Category Archives: Television

A Taste of Their Own Meta-Cine

A new type of hyper-aware genre entertainment seems to be emerging of late. Call it “meta-genre,” or “meta-cine”: films, as well as television shows, that self-consciously invite us to reflect on the conventions of genre itself. Is it parody, or is it more? Paul Popescu and Dayton Martindale examine why it might be good to take our new meta-cine.

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Autobiographical Comedy: The Good Kind of Reality TV

Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., Mindy Kaling: Notice any similarities? We do too. As creators and stars of television shows modeled after their own lives, today’s comedy heavyweights suggest there might be some truth to the old maxim: write what you know. Of course, television comedies that straddle the gap between fiction and autobiography have been around for a while (our favorites: The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, The Cosby Show). But in the past few decades and in recent years especially, an unusually high number of America’s best-loved and most syndicated shows have drawn heavily on the real life experiences of their creators. Below, we take a look at some different ways the writers of these shows have managed to turn personal foibles into comedic fodder.

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Nashville and My Achy, Breaky Heart: A Review of the First Half of Season 2

It pains me to have to write this. I have staked my reputation on ABC’s Nashville being a good, enjoyable show. In many a gathering of sophisticated, cultured folk I have loudly proclaimed its virtues, defended its honor, called it “great,” called it “smart,” called it “worth watching.” But as season two of Nashville comes out of its midway hiatus I’m no longer so sure it’s worth even that, and I’m so sad, and I’m so sorry.

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The Returned, Best in (TV) Show 2013

 What’s the highest rated TV show on MetaCritic this season? The answer may surprise you. With an impressive score of 92%, Les Revenants, Canal+ and Music Box Film’s French supernatural drama chronicling the resurrection of the deceased residents of an alpine town, takes the crown. Christened The Returned in its English incarnation, the series completed its first season on the Sundance Channel on December 19. And while it may not be the greatest season of any show I’ve ever seen, The Returned is compelling, fresh, and continues to ask us subtly intriguing questions that make us— well, return.

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The Buffer Predicts: Oscar Nominations 2014

Thursday, January 16, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces this year’s Oscar nominations, and Buffer writers Amy Solomon and Zach Saldacher are as excited as can be. They were thrilled to prioritize Oscar betting above homework, so they have spent their valuable time compiling their nominee predictions. See their lists and reactions to each other’s predictions below.

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Downton Abbey Season 4: Post-War Time and the Lovin’ is Easy

How do you move on after your greatest joy in life is gone? How does a hit show follow up a season that had one of the most devastating finales in television history? This past Sunday, American audiences of the British period drama television series Downton Abbey tuned into the season four premiere with record numbers, in an attempt to find the answers to these very questions. While most of us west of the Atlantic have to conform to PBS’s schedule and learn about the future of the Crawley family piecemeal, I was lucky enough to have a friend studying abroad last semester get me the BBC’s DVD release. I endured a binge-watching session spanning two days, and (after ingesting six months of storyline) a recovery period of a few more days, just to give you, dear Downton fans, a brief glimpse into what the next few months has in store for our beloved characters. Minor spoilers lie ahead, so proceed at your own risk!

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Korra Takes a Midseason Detour de Force in “Beginnings”

Avatar Korra is a frustrating character, which is part of what makes The Legend of Korra a frustrating show. The show’s original release sounded like a godsend: brand new adventures set in the same world as Nickelodeon’s superb mid-2000s fantasy series Avatar: The Last Airbender?—count me in! Yet the story of the next Avatar has largely failed to live up to Airbender’s legacy. That’s not to say it’s a bad show; the first season successfully expanded on the original series’ themes of moral complexity, and the central conflict over equality between benders and non-benders made Korra far more than just an empty dose of nostalgia. But the fault lies with the characters: whereas Aang, Katara, and Sokka were a pleasure to hang out with in Airbender, Korra and her friends, despite being slightly older, are somehow less relatable. These teenaged leads range from boring to angsty to annoying to stubborn. Frankly, they can be kind of a drag to watch.

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S.H.I.E.L.D. of Dreams

Imagine you had the chance to meet your idol. Would you do it? Reality can never live up to the workings of a worshipful imagination, and I for one would be terrified of a personal encounter with any of my heroes. But in a world populated by literal superheroes, how should society function? Do we treat them as celebrities, powerful people who are actually “just like us,” or is it better to keep these oddities – caped crusaders and monsters alike – a secret from the world?

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More Questions than Answers

“It’s simple now. Just like we used to read about. You’re the bad guy. And I’m the hero,” yells Michael Peterson (J. August Richards)—the latest “superhero” that S.H.I.E.L.D identifies—before he bashes in his innocent foreman’s head with a gas tank. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which debuted on ABC on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013 to over twelve million viewers, is not as clear-cut as good and evil.

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Dexter: A Tale of Two Shots

Dexter’s series finale may be titled Remember the Monsters, but it is hard to scavenge anything resembling the good ol’ days in the hollow carcass that Showtime’s fixture has become. And while we’re being honest with each other, I was so thoroughly disturbed by Dexter’s ending that I felt the need to draw its last shot (see above)—and only when I had finished did I realize the problem.

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