal away. Anderson Cooper mentioned to the CNN panel that there were concerns about “not wanting to normalize this day,” concerns that David Axelrod, for one, said he found “bewildering.”
But CNN’s inauguration coverage was intimately concerned with normalizing, or rather with not being seen to be either normalize or, for lack of a better word, abnormalize. In an incredibly polarized political and media environment—CNN was called “fake news” by Donald Trump just last week—CNN covered the inauguration like someone trying to thread a needle with trembling hands. So CNN ended up somewhere odd: desperately focused on the inherent dignity and value of the inaugural traditions, praising the peaceful transfer of power as though we were Gambia and not a country that has been successfully doing this for 200-plus years. This question hung so heavy over CNN, in particular, that the network raised it during the endless hours before the inauguration began. But, for a nonpartisan news network, neither was constantly beating the drum about how abnormal everything was. With time, CNN got into a more critical, if bloodless, conversation. Immediately following the inauguration proper, and Trump’s dystopic, aggressive, “America First” speech, the CNN staff almost seemed to shy away from any particularly hard-hitting assessments—Jake Tapper’s verdict that the speech would go down in history as one of the most “radical” ever delivered at an inauguration came with no seeming value judgments attached and so no descriptive insight either—before spending long, quiet minutes discussing the Obamas and Trumps walking to a helicopter and saying goodbye, in the grand tradition of our democracy. It’s communicating: “This isn’t want you’re used to, but it’s going to be fine.”
Coming so quickly after Trump’s speech, which stated explicitly that everything was not fine, that we were beset by “American carnage,” living in an apparent wasteland of hollowed-out factories, lost promise, and gang violence, this could be construed as normalizing—but it played more like desperate soothing. It had Trump supporters booing Chuck Schumer and saying things Tapper “wouldn’t say on television” (“lock her up”), despite the fact that Trump has contributed to Schumer’s campaigns in the past. The speech, they said, was missing even any semblance of an olive branch to the other side, to Hillary Clinton, to women.

CNN Creates Excruciating Split Screen of Trump and Hillary

The cameras followed the limo on one side of the screen and the stoic Clintons on the other for a few silent minutes, stoking the drama, until Wolf Blitzer broke in to solemnly congratulate the CNN production team for creating such a brazenly manipulative juxtaposition. In case the country was not feeling emotional enough this inauguration morning, CNN goosed its pre-inauguration coverage with a brutal split screen of President-elect Trump and Hillary Clinton that emphasized just how very much one will be president and the other will not. “What a remarkable split screen moment we just saw,” Blitzer remarked, as if split screens are as random and inevitable as weather. To literally see Donald Trump walk out the door … to go to his inauguration … and to see Hillary Clinton walking with her husband who was president, knowing she will never be, at the very same time, wow.” John King chirped up, “The two men who denied her the presidency in one car.” As President Obama and Trump left the White House and made their way to the limousine taking them to the Capitol, CNN decided it would be a good time to cue up a feed of Hillary and Bill Clinton making their way through Capitol Hill. You know, in case you forgot! Andrea Mitchell chimed in, “That moment, it gave me the chills, not for any reason other than as just a reminder, nobody ever knows what their fate is going to be.

There’s No Such Thing as “Indie TV,” But Sundance Wants to Help Change That

Every year since, there’s been a steady increase in the amount of episodic work screened during the course of the country’s most prestigious film festival, further blurring the line where television stops and movies begin. Brett Morgen is a Sundance veteran who’s been bringing movies to the festival since 1999, but his latest project is When the Street Lights Go On, the pilot for an as-yet-unproduced series about murders in a small suburban town. “I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my own money than to buy a property I really wanted to develop.” But even with a modest projected budget of $7 million and an actress whom Morgen calls “without question the biggest star of her generation” attached as a lead, the movie was dead in the water. But increasingly, it’s become the place for at least some of those directors to spread their wings, following an audience for idiosyncratic work that is steadily migrating from the big screen to the not-so-small. The result was three separate showcases, one dedicated to independent pilots and two to short-form episodic series, with subjects ranging from “the elitist parenting culture of Silicon Beach” to a teenager who discovers she is pregnant with an alien baby. Street Lights began life as a feature film script hot off the 2012 Black List, which Morgen, known for documentaries like On the Ropes and Cobain: Montage of Heck, planned to be his fiction debut. (Film and TV critics spent the end of 2016 fighting over who would get to put O.J.: Made in America on their top 10 list.) This year, there are over a half-dozen events organized around advance screenings of shows like Amazon’s I Love Dick, ABC’s Downward Dog, and Fox’s Shots Fired, as well as the CNN miniseries The History of Comedy and Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design. “We’re totally in experimentation mode for now, just seeing what it’s capable of.”
TV used to be where independent directors went to pick up a paycheck in between films; scroll through the credits on a season of Six Feet Under and it’s like a Sundance family reunion. The single greatest obstacle to the maturation of the episode form is the lack of financially viable distribution channels outside the major networks and streaming providers. In past years, most of Sundance’s TV programming has amounted to a carefully curated sneak peek at already completed shows, but this year, for the first time, the festival opened up its submissions process to episodic work and virtual reality, getting some 500 entries in all. “There’s a three-minute scene in the middle where the kids exchange two woods of dialogue,” Morgen says proudly. There was literally no compromise made for anyone or anything.” Although it’s set in the 1980s, there’s no tinge of Stranger Things nostalgia for the era, which Morgen, who is 48, remembers with passionate loathing. “But then I got a phone call: ‘What do you think about adapting it as a TV show?’” And with that, he says, “I’ve basically just walked you through the last seven years of independent cinema.”
Making Street Lights for Paramount Television was, says Morgen, “as pure as it gets. “This is totally a fascination and an interest of ours, and we feel like this is just the beginning,” says Sundance programmer Charlie Reff. (Morgen is still working on “a big comic-book adaptation” for Hulu, which tells a different story about recent trends in independent filmmaking.) Pilots that don’t go to series, like Kanye West’s attempt at a Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque HBO sitcom, are usually condemned to the studio vaults, but after Hulu passed, Morgen got in touch with Trevor Groth, Sundance’s director of programming, and asked if there might be a way to get it Street Lights in front of an audience, no matter how small. This year she’s back as the creator of the boundary-pushing and critically beloved Transparent, with three episodes of a brand-new series under her belt. “I’ve never enjoyed the experience of the festival as a film director. “I’m just happy to show it,” he says. This will also be the fourth year the Sundance Institute has convened an Episodic Story Lab, which admits writers who have never previously sold a pilot to an intensive 10-day program followed with a year of support from Sundance’s staff and the lab’s experienced advisors. After screening two episodes of their animated series, Animals, at Sundance in 2015, Mark and Josh Duplass got an order for a full season from HBO, and though Animals wasn’t renewed, the Duplasses went on to make their next show, Togetherness, for HBO as well. Although it wasn’t the first time the festival had shown episode work, the 2013 screening of Jane Campion’s six-part miniseries Top of the Lake seemed to break the dam for good. Some people come to Sundance for the movies, some to take meetings, and others just for the chance to spot a celebrity making their way over a Park City snowdrift. For Morgen, the aim was less to get it made into a series than to provide “closure” for himself and the people who worked on it. It’s too stressful. The pace is slow, the lighting, inspired by the photographs of Gregory Crewdson, moody.  As I was talking with Reff about Pineapple, a stylish short-form series about a mystery in a small town, the news broke that it had been acquired for a new digital platform called Blackpills. Although the streaming provider had been “supportive every step of the way,” by the time it was finished, their programming strategy had shifted, and a gloomy period drama with no major stars in the cast was not something they were interested in proceeding with. Four years ago, Jill Soloway attended Sundance as the director of a little-heralded debut feature called Afternoon Delight. But in the last several years, a new possibility has emerged: going to Sundance to watch TV. Sundance can’t develop those alternate channels on their own, but at least they’re giving them a place to look for the next big thing. “I figured we’d hit the end of the road,” Morgen says. This feels totally different.”
That said, Sundance is as famous for its deals as for the films it shows, and that could one day go for its episodic programming as well. “It’s so anti-TV.”
Apparently, Hulu agreed. During production, Morgen took his young cast members to a Duran Duran concert, and remembers thinking, “I cannot wait to fucking destroy the ’80s.”
Peak TV notwithstanding, Morgen says he hasn’t watched a scripted TV series since The Sopranos, and he drew his crew, including the great cinematographer Ellen Kuras, largely from the world of film. “I’d been doing commercials for 17 years,” Morgen says.

Trevor Noah on Trump’s Inauguration: “We Are So Fooked”

“And you should know a publicity opportunity when you see one. Donald Trump was just promoting tomorrow’s premiere of the 45th season of the TV show President.” (He later added, “It’s also the final season, by the way, but that’s a different subject.”)
Noah used his platform on Inauguration Eve to speak frankly, rather than optimistically, about the political era we’re on the verge of entering. “Oh, guys, we are so fooked.” “America, you have to get used to the fact that you’ve elected a reality star president,” Trevor Noah said Thursday night in response to the photo President-elect Donald Trump tweeted of himself “writing” his inaugural address. “How is that a president?” he asked, seemingly in disbelief. And for the Daily Show host, that one, ridiculously staged photo said it all.

Premiere of A Dog’s Purpose Canceled Amid Concerns About Animal Abuse

“Because Amblin’s review into the edited video released yesterday is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog’s Purpose to cancel this weekend’s premiere and press junket,” the joint statement read. 27 theatrical release, but the outrage directed at the film doesn’t appear to be dying down anytime soon. On Twitter, Hallström, who also directed the movies Hachi: A Dog‘s Tale and My Life as a Dog, wrote that he was “very disturbed” by the video and was not present when it was shot; Josh Gad, who recorded the dog’s voice but was never on set, said he was “shaken and sad,” and both said they had reached out to the film’s studio for an explanation. The film—directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat)—has been the subject of intense scrutiny over the past few days, ever since a disturbing video of a German Shepherd being dragged into choppy waters on-set before being submerged underneath leaked online via TMZ and went viral. A Dog’s Purpose is still scheduled for a Jan. Bruce Cameron’s novel of the same name, A Dog’s Purpose focuses on the life of a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) from birth and until death, and through the various reincarnated lives he leads through different breeds. The film’s marketing thus far has verged on sappy in its appeal to dog-lovers—the very market that’s most unlikely to forgive the kind of recklessness and abuse revealed in the leaked video. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have called for a boycott and the film’s scheduled press junket has been canceled as well. The Saturday premiere of A Dog’s Purpose has been shut down, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment announced in a statement. “Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans.”
Based on W.

Why You Should Watch Donald Trump’s Inauguration

Think of last week’s press conference, in which Trump said countless terrifying, false, and contradictory things. Feel free to use that logic when deciding not to watch CNN’s half-hour Ivanka Trump puff piece, or avoiding anything that’s been touched by Rob Schneider. But there are ways to watch and ways to give your attention beyond a silent, implicit endorsement. Of the many inauguration events, the biggest ceremony happens around noon on Friday, so there will be many people who simply can’t watch from work. We need to learn to watch the president we have, and use that knowledge so that we never let this kind of presidency happen again. “I know that every time I give Trump a ratings point, a YouTube view, or even an unrecorded gaze, I am doing what he wants, what he needs to survive,” Scher writes. Some of them are fair and come from a healthy sense of self-knowledge. The first is the one I’ve just been laying out: Once Trump was actually elected president, the idea that ignoring him could be a useful way to reduce his power went from misguided to complete ostrich with its head in the sand. Otherwise, though, we need to reframe our understanding of ratings and money in this context, and accept the fact that not watching the future president be inaugurated is fundamentally unlike boycotting Fox News punditry or not watching Survivor. His election may not have been legitimate, and you may disagree with every single thing about what’s about to happen, but he will still become our president. The great ship Make Him Go Away by Ignoring Him sailed long ago—there was never enough momentum to make that strategy work during the campaign, and ignoring him now will do nothing at all to stop his presidency. Images like the dozens of representatives who are boycotting the inauguration are important, and hopefully the inaugural ceremony will look like a paltry gathering compared with a groundswell of protest the next day. At this point, pretending that your inattention will help anything falls somewhere between foolhardiness and civic irresponsibility. You should watch it because he will be our next president, like it or not. Ignoring it entirely in favor of a filtered version, predigested and contextualized by your chosen media frame, is a way to cede the work of active watching and foist it onto someone else. It will not be funny. Images and metaphors matter. The inauguration planning committee has been famously, hilariously incapable of booking any musical talent whatsoever. As a TV critic, it’s pretty hard to put the inauguration on any well-intentioned list of recommended viewing. It’ll be almost completely empty of actual policy; it’ll be a Trump-designed, Trump-centered melee of pomp and circumstance; it’ll be sound and fury, signifying nothing. His words matter, because he’s the president-elect, but the most coherent idea to come out of that conference was the one you could really only see by watching on TV: the massive pile of manila folders that no one was even allowed to read. We need to learn how to be thoughtful critics of them, and that starts by actually watching them. There are lots of reasons to not watch the inauguration of Donald Trump. If you know that watching Donald Trump be officially sworn in as our 45th president of the United States is going to crater your productivity, your ability to function, or your healthy emotional coping skills for an excessive period of time, and potentially create a spiral that will be hard to recover from, don’t watch. That can be true. But if none of the above applies to you, you should watch the presidential inauguration. From this perspective, and in most TV contexts, that’s correct—your eyeballs make money for whatever you’re watching, and by watching, you’re essentially indicating your tacit consent for the object in front of you. You should watch it actively, skeptically, thoughtfully, critically, and as just one part of a bigger plan of action and resistance. But watching only those parts and carefully cutting out the bits that will make you feel uncomfortable, that will leave you with a sour taste in your mouth and the desire to punch things, is a form of denial that we don’t have the luxury to wallow in any longer. Rather than feed into his political theater, he writes, we should instead refuse to participate: “What better way to combat a performer-politician than by diminishing his stage?”
It’s not hard to empathize with that perspective, or to find it alluring and persuasive. Here’s the thing: As great as that line is, sound and fury are often pretty good signifiers. The second part of the argument is the idea that the inauguration itself is something worth watching, even though, unlike middle-of-the-night votes on the ACA or hearings on the cabinet, it will be a big fat nothing-burger of governmental action. If Trump is a media-driven animal, focused more on TV production and brand management than on policy, his presidency requires us all to become media critics, to take an active role in considering the object in front of us. You should watch it even if—especially if—you are mulling an inaugural-viewing boycott in order to deny the president-elect the satisfaction of good TV ratings. We have this idea of watching something as a passive activity, as though allowing words and images to enter your brain involves no input and requires no processing on your part. It will not be entertaining, and it will not make you feel good. You’re voting with your monetizable attention. You should watch it because watching the whole of it, rather than clips filtered through other media, will give you a stronger, more visceral, more immediate sense of the reality of what’s going on. Pomp and circumstance, media circuses, sounds and furies—these things are the message. It’s the wisdom we’ve all been trying to learn and internalize over the past decades of the TV boom: Our attention equals ratings, and ratings equal money for the thing we’re watching. You should watch it because it’s really happening, and we need to learn how to look directly at the thing we don’t like or don’t understand. There are people who will be traveling, people who are ill, people who have other significant life-related conflicts that prevent them from sitting in front of a TV at lunchtime on a weekday. There is one argument against watching the inauguration that’s undeniably hard to counter: It’s probably going to boring, terrible, or both. See also: All the Musicians Who Have Reportedly Turned Down an Invitation to Perform at Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration This article originally appeared in Vulture. Especially in an administration where the president’s primary concerns are television appearances and his Twitter account, a media circus is as close to an actual articulate message as this man may ever communicate. Watch TCM’s airing of A Face in the Crowd instead. And heck, if you actually are a Nielsen family this week, and you know for certain that your viewing is monitored on Friday, then sure, knock yourself out. After a campaign season when Trump patently benefited from being a ratings machine and from making sure his interests aligned with the profit margins of cable news companies, it’s not hard to see removing eyeballs as a strategy for deflating his power. This is the argument of Bill Scher in the New Republic, who suggests that the best way to diminish Trump’s potency and impact will be to look away. Refusing to watch Trump will not make him less the president. You should still watch it. There are two aspects to the argument for watching the inauguration. There will be no fun celebrity cameos. If we try to look beyond the shiny surface exterior of Trump’s inaugural festivities and search for the backbone of governmental logic within, we may well find nothing (except a smiling Paul Ryan and a coterie of terrifying cabinet appointees).

M. Night Shyamalan’s Split

Email in bio.) Shyamalan, often to his peril, is drawn to WTF reversals and twists, but he ironically opts for guilelessness in a movie that could clearly benefit from his cruder instincts. In Split, menace first enters the frame quietly, as it often does in Shyamalan’s films. The rest of Split is pleasingly screwy but never truly unnerving, a limitation most obvious in a routine climax that’s nowhere near as wild as it seems to think it is. Stark and soaked in dead-silent tension, the short recurring sequences build a sense of dread that’s woefully absent from the rest of the movie, an eerie reminder of Shyamalan’s no-kid-gloves approach to childhood trauma in The Sixth Sense and other films. He pauses, as if in doubt, then slips on a surgical mask and gases them all to sleep. Next time, let’s let him out. Couldn’t one of the identities have been a misanthropic ficus? Shyamalan admirers (count me as one) will find plenty to savor in the movie’s ranks of lively supporting players (including some well-trained hamsters) and demented details (at one point, the camera lingers on 23 toothbrushes for 23 personalities). Fletcher, a psychiatrist actively treating the McAvoy character. Why isn’t Split actually a hallucinatory metaphor for our fractured society set 400 years in the future? Three girls (including Anya Taylor-Joy, who reprises final-girl duties from The Witch) wait in a car for a ride home from a birthday party, bantering idly, until a strange man nervously enters the driver’s seat. They also tend to inspire memorably unhinged performances from actors who have a ball toggling through the various alter egos, a tradition James McAvoy giddily inherits here. But in Split, the results are curious: In taking up arguably his most absurd premise yet, Shyamalan has made the straightest thriller of his career, nearly free of the misguided detours and bonkers twists that made him famous. If Shyamalan can sometimes be drawn to leading men who take his material too seriously—make it stop, Mel Gibson—he finds an ideal grinning lunatic in McAvoy, who toggles between his character’s many dramatic personae with carefully apportioned tics and able humor. The girls awake to find themselves locked away in a basement room. Night Shyamalan’s funhouse of narrative gimmicks is back open for business in Split, his new thriller that locks three teenage girls in an industrial basement with a man consumed by at least 23 warring personalities. But his total commitment is almost a shame, because the screenplay, which Shyamalan also wrote, never quite locates the humanity in a man supposedly occupied by 23 people. Give us something. Fletcher, naturally, dedicates her life to convincing the world that dissociative identity disorder is real and gives several dubious lectures on the subject for our benefit. You wish it were messier. McAvoy has particular fun with Hedwig, a 9-year-old boy with a heavy lisp, a fondness for the expression etc., and a sinister agenda. (Can someone explain why it’s so scary for people to crawl up walls? Shyamalan himself seems to have sensed his mistake. If many psychiatrists are skeptical of “dissociative identity disorder,” as the illness formerly known as multiple personality disorder is now diagnosed, horror auteurs have long been happy to inflict it on their characters. Multiple personalities offer movies the ultimate unknowable villain playing on our fears about how well we can ever know another person and their interior struggles. Before long, one of the identities casually mentions the girls are there to “feed” someone, which you can rest assured Shyamalan means literally. (She’s played by Betty Buckley, who starred as the ill-fated teacher in Brian De Palma’s original Carrie, one of the movie’s many winks at classic horror.) Split has great fun with the therapy sessions between doctor and patient, using them to fashion a surprisingly cogent mystery about what’s going on in our fragmented villain’s head—and what may be in store for his unfortunate teenage guests. After the movie ends, it offers a very silly but kind of sublime final “twist” in the credits, a nod to the old prankster we know is still in there somewhere. M. In his movies, when children point guns at adults, they mean it. Multiple personality thrillers from Psycho through Fight Club have tended to introduce their subjects’ condition as a twist, but in a clever inversion, Split simultaneously follows Dr. (Or is it 24?!) He’s all surfaces, and we never spend enough time with the “good” personalities to care what happens when the bad ones take over. Instead, Split’s most disturbing scenes come in flashbacks that tease out the past agonies of Taylor-Joy’s twice-unlucky teen. Through a series of bizarre encounters, they realize their host (McAvoy) is in fact several hosts: a fidgety young boy, a parochial old woman, an antic man who demands they remove a piece of clothing.

Stephen Colbert Revives His Conservative Alter Ego “Stephen Colbert” to Bid Obama a Very Truthy Farewell

Because when your entire ideology has been little more than opposing whatever the other guy says, simply because he said it—what do you do when he’s gone? For legal reasons, Colbert has had to retire his Colbert Report character, an egotistical conservative blowhard named Stephen Colbert. He transformed me. Despite the similiarities, Colbert was careful to emphasize that these are two different characters. But after some jabs at the “hopey-changey apologist-in-chief,” this alter ego, a stand-in for the conservative movement as a whole, is also having something of an identity crisis surrounding Obama’s departure. “I mean, we had six years to come up with something to replace Obamacare, and the best we’ve got right now is Paul Ryan going door to door with a tub of Flintstones vitamins,” moaned Colbert. “See, I know Obama wanted to be a transformative president, and he was. And now I have no idea who that is!” With Obama leaving office, it was time for the real Colbert, who hosts The Late Show, to give him a proper goodbye, and that meant calling in reinforcements. “How many times do I have to scream that at the lawyers?”
The new Stephen Colbert revived a segment that definitely isn’t the Colbert Report’s “The Word” (it’s “The Werd”) to recap the past eight years of Obama’s presidency. For most of the Obama presidency, Stephen Colbert played a fictional version of himself dedicated to bashing the commander-in-chief nightly on The Colbert Report. Instead, he called in his “identical twin cousin,” an egotistical conservative blowhard, also named Stephen Colbert.

The Red Turtle

The man—can we call him anything else?—gets himself into trouble almost immediately, slipping deep into a rocky inlet before re-emerging through a narrow underwater crevasse (the first of many rebirths). He’s already hallucinated a string quartet playing in the surf, the product of a mind desperate for any form of emotional connection; it’s a little like the elaborate psychosis conjured by the isolated protagonist of Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa, only infused with hope instead of alienation and self-loathing. The Red Turtle is the first movie from Japan’s Studio Ghibli to be directed by a foreign artist (Dudok de Wit is Dutch), with Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya) credited as its artistic producer. Having had only the company of some crabs who scuttle across the beach with the lightness of Cinderella’s mice, the man is entranced by this new arrival, but he’s enraged by it, too, and one day when it’s crawled onto the sand, he manages to attack it and flip it on its back, an act of wanton cruelty that vents some of the man’s fury but fails to dissipate it. That ambiguity complicates our relationship to the film in ways that are never resolved: Are we witnessing the man’s imagination or being asked to imagine the story ourselves? He’s like a human-shaped hole in the screen, an invitation to insert yourself into the story. The man is humbled by his environment, and viewers would do well to approach The Red Turtle with the same level of humility. Dudok de Wit, making his first feature after decades crafting animated shorts, plunges us headfirst into the action as an unnamed man is tossed between ocean waves among the wreckage of his boat. The technique is a blend of hand-drawn and computer animation, and like Ghibli’s classic films, especially Hayao Miyazaki’s, it lavishes as much attention on the natural world as the creatures who inhabit it. Its protagonist has no name, no backstory, and barely anything in the way of distinguishing features; his body is realistically outlined, but his face is little more than two dots and an upside-down 7 of a nose, and he’s often shot from a distance so that even if he had features, we wouldn’t be able to see them. He builds another raft, and it happens again, but still he can find no sight of a creature large enough to cause so much damage. From there, The Red Turtle takes a fantastical turn, and then another and another, and for a long time, it’s not clear how much of what we’re seeing we are to believe. At the end of the 2013 movie All Is Lost, a shipwrecked Robert Redford swims upward toward a light on the surface of the water, leaving viewers to decide whether he’s been rescued at the last possible minute or he’s hallucinating in the moments before he goes down for the last time. The movie, which Dudok de Wit co-wrote with Bird People’s Pascale Ferran, has no dialogue beyond the occasional grunt or yell. The cycle repeats, and soon time, too, begins to splinter. Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle stretches the ambiguity of that moment out to feature length, to an extent that distinguishing between reality and dying fantasy becomes not only impossible but undesirable. But both halves are achieved with such rapturous minimalism that the best solution is to immerse oneself in the story exactly as it’s presented and leave the figuring out for afterward—or, just as well, do without it altogether. Dudok de Wit works with a narrow palette, so much so that the man’s black-and-white dreams are sometimes difficult to distinguish from his modestly polychromatic waking life, but that palette explodes when he discovers that the creature who has been destroying his raft is a bright crimson turtle—threatening in its massive size but otherwise apparently indifferent to his fate. Before long he washes up on an island and sets about exploring, but if he has thoughts about his situation beyond the drive to escape it, he keeps them to himself. Its release the weekend before Oscar nominations are announced suggests that distributor Sony Pictures Classics is confident it will make the final five alongside such foreordained candidates as Zootopia and Moana, but it’s both the most simply beautiful and the least welcoming of the likely nominees. But though it has the shape of a fairy tale, The Red Turtle’s perspective is distinctly adult, and its vision of nature is harsher than Miyazaki’s. Soon he builds a raft out of bamboo and vines, using foliage as a sail, but his craft is attacked from below and splinters into pieces. The Red Turtle is so effective at evoking the tangible particulars of the man’s predicament that its turn towards allegory (if that is indeed what it is) threatens to derail the film entirely. There’s no definitive breaking point, or perhaps there are many, or none.

Amazon Is Giving Us a Good Omens Miniseries in 2018, If the World Hasn’t Ended by Then

Good Omens combines the best qualities of its two authors, making use of both Gaiman’s magical realism and Pratchett’s absurd humor, which makes it a smart choice for a TV adaptation. The apocalypse is nigh, and fortunately, it promises to be very, very funny. Gaiman’s had some good luck lately when it comes to adaptations of his work, with American Gods headed to Starz later this year. To preserve the status quo, they’ll have to prevent Armageddon—but that will require them to locate the Antichrist, who happens to be an eleven-year-old boy. As for Good Omens, the series will debut sometime in 2018 on Amazon, followed by a broadcast on the BBC in the U.K. Amazon’s production will set the story in 2018, which is also when the series will premiere. Amazon announced on Thursday that it has greenlit a limited series based on Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the 1990 fantasy-comedy co-written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Amazon will partner with BBC Studios for the six-episode series, with Gaiman writing, co-producing, and serving as showrunner. The novel has previously been adapted for radio, but the Amazon-BBC Studios co-production will be the first television production of the story. Good Omens follows the exploits of Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon, who are enjoying their time on earth too much to let something as silly as the end of days disrupt their way of life. Gaiman first announced his intent to bring Good Omens to TV after receiving a posthumous letter from Pratchett, who died in 2015, urging him to write the adaptation by himself. Filmmaker Terry Gilliam spent years trying to bring a version of Good Omens to the big screen, with Robin Williams and Johnny Depp as the leads, but to no avail.

Why It Matters That Donald Trump Has No Inaugural Poet

In recent times, however, an association has grown between poets and the American left, perhaps stemming from the artist’s self-conception as an “adversary of power,” Kellman told me, and the fact that the GOP, at least until the rise of the Tea Party, often spoke for “the establishment and the status quo.”
The establishment, of course, was unpopular across the political spectrum this cycle. After considerable effort, President-Elect Donald Trump managed to find a musician to serenade him at his upcoming inauguration. But perhaps Ivanka herself could read a poem by Emily Dickinson called ‘My life had stood a loaded gun,’ one of my Second Amendment favorites.”
Even if poets have every reason to be resistant, however, it’s possible that this winter we could benefit more than ever from an inaugural poem. “It’s hard to think of anything more important.”
Conservatives’ hostility toward academia—which provides a home and a paycheck for many contemporary poets—is part and parcel of this ideological strain. Nor have they commented on whether Trump has seen the fawning doggerel written for him by an unknown poet, which dubs Obama a “tyrant” and Melania Trump “the flower of Europe.”) Appreciation of belles-lettres was once fairly bipartisan, as the critic Steven Kellman has written: No list of the most literary presidents is complete without Abraham Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt, both Republicans (at least until Roosevelt founded the Progressive Party in 1912). The divide between poets and the party peddling nostalgia for our glorious past—which is itself the perennial subject of art—may have more to do with the political right’s ever-increasing disdain for intellectual culture and basic knowledge. Johnson has invited an inaugural poet. “Say it plain: that many have died for this day,” reads Alexander’s stunning poem for Obama, “Praise Song for the Day.” “Sing the names of the dead who brought us here.” Trump might prefer an ode to his many fine qualities—but if he decides to commission one, he’ll find that a number of prominent poets are already on the record vowing never to take part in his inauguration. In response to an informal poll from the Boston-based literary journal Ploughshares in August, Robert Hass, another former poet laureate, wrote that he would tell Trump’s staff: “I am not able to read my work at the Inauguration as I am currently quite unstable—delicate, deranged and dangerous. One assumes Hillary Clinton would have continued the custom. Not a single Republican has. The next president to mark the solemnity of the occasion with poetry was Jimmy Carter, who asked James Dickey to read not at the ceremony but at the gala following it in 1977. Elton John, Céline Dion, and even Trump’s old pal Paul Anka may have turned him down, but who needs them when the likes of Jackie Evancho, “America’s Got Talent” runner-up of 2010, is available for the job? Unlike Barack Obama, Trump will not, as far as we know, consecrate his entrance to the nation’s highest office with the help of an inaugural poem. No one embodies this better than Trump, who communicates largely in sentence fragments and whose trademark contribution to the world of culture was the weekly fiat, “You’re fired!” (He also happens to be the first president in 25 years without an advanced degree.)
Inaugural poems of the past have tended to celebrate the nation, its history, and the gravity of the occasion. But had Trump shown interest in another lyric tradition from inaugurations past, he might have had even more trouble finding an artist to fulfill it. If the absence of a poet at this week’s ceremony symbolizes a literary gulf between Trump and Obama—who quoted June Jordan on the campaign trail and Harper Lee in his farewell address—it’s also not an unusual omission. In other words, since JFK, every Democratic president except Lyndon B. poet laureate Robert Pinsky told the Associated Press last week, explaining why he and other poets—including fellow former laureate Rita Dove—are protesting the inauguration with “Writers Resist” rallies around the country. “Those of us who use words professionally have a certain stake in the truth,” former U.S. Only three (and a half) presidents have asked poets to perform this service. “We encounter each other in words,” Alexander writes in “Praise Song.” By politicizing poetry, alongside so much else, Republicans have left us with one fewer place to encounter each other. More recently, both of Bill Clinton’s inaugural ceremonies featured poets—Maya Angelou and Miller Williams—as did both of Obama’s, with Elizabeth Alexander contributing a poem in 2009 and Richard Blanco doing so in 2013. Frost famously wrote a new poem, “Dedication,” to honor the day, but ended up reciting an old one, “The Gift Outright,” from memory: the sun glared so brightly off the freshly-fallen snow on January 20, 1961, that the 86-year-old Frost couldn’t discern the words he’d written on the page. (Trump’s inaugural committee did not respond to a request for comment on this article. The first was John F. Kennedy, who invited Robert Frost, in part as a thank-you for his vocal support.

Trump’s First Presidential Dance Will Be to “My Way,” a Song Even Frank Sinatra Considered Self-Indulgent

Biting off more than you can chew?  This actually might be the perfect choice for him, after all. Anka said that while he doesn’t share Trump’s political views, he has been friends with the president-elect for 50 years, and his participation would have been out of respect for the office. Those lyrics are probably what make the song a favorite for funerals in the U.K. According to an unnamed source, three Tennessee-based artists will perform Frank Sinatra’s 1969 classic as Trump and wife Melania take to the floor at the first scheduled inaugural ball. Sinatra himself reportedly loathed the song, with his daughter Tina telling the BBC in 2000, “He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent.”
Of the news that Trump would be dancing to her father’s song at the inauguration, Sinatra’s other daughter, Nancy, had this to say:
The first line of “My Way,” of course, is “And now the end is near,” which is downright ominous under the circumstances, and weird way to kick off a presidency. It’s hardly surprising that “My Way” is Trump’s favorite song, given that it celebrates living unapologetically and speaking one’s mind (in Trump’s case, often regardless of consequences). It’s dizzying trying to keep track of all the musicians who have refused to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration. But there is at least one song we can count on: Donald Trump’s first dance as president of the United States will be to “My Way,” reports the Washington Examiner. “My Way” writer Paul Anka was originally planning to perform the song himself, but backed out to spend time with his son, he told TMZ. He also identified “My Way” as Trump’s favorite. The second line, “And so I face the final curtain” also isn’t the kind of sentiment most people would want to invoke on their first day as commander-in-chief, though it’s surely how many besides Trump are feeling. But the irony of the song’s other lyrics in this context are probably lost on him. Regrets?

John Lewis’s March Puts Obama’s Legacy in Heartbreaking Perspective

Look at all that changed during his life. Look at the violence he faced, the strategic gambits that could have gone awry, the conflicts within his own organization. As powerful as this moment is, it felt almost bafflingly out of step with the times when March’s first book was released in 2013. One is from Ted Kennedy. It was five years after the creation of the Tea Party, and three years after the midterm shellacking that ground the government to a halt and revealed the limitations of Obama’s belief in compromise for its own sake. Revisiting March a few days before Obama steps down, however, I found my frustration dissipating. A few panels later, Rep. Look at everything that John Lewis did. A few months after March’s first book was released, he was arrested at a protest for comprehensive immigration reform. It seemed particularly ironic that March’s civil rights narrative culminates with the signing of the Voting Rights Act—the same act that John Roberts’ Supreme Court gutted while Obama was president, enabling a wave of state-level bills designed to suppress the votes of black Americans under the bogus pretext of widespread voter fraud. It’s particularly poignant that civil rights icon Rep. But one thing March teaches us as it looks back is to keep looking forward, and to remember that this work is not impossible. The forces aligned against him were immense, and, during the health care and recovery act fights, bipartisan. “[LBJ] still won in a landslide,” Lewis writes, “and he lost the South.” Courting lost causes was a hallmark of Obama’s Presidency, one that flowed from an optimism about the American character and our institutions—an optimism that both won him the presidency and was the source of many of his defeats. Maurice Hinchey greets Lewis at the House of Representatives, an image that will repeat at the end of Book Three as LBJ shakes King’s hand. Johnson is often portrayed as the ultimate hard-driving ball-buster, but in March, we see a different side of LBJ, one who frequently urges leaders of the civil rights movement to slow down and be more reasonable because, as Lewis writes, he “felt our actions were making it harder for him to win votes in Congress.” It’s Johnson, along with the Kennedy brothers, who often needs to be pushed by activists into faster timetables, less accommodation, and less compromise. Look at what he made possible. Look how we can resist, and how we can triumph. March today is like looking a triple-exposed film, superimposing the reality of Obama’s presidency on top of the uplift of the inauguration, itself superimposed over the fight for integration and voting rights. Reading it on a sleepless night, listening to my daughter dream uncomfortably through a baby monitor, I did the same. “I was thinking of you,” he says. “I was thinking of you and Martin. As Lewis’s recently completed trilogy of comic book memoirs, March, makes clear, inaugurations hold a special place in his heart. In reading March’s stirring stories of Lewis’s fights for civil rights, it’s hard not to think about President Obama’s veneration of the art of the compromise. As Lewis points out, “what’s so tragic” about Johnson’s accommodation of the forces of injustice is that it was ultimately self-defeating. March, co-written with Lewis’s longtime aids Andrew Aydin and magnificently drawn by Nate Powell, elegantly evokes the feeling of January 20th, 2009, the sense that, by winning the highest office in the land, black Americans had reached the mountaintop; Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream was finally coming true. On the night of Obama’s inauguration, Lewis returns to his Washington, D.C. Nita Lowey urges Lewis to hurry: “You should be near the front.” “There’s no need to hurry,” Lewis replies, as we transition to a panel that zooms far out to show the exterior of the Capital and the grounds gathered outside. John Lewis kicked off his war of words with our soon-to-be tweeter-in-chief by announcing that he would skip Donald Trump’s inauguration. The book’s hard-won hope—remember that word?—is now suffused with the dramatic irony of a Greek tragedy
Obama was never going to remain a symbol forever, although he may become one again now that his presidency is over. From the never-actually-proposed public option, to the floating of a bipartisan “Grand Bargain” that would have gutted the social safety net and rewarded Republican intransigence, to his seeming to give up on getting Merrick Garland confirmed to the Supreme Court after a couple of press conferences, the character in March whom Obama most resembles isn’t Lewis, but Lyndon Johnson. In his place will stand a gilded ogre surrounded by a gaggle of Dick Tracy villains. Someone like John Lewis, despite being a bona fide American hero, was never going to be president. “I’ll end up where I need to be.”
I remember being suffused with this same feeling as I walked to the inauguration, seeing vendors with bootleg posters featuring King and Obama’s faces connected by a sunrise and the words I HAVE A DREAM in 60-point font. I was thinking about the years of work, the bloodshed … the people who didn’t live to see this day.” Lewis puts his head in his hands and weeps. In its final pages, March is careful to remind us that making our union more perfect—to borrow one of Obama’s favorite formulations—will not come without a cost. Obama then seemed more symbol than man, and that’s also how he inhabits March; despite his importance to the book’s overall structure, he makes only a few cameo appearances, and barely speaks. By the time the final volume came out in August of 2016, we were so deep into a racist backlash against Obama that one party nominated a man whose major qualification was being America’s birther-in-chief. The books, now collected in a boxed set by Top Shelf publications, interweave Lewis’s childhood and tenure in the civil rights movement with his experience watching Barack Obama be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. townhouse and discovers that he has 28 voicemails. During Obama’s presidency, it often seemed as if the Republican Party was torqueing the arc of history back towards injustice with all their might. He was always going to be a compromising, and compromised, leader, but Obama’s pragmatism helped make him the most effective progressive president since Johnson. Instead, he inscribes a postcard to Lewis that reads, “Because of you, John,” and the two men embrace and cry. Resisting, and then undoing, the damage of this election will be the work of the rest of our lives. Book Two opens with the image of a black hand shaking a white hand as Rep. Barack Obama, the greatest president of my life, is stepping down.

Samantha Bee Says Kellyanne Conway Would Make a Better President Than Donald Trump

No, not acting as his counselor—being inducted into Bee’s Great Feminists in Feminism Herstory Hall of Lady Fame. But Conway doesn’t seem to be getting the credit that conservatives want her to, noted Bee, playing clips of Fox News hosts celebrating her as the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign. The Full Frontal host, while no fan of Conway’s, did have to congratulate her for doing the seemingly impossible—namely, turning Trump’s “upended port-o-potty of a campaign” around. “Not this undisciplined, Hobbit-handed omni-shambles.” But as of Friday, Trump will be president, so Conway will just have to settle for the next-best thing. “Kellyanne is the soulless, Machiavellian despot America deserves,” she said. “A woman pulls off the feat of electing a sexual predator who thinks women should be punished for having abortions, and feminists don’t celebrate her with a Vogue cover,” mocked Bee. “Although she did get the cover of Pussy-Grabber Enabler Monthly, so I guess that’s something.”
Bee’s main question was why Conway was even running Trump’s campaign at all when it’s so obvious that she’s the more competent of the two. Just days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, Samantha Bee has finally turned her attention to the woman who made it all happen: Trump’s “omnipresent spokes-cobra” and master deflector, Kellyanne Conway.

Why the New Schneider on One Day at a Time Is So Much Better Than the Old One

The new One Day at a Time—which was released on Netflix Jan. Or in the words of Lydia, the abuela played by the great Rita Moreno, he’s a bobo. His standard uniform consisted of a white T-shirt with a box of cigarettes rolled in the sleeve, a denim vest, blue jeans, a tool belt, and a mustache that screamed, “I’m not a pedophile, but my upper lip hair makes you wonder, doesn’t it?” Even as a young child watching this show in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, a time when denim vests did not set off nearly as many alarm bells as they should have, I was creeped out by the fact that he had the keys to an apartment occupied by three women and could enter it whenever he pleased. Harrington infused the character with enough buffoonery and gentleness to make him likable. “Oh my God!” he says in horror, finally ripping off the garment and apologizing. “It’s like if you walked into a Jewish home wearing a Hitler shirt,” Penelope (Justina Machado) explains. But make no mistake: Schneider often behaved like a total jackass, bursting into the Romanos’ apartment unannounced, relentlessly hitting on Ann, and presuming that his voice was, de facto, the most important one in any conversation. The writers and Grinnell understand that this show is about Penelope, her family, and their experience. He’s just living in it. Ask any child of the ‘70s or ‘80s what they remember about the original One Day at a Time, and they will most likely mention the following: its catchy theme song, the crush they had on co-star Valerie Bertinelli, and Schneider. 1 would not have worked in 2017. “Or into Taylor Swift’s home wearing a Kanye shirt,” adds Alex (Ruiz). (Harrington also was the only actor on the show to win an Emmy.)
The new One Day at a Time breaks from that pattern. There’s no Bertinelli, but there are two new teens (Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz) who are just as charming, as well as an appearance by the other Romano daughter, Mackenzie Phillips. “Viva la revolución, am I right?” he says, at which point every member of the family reminds him that the countercultural image on his shirt represents a right-hand man of Fidel Castro who committed mass murder. Schneider stills helps the Alvarez family make fixes in their apartment, and there are even some clever nods to the ‘70s embedded in his personality; in the first episode, he briefly sports a ridiculous mustache, one that’s more handlebar than porn ‘stache, and it’s later revealed that he used to be the front man in a yacht-rock band. Basically, he’s the 2017 version of the hipster doofus. And thank God for that, because Schneider No. That scene illustrates what may be the most crucial and welcome change to the Schneider role: that his character functions as a complement to the Alvarez story, as opposed to a distraction from it. He’s also a recovering alcoholic. The writers have given Schneider some mildly dark qualities for a family-friendly sitcom; as one episode reveals, apparently he likes to watch lesbian porn in his spare time. Because of Harrington’s performance, and maybe because Schneider’s quirks and shortcomings were fun for the writers to explore, Schneider became the One Day at a Time character that the American public knew best, even though the show was actually about a mother and her two girls. Naturally that finally drives the point home for Schneider. As they recently explained in an interview with critic Alan Sepinwall, Royce and Calderon Kellett knew they were going to have to “rethink Schneider in bulk.” Instead of creating a revamped version of the sleazy blowhard, they came up with a clueless but well-meaning symbol of white privilege that fits in much more seamlessly in a traditional yet contemporary sitcom. The theme song still opens every episode, but since the new iteration focuses on a Cuban-American family, it’s been given a jolt of syncopated energy courtesy of Gloria Estefan. It’s still about a woman post-marital split, trying to raise two kids on her own and often confronting social issues in the process. And Schneider? And, yes, there is still a Schneider. See also: One Day at a Time Calls Out the Che Guevara T-Shirt in One Perfect Scene This article originally appeared in Vulture. For those who are too young to have seen Norman Lear’s original One Day at a Time, Schneider was the super in the Indianapolis building where the divorced Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) lived while trying to raise two teenage daughters (Bertinelli and Philips). Even though he is white and grew up wealthy, he is desperate to fit in with these lower-middle-class Cuban-Americans. But he, and the audience, are often reminded that he doesn’t have a clue what it means to struggle, be an outsider, or even consider broader perspectives, particularly in episode nine, when he walks into the Alvarez apartment wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt. But as Grinnell plays him, there’s also a hint of Paul Rudd in this new Schneider that suggests the guy would be just as at home in a Judd Apatow movie as he is living a few steps away from Penelope Alvarez and her family in a Netflix comedy. 6, coincidentally on the first anniversary of the death of Pat Harrington Jr., the actor who played Schneider—has very wisely kept some of the core things that defined the first version. In general, though, his lifestyle lines up more with  Kramer from Seinfeld than the original Schneider: He has no real job to speak of (his parents own the building, so he lives rent-free); he has a ludicrous amount of free time; he does pretty well with the ladies (I’m guessing he has the kavorka); and he regularly pops into the Alvarez’s apartment to mooch off their food. But as crafted by showrunners Mike Royce and Gloria Calderon Kellett as well as actor Todd Grinnell (Desperate Housewives, Grace and Frankie), he’s been turned into an entirely different character. What defines this man-boy most—and gives him the most interesting layers—is his desire to ingratiate himself with the Alvarez family. The ‘70s was a golden age for scene-stealing supporting characters on TV sitcoms: Lenny and Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley, Fonzie on Happy Days, Flo on Alice, all of the Sweathogs on Welcome Back Kotter—to varying degrees, they each stole focus away from the designated protagonists on their respective shows, sometimes so much that they become the effective stars of those shows. Everything else—including the bobo who lives upstairs—has to come second. One Day at a Time 2017 is about the Alvarez’s’ world. Schneider 2.0 is comical in his obliviousness, but he’s not designed to be a blatant scene-stealer.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Should Be the Model for Future Netflix Shows

But it also makes important adjustments to the Netflix formula that future series would be wise to heed. The halves are labeled “Part 1” and “Part 2,” and if you hit the “Play Next Episode” button at the end of one, you’ll seamlessly skip past the second’s opening credits and jump right into the action. Binge-watching is Netflix’s brand, but their original series have often suffered from too much binge and not enough watching: 13-part seasons that would have played better as 10, sprawling plotlines that slopped from one episode to the next without hitting any satisfying marks in between. The eight-episode seasons of Stranger Things and The OA brought some welcome concision to the Netflix universe, but the unrelenting push toward serialization at the expense of standalone episodes meant that the former show, at least, played more like one long run-on sentence than a succession of finely tuned paragraphs. A Series of Unfortunate Events adds some danglers as well, in the form of new characters whose largely discrete stories hint at the existence of a larger conspiracy that even after eight episodes the Baudelaires are only beginning to understand. A Series of Unfortunate Events doesn’t recap—if anything it pre-caps, with a verse in the opening theme song changing to forecast the adventure to come—but the onscreen narrator, played by a sonorously deadpan Patrick Warburton, offers the occasional reminder of what’s come before, often buried in the prologue to one of his many circuitous digressions. Sonnenfeld, who directed the Addams Family and Men in Black movies, has often been a purveyor of the glossy grotesque, a Tim Burton you could take home to meet your folks. But for all their superficially “mature” trappings, most Netflix series don’t skew much older in the first place, and their pretentions to being “one long movie” are undercut by the use of contrived plot twists to keep viewers in perpetual binge mode. Neil Patrick Harris’ villainous Count Olaf is a wonderful creation, an endlessly vain and self-inflating actor-turned-swindler whose elaborate plans are matched only by his inability to carry them out, but he doesn’t overwhelm the story the way Jim Carrey’s leering Count did on the big screen. But those red herrings are practically labeled as such, a deliberate goof on the Lost-ian promise that if you only watch to the end, all will be revealed. These turn out to be especially helpful given Handler’s deliberately tortuous and not infrequently nonsensical plots. In these stories, adults are always more easily deceived than children, because adults trust in authority even when it’s unearned, where children can spot a fake a mile away—even without a spyglass. Children are knowledgeable but powerless; adults are too busy running the world to pay attention to it. Todd Freeman), the perpetually coughing executor who places the Baudelaires with a string of transparently unfit guardians, is taken in again and again by Olaf’s cockamamie schemes and overwrought disguises: a bearded herpetologist, a peg-legged sea captain, and a buxom secretary with a wig that looks like it was carried over from Harris’ Hedwig run. But the scripts, which were written by Handler himself, don’t assume you’re watching every episode in a single sitting, or that you’ll perfectly recall everything that’s gone before. But Series walks the line between lighthearted children’s adventure and Gothic nightmare; someone turns up dead in nearly every story, but it’s always an adult, and usually one who’s failed to heed the Baudelaires’ warnings. Netflix shows tend to eschew the “Previously on…” montages that help viewers of prestige shows like Game of Thrones keep track of their winding plots, presumably because it would muck with the idea that you can always skip back and re-stream something you might have missed. And for adults, the show’s Gothic lite may come as a respite from the gloomy miasma of much prestige TV. My second-grade daughter had no trouble with the series’ macabre touches, which include the re-orphaning of the three Baudelaire children several times over, but was perplexed by the proliferation of blind alleys and misdirections. In its way, Series reminds us of what children know and adults often forget: that mysteries don’t always have a satisfying explanation, and that the darkest problems are the ones we most need to laugh—or at least wryly grin—at. Series’ first season is composed of eight episodes, but it’s essentially four miniature feature films, one for each of the first four Lemony Snicket novels. A Series of Unfortunate Events is calibrated to appeal to children and adults alike, but without the hectic back-and-forth that characterizes much children’s fare, where the adult-skewing jokes are thrown in as sops to keep parents from losing their minds. The Baudelaires, plucky Violet (Malina Weissman), bookish Klaus (Louis Hynes), and voracious infant Sunny (Presley Smith) are the heart of the tale, not merely the pretext for a movie star’s flight of fancy. But when Episode 12 picks up that plot thread from Episode 3, a little pre-episodic memory jog would have come in handy. Poe (K. It’s doubtful that children will absorb Olaf’s periodic comments about the superiority of streaming entertainment to theatrical films or broadcast TV, an analogue to the books’ metaliterary asides, but the malign music of Handler’s dialogue is such that it’s engaging just to listen to Harris talk, regardless of what he’s saying. (Netflix will be happy to know that this merely convinced said second grader to watch the whole thing a second time.)
Both the scope and the scale of the material are well-served by the presentation, which is deluxe by pre-Peak TV standards but without the inflations necessary to justify a feature-film budget. Mr. It may have a higher body count than House of Cards, but at least Series doesn’t expect you to take it seriously. Given especially streaming TV’s positioning as the utmost in grown-up entertainment, it may be mildly heretical to suggest that future Netflix shows should follow the example of a series whose ideal audience is a precocious, mildly morbid 9-year-old. A Series of Unfortunate Events has been heralded as a second chance, both for Daniel Handler’s novels, the first three of which were adapted into an ill-fated movie in 2004, and for that adaptation’s original director, Barry Sonnenfield, who was removed before production began.