Diablog: January Sinner’s Roundup


Putin puppets. They take many forms.
Putin puppets. They take many forms.

Rasha: We’re back, and we’re going to talk about TV and film somehow!

Gemma: Somehow! Because it will continue to happen, and continue to talk to people.

R: You know what TV I’d really like to be reviewing? That puppet show from Russia that got cancelled, Kukly, that used to make fun of Putin as an overgrown baby called Little Tsaches. Maybe there are subtitled archives somewhere?

G: I would be on board for that. Let’s see if we can find it.

R: Deal.

G: I know a coupla Russian speakers who could translate if it’s not subtitled.

R: We are legion.

G: This is true. So what have you been watching?

R: I know we’ll talk about this in another post, but I did watch all of The Magicians. I will just say: I hated the pilot, came to enjoy many of the middle episodes, and was sorely disappointed by the finale.

Full disclosure: I know the guy on the left.
Full disclosure: Gemma knows the guy on the left. Further disclosure: these are two of Rasha’s favorite characters in the series.

G: There were some things I loved about the finale, including its willingness to end messy, but I agree that it had egregious issues. I found it a really fascinating show with a lot of problems with follow-through, just throwing out and dropping threads right and left.

R: I will look forward to reviewing it with you. I also saw Rogue One twice in theatre. I went the second time so I could really let myself cry, which can be hard for me to do when I’m in the world and buckling down to Get Shit Done.

G: Awww! I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard good things

R: YOU MUST SEE IT. IT IS QUEER EVEN. Base and Chiroot forever in my heart.

G: I know. I still haven’t seen last year’s Star Wars. I am that kind of nerd failure.

R: Eh, Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie. I will fight anyone. Start there. Force Awakens is optional.

Presumably, she will also fight anyone.
Presumably, she will also fight anyone.

G: I’ll find my way there. I haven’t been in a first-run film-seeing position for a while, but I did watch a lot of movies on planes.

R: Plane movies are their own beast completely. What have you even seen?

G: Frozen, The Heat, many episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I will admit that curiosity overcame me and I watched The Birth of a Nation.

R: I have also caught up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine while working on assembling poem chapbooks! I do not know what The Heat is.

G: It’s a buddy cop movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. A little hollow but kind of fun. Definitely one of my favorite SBull performances. I like it when she’s, you know, given one character trait she has to go all in on.

R: Right. I remember the poster for it. I was wondering if it was the other buddy cop movie with Witherspoon and Vergara. What is Bullock’s trait in The Heat?

G: She’s uptight and super-proud of her skills, and her skills are real. And McCarthy is, you know, raw and loose. But they’re both marginalized in their departments, get it?

And then they come together and … wow, you guys, wow.
And then they come together and … wow, you guys, wow.

R: I do. Sounds a bit like The Other Guys, which is perhaps Will Ferrell’s only funny movie.

G: Never saw it. I am an Anchorman fan, though. Most of the Ferrell/Reilly stuff I could take or leave, but Anchorman is fun.

R: You might like The Other Guys. Watch the trailer at least.

G: I shall!

R: Thinking back, if I were reviewing The Other Guys SCC-style, I would probably point out some pernicious reverse-racism dog whistling that parades itself as lifting up the leadership and excellence of people of color. But we have talked about this before in many procedurals that feature Black judges and police captains.

G: This is true. Although if you’re talking about Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I will fight for the Captain hard.


R: I think Brooklyn 99 is a different thing, particularly because it’s comedy, partly because the Captain is not the only Black character (though I’d be grateful for a Black female character as a regular on that show).

G: I’d be ready for a Black female character as a regular, certainly. I wondered for a while if they were going to bring his sister back and have us spend more time with her. But Captain Holt is probably one of my favorite characters on TV, because Andre Braugher is the winner of deadpan.

R: His delivery is its own treasure. It’s a really dudely show. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about it and other Samberg projects–I often enjoy them, but rarely swoon for them deeply. I did enjoy the Connor4Real movie from last year.

G: I didn’t see that. I never thought much of Samberg on SNL, but I actually love Brooklyn Nine-Nine–it is dudely, yes, but it’s a very enjoyable revamping of dudeliness and one I’m glad to spend time with–and I really adore some of the Lonely Island songs.

R: Do Holt and Terry have their own storylines or scenes together? I don’t think I’ve watched as many episodes of the show as you have, but I’m not sure it gets a high pass on the DuVernay test. There are other things it does quite delightfully.

G: I can think of a few eps where they’ve had storylines or scenes together, and I think there’s a mentoring/questions of respect and friendship dynamic between them that’s really lovely.

Loved this scene.
Loved this scene.

R: I think I just haven’t seen those episodes. I agree that the show does a great job of making characters that are simultaneously either very cool and also nerdy/vulnerable, or very awkward/not cool and also make important contributions to the work.

G: I mean, Holt and Terry is milked for its odd-coupleness, not as much as Jake and Holt, but in a way that acknowledges both of them as black men with different lives who share something.

R: I think that’s what I mean in my last comment. You could take almost any two characters from that show and they’d be an odd couple together. Which is good character building.

G: My favorite series of episodes is the heist ones, where Jake and Holt are competing over who is the best Detective-Slash-Genius and everyone else keeps undercutting them.

R: I enjoyed the Mumps episodes.

G: Oh gracious yes. Rewatched those on the plane.

R: What else have we watched?

G: I mean, I’ve been keeping up with Speechless and Fresh Off the Boat. Speechless continues to be fun, and deeper about class than I have seen a sitcom be in a while.

R: I would not have expected that if you hadn’t said it.

G: Yeah, it is unexpected. But it’s got a lot going on. It acknowledges a lot of what comes with disability is about money and questions relating to it.

R: That makes sense, and when you say it, I realize that most portrayals of disability on big or small screens are about personal bravery and triumph rather than structural forms, adaptations, and possibilities.

Also potently real on family in a lot of ways.
Also potently real on family in a lot of ways.

Oh, I watched Issa Rae’s Insecure, finally. Satisfyingly messy. Though I was very sad to lose him on The Nightly Show, I am excited that Larry Wilmore is moving into doing more producing. Is it with ABC?

G: Speechless? Yeah. I need to get my HBOGo access back, because Insecure is high on my list.

R: Oh, I meant Larry Wilmore, but perhaps telling that your answer for Speechless is also yes.

G: Oh, obvious that my answer for Speechless is also yes. This is the corner of capitalism that ABC has chosen to monopolize, and honestly, they’re doing a very good job.

R: I think Wilmore is expanding his role with ABC. He’s already exec-producing Black-ish.

G: That is good. #MoreWilmore

R: I’ll have to check which network it is, the internet is not confirming a clear answer now, but I think it’s ABC.

G: Oh, I also watched a lot of the ESPN OJ documentary when I was jetlagged and couldn’t sleep. My sister said it was better than the fictionalized one with Sarah Paulson, which I haven’t watched yet (though my family spent a lot of time discussing how miscast Cuba Gooding Jr. was and trying to figure out who should have had the role instead). The ESPN OJ documentary was actually really fascinating.

R: Oh yeah. I was not really tempted to watch that or the fictionalized one, though I realize it is a thing. Cuba Gooding Jr. seems cast correctly in the role in that: CGJ got his break as a football star in Jerry MacGuire, Terrence Howard is now too famous to need the money, and not many other actors would want to play an unsavory role.

G: My family liked Chadwick Boseman for it.

R: Was there something fascinating that wasn’t just salacious?

G: Yeah, actually. It was really about the social context. Of both who the man was and wanted to be and the racial and social context in which he got famous and his personal relationship to that context. a lot of stuff that I was far too young to be fully aware of and hadn’t ever followed up on. I imagine the fictionalized one is more salacious, though I couldn’t say for sure, but this one was incredibly rich as an American documentary.

R: I can see that.

G: You seen anything else interesting?

R: Maybe? My gummy brain can’t think of it now. I’m sure if it’s relevant it’ll come up in future weeks. We’ve got a lot we’re going to talk about in the coming months: HTGAWM returns this week, and we’ll be reviewing Hidden Figures, The Magicians, Female Friendships, Orphan Black’s final season at some point!

G: Yes! Waiting to hear that release date!

R: Scandal‘s bananas failure to jump the shark higher than reality. Given where we started with reviewing Scandal, I can’t believe I just said that.

G: Government of Olympic Sharkjumpers. I saw the House of Cards teaser and I was like “…really? you’re still gonna try, huh? good luck, kids.”

R: Yeah, same.

G: That was literally the first thing my sister said to me at Thanksgiving. “So House of Cards is completely irrelevant now, right?”

R: Like, I could tell it was trying to scare me, but I’m like: you’re just a story, and I have to read the news.

G: Indeed. And vomit.

R: I try not to. I’ve yet to install these two plugins, but I don’t blame folks who do. Well, we’ll probably talk about those shows soon.

G: I’m sure we will.

And this. Possibly we'll talk about this.
And this. Possibly we’ll talk about this.