Insatiable

You should be watching this show!

Netflix dropped Insatiable last week, a show that came off a trailer that had people blasting it for dealing with fat shaming. Yes, the initial trailer for the show even made me roll my eyes at what I assumed was going to be the final product too. So when I saw it available to watch on Netflix, I begrudgingly wanted to see just how bad it was. As soon as the short premise was over where the title character had lost the weight, which was I want to say in the first fifteen minutes, I was in, and I enjoyed what I was seeing. By the time I finished the last episode I was a huge fan.

Insatiable begins with Patty Bladell, a girl who took to eating and became very obese, getting into an altercation with a homeless man that breaks her jaw, that therefore stops her from eating and becoming skinny. Patty finds the lawyer, Bob Armstrong to help her on the case against the homeless man. Armstrong is also involved in beauty pageants and sees Patty as his new protege. Patty set on wanting to get even with all the hate she had when she was fat intends to become a beauty queen to show up everyone who called her names. It’s an over-the-top premise, and it’s meant to be because it’s partly a black comedy. It’s essentially the film Election (1999) with beauty pageants, and a slice of My Name is Earl. The revenge plot of the show is the central inconsistency within it, which can be righted in the second season. The show is filled with great characters, and they all come together nicely amidst absurd confrontations. The show is just as much about Bob Armstrong as it is Patty Bladell and I think he steals the show; his character is excellent.

Insatiable

Critics hate on Netflix’s latest tv show Insatiable. I skimmed enough reviews to see that the majority of them just don’t get it. Instead, they are sticking to the fat shaming labels that ridiculed the show from the trailer. I thought that the show would keep going to flashbacks of her character being portrayed as fat, but it didn’t. The first portion of the first episode is the only hint of what outlets are saying. Patty’s character is not someone who thinks she becomes all that when she gets skinny, instead she still feels uncomfortable in her skin, like many young women do regardless of their image. It’s moments like this that show the real heart of the show amongst all of the craziness. There are also some relationships that form in the second half of the series that are hilarious and ballsey. The show deals with sexuality in a way I appreciate as I’ve never seen it done before as well.

I don’t want to give much away because I think the show has a lot of substance that is not being recognized by entertainment outlets. The show has an 11% rating on Rotton Tomatoes, and I think it should be in the 75-80% range. Not only that, there is a change.org petition for Netflix to cancel the show with 230,000 online signatures. Seriously? I’ll be recommending this show for the remainder of the year. It’s the best new show I’ve seen this year after Cobra Kai, and I want to see a second season happen. So give the first episode a watch and see if it tickles you.

Robert Ring

The Good Place

Sitcoms have been around since the beginning of television, and the genre has continued to be stagnant ever since. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing for a sitcom because they focus on a close group of characters that are thrown into a different scenario every week. Every sitcom seems to eventually cover similar story paths. Watch The Dick Van Dyke Show, and it will share the same familiar sitcom beats like any other today. Seinfeld broke most of the rules of a sitcom while Friends began to give us these tremendous melodramatic cliffhangers with every season’s end. Scrubs rolled those two together in a medical setting with poignant resolve with each episode’s end. The problem with sitcoms is inevitably its expiration date. By five or six seasons every situation that could be thrown at these characters has been done. Even the reliance on running gags can’t save them. Seinfeld may be the exception to this as the sitcom could find a story in anything and also daringly going into the taboo with the episode about masturbation.

The Good Place puts a fresh perspective on the sitcom genre by actually feeling like the series has an ultimate heading. It feels like the show is telling one complete story that is broken up into smaller chunks. Each episode is titled as a chapter like a book, and like a book, each chapter has a mini-cliffhanger that forces the viewer to want to watch just one more chapter. So how can The Good Place seemingly redesign the sitcom? Simply, it takes place in the afterlife, and can, therefore, do anything with that canvas. The first episode shows a group of people being inducted into ‘The Good Place,’ that being a place with an architect played by Ted Danson, as heaven for these people. The problem is Kristen Bell’s character Elenor has been mistaken for someone else. Her character was a terrible person, lacking any morals. The show begins with her trying to keep her identity under wraps but develops quickly into a show sharing attributes from Defending Your Life with a sprinkle of Kafka. The kicker for her is how absurd and torturous the bad place is so she must wrestle with her moral compass to better herself so she can stay in the good place.

The Good Place shouldn’t be reviewed any further because it will spoil the story. I will say that even though each episode has a mini-cliffhanger, each season’s cliffhanger manages to flip the script as to where you think the show is going. The first two seasons are out now. If you’re an Australian resident, you can catch them all on Netflix. I hope this series concludes with five seasons and no more. The small episode count of each season helps not detract from the overall story with the usual filler episodes other shows endure. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell are fantastic, and their chemistry will keep you coming back for sure. Give The Good Place a watch!

Robert Ring

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Riverdale

Riverdale is a surprisingly good show. It’s a mixture of Dawson’s Creek, Glee, Gossip Girl, The Outsiders, and a slew of others. Weirdly, the combination of things Riverdale emulates works for the most part. The series begins with a Twin Peaks vibe as the body of a Riverdale High student is found washed up, setting the first season up as a whodunit. This premise may seem far from the original Archie comics, yet the characters are all here, and apart from Reggie they all for the most part embody the spirit of their comic book counterparts. Jughead is by far the standout of the bunch, but in Riverdale his humour is traded in for sarcasm as he investigates the dark side of their small town. Archie is still jumping from Veronica to Betty in one of the longest ever running love triangles. Riverdale shows the town from the point of view of the parents and they have even more secrets than their children.

About halfway into the first season they really start to Glee up the show with what might be a number every second episode. I don’t mean that as a bad thing either. They use Josie and the Pussycats to play cover songs that fit the mood of the episode. Some of the song choices blow me away, like Out Tonight from Rent, and Milkshake by Kelis.

Riverdale does have a few problems, although these problems are the same as every other show on The CW, most notably all stars are beautiful people and teens are over sexualised.  If you do enjoy everything else The CW has produced you will find yourself at home here and going strong halfway through it’s second season. Riverdale has proven successful enough that another Achieverse character, Sabrina is getting her own show this year.

Riverdale is the best teen drama currently airing. Check it out!

Robert Ring

Breaking Bad

Besides a couple of twists and turns a roller coaster is generally pretty linear. You strap yourself in and wait for the mechanics to motion you forward for a ride that may last only for a sum of seconds, but will stay imprinted in your memory till you are old and grey. As the wheels press forward your hands clam tight against the safety harness.. oh yes shit is getting serious now. Panic and excitement fill around your rapidly beating heart, creating the greatest rush of adrenaline. The screams are contagious, and the excitement is shared in unison throughout the coaster with each stranger having shared a special journey together.

It’s a very special show this one, and like a roller coaster ride it’s an exciting journey to be had for those who are willing to have a go and see what all the fuss is about.

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Breaking Bad is a character portrait of it’s protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston). Like the title suggest Walt starts to crack, he breaks. This series illuminates the progression of Walt from light to darkness. Walt starts off in the beginning as a down on his luck family man who’s working two jobs just to support his family. An important factor to Walt is his intelligence. He was apart of a Nobel Prize winning team in chemistry years before, but his “smart choices”, the lack of seeing a future in the company he created with his colleagues showed him lose out on what became a multi-million dollar company. So a man with a level of intelligence meant for more is stuck working as a high school chemistry teacher, and part-time at a car wash. On his fiftieth birthday Walt is told he has lung cancer, which shifts all his worries towards his family’s wellbeing after he’s gone. With Hank (Dean Norris), a DEA agent brother-in-law, Walt gets the idea of producing crystal meth using his chemistry background. The idea is to stop as soon as he reaches an appropriate estimation of financial support for his wife in the years to come. As life cannot always be planed to such a degree, especially when you are playing with fire Walt is thrown into chaos time and time again. Along with Walt is his young protege Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), who has a talent for cooking Walt’s special “blue crystal meth,” the purest on the market, a factor that saves their lives because of the demand and difficulty to create such a pure mix. Bryan Cranston is definitely television’s finest actor, which should make it difficult to find a worthy on screen opponent to challenge the rise of Walt, but n this case we also get one of the greatest villains ever seen on television, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). These characters as well as those not mentioned could be talked about to no end, especially Walter White himself.

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Breaking Bad also has an art film quality to it at times, certain scenes are “slow” in a sense that you will watch a family dinner in all it’s awkwardness, which is an example of something that many people who are used to the normal flow of a television show struggle to watch. While it has it’s slow paces the drama is always at a high. That roller coaster adrenaline is in every episode of Breaking Bad and is always stirring inside as you watch, rising and rising with every episode. The most surprising thing throughout this show is the lack of sex and sex appeal, this is almost unheard of in everything, instead we see a very gritty world. Now the first season is the slowest moving and hardest for most new viewers to get into, however you should not fear this because the first season is the shortest, with only seven episodes which really takes off before the season’s end. If you can get through the first season nothing will stop you from jumping into this roller coaster and be taken on a journey with some of the most heart clutching and adrenaline fuelled moments ever seen on television. Now this is not the type of show you can just start half-way through either, every episode pays off in their chronological order, like all good cable shows. I’ve always known this show to be the best drama on television ever, and it subsequently topped my already great expectations frequently.

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Breaking Bad in my opinion is the best drama ever made on television!

The one thing that could have tainted a show as unique as this is the pay-off at the end, and by God they did it. The end was a beautiful send off to everything the show was heading to. On another note look at the first image in this post and the third image, can you see the juxtaposition of Walter White? The evolution of the man? In the first image he is standing in the center of a vast and empty desert with nothing to his name. In the second image he is sitting down, he is relaxed and in power with money and meth in great sums. These two images may seem spoiler like in a way, but they’re ones you would inevitably stumble upon anyway considering they represent the first and fifth season DVD covers. I do think it is the best way to sum up the show’s evolution, a glance at what you may be getting into. Does this alone not prove that Breaking Bad is the most bad ass show? See it for yourself.

Following this show for the duration of its run has been the greatest roller coaster ride I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding, with twists you will never guess breaking what could have been a very linear narrative, and I do understand that it will be a very long time before another show will ever have the same impact this show had on me.

Vince Gilligan I thank you, Bryan Cranston I thank you, and to the entire cast I thank you.. I thank you and I look forward to watching the spin-off prequel Better Call Saul.

Robert Ring