Video

The Power of Friends: Political and Cultural Currency

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Like every other Game of Thrones viewer, I somewhat shamefully use a friend’s HBO GO password (equivalent to using someones Viki account) So along with getting my weekly dosage of swords, fantastical political hypocrisy, and the occasional dragon, I am also privy all of HBO’s content, which is their original programming plus movie library. Though I’m not really interested in watching last summer’s explody hollywood hits (sorry eleventy billion superhero films, apocalypse zombie flicks, and gigantic version of rock em sock robots, I’m just not that into you) I am a fan of political discourse in the form of rick rolling laughter and biting satire all of which shows real life political hypocrisy. Which is why I am such a huge fan of VEEP and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.

In short, Veep is an account of a fictional Vice President and her quest for power. Through the creative cursing and mile a minute dialogue, it basically tells the story of why American politicians and its Government can’t seem to get anything done and have lost all sense of soap_in_mouth_270integrity. A true testament to the show is when I watched with a couple friends, all of us dying from laughter, and in agreement with the shows take on the political machine. And yet, all us had differing political ideologies. So that’s my quick plug for that show, though if you do watch, have Dove soap* at the ready, because you will feel the need to put those bars in everyone’s mouths.

*Yeah I’m totally pimping out Dove like a drama does PPL for coffee shop XYZ. If only they would pay me. (wink wink) Plus, wouldn’t that be an awesome ad campaign – Dove, washing sailor mouths since 1925.

Speaking of friends and the not so friendly, the non-fictional comedic news program Last Week Tonight did a segment on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests and how the Chinese govt. is flexing their censorship muscle. And boy are they putting alotta muscle on it, like literally trying to scrub the day from history. Anyways watch as host John Oliver has an interesting method to get the message across for China’s youth. (Hint. it involves 90’s NYC sit-coms)

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A Deep Dive into the Whimsical World of Award Shows, Representation, and Style vs. Substance

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Note: Apologies in advance, as this very well may turn into stream of conscious bout of rambling, much of which has already been said in various places here, but even if this turns into a glorified diary entry, I just need to organize my thoughts in whatever chaotic way this post turns out to be.  May I suggest gearing up for a light-hearted review of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (coming soon!) or below with a hilarious spoof of K-Dramas.

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Video

Fresh off the Boat: Representation of Asians and minorities in the American TV Landscape

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Fresh Off the Boat, the new family comedy based on the memoirs of chef Eddie Huang, has been officially announced during last weeks upfronts and will be coming to ABC this Fall. To the best of my knowledge this is the first “Asian” show to grace the networks since All-American Family with Margaret Cho in 1994. That’s twenty freaking years people! Now I’ve already seen multiple accusations of this pilot, saying the humor is steeped in Asian stereotypes. And to those I say kind of, but… Yes, the trailer uses foreign accents and the hilarity of smelly ethnic food as comic fodder, and like all humor it depends on the joke, context, and receiver (viewer) if it can be considered funny without being offensive. And if the entirety of this series was based on the jokes of that three minute trailer, I’d be concerned. But comedic pilots are a tricky beast, one thats damned near impossible to pull of. (Seriously. Cramming loads of exposition, character introductions, and comedy into 22 minutes is just not right.) With the network TV model no pilot is guaranteed to air* so comedies will tend to go big and broad with its humor, and unfortunately when race is involved broad often equals stereotyping.

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Drama and television viewing habits (narcissism edition!)

Here is a rundown of some of my viewing habits/bias which is probably for my own sake but might give insight into some of my ranking.  In all likelihood its the narcissist in me who needs to be seen.

  1. Characters >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Plot – It’s why Mad Men is my favorite show even with episode descriptions like “A computer comes to the agency while Peggy receives a flower delivery.” Or why I find dramas with mixed receptions like Flower Boy Next Door or Pasta intriguing long after others have deemed them “boring”.  As long as the characters are interesting and well rounded, I will never require any long standing mysteries,  parents or second leads used as plot devices,  or makjang elements to shake things up.
  2. That said, though I prefer my characters to be realistic and 3 dimensional, I don’t really have a similar issue with sci-fi or gimmick elements that become plot devices instead of being thoroughly integrated into the story.  For instance, some of Secret Garden’s complaints (similarly You Who Came from the Stars) dealt with how the body switching/sci-fi element was wishy washy, and never fully explained. I liked that it was used further character development, provided ample comic fodder, and was used enough to add tension and stakes, but not so much as to get annoying or for the audience to lost track of the whose who.  Basically it all comes back to characters. (for an English example, I much prefer the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who, compared to the Moffat reign, as one featured a delightful cast of recurring players, while the ladder had a series of convoluted plots.)
  3. Did someone say comic fodder?  One thing thats is necessary in my TV and can make a average plotted show into complete chamazingness territory is a funny bone embedded into the shows DNA.  The King of Dramas and History of the Salaryman are two of my favorite dramas, and I can easily say both shows had several flaws, missteps, and plot holes.  The single characteristic that kept me throughly entertained was that both were “mother father” hilarious. I recall History did an especially good job of adding humor throughout an episode, no matter how sad or dark things became for our heros (See a Weekend at Bernie’s elevator ride). Breaking Bad‘s pitch black comedic sensibilities were the only things that kept me going during the darkest hours of that depressing show.
  4. Can’t be too long – self explanatory but I’ve never watched a drama longer than 28 episodes. So many dramas, so little time.
  5. Other kinds of dramas I’m not crazily into – the revenge and/or serial killer thriller, ANY medical show (E.R. did  me in when I was 12), the traditional sageuk (though I still need to watch one..), and your standard melo.
  6. Things I totes adore! – slice of life dramas(Coffee PrinceFriday Night Lights) genre hybrid hodepodge (think I Can Hear Your Voice or Chuck), sci-fi or supernatural premises, subverting gender dynamics, biracial characters (mixed baby I am), bromances, shows not set in Seoul, NYC or LA, and of course romantic intrigue!
  7. Interestingly enough, when I choose a drama, its not based on the actors but heavily weighs on the plot description, trailers, and other people’s opinion.  This definitely varies from movies where even if Matt Damon is rocking a fat suit, I’d still buy that ticket.  Guess its really the instance of having a dynamic actor make a 2 hour film watchable vs. suffering through 20 hours of So Ji Sub trying to convince the audience (and himself) that his love for Ha Ji Won is worth it (I wish I never wanted to know What Happened in Bali).  That said, if a drama has two actors I like, it has a much better shot at me watching it even if the description seems average (por exemplo -the two Gongs in Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy).
  8. Now disregard everything I just wrote.  I mean all rules are made to be broken right?  none of these are rules but “It’s more like guidelines anyway.” Another of my favorite shows is Nine Times Travels as it’s possibly the most tightly plotted (and best use of time travel) show in recent memory.  Basically, where is the fun in getting everything you want?

Any show that does right by its acting, writing and directing will be good, and with that surely controversial statement those are  my 8 simple rule for dating  viewing biases,  yay lists!