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An illustration photo shows the logo of Netflix the American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media in Paris

photo courtesy of Reuters

The past few weeks have seen a rise in the cancellation of Netflix shows –from the extremely expensive The Get Down to the deeply dull Bloodline. Some have wondered whether this is a sign of the cracks in Netflix’s facade showing or the streaming content bubble finally bursting but for Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, this is only the beginning of Netflix establishing itself as a real media network.

“What really matters is I hope our hit ratio is way too high right now… we’ve canceled very few shows.” Hastings said to CNBC anchor, Julia Boorstin, about the company. “I’m always pushing the content team: ‘We have to take more risk, you have to try more crazy things. Because we should have a higher cancel rate overall.’”

Rather than looking at cancellation as a negative, Hastings has decided it’s proof of the company’s success and that he hopes to have many more cancelled programs for its library soon. Considering this and Netflix’s penchant for throwing ridiculous amounts of money at creators, here are a few show ideas for Netflix to green light and most likely cancel in the near future:

The New Testament:

Fantasy shows are all the rage and–with Game of Thrones going off the air soon–it’s time to find a replacement series. What better than to take it back to the original: the story of Jesus Christ, this time with that prestige television filter that all the people love these days. The last supper, the temptation of Christ by the Satan snake (I think that’s what happens), walking on water, the betrayal by Judas; these are all ripe ideas perfect for an hour-long overly drab and superficial television drama. It won’t make it past the first season if the Christians of America have anything to say about it.

Bad Boy Motivation:

Sean “Puffy” Combs aka Puff Daddy aka P Diddy is one of the greatest and volatile personalities out there and it is honestly motivating every time. No person has learned the art of berating greatness out of people except for him (just watch both seasons of Making The Band). I say fly Puff out to various places in America and have him give the Glengarry Glen Ross Alec Baldwin type speech to different unions, small companies, high school football teams or disgruntled rap groups. It’s inspirational to see common people achieve goals and it’s hilarious and a little uncomfortable to watch Puff Daddy yell at you because you took  a nap instead of trying to hustle for a few more minutes longer.

Freelancers!:

If you want a show that will be canceled quickly then how about a half-hour comedy about the world of freelance creatives. Casting a bunch of attractive young people who don’t get enough jobs a month to afford the ridiculously spacious apartment they occupy in Brooklyn is sure to bore many and piss off the people who actually freelance for a living. There will be incredible episodes such as the one where everybody is still waiting for a paycheck from a job they did 6 months ago or the one where they go to networking events for free food and to hopefully meet someone who can give them an actual job in media; there’s also my personal favorite: the one where they contemplate quitting and seeing if they can get an office job. This show will be doomed from the very start.

Give Lars Von Trier a show:

The recent Twin Peaks revival is notable not just for being a return back to a show that the world fell in love with 25 years ago but also because the new series is pure, uncut David Lynch. To see a David Lynch project free of oversight, notes and restrictions has been both maddening and exhilarating but it should also open the door for other directors to have that same opportunity. And since Netflix is now in the bold chances department, what would be a bolder chance than letting director and possible crazy person Lars Von Trier having free reign to make whatever he wants. It will almost sure be controversial, self-indulgent, insane, disturbing and will have people talking. It’s a win-win where Netflix gets to say they did something brave and they got to up their cancellation numbers.

Spend Netflix’s Money:

Ok so here me out: we get a host right, let’s just call him me. We give me a camera crew and a briefcase of an undisclosed ridiculous amount of money and it is my job to spend it all in under 48 hours. If The Get Down and Marco Polo are any indication, Netflix has no problem spending insane amounts of money on nonsense so let’s cut the middle man. Maybe I’ll go to Vegas and bet the entire thing on one game of Craps, maybe I’ll rent out a football stadium and throw a kegger or maybe I’ll pay for billboards for Planned Parenthood in red states; who knows, the sky’s the limit and it will almost surely make everyone reconsider everything that lead to this show existing –including Netflix’s desire to actually cancel shows rather than just financing good and sensible programs.

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Broad City is my favorite comedy right now next to Archer and Veep. It is the most consistently funny, irreverent and well-paced show. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are an incredibly talented duo. Talking about Broad City on the internet doesn’t seem to be as frequent as it was last season when it was being posited and upheld as the anti-Girls, and it was something new and fresh to an ecosystem that’s always looking to grind their teeth into new and fresh things to suck out anything worth turning into free content and meaningless discourse. While the second season has surpassed the first in quality and laughs, it’s lost that new show smell and, like most sitcoms, the stakes aren’t high enough to encourage devout appointment viewing; so it’s now phased into a second mode as just a solid, consistent show with a cult following and a number of people who catch it later.

The most fascinating aspect of Broad City to me is something I didn’t even pay attention to at first. There’s understood freeness in the world created by this show, most visibly in Ilana. At the beginning of the series, Ilana was romantically involved with Franklin–played by Hannibal Burress–but he was never explicitly her boyfriend and throughout the series, Ilana dates and hooks up and flirts and is open about her sexuality in a positive and affirming way. Franklin comes out whenever the show feels like using him but he’s not postured as a traditional romantic lead. It’s a quietly wonderful thing and even better, it’s never openly dealt with. It’s all just understood that this is who Ilana is and there’s no need to rationalize or justify this behavior: it just is what it is.

Abbi serves a purpose as the proto-straight woman. She’s a class A fuck up in a recognizable way. You root for her to get a training class at the gym she works at, or to find a new apartment or to hook up with some new weird dude or even just to make it through an episode unscathed. It doesn’t really rely on narcissism or sourness as code for complex in a way that shows up in a Girls. These two just co-exist together and try to make each day a success in whatever way they choose to define it each episode. There’s freedom in defining success on your own terms.

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The Scary Black Chronicles is a new column that takes a comedic and introspective look on stereotypes, assumptions and preconceived notions. It’s all about open minds and understanding why we think the way we do and getting over these notions. Enjoy.

Here’s the thing about walking in a public place by yourself: it’s kind of scary. Not in a frightening, cover-your-eyes way, just in a… be aware of your surroundings way. So I get the impulse not to trust people walking behind you–I do it myself. With that being said, it’s kind of funny to look at people and notice their behavior in these situations. They’ll usually give you the “slightly behind the shoulder” stare to make sure you don’t make any moves; this is fine, as I said I do it too but there’s always a tinge of racially charged emotions when it’s done to me no matter who’s doing it (there’s a good chance it’s the same reverse). The worse though is the lane shift. Dude, unless you have no trust in your heart at all, you can’t even pretend that’s not racist. I won’t stop you from doing it though, at the end of the day most folks will do what they think is necessary to survive, I secretly just pretend you feel really bad about it afterwards (but I’m glass half-full at heart y’know).
When I first moved to DC I stayed just outside of the hood in northeast where I abused this act too many times. Even when I didn’t hear footsteps I still looked back every minute almost. It kind of sucks not trusting people who look like you but, before race comes into the picture we’re people– and people have always been and always will be shitty-besides, I was an out-of-towner. Nobody knew me therefore I didn’t really register with them.
The latest commitment of this act took place today at my job where an older white woman was walking in front of me as I was headed back to my cubicle. First of all, I will admit that I was probably closer than I should’ve been to her, so that probably made it more awkward. She did the quick turn around to see who’s there followed by the awkward courtesy hello. For the record, I still haven’t decided if that makes things better or worse; it’s just kinda like going “hey! Just checking you out strange person behind me. Let me be nice in order to see if you are a nice person.” This is all well and good. The thing is though is that we work in a federal building, with cameras everywhere. I’d like to think that if I was a criminal, I wouldn’t be dumb enough to commit a crime in a federal office. But as I pointed out it, it’s human nature. We’re always on guard and reactionary–plus for a woman it must be doubly so. I’m sure my race plays into it (you don’t have to watch the local news for 10 minutes to know why), but I learned long ago not to take things personally.

 

 

 

 

I find Girls to be a pretty enjoyable show. The idea that it’s such a polarizing program is mostly laughable. There’s nothing really “offensive” about it–the lives of over-privileged white girls slumming it because their parents won’t give them more money, that’s a pretty damn safe premise.  Most of the vitriol (and praise) it is just a tad unnecessary.

Calling it one of the best new shows on television doesn’t really say much (I mean it’s closest competition is probably Veep) and calling it a “great” show seems a bit much. As I stated before, it’s enjoyable–it even has moments of greatness–but it always struck me a show just shy of being a favorite of mine. Something about the construction of the show doesn’t click with me enough–and it isn’t because I don’t relate to it, I don’t give a shit about that–I think I just find it hard to care about Lena Dunham’s “Hanna” character.

The detractors of the show, while making some valid points, go just as overboard. If you don’t like a show that’s fine; entertainment is subjective and people have opinions. The idea that this show deserves some sort of special hatred pedestal is ridiculous. As far as the whole “no ethnic people” issue, well here’s the thing: the criticism is deserved but let’s not forget that this is a show about over-privileged white girls written by an over-privileged white girl. She’s writing what she knows, and while she herself admits that there is a level of responsibility to reflect reality, it seems to me that the New York of Girls is just another reflection of a life she’s led. That’s not to say she doesn’t know any black people, that’s just to imply that it’s probably a limited experience.

With that being said, much like with The Walking Dead, I will be tuned in to the new season. Hoping that this likable show becomes lovable and that the characterizations get a little better than they were in season 1. Here’s hoping.

When it comes to spoofs and sending up tropes, few are as talented at it as Matt Stone and Trey Parker. The duo behind South Park, Baseketball, and Team America: World Police, are skilled at taking whatever society is praising or being warped by this week and completely shitting all over it. With Team America, the two of them, along with South Park writing partner Pam Brady, go after the post-9/11 landscape of a country trying to “police the world” and the critics and defenders these actions came with.

Released in 2004, Team America World Police is a marionette starring satire of big budget action movies and a reflection of the global politics taking place at the time. The story follows the escapades of a team of paramilitary policemen attempting to save the world from terrorist attacks and often causing more damage  then preventing. When the team loses their fourth member, Carson, the team scrambles to replace him by hiring an actor named Gary to infiltrate the terrorist homebase and find out where they’re keeping WMDs.

Team America is quick-witted and sharp in its deconstruction of the action movie while poking fun at both the pro-America and peace & understanding rhetorics that were heavy at the time. From the fake music scores permeating throughout to the by-the-numbers action film structure it abides by, Team America tackles every joke it can make. The marionettes themselves, while carefully designed and structured, always make sure to never let you forget that they’re still puppets.

Revisiting the movie, I’m instantly reminded of America in 2004. While it is indeed a movie very much of its time (the appearance of Kim Jong-Il is dated enough already), for the most part it acts as a capsule of that time.  I remember vividly how “controversial” it was because of the puppet-on-puppet sex scene and it’s amusing to watch it now and think that the MPAA had a stick up its ass over something as silly as that. What has stuck with me the most is the original music made by Matt and Trey, who have an uncanny ability to make great–and hilarious–music. “America: Fuck Yea!”, “What Would You Do?” or even the one about how Pearl Harbor sucked (which it did) are all just as good as some of the best songs to come out of South Park, and they’ll probably be stuck in my head for next month after this past rewatch of the film.

Team America: World Police works as a film because it never tries to take itself seriously, yet there is still love and affection given to its team of well-meaning yet sometimes counterproductive secret agency. In pure Matt & Trey fashion it, of course, comes with a lesson (a lesson expressed through a dick-pussy-asshole metaphor); is it the most agreeable thing in the world? Probably not. But that’s not what’s important, what is important is that Team America tries to make the case that those pro-war  advocates are just as necessary as the anti-war brigade and that the two groups need each other. Team America is crue and ridiculous but most of all it is hilarious and well worth seeking out or enjoying again.

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