What's on Netflix?

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Thad
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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Thad » Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:40 am

I just watched the first two episodes of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's new series that NBC passed on because NBC hates things that are funny; you've probably seen giant video banners for it if you've used Netflix lately) and it's pretty good!

Ellie Kemper plays Kimmy, a woman who's rescued from a doomsday cult's underground bunker, where she's spent the past fifteen years, who decides she's going to try and make it in New York. And those two clashing elements really form the core of the show -- Fey, Carlock, et al manage to balance the pitch-black comedy of the former ("YES there was weird sex stuff in that cult.") with over-the-top eccentric New York personalities (Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, and Carol Kane) but manages to give the whole thing enough heart and optimism that it manages to avoid feeling cynical.

I like it.

I don't like NBC very much.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Newbie » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:16 am

EDIT: A NEW REPLY ETC. That's what I get for taking so long to write, I guess. I'm not making any adjustments. Also, I understand NBC is still producing it even if they're not airing it on their channel? Soooo, semi-boo? Perhaps? Or maybe I misunderstood the situation. Whatevs.

New Netflix-Original programming from Tina Fey and one of the producers from 30 Rock: "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". Ellie Kemper (that relentlessly upbeat receptionist Erin that replaced Pam during that one part of The Office) plays Kimmy, one of the "Indiana Mole Women" who were rescued from an apocalypse cult, and decides to start a new life in New York City living with a flamboyant gay black man and their landlady, and who gets a job working for a Mrs. Voorhees, who is basically just Jenna from 30 Rock.

I... like it...? But I have a lot of reservations.

I mean, this is basically the story of the Ariel Castro kidnappings through the sanitizing lens of the 30 Rock universe. The flashbacks to the bunker may be played for laughs—the preacher's first appearance had enough "dummies" and "dumb idiots" that I figured he'd be played by one of Liz Lemon's exes, and Kimmy's recollection of suffering was having to pointlessly turn a mysterious giant crank for days at a time—but the show isn't really subtle about hinting at what kind of other fucked-up shit was going on. Despite this, Kimmy is upbeat, optimistic, and driven. (And a little naive.) She's not going to let her past as a Mole Woman help her OR hold her back, but it does keep spilling over into her New York life.

The other characters are basically fifth-grade caricatures. Just like in 30 Rock, the idea seems to be that if you take a stereotype and push on it hard enough, it'll deform enough to pass for original. That wasn't as much of a problem in 30 Rock because the characters were all professionals working in their chosen fields: sure, they struggled, but they typically experienced enough of whatever their definition of success was that you couldn't feel bad for whatever predictable deficiencies they were saddled with. Meanwhile, Titus is black, gay, and dramatic; Kimmy's tutor has big checks in the Asians Are Good At Math and Illegal Immigrants Struggle With Shitty Ethnic Jobs boxes, AND OH YEAH, there are Native Americans, and a white actor playing a Native American (who is, at least, playing white in the context of the story). It all kind of reminded me of the whole Strong Female Characters debate: is it more empowering to defy the stereotype, or to acknowledge it, embody it, and transcend it? And even if it IS the latter, is that actually what's happening here?

Soooooooo, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" might be problematic in some of its portrayals. That's not for me to say, and if you find it so, I cannot make any excuses for it. My gut tells me that it was built around good intentions, and while it has some weak characters and episodes, my current opinion is that it does more good than harm. I am glad that Kimmy is simultaneously bringing attention to the ubiquity of sexual violence in our culture and how destructive it can be, while also affirming and celebrating survival. But if you disagree, please say so! My perspective is super limited for this sort of evaluation, and I definitely cannot do it alone.
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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby beatbandito » Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:15 am

Unbreakable is definitely a weird situation with some legitimately funny moments.

Thad and Newbie both bring up my general feelings towards the show, and I think the theme is captured perfectly in the Eighth episode. It does a good job of making a joke of Titus (the big, gay, black roommate) having an easier time walking around the city dressed as a literal monster than he does as a black man. However, it's only the B-plot to the main story of Kimmy being a girl who can't figure out simple math so she needs to get help from the Vietnamese immigrant named Dong. And yes, of course half the jokes are about his name.

edit: okay Vietnamese is at least a little less classic racist than Chinese.
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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Newbie » Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:55 am

Yeah, I read a bunch of reviews and opinion pieces last night after my post, and people keep saying that the show is great and Titus in particular is subverting a lot of the Gay Best Friend tropes, but they completely fumbled with Dong, since he's a super handsome Korean man playing a Vietnamese immigrant with a really implausible accent. He may have some positive elements thanks to his role in the show, but in the season as it exists right now, the character's hella racist.
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Thad
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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Thad » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:50 pm

ComicsAlliance reviews Daredevil.

To put it mildly (and tragically spoiler-tight until April 10), at least several dramatic visuals afforded by Netflix’s relaxed standards would never, ever make it into Marvel’s Disney-fied PG-13 cash cows. Daredevil marks a much darker corner of the Marvel cinematic universe, that while entirely its own entity as a crime drama, still works in enough odd references to familiar events (and with far less thud than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to feel comfortably familiar in a superhero’s world.


On the one hand, oh goody, another grim-'n'-gritty Batman knockoff.

On the other, if there's one character who SHOULD get the Frank Miller treatment, it's Daredevil. While I'm glad that Waid, Samnee, et al have brought Matt Murdock out of his funk in the comics, I think a Miller-tinged street-level crime drama is just the thing to contrast what we've already seen in the MCU: the period spy drama of Captain America and Agent Carter, the paranoid modern spy drama of Captain America 2 and Agents of SHIELD, the high-tech fantasy of Thor, the banter-rich escapism of Iron Man and Avengers. Yes, DC/Warner has done this shit to death with Burton's Batman, Nolan's Batman, Smallville, Man of Steel, and Arrow. And EVERYBODY'S done it to death for the past 30 years of superhero comics. But it's actually a pretty new and fresh idea for a Marvel TV series.

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Brentai
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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Brentai » Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:28 pm

Upbeat Daredevil is honestly kind of boring. He punches mobsters and assassins and overcomes his handicap which is rendered totally irrelevant by his power set, whoo.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Thad » Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:31 pm

Okay so I admit I haven't actually been reading the Waid/et al run. (It started when I was boycotting most of Marvel, and I haven't had a chance to catch up since the Kirby settlement.) But it sounds like it really is right up my alley. And it's won a boatload of awards. So I think they're probably doing something right with Upbeat Daredevil.

Then again, it really wouldn't have that same punch if it weren't a reaction to thirty years of Miller Daredevil.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Büge » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:50 pm

Brentai wrote:Upbeat Daredevil is honestly kind of boring.


That is how he started out in the comics, though. Of course, he also wore a gaudy yellow costume...

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Mothra » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:55 pm

Yeah but EVERYONE started out all happy-go-lucky.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Büge » Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:47 pm

Except for Superman, ironically.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Joxam » Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:57 am

I know nothing about Daredevil (never liked the comic) and I'm only five episodes in, but as a crime drama it does very good. Also Vincent D'Onofrio is the bad guy, so they can't go wrong in that regard.
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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Thad » Sun Apr 12, 2015 6:11 pm

Two episodes into Daredevil and I'm enjoying it immensely, despite my usual distaste for the grim-'n'-gritty superhero fare.

I think the most interesting thing is the show's frequent choice to tell rather than show, to narrate action sequences rather than depict them, starting with the very first scene. (We don't see the accident; we see Jack running to the scene.) I don't think this is a budget decision, I think it's a storytelling one; it focuses you on the characters and their reactions instead of the events themselves. (Walking Dead and Game of Thrones do it all the time -- though the biggest difference is that they don't have flashbacks and Daredevil does.)

(ETA: Meant to add that the show also does a good job of knowing when to show instead of telling; specifically, in establishing Matt's powers. Good choices on the scenes where he's listening to people's heartbeats. And, at least so far, none of that gimmicky "see in the rain" radar-vision they used in the movie.)

It also makes the action sequences that do happen more dramatic. I particularly like the hallway fight scene at the end of the second episode; among its other strengths, it fixes the usual suspension of disbelief problem with "hero is fighting a bunch of bad guys but for some reason they only come at him one or two at a time" sequences by putting it in an area so cramped that they can't all attack him at once. (Course, why nobody goes back into the other room and grabs the gun that the guy had at the beginning of the fight is a separate question...)

Also enjoying the hell out of Foggy as comic relief. It's a show that desperately needs some levity, and he strikes the right tone.

And finally, the little judicious nods to continuity are a good idea too, and explain a couple of things that would otherwise feel out of place. After all, they're adapting a story that very much relies on Hell's Kitchen being the kind of place it was in the late 1970's and early 1980's instead of today -- so, boom, spend a couple of lines explaining that it got trashed during the Chitauri invasion, and that's why it's turned back into a crime-ridden shithole.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Mothra » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:34 am

Did I just see a Harley Quinn cameo in the Suicide Squad ep of Arrow?

Fuuucck yes.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Büge » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:45 am

They better share a scene like this:

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Thad » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:12 am

Daredevil now available with audio narration for blind people, in a move so obvious I couldn't help thinking of it myself when I was watching the first couple episodes the other day.

Netflix is going to be rolling it out on their other original series too in the coming weeks, but Daredevil was a pretty good choice for a place to start.

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Re: What's on Netflix?

Postby Grath » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:30 pm

Daredevil gets second season, surprising no-one. New showrunners (who were producers on season one) because the showrunner for the first season has a previous commitment.

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