TV of 2020

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#51 Post by Black Hat » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:07 pm

Yikes.

Imagine watching one show revolving around suburban high schoolers with each cast member insanely hot 20 somethings, shooting sexually explicit scenes with them that border on exploitative and are certainly male gazey, make the worst cliché drugs look cool, mix it in with melodrama, shoot it in a highly stylized way, then sprinkle in not so subtle attempts at pandering to various cultural/political trends of wokeness, while not using comedy at all and then watching a second show about college grads entering the world of finance with a story based on truth, shot realistically, flips sexual politics on its head in an way rarely seen, challenges the prevailing cultural/political orthodoxy while being hilarious and saying the second show is 'entertaining trash'.

Or to put it another way I have no clue how you came to have the take you have. For lack of a better word I find it of Nasirian quality.

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The Curious Sofa
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Re: TV of 2020

#52 Post by The Curious Sofa » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:31 pm

Seems like you are really invested in Industry. Good for you if it gave you joy in these dreary times.

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Never Cursed
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Re: TV of 2020

#53 Post by Never Cursed » Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:12 pm

I'm obviously not unbiased when it comes to the show, but sheesh, that's a remarkably uncharitable summation of Euphoria, Black Hat - I find it just as inscrutable as you find Curious Sofa's take on Industry (which I haven't watched). Just to pick on one particular point from it, when does the show ever pander to comfort or wokeness or contort towards extreme political correctness? Sure, there are characters that express opinions that might be described in these manners, but I took the show's ultimate stance on these issues as one of quite sincere empathy rather than adherence to dogma, where the characters that are able to look past charged social codes and past transgressions are better able to heal and connect with their fellow characters. One doesn't even need to examine the show thematically to find this undercurrent - it is written into the scripts of some episodes. (Colman Domingo in the special episode expresses this verbatim: "...forgiveness is the key to change. We're too busy running around judging everybody's intentions and motivations as if we have some insight into the human soul. You know, 'you did this, so that must mean you're that.' Bullshit. Just give me a break.") That sentiment, which runs through the entire show, sure does strike me as challenging of at least this particular "prevailing cultural/political orthodoxy."

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#54 Post by Black Hat » Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:41 pm

Ha... I liked Euphoria, I was entertained and no doubt stimulated by it, but remember what I wrote was a response to a comparison made with Industry with it, of the two, panned as 'trash' tv.

I haven't seen the new Christmas special or whatever you want to call it so my comments are only about the first season, but I'm skeptical of reading much of anything into Euphoria's social value. In my view any work of art that travels wildly, even recklessly, tagging teaming between melodrama and shock value amongst gorgeous teenagers, is telling you what its priorities are. Now ymmv on there being anything wrong with that, like I said I enjoyed it and have recommended it to people, but it's certainly not making a profound statement about anything beyond giving its audience fan service on ideas and beliefs they already have. If I want to be really cynical about it I could suggest that perhaps those aspects of the show existed to make the audience feel better about gawking at whichever high school character you enjoyed to watch fucking the most. I'm not suggesting Industry is deeply profound socially either, but the attempt at it in my view was far more sincere than Euphoria's and I doubt the sexual explicitness, sexiness of Industry was a reason anyone watched. Do you honestly believe one can argue the same about Euphoria? Hope my position makes more sense.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: TV of 2020

#55 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:04 pm

Black Hat, while I agree more with Never Cursed about the show’s empathy between the moments of superficial intensity in “melodrama and shock value” (best exemplified, in my opinion, by Assassination Nation), I too had similar (if more tempered) criticisms about the first season’s trajectory. So I come here with complete validation of that reaction to tell you that the first special with Rue, Trouble Don’t Last Always, is as “profound” a film as I’ve ever seen. Socially and existentially, it’s real, and stripped of all the issues capable of being critiqued in S1. One doesn’t even need to watch S1 to appreciate what it’s doing. I highly suggest you check it out, and if you’re like me, the more Levinson I digest, the closer I come to appreciate the unique wavelength he’s operating on, capturing raw honesty between and within these loud expressive choices.

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#56 Post by Black Hat » Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:17 pm

Which episode was A.N.? Even the title is off putting, you know? For me the best episode of season one was the county fair one, is that it? That's high praise on the special you gave there, looking fwd to checking it out.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: TV of 2020

#57 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:36 pm

Sorry, Assassination Nation is the film Levinson directed prior to Euphoria (I wrote it up here), and the title refers to (as I see it) living as a youth in gen z, drowning in technology, judgments, and cancel culture, where you're constantly character-assassinated and sized up based on black-and-white superficialities rather than one's complex identity. I think Euphoria gets that truth right too, but I agree that aspects felt heavy-handed in its second half, in a fashion I didn't personally feel was earned; while AN drums up the narrative allegories so obviously in its externalizations that 'realism' doesn't conflict as much with the expressionistic style and loud actions, and instead they play into each other on a plane of "feeling" as realism. However, I do think Euphoria uses this to its strengths as well, especially regarding the depiction of addiction for Zendaya, as well as Hunter Schafer's characterization- and perhaps what I find off-putting will reveal itself to be more considerate on a revisit, since I really do believe that's where Levinson is coming from. His 'recovery' attitude bleeds into his work, and that's anything but the accusations thrown at the show. But either way, the special is stripped of all of that, so this is all a moot point. If anything, the special makes one see how these real profound moments are woven into the fabric of the show in hindsight.

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#58 Post by Black Hat » Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:29 pm

Ah, that makes sense cause I was thinking none of the episodes would fit that title. How I feel about it still stands tho! It's a really interesting cast, which I'll add is Euphoria's strength too, so I'll definitely check it out thank you. Getting back to Euphoria, what do you mean by 'recovery' attitude? From addiction?

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therewillbeblus
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Re: TV of 2020

#59 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:53 pm

That's a fair question, and it's too challenging for me to describe the full essence of what I mean by "recovery attitude" but I can try to graze a fraction of what I mean in this context. Sam Levinson is openly in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and clearly (from the special) has experience, is involved in, and practices the principles of a 12-step program, which among many things helps one to find humility and actively strive to conduct holistic assessments on oneself and others beyond assassinating judgments. So while I can understand your criticisms of the show, and in part share a few, I do think he's (at times aggressively) trying to be socially conscious and empathetic to the complexities of psychology with the utmost sincerity and validation.

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Never Cursed
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Re: TV of 2020

#60 Post by Never Cursed » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:12 am

Black Hat wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:41 pm
I haven't seen the new Christmas special or whatever you want to call it so my comments are only about the first season, but I'm skeptical of reading much of anything into Euphoria's social value. In my view any work of art that travels wildly, even recklessly, tagging teaming between melodrama and shock value amongst gorgeous teenagers, is telling you what its priorities are. Now ymmv on there being anything wrong with that, like I said I enjoyed it and have recommended it to people, but it's certainly not making a profound statement about anything beyond giving its audience fan service on ideas and beliefs they already have. If I want to be really cynical about it I could suggest that perhaps those aspects of the show existed to make the audience feel better about gawking at whichever high school character you enjoyed to watch fucking the most. I'm not suggesting Industry is deeply profound socially either, but the attempt at it in my view was far more sincere than Euphoria's and I doubt the sexual explicitness, sexiness of Industry was a reason anyone watched. Do you honestly believe one can argue the same about Euphoria? Hope my position makes more sense.
I can absolutely agree with you that a nonzero amount of Euphoria's audience was drawn to (and only stayed for) the show's luridity (or, extending this critique further, to the show's extremely distinctive aesthetic, or because they wanted to "ship" the main characters). That said, and I may very well be in the minority on this one, but I didn't think any of the show's content was exploitative, cheap, or deliberately made for people who didn't care about the show's larger aims (which I think is important). On the contrary, I thought it was in a sense admirable that so many of the images and mini-setpieces with the most potential for exploitation were presented with the aid of larger social context (the first episode's withering aside about pornography, the dissection of Nate's feelings towards women, the dick-pic sequence) that allowed the show to dive into these things without either moralizing about them (with the few absolute moral judgements mostly put in the mouths of characters that are themselves not operating with a comprehensive understanding of "rightness") or using them as fetish material. (That said, you seem to have taken these scenes in a markedly different manner than this - maybe for you the amount of rope I'm giving these elements is too much).

And speaking as someone who is decently close to the age of the depicted characters and the presumed target audience, I don't agree that the show is functioning as mere validation/fanservice for a teenage audience. Again, there are absolutely teenagers whose main takeaways from the show are that the makeup is cool, the characters are "iconic," and the relationships are shipworthy - one need only visit the show's subreddit for confirmation of that - but I think these elements are used with a bit more conscious criticality than the description of "fanservice" gives credit.
Spoilers for Euphoria season 1, no spoilers for special episodesShow
For me, a good example of this is the show's treatment of the central relationship between our narrator Rue and her object of desire Jules. The first half of season 1 is an extremely one-sided depiction of their courtship, with much more focus on Rue's desire for this character (one who has all the superficial appearances of a manic pixie dream girl) and basically none on Jules' feelings towards Rue (with the cold open of Episode 4 being elements of Jules' childhood that Rue narrates without fully understanding). For the first three episodes, one could merely chalk this up to the tyranny inherent in Rue being the narrator, but, once they kiss and enter into their (poorly-defined, symptomatic) relationship and the focus shifts a little more to Jules, it becomes immediately clear that Jules is not comfortable existing in the narrowly defined space that Rue has put her into.

Now is as good a time as any to mention that chunks of the Euphoria fandom do pretty heavily "ship" the two (with the loathsome pet name Rules). I admit here as I have admitted before that I was uncomfortable with the ending of the fourth episode, and I was really uncomfortable the first time I watched the fifth episode and the two got matching "Rules" lip tattoos (still not sure how the filmmakers predicted the ship name, which was created by the fandom before the fifth episode aired), because these elements seemed to lean too hard into gross fanservice. But then the remainder of the season kicks in and Jules starts rebelling against this construction of Rue's, trying and failing to tell Rue how uncomfortable the relationship is making her. Jules ultimately delivers this message by cheating on Rue, breaking the spell and eventually sending Rue spiralling (or at least contributing to such).

This narrative isn't the story of an adorable pet relationship between two cute and relatable audience surrogates, but is rather a demonstration of why the idea of using a relationship for symptomatic or superficial ends is a bad one. It manipulates an assumed teenage audience member into "wanting" the relationship before yanking on the chain and exposing the negative side effects of this band-aid fix for larger problems. This is, again for me, one of the main messages repeated across the show's disparate storylines, that such immature pleasure-button "solutions" for long-standing problems aren't substitutes for therapy and restraint and the general emotional and cognitive trappings of maturation, which all our main characters do not really possess. This is a good chunk of what I think the show is "about," the humanistic depiction of a painful progress towards this maturity and the ability to deal with life independently and healthily (although of course immaturity is neither the sole cause of the problems of the characters, nor do these problems only occur in immature people).

(Just as a side note to all of this, I think a parallel experience to this is contained within Kat's story, which incidentally makes it clear that the show understands the fundamentals of fanfiction and why someone would engage in or create parasocial character-fan dynamics!

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domino harvey
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Re: TV of 2020

#61 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:21 am

Y’all come on now, this is like three threads below this one

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#62 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:32 am

DH my first post was about Industry which deserves its own thread, but somehow has turned into this!

NC - Reading your post I'm curious, how recently have you seen the show? Your thoughts feel fresh. I don't want to get too much further down into the weeds because I don't care all that much and was entirely lost with much of the online/YA fiction culture surrounding the show you were describing but I'll say two things. First the conflicted hunky superstar jock with serious demons and daddy issues is nothing new, another reason I find the show sus or at least understand those who do. Second, my comments about giving their audience what they want by which I meant make them feel validated was directed at their approach to handling social issues ie. the politics of the show, which have largely been celebrated in the places you'd expect.

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:53 pm
Sam Levinson is openly in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and clearly (from the special) has experience, is involved in, and practices the principles of a 12-step program, which among many things helps one to find humility and actively strive to conduct holistic assessments on oneself and others beyond assassinating judgments.
Or is Levinson coping by making personal nostalgia porn crossed with sadistic fantasies he is not allowed to fulfill?

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domino harvey
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Re: TV of 2020

#63 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:45 am

Black Hat wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:32 am
I don't want to get too much further down into the weeds because I don't care all that much
Cool. In the future I suggest opening with that and then not saying anything else (or, when in doubt, just do the second part), so intelligent and insightful posters like Never Cursed don’t waste time their time engaging with someone who is just here to be that guy

And on a mod note, I’ll also throw in an ol’ fashioned yellow light on any more casting of aspersions upon those who watch or make the series Euphoria

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therewillbeblus
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Re: TV of 2020

#64 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:14 am

Black Hat wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:32 am
therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:53 pm
Sam Levinson is openly in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and clearly (from the special) has experience, is involved in, and practices the principles of a 12-step program, which among many things helps one to find humility and actively strive to conduct holistic assessments on oneself and others beyond assassinating judgments.
Or is Levinson coping by making personal nostalgia porn crossed with sadistic fantasies he is not allowed to fulfill?
If you aren't willing to expand your perspective to try to engage with, or at the bare minimum 'believe' that someone could make art to empathize with a population in a different way than you do, why even bother to consume fictional media when home movies will do?

Your statement doesn't clarify what Levinson would be coping with, but if I'm reading you correctly, you're essentially invalidating the reading that he could be practicing a program of recovery and opining that he is just a struggling mess who can't even achieve the first step of the 12 steps: a form of acceptance. How insulting, especially considering his interviews and proof outside of Euphoria S1 that he does engage in this challenging work, and that's ironically the exact kind of judgmental character-assassination that Levinson has made an already-strong career out of exposing as problematically anti-humanist hot-takes overwhelming our culture.

I strongly suggest watching Trouble Don't Last Always before producing another blind formulation on Levinson's psychology pertaining to his recovery.

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#65 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:46 am

Wild how the same people who went through Howard Hawks' entire filmography while reading or referring back to a 600 page biography of the man, discussing various art/life connections with glee, could then be outraged at me asking a question based on biographical information I didn't even ask for, about how another artist's life experience may connect with his work but so it goes.

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#66 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:53 am

domino harvey wrote:
Black Hat wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:32 am
I don't want to get too much further down into the weeds because I don't care all that much
Cool. In the future I suggest opening with that and then not saying anything else (or, when in doubt, just do the second part), so intelligent and insightful posters like Never Cursed don’t waste time their time engaging with someone who is just here to be that guy

And on a mod note, I’ll also throw in an ol’ fashioned yellow light on any more casting of aspersions upon those who watch or make the series Euphoria
Not sure if I’m interpreting this correctly, but a mod seems to be suggesting another member lacks intelligence and insight.Image

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knives
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Re: TV of 2020

#67 Post by knives » Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:58 am

Black Hat wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:46 am
Wild how the same people who went through Howard Hawks' entire filmography while reading or referring back to a 600 page biography of the man, discussing various art/life connections with glee, could then be outraged at me asking a question based on biographical information I didn't even ask for, about how another artist's life experience may connect with his work but so it goes.
There is the matter of tone to consider. As far as I remember no one in thread nor book called Hawks’ work nostalgia porn based on sadistic fantasies.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: TV of 2020

#68 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:08 pm

Also Black Hat, you’re drawing connections to his treatment of his addiction which is defined as a disability, chronic illness, and mental health issue, in an aggressive hypothesis that is disrespectful when I’ve already said that the clear evidence for this empathy and practice of recovery principles is in the work you have yet to see. Your statement comes across as a microaggression to me, even if you didn’t mean it as such, but as someone in recovery who is trying to engage with you and validate your criticisms while pointing you in the direction of information that challenges that initial impression we both shared, please understand I’m not your enemy here and please be more respectful to this population when making inferences. Also pointing out auteurist reaches in other members' histories doesn’t negate the fact that yours was an unfair hot take. I will freely admit that I have made them too on this forum, but when I fought with my sister as a kid and defended myself by saying she also hit me before it didn’t convince my parents of innocence because I was still responsible for acting with agency, and if that rings true for a child it certainly does for adults as well. I was being sincere when I asked you to see the special before engaging more because I think it will help, as it did for me, and I hope you can go into it with an open mind.

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Black Hat
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Re: TV of 2020

#69 Post by Black Hat » Thu Jan 21, 2021 4:11 am

With respect to what you said I understand where you're coming from and appreciate what you shared. The one clarification I would like to make is I didn't offer a hot take, I posed a question and that's an important distinction. However, if you think it's an unfair question that's ok, we can move on. I don't think anyone here is anyone's enemy, but perhaps maybe we could lighten up the mood a little?

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Re: TV of 2020

#70 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:03 am

I'm watching Ted Lasso on AppleTV, and I must say it's quite charming. Never been a huge fan of Jason Sudeikis but he does an amazing job carrying this show, or at least helps carrying it since the other roles stand out on their own quite a bit. For some reason the first episode didn't grab me but I gave the next one a shot and a few days later I'm almost done with the whole season.

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