So I’ve been continuing watching Ozark and GLOW.
Ozark is interesting in that it’s pretty gritty and realistic about a lot of stuff, but has a slight broadness to it, a slight “fictionality” or “modern pulp-y-ness” or “comic-book-ness” (the latter is too extreme a descriptor though) that for example, was absent from Breaking Bad or the Sopranos or their ilk. Things that happen, physically, are generally plausible, but it’s in the characters and the scenarios - they’re “larger than life”. Not a lot larger, but enough that to me, once an aficionado of true crime and generally largely realist shows, slightly bothers me. Especially with the central character being almost lizard-like in his cold-blooded-ness (he’s not uncaring or anything, just incredibly calm and focused). Other characters constantly overreact to stuff, and this is particularly an issue with the FBI agent who I mentioned previously, and with some other “leader”-type characters, who it’s just hard to believe could maintain their positions with this sort of stuff going on.
The FBI agent though continues to an entire level of ridiculousness. If the rest of the characters would fit right in to a Leonard Elmore novel (his novels have a similar issue for me - the characters and their behaviour are always exaggerations - but he does it with the plots too, which is not the case here, so much), then the FBI agent is straight out of particularly lurid comic-book, like 100 Bullets or even Preacher (in fact he’d fit right in to Preacher). I mean they had him literally say “Fuck the law!” this episode and I’m like buddy, what? How are you a senior FBI agent?
Also the moody-ass blue-grey filter thing, though not as extreme as some of the yellow filters used by Breaking Bad is kind of oppressive in that it makes me want to turn up the brightness constantly! I’ve been to places like that, they’re not that dark! I feel like they should be using more green filters too, for some of the scenes, given how places like that look.
Still a sort of pulp-y thriller series, it’s pretty great, I think, in part because whilst the characters are exaggerated, the performances are strong.
GLOW I can’t even criticise. I legit love this show. It’s not what I expected (I expected it to be grimier, meaner, and less witty/clever). It’s just a really lovely show about a bunch of women and couple of dudes, all with their own issues (which are largely interesting and relate-able), trying to do a WWF-style show with lady wrestlers on small budget in the mid-1980s (1986 I think).
One thing I really like about it, is that it’s 1986 actually really closely matches my memory of the 1980s (I went to the US in 1988, first, note). Like it’s dirty, it’s messy, stuff doesn’t work right and breaks all the time, everyone smokes and thinks little of it, everything is kind of loud, and the clothes and hair are a real mixture of cool and “oh my god why?” and even cool people wear some really idiotic outfits because that’s what people did (especially people with money). It’s not constant awesome music and neon lights and cool-as-ice outfits as it is in most shows. Oh yeah and people who are “in shape” in the 1980s are generally way less in shape than we’d consider that to be now. There’s a lot less being “cut”.
So many of the actors are really wonderful too, I mean pretty much the entire cast is charming in their own way.
Strangely, despite being literally about larger-than-life characters (and literally having a comic-book of it!), they’re actually considerably more believable as people than those in Ozark, and act in a far more human way, which makes it very affecting. Alison Brie shows she’s got range and Betty Gilpin is great too and just so is everyone. Still only on S2, but I’m really happy a 4th season has been confirmed.
I also finished re-watching Community. It stays really strong until S6, as I remembered, taking the loss of various characters pretty well, and managing to course-correct in various regards. There are some astonishingly funny moments, though the end of S5 E6 (with the staples or paperclips) just absolutely cracks me up and I don’t even know why. Just loads of great scenes and amazing small parts (more than cameos) with people like John Goodman and Brie Larson (so you have scenes with both Alison Brie and Brie Larson in, which is amusing). Season 6 isn’t quite as strong. The show, earlier on, had joking set itself a goal of “six seasons and a movie”, so I can see they were glad to get a sixth season (and some of the stuff about a seventh is pretty funny), but they introduce a character who is a good parody/satire of a certain kind of character very common in late '00s and early '10s shows (implausibly bossy and rude), but they don’t quite work with the dynamic, and they can’t quite seem to decide what to do with the show. It goes even more 4th-wall-break-y than previously, and a couple of episodes edge pretty close to being very tame Rick and Morty episodes (the voice of Morty is in one). Still, there are some good laughs left to be had, especially with some of the ending stingers about fictional TV shows. The final paintball episode isn’t up to the level of earlier ones though, in part because it fails to do the “apocalypse” thing they did (the show is very good at ludicrous apocalypses).
It’s interesting to me that the character who works extremely well at the start of the show - Jeff Winger (he’s obnoxious but it works) by the end, seems like, he’s kind of a “man out of time” (in all senses), that he’s passe, a relic of a kind of 1990s masculinity, almost as much as Chevy Chase’s character does in the earlier seasons.
But is generally very funny.
Unlike Brews Brothers. I’m not even quite sure why I watched all of it. It’s a comedy about a pushover and total wanker who run a hipster brewery in LA, and whilst it has a few moments, it’s a lot closer to something like The Young Ones or Bottom than most US shows, going for crude humour in a way usually only seen on UK shows. It makes Always Sunny In Philadelphia look not-that-crude at times (though it’s a lot less sexual than Always Sunny). But it’s just not very funny. It’s quirk of the lips kind of funny, not hahaha funny, and it clearly wants to be the latter. Part of the issue is slightly flat delivery, from like, everyone (except arguably Chuy), which tells me that’s a directing issue, not an acting on. I can’t really recommend it except if you want to watch something entirely light and inconsequential, and that’s mildly amusing. At least it’s not irritatingly twee, which it could have been, and a lot of modern US comedies are (even stuff that was initially edgy like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). It also has a weird issue - and this may ruin it for you, because you can’t un-notice it, where the characters very often are looking in just slightly the wrong direction, like a little too much towards the camera quite often (again seems likely directing-related).