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Community - I gotta say, Abed's last  scene squicked me out pretty hard. I was just soooo embarassed for him there, and not in the good, think-about-these-things way. Just cringing.

Big Bang Theory - that was...dry. Sheldon's plot was ambitious, though Howard is the one that made it work. The other one was just kind of terrible. Never do earnestness, TBBT, it doesn't suit you and you don't need it.
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Ideal weekend: rain, books, tea, and geek comedy ftw. Tons of schoolwork, maybe less ideal, but some of it is actually really interesting.

(I went on a bureacuratic treasure hunt through the university and managed to sign up for an "introduction to lit theory" class, ("But why?" Lit department. "It sounds really interesting," I say. "You understand it's theory, yes? Just...theory.") and it's honest to god making me giddy. I'm sitting there in class while the prof explains the breaking of genre in Thelma and Louise and literally bouncing up and down a little. Structuralism! OMG, structuralism. Where has this been all my life?)

Anyway, ahem,

Community was pretty good, though on-the-nose social satire might not be their strongest suit. Read more... )

Interestingly meta episode from TBBT, which usually isn't meta in the slightest. Not as bleak as last week, but it had it's moments.

I got into an interesting argument elsewhere about which show is more politically progressive, and I really do have to go with TBBT, even though that maybe makes me insane. Community simply embraces a kind of post-modern fantasy of progressivism, you know? Both shows think the world is fucked and are critical of it, but Community creates an escape, while TBBT admits its power.

Characters on Community do escape, but into this fantasy world. (Community is at it's most interesting, I think, when it suddenly looks in the mirror and admits that Greendale isn't real life. But then it shies away from that again.) One that is properly racially diverse and celebrates education, growth and the ability of good friends and can-do spirit to get you through anything. TBBT has a bunch of people trying to do that, and failing. Dismally, pathetically and gracelessly, to an intrusive laughtrack and embarrassing jokes. (I find that hearbreaking and clear- eyed, but I see why it's not everyone's idea of a good time.)

It's just my usual argument about finding any kind of story that merely gets representation right more than a little politically tepid. Just because your show/book/whatever is wonderfully sensitive and inclusive of race/gender/orientation/etc, doesn't make it actively progressive, merely tolerable. (For example, Meljean Brooks books or even Brooklyn 99, at it's worst.) It can even obscure, rather than expose, the underlying structures of oppression.

I get that "exposing structures of oppression" might not be everyone's idea of a useful thing for a sitcom or a romance novel to do, but we're actually quite happy being super-critical of representation in precisely the most popular, omni-present sort of media. I really don't know which is more politically effective - the cynical exposure of misery or the presentation of a hopeful alternative.

It's very possible that the work the latter does, with the normalization of gay characters or women in the workplace or whatever else these things have contributed to has been more socially worthwhile. But as art, I prefer something like Scandal or The Big Bang Theory, or even Remington Steele, that subvert the post-modern progressive ideal by having it crash up against good old human folly and weakness. Showing the characters trapped in their socially curated needs to fit in, to be loved, to feel cool, strikes me as more interesting and more powerful than showing the people who've magically escaped.

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God help me, I watch a lot of tv.

ok, I may ship Duncan/Britta a little. IDEK. Community )

There's my bleak, undignified, human-condition examining show again! Who's a good weird little sitcom? The Big Bang Theory )

I seem to be in a minority that saw the Boyle/Diaz stuff here as being shippy again?
Brooklyn 99 )

I haven't liked this season much, but Abbie is bringing out the worst in Jess and the worst in Schmidt and i'm kind of into that. New Girl )

Not a lot to say, except how much do I love that Sally really is this raging zealot and a cynical ambitious politician all at the same time? So much. Scandal )
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Oh, New Girl, how did you get so boring?

Fantastic Community episode, though Abed at standard unfeeling tv-autism robot guy was shallow. Other characters had some nice moments though.

Mom was astonishingly unfunny, but it didn't even seem to be trying. Just piling on indignity after indignity to portray the petty indignities of being working class. Not sure if it's quite working here the way it has worked in other episodes - it seemed a little too self aware of what it was doing. "Maybe people do change." / "Maybe they don't." Well, duh. The episode never allowed it as an option to fail - there was never any possible doubt that the roof would be fixed. (Luke and Baxter kind of going through the complete constellation of tv masculinity in one conversation - fixing things, being immature, being fathers, blaming fathers - was oddly interesting however.)
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Half my reading-list seemed to mention what a great night's sleep they'd had when I read it this morning. Then I looked at the time and noticed it was actually 3 pm and that I had slept 12 hours. What the hell?

I don't have anything much on either Community or Big Bang, except that both episodes seemed strangely emblematic of their respective shows - Community was surreal and over-the-top and larger than life, messing with the fourth wall and weaving something that manages to feel almost epic in 20 minutes. (Hah, Hannibal is absurd, thank you!) Big Bang Theory was it's inverse, telling small, still stories about failure and alienation and boredom and frustration, with no resolution or solutions.
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There we go, perfect contrast-and-compare geek comedy Friday morning. And a lot of tea. I have missed you!

I know it isn't fashionable, but I really enjoy both Community and TBBT. One is a pleasant, fun bit of fluff that makes me feel good about myself and the world and delivers a few laughs, and the other is a dark, challenging, often deeply subversive and empathetic show that uses laughter to create tragedy.

Community, of course, is the fluffy one. I wasn't madly, utterly in love, but that was fun. The second episode was better than the first, mostly for bringing back my favorite aspects of Community in spades - that Gormenghastian quality that Greendale has. My favorite episodes of Community always give the sense that this place is almost a portal fantasy, that it can contain anything, any potentiality. Nothing is too wild, too improbable, and yet it operates on a strange, inscrutable yet consistent logic of it's own. It almost has a certain grandeur, something kind of epic.

In the repilot episode things felt a little...well, pedantic. Too ordinary, too small, too self-referential and tangled up in itself. The second episode, on the other hand, had so many of those touches of through-the-looking-glass common sense. Yes, of course the Dean is trying to fix everything by learning excel. Of course his thoughts are in a mournful French singing. (my favorite bit.) Of course it's possible to start a riot at Greendale with one comment. Of course there's a class about Nicholas Cage, and of course it can drive a person mad. That's the Community I love.

Big Bang was...what was that? I often feel like i'm reaching for the notion it has a really dark subtext, but that was just text. Giant red blinking neon text. I laughed in place the laughtrack didn't, for heaven's sake. After six and half seasons, the show finally took Penny, for the first time, to that uncomfortable, exposed, failure place that it usually reserves for everyone else. BBT has had other pretty dark episodes before, but never anything so explicit, or, in a way, so kind. For once, humiliation wasn't meant to also be funny.

Maybe it's because, up to now, Penny was still the character that illuminated everyone else's problems. She was a visitor from some far off, more merciful land where quirks are endearing and failure is just something that makes friendships stronger. (Maybe that community college she's never graduated is actually Greendale.) No longer. This is the episode that makes her a native. She hates where she's at and she can't move, because she knows she can't do anything else. Through here own choices and decisions, here she is and she has to live with it, even as it crushes her self-esteem and self-respect day by tedious day. Something that had been a mildly insulting running gag is flipped on it's ear and becomes horribly serious, is revealed to have always been horribly serious and deliberately insulting, hiding and festering and turning into a great, gangrenous wound under the laughter.

...I'm going to finish that really, really long Community vs. Big Bang through the prism of Ender's Game essay some day. I really am.
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Finish essay in urbanization. Finish fic for fandom stocking. Tea. Not all necessarily in that order. Sleep.

Minor under-the-weatherness from yesterday appears to be something more substantial. Goddammit.

Notes from Community Season 4 rewatch, mostly kinda critical:

Read more... )
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In this week's random-watching-while-pretending-to-study....

I think it's possible I haven't seen this since it aired? I didn't remember a lot, whereas I'm pretty sure I can quote half of seasons 1-2 word for word. I think it largely keep up the quality, with plenty of over-the-top concept episodes (even if it doesn't quite reach the heights of my faves, most of which are season 2, but I think that's mostly idiosyncratic happenstance rather than a specific mark of quality) and a few nice, deconstructive ones. I particularly like the two Todd episodes, which show the group as unapolagetic assholes.

That said, I think it's clear Community either doesn't care for, or just plain sucks at any kind of character progression. They established these guys way back in the pilot - vain ex-lawyer, wannabe activist, etc - and by and large they're just about complex enough to make the occasional interesting character-based story. (On the other hand, sometimes they can just be wildly erratic from episode to episode as serves the story, particularly Abed - he will be barely capable of functioning in adult society in one episode, and totally cool and subversively insightful in the next.) Change thought? All the arcs, such as they were, made me wince. Troy/Britta I actually noticed, in retrospect (I absolutely did not when I watched it the first time) but it's still pretty much established by fiat. Pierce's plot with his father, Jeff's plot with his father, Jeff/Annie, Troy's Air Conditioner subplot (I liked the gags associated with the air conditioner people, just not the actual story)...all kind of go nowhere, except to make me uncomfortable watching, for some reason.

I consistently really enjoyed Chang and the Dean though, as both of them drive themselves insane at various points. (I kind of have a kink for that.) I think it helps have a little space away from the group too, since if they're not willing to mix up the dynamics or introduce real change, plots that are too group-centric can fall into an easy rut where everything is happily resolved at the end with a magic Jeff speech, which become more and more annoying.

In other news, the new kindle showed up, which means I can take public transportation again without hating myself at the end of every attempt to navigate the city because I'm never going to get those hours of my life back. (Jerusalem has really frustratingly inefficient public transport. If I don't have something to read, and can't arrive at destination telling myself, 'hey, at least I read 600 kindle-blobs of this here book,' I will just spend the whole trip increasingly furious at how fucking dumb this all is and how dumb I am for putting up with it. And there are no short public transport trips in this town, so that's a lot of accumulated low grade rage. And it's kind of a rage inducing place in the first place.)
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I liked Big Bang Theory more then Community this week, which is disheartening. OTOH, it was a very good BBT (Shamy OTP FTW. They're honestly one of the most viciously interesting things I can think of on tv. Just the sheer awkwardness. It's so romantic,) but...but...but...this a Community finale, man. I don't even know whether I want another season or not. Can they redeem themselves? Turn this around! Unless they can't? Do I want to watch that? Can I bring myself not to watch that? Oh, Community.
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God knows I want to like this more than I do, but I don't.Orphan Black 1.5 )

I can watch Sheldon and Amy all day. I'm sad like that. I think they're like one of the most romantic TV ships i've ever seen in my life. Big Bang Theory 6.21 )

This was kind of weird for me. It's possible that I just do not get it. Community 4.11 )


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May 2017

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