I powered through all the RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes I missed, including All Stars, and… yeah

I powered through all the RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes I missed, including All Stars, and… yeah

If July was all about Amazon Prime trapping me in the sticky web of Lost’s whodunit and whydunit and howdunit plots, I’m in danger of being trapped again, this time in the morass of RuPaul’s Drag Race now that Crave has all the episodes. ALL. THE. EPISODES. That’s eleven regular seasons, plus four seasons of All Stars, which is a lot of screentime, especially if you want to stay relevant. If you stay relevant you don’t got to get relevant, and it’s nice to be on the pulse, although at this point being relevant doesn’t seem to hold as much attraction as it used to, given the speed at which our world spins, powered by a 24/7 news cycle that never seems to leave any room for respite.

Still, RuPaul’s Drag Race has always been enter-taint-ing for me, even in the days before it became the juggernaut it is today. So Crave getting all the episodes is a good return on investment, methinks. Luckily for me, I’d seen a good chunk of RPDR already back when Netflix and I were still on good terms. But Netflix didn’t have Season 1 of RPDR, or all the All Star episodes, so this has been a good chance for me to catch up on everything that I’ve missed, to the detriment of everything else, but hey. Choices!

Two weeks later …

I finally got through everything I’d missed, and I don’t think I missed very much, if at all. All Stars 3 went out with a whimper, All Stars 4 tried to please everyone, and Seasons 10-11 made me realize that the drag queens being featured were younger and a helluva lot less well-read than the relatively brainier ones that went before. I mean this is a show that gave us the rapier sharp wit of Bianca del Rio and her Rolodex of hate (“Beauty fades, dumb is forever!”) and the less pointed, but no less entertaining mind of Katya Zamolodchikova (“Adore Delano, giving you smell-my-punani, Poetic Justice realness.”), my top two all-time favourite queens.

Let the record show that for me the flame sputtered when they gave too much airtime to Eureka, a queen who spent a lot of her time being jealous and insecure and being unable to own up to her own bullshit in Season 10. It officially flickered out and died in Season 11, when Silky Nutmeg Ganache couldn’t read or recognize the word “colonel” on the teleprompter in a mini-challenge,  a queen who spent her time hogging the camera, bragging about her a masters degree.  It just got dumber. It’s also too calculating, overproduced and a lot faker interaction-wise,  than it used to be.

All the op-eds about how it’s become more work than fun to watch RPDR have merit (and you can read them here, here and here.)  I don’t know if I can even summon the energy for Drag Race UK. The bestie says he’ll still watch it, so I guess I’ll have the experience by osmosis.

So, do I feel like I wasted all that time? Maybe a little. But again, hey. Choices. 

A Descent Into Madness, or The Time Prime Video Sucked Me In and Spat Me Out

A Descent Into Madness, or The Time Prime Video Sucked Me In and Spat Me Out

I’ve spent most of July in a fugue and I blame Amazon Prime Video for all of it.

It started out innocuously. I had seen the first episode of the first season of Fleabag and laughed myself sick on the couch, despite not actually being able to hear any of it. I do this sometimes, just lie on the couch following the captions on the screen, mentally giving the characters their voices. When something is especially funny, no sound is needed to appreciate it. And that was Fleabag.

I’d thought nothing of it. It was a random, fly by night quickie, meant to while away half an hour cheating on my Roku by figuring out how our new Android media box works. It doesn’t, by the way. Not really. It’s a shitty, earnest, horribly un-intuitive attempt to support piracy. Everything moves like molasses, there are pop-up ads galore, and I quite simply do not speak its language and probably never will. It’s probably the wrong media box for me or anyone, but I digress.

Late June was where the confluence of events came to a head. The bestie brought up Fleabag again. He couldn’t quite stop quoting from the show and so, simultaneously inundated with Twitter ads for Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, I decided to hit two birds with one stone. I bit the bullet, and got Amazon Prime for a month.

Alice followed the white rabbit and started falling down a tunnel into Wonderland. My descent was closer in spirit to Wile-E Coyote, walking off a cliff and free-falling into a canyon, except it felt like I was never going hit the bottom.

wile-e bye

I blazed through the entirety of Fleabag in the course of a weekend. It’s a great show, with outstanding levels of exquisitely placed shade, the humour as black as the grounds left in the office coffeemaker at the end of the day. It deserves all of its eleven Emmy nominations and I would recommend it to anyone casting about for something to watch. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is an insanely talented writer and she’s so good I could almost hate her for it. But I can’t, because I love her work in (and as) Fleabag so much.

And then it was on to Good Omens. What is in the water these Brits drink? How do they come up with these fantastical flights of fancy? I’ve been a longtime Gaiman fan, and as a TV show, Good Omens is the yang to the yin of American Gods. It’s light, it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s uplifting and it’s witty beyond measure. I hadn’t yet gotten around to reading Good Omens and didn’t know if I was going to like the show, but I was a goner the minute they introduced Sister Mary Loquacious of The Chattering Order of St. Beryl. Sister. Mary. Loquacious. Terry Pratchett has gone on to the great beyond, but Neil Gaiman still breathes and is a national treasure who must be protected at all costs.

That was supposed to have been it. I was supposed to have gone on with my life, maybe having blithely ordered a few things to take advantage of the free two-day shipping all Amazon Prime members get. But no. Oh no. No, no, no. I started to watch Lost. I had survived the mid to late aughts having never seen Lost, and  now my luck had finally run out.

The free-fall continued.

loki

Lost has six seasons. The first three seasons have at least twenty episodes apiece, each clocking in at almost an hour. The last three seasons vary in length from fourteen to eighteen episodes, and the devil of it all is that it is very, very, very hard to stop watching Lost. It is the kind of show that raises more questions than it answers and never really resolves anything. Like a charismatic cult leader, it is maddeningly opaque at times, colourfully inventive in others and always, always, keeps the viewer wanting more.

I wasn’t immune, gamely going along for the ride, feeling the days and weeks slip past alternating between work and Lost and work and Lost and work and Lost until it finally, blessedly, confusingly, ended.  The famous finale, the one that the conclusion of Game of Thrones is most frequently compared to, that divides the fandom to this day. That ending. And all I could think was, it’s over. It was finally over. I had nothing more to give, no energy left to come up with a coherent reaction to the Lost finale, because I was just so glad to have finally hit the canyon floor.

No, no one held a gun to my head and made me do it. Yes, I really only have myself to blame. But oh, the feeling of freedom, the satisfaction I felt terminating my month-long Amazon Prime subscription. I’ve come out on the other side. I don’t want to put myself through that again.

This is Really is It, Pancit

This is Really is It, Pancit

Now that Game of Thrones has finally ended, I truly imagined I’d find myself rocking back and forth in a corner, clutching a battered copy of Entertainment Weekly’s GoT special edition with Peter Dinklage on it.  I came out of it pretty good, everything considered.

I’d meant to recap each episode as it came but, like a resolution made every new year, that died early. The show’s gotten a bit of flak this particular season, but it’s had great moments too. I imagine it’s rather hard to live up to a level of expectation that is ridiculously high, especially when you’re really working with fan fiction and not actual source material, so to all the entitled, ridiculously overacting fans who demand a rewrite, sit down and wait for the rest of the books, no one owes you anything.

In lieu of no recaps, here are a few spit-takes from the final episode, “The Iron Throne.” It goes without saying that some spoilers may apply, so do not read on if you haven’t seen it yet.

Or do, if you don’t care about spoilers. C’est la vie!

 

Continue reading “This is Really is It, Pancit”

Fin

Fin

May has been a month for goodbyes. The final chapters of stories I – along with a good chunk of the rest of the world – followed over the past decades (The Avengers, The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones) have finally been unveiled. I know it’s ridiculous to feel sad about bidding farewell to characters who don’t really exist in real life, but they were real to me, and it was nice to have that sense of community, of belonging because other people felt the same way I did.

It feels a bit empty too, wondering what the next big show would be. In the past, we’ve seen great shows come to an end – and attempt second lives by way of disastrous movies – but there was always something. Something else. Some other TV show that was different, but just as good if not better. The last time I remember feeling even the slightest bit bereft was when Breaking Bad ended. But Game of Thrones was there to catch me, and what a long rebound relationship that turned out to be.

I suppose it was a bit like being a serial monogamist. Always having one boyfriend waiting in the wings once the current one plays out with barely any change in rhythm, but this one… well, this one feels different. I felt the same way about Avengers: Endgame. It was immensely satisfying to see it all play out, but I walked out that theatre with the feeling that I was personally ready to move on. The MCU and Marvel Studios is obviously going to keep on keeping on,  and I’m quite sure they will always have an audience for the stories they have yet to tell, but my part in their tale might just be more of a recurring guest star than an episode regular.

I can’t say the same about HBO, a powerhouse which frankly dominates the landscape of TV with good reason, but I do wonder if I will ever be as invested in a TV show as I was with Game of Thrones again. Perhaps I might. I enjoy good TV, and there’s a lot of good shows out there. But I don’t see myself going full on stan the way I did with Game of Thrones.

There’s a lot of corny platitudes that could be used here, and I suppose anything really would be cheesy and completely tacky to say, but there’s still truth to be found in the cheesiest of sayings.

“How lucky [we] are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

 

Waiting

Waiting

I know, I know.

I said I was leaving Netflix.

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t.

Yet.

I feel like one of those female friends we all have who keep complaining about their boyfriends and yet never get up the guts to truly leave. Netflix is like the bad boyfriend you can’t seem to shake, the one who’s given you every reason to leave and yet you can’t seem to keep giving chances to. I kind of hate myself for it, because I’m still seeing Crave on the side. Actually, I’m seeing Crave on the regular, and sorta/kinda neglecting Netflix, while paying for both, which is kind of a dumb scenario to willfully be in.

Still, there’s been nothing from them addressed to me personally about hiking my subscription up, so I’m going to hedge my bets. I read that they’ll hike the prices on the ninth of February, but am waiting for an official e-mail. So no, I haven’t pulled the plug. I’ll pull it when it’s official.

Update: There. I did it. It feels like the end of an era… and the start of another one!

This is Great

This is Great

Who knew I’d be on team Jess?

Never was a big Milo Ventimiglia fan. Because I’d never seen Gilmore Girls until 2016, I knew him first as Peter Petrelli from Heroes, and he was always this emo kid with issues who cared. Then I watched Gilmore Girls and realized he really hadn’t changed, he just got superpowers.

And now Netflix finally has This is Us, a show that generated a decent amount of buzz this year, and Milo Ventimiglia is no longer an emo kid with issues who cares. He’s an adult. With issues. Who cares. Mainly about Mandy Moore and his three little kids.

I can see where the buzz is coming from because This is Us has me hooked. It’s pilot episode ranks very close to GoT’s maiden outing in terms of unexpected surprises that have you sitting up and wanting more. But if Game of Thrones is a river with rapids that churn and foam as it carves through rock on its way to the sea, This is Us is like a babbling brook that flows, gently maneuvering its way past stones and meadows on its way to the big blue yonder.

The hook of this show is that they’re normal people, with normal problems. And it is such a relief. They’re not cooking meth in a Winnebago, or fighting for the right to sit on a chair made of a thousand melted swords, or battling the re-animated dead for a shot at a can of beans.

After a series of what I now realize are emotionally harrowing shows, This is Us is like soul food. It’s comforting to watch a bunch of thirty-six year old adults just trying to figure out how to live their lives without an unnecessary amount of angst or an overly large vocabulary. It feels… kind. It feels… sincere, without necessarily being preachy.

I enjoy This is Us because of its focus on real, drama-free lives where people are for the most part kind, value family ties, and love each other. Their issues are relatable – issues with being overweight and food, with parenthood, with career choices, with feelings of abandonment, with questioning ourselves and all the other little crises we all deal with. There are no overt moral themes about the genderless movement or the new satellite family, or gritty urban realities. It isn’t preachy, and it just takes life with a lot of common sense and heart, not to mention a little bit of humour. It’s how I grew up, and how I was trained to deal with life and living.

It’s a simplistic way of looking at things, but it beats the convoluted mine-field of today, where every topic is a hot button issue and everyone seems to just want to yell at each other and have angry conflict. If I enjoyed Downton Abbey for its focus on good manners and right conduct, I enjoy This is Us for it’s focus on common sense and good, old-fashioned values. It can’t hurt that it’s mostly a show about struggling adults in their mid-thirties who no longer have other people to pay rent for them and yes, I realize I am totally projecting, so I’ll stop now.

Image via NBC

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1 Recap: Shall We Begin?

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1 Recap: Shall We Begin?

I finally started the GoT S07 binge and egad, what a lovely way to begin the season – with the exception of that annoying ginger Hobbit who nearly ruined everything. After a month and a half of self-imposed exile from the internet, it’s finally time… for my first episode recap.

Continue reading “Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1 Recap: Shall We Begin?”

Tuesdays with Metro

It’s official: it’s nigh on impossible to stay up to date on anything without getting slapped in the face by something Game of Thrones-ish. I’m innocently walking along minding my own business and bam, Daenerys Targaryen. I love the show, and so does everyone else so naturally it’s going to be a major part of the news cycle until this season ends.

I’ve spent the days since of Game of Thrones debuted its seventh season hiding from the internet, for fear of spoilers. Weekly cliffhangers drive me nuts. As always, I prefer to hunker down, wait till everything is over and then spend an entire day and a half watching the season from start to finish.

So, very little to no internet. I’ve been using it the way a rat scrounges for food, scuttling out if its hole in the after hours, nabbing whatever it can eat and racing back to its lair posthaste, all while avoiding as much human traffic as possible.

But a girl needs her daily dose of goings on in the great big world, which is why I picked up a (free! #cheap) Metro on the subway. It was going well, I absorbed the usual happenings in T-town – cyclist hit by car, left for dead, son finds her in a pool of her own blood; TTC put the kibosh on a grassroots movement to share books on the train because their lost and found department doesn’t need more shit to deal with; Toronto real estate market slowly cooling, prices still exorbitant and unfriendly to the 99%; bullets flying at east-end bar sends two people to the hospital. Then I turn a page, and suddenly half of page eight is a photo of Missandei about to get hot and heavy with Grey Worm. Aargh. On a Tuesday!  Shouldn’t they have gotten the inevitable GoT info-dump over with on a Monday? Short of being a Tibetan monk for a month and a half, I’m going to have to be on my guard all the time. Actual, dead-tree newspapers are now verboten, and I have added the neighborhood newsstand (ha! I don’t have a neighborhood newsstand… just the On-the-Go’s in every subway station) to the list of places to avoid.

But now I have questions. (Rhetorical ones. Do not answer until seven weeks have passed.) G.R.R. Martin canon states the Unsullied do turn to the whores of Mereen, but only to cuddle. If the Unsullied are eunuchs, how does Grey Worm do the dirty? Does this mean the Unsullied were left with twigs but not berries, the way dogs get spayed? Does the shaft still work? Do they hold hands? If Grey Worm gets to have sexy times, what about other castratees? Theon Greyjoy? Varys? The Night’s Watch*?

Godamnit. Frickin free newspaper.

 

* I am well aware the Night’s Watch aren’t eunuchs, but they took vows. Not that it did anything for Jon Snow and Samuel Tarly. I’m rooting for you, Dolorous Ed! Get yours!

Gobble, Gobble, Goblin

Now let me see, if I were a nineteen year-old high school senior with no parents and an abusive auntie, would I go for a well-dressed, obviously wealthy immortal with a mysterious past and a sword sticking out of his chest? Le duh. All a girl really wants is to be with a guy capable of taking her to Quebec City in the blink of an eye after asking if she feels like having steak.  I might quibble a little, though. The best beef would likely be found in Argentina and Wagyu beef is big, but hey. I’m nineteen years old and easily impressed, Quebec City is romantic in sepia and who wouldn’t want to catch falling maple leaves in slow motion with an admittedly attractive man? Anyone would disown their abusive relatives in a heartbeat after a date like that.

My feed will not shut up about this show, so naturally I jumped on the bandwagon and am gawking at it along with the rest of them. One episode is way too long – an hour and a half, come on people, we have lives to live too – and sometimes the things the people in it do and say are completely contrived and make absolutely no sense. Still, this is a soap opera and it’s par for the course. I’m also chalking the wonkiness down to a bad translation job, and the need to make a story stretch for sixteen episodes.

It does drag on as it goes along. I’m still in the sixth episode. The titular Goblin (Gong Yoo, last seen running from zombies on the train to Busan)   has spent over 900 years looking for his bride – the only girl capable of seeing the sword wedged in his chest, destined to pull it out and therefore end his agonizingly long and lonely existence. Now that’s he’s found her, he  can’t seem to decide whether or not he wants to die. Cue mood music and intimate whispers under raindrops that fall just softly enough not to ruin one’s hair, because he also makes it rain when he gets all emo.

This is a show where the men dress better than the women, and I’m loving it. Even if I’ve never been drawn to fops, it’s hard to ignore Lee Dong Wook, an amnesiac Death God, giving face, face, beauty and moody face each time he’s onscreen, rocking wool coats like no one’s business. All the brooding disappears when you hand him a smartphone, and the results are hilarious.  I’m rooting for him and the owner of a fried chicken shop – that budding romance is way more interesting than the one between a nineteen year-old high school senior and a Goblin who can’t make up his damn mind.

Speaking of interesting romances, the best part of this show is the bromance between the Goblin and the Death God  who wants him to go ahead and die already so he can take over the gorgeous home they both share. Both immortal, both gifted with supernatural powers, both males used to getting their own way, both tired of the vagaries of living.  Like all males, they express themselves in the form of pranking, the level of which is borderline Van Wilder, and this forms a big chunk of what makes this show watchable, extended running time bedamned.  The weakness of one brings out the humanity in the other. It doesn’t hurt that both of them look like they stepped out of the pages of Korean GQ every day of the week. It’s easy to see the script flipped into a homo-erotic story where the women exist on the fringes as superficial interests, but it doesn’t and their Odd Couple setup brings enough charm to keep us rooting for them to succeed with the women who’ve wormed their way into the hearts of these troubled immortals.