opusculasedfera: stack of books, with a mug of tea on top (Default)
[personal profile] opusculasedfera
I watched all the Brooklyn Nine-Nine that exists so far in about two days, so it's that kind of good. I am interested in the fact that it doesn't hit my giant embarrassment squick anything like as badly as it could have, despite being the story of a bunch of people who are very, very interested in embarrassing each other. This confuses me! Even Benton Fraser's refusal to be embarrassed by anything he did didn't always prevent me from cringing on his behalf! But everyone is so good at taking on the embarrassment, clearly hating it, and then moving the fuck on while actively demonstrating that there aren't consequences beyond people being a pain in the ass.

On a more general note, as everyone has already said, the show does a good job having a decently diverse bunch of cops who generally don't get to do horrifically illegal things on a whim. Being too cool for paperwork is an issue that fucks you over, even if paperwork is boring. You have to do just as many extremely boring cases as you do exciting ones, and it's all important work.

I could do with less Peralta, it's definitely not deconstructing the white cisdude=protagonist trope anything like as well as Community does, but at least there's a reasonable amount of screentime for all the other characters, who I mostly adore. I still think he wins just a smidge too often to get away with the shit he pulls, but at least he does get called out sometimes. Everyone else is pretty delightful (or if they're awful, usually the writers clearly agree), which does make up for it some.

I don't know if I could be fannish about it, but I could do with a regular 20mins of fluffy tv that generally doesn't make me angry.


Finished Dawn French's memoir, Dear Fatty*. Not a surprise that she's funny and charming and delightful, but I was particularly struck by her ability to tell funny stories about inexperienced sex had with entirely the wrong person in a way that was both humourous and not so caught up in making it funny that it sounds like she's never had mutually enjoyable sex in her life, which is an astonishingly rare skill in published autobiographical writing, for reasons I've never been able to fathom. Of course, there are also lots of fantastic showbiz stories and amusing family ones (and some sad family ones, told affectingly), and in general, recommended.

*Fatty=Jennifer Saunders, her comedy partner, and is an affectionate and consensual nickname. Not a book at all about weight issues, if that's a concern for you!

Date: 2014-03-16 04:27 pm (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Yay, more B99 fans! Talk to me! I have a few (microscopic) mostly character-centric issues with it, but I love the atmosphere and the jokes at the expense of cop show tropes. It's really a breath of fresh air with that.

Date: 2014-03-17 05:59 am (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Yes, I totally love how it pokes away at the melodrama of cop shows, with the run of the mill and even goofy cases, but also serious stuff. And the the characters issues aren't particularly rooted in the oh-god-drama! of Being A Cop. Peralta is kind of a mess because he's kind of a mess, that's all. (I would really love more shows like that, that balance having their own story with nice satirical elements, but I can't think of many. At most there's stuff like Community which will send up something else every week.)

My issues - they really aren't anything, just me kinda going "huh" - is mostly around the way the show sometimes uses approval of Holt's gayness as a shorthand for characterizing Peralta as a good guy, (which is part of a kind of liberalism that it has that I find too sentimental, preaching to the choir. The multicultural thanksgiving dinner elicited a lot of eyerolls in particular. But that's assuming the show is trying to get across any kind of politics consciously, which it's possible it actually thinks it isn't - I'm just weird about these things.)

Date: 2014-03-18 05:28 pm (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Thank you! I've been wondering if i'm crazy, because the show is so obviously soooo progressive, but that self-congradulatory quality is there, damn it, and it is just a little counterproductive. I'm not sure, vis Peralta, weather it's being used strictly to do the work of more complex characterization, or just to toggle viewer-sympathy for an otherwise irritating character (ie, is his problem, under the liberalism, that he's boring, or that he's obnoxious? Or both?) but it's a crutch either way.

It also really bugs me that Santiago is constantly left out in the cold, re all the mentoring and father-figuring and all that that she's looking for. There is something funny there, but there's also an insidious political truth that that kind of subtle, often genuinely unintentional boy's club stuff where men will get that little bit extra attention, extra push, extra criticism, even, is still part of the glass ceiling, so the fact that this particular humor is falling on her makes me a little uncomfortable.

If I suspected that the show was actually going somewhere with it, that I was supposed to feel uncomfortable for Santiago here, that would be different, but that doesn't seem to be the case. It's just funny that she really wants something...and doesn't get it, there just doesn't seem to be an extra layer of pathos there, the way a more biting comedy might be able to pull off and twist that around into something subversive rather than just awkward.

...that was probably too much about B99.

Date: 2014-03-18 07:27 pm (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Yeah, that extra layer of goofiness with Peralta is just a step too far. Tub of Mail in that one was really funny, solidly comedic, solidly in the realm of the absurd - but still a sort of good metaphor of that kind of young adult irresponsibility and procrastination and what a chore it is to deal with grown up bills and how good it would feel to just dump it all in a bathtub. That hit home for me, both as humor and as characterization. Him just being an idiot and buying stupid stuff is just...stupid. That also bugs me about the show, that sometimes it just gets lazy - it wouldn't bother me so much if it wasn't much better when it isn't lazy.

I do quite like the kind of meta-narrative aspect of Santiago's view of Holt. Just like Peralta, she's kind of projecting a narrative onto him. For Peralta, he's the tough boss who will teach him much even as he learns to appreciate Peralt's unorthodox ways, and for Santiago, he's this idealized figure who'll finally validate her and the seriousness she brings to the job, spot the diamond in the rough that she is and help her grow into herself and all that.

The problem is that Santiago's tropey narrative keeps getting undercut, but Peralta's doesn't. Every time it seems like the show will go there, it pulls back and Peralta does get to be lovably roughish (or at least that's the way it's meant to seem, I guess. Usually he's made some basic not-homophobic statement and that's that,) while Santiago just keeps getting deconstructed and deconstructed, and that's not fair.

Date: 2014-03-19 07:36 am (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
I think on Santiago in particular it goes right back to the point about self-congradulatory progressivism. They would have to let that go a little to make any kind of point that hit home about Santiago-Holt, because there is context to her perfectionism and eagerness, and there is context to that idealized-mentor she has in her head. She didn't make him up out of whole cloth, she made him up out of cop shows and commercials and books and everything Peralta made up his boyish-wonder-detective/mentor story from.

What it says about them that she's gravitated to her particular narrative, what it says about the kind of person they are, but also what kind of background they're coming from and what expectations they have, and why a white guy easily casts himself in one type of story but a Latina woman into another and so on...It's frustrating, because it looks like it's right on the show's tongue, so to speak. The setup is there, but they keep backing off from being genuinely progressive in favour of a tepid bubble-universe liberalism. This is perfectly ripe comedy stuff, and it doesn't need much. One or two jokes that point out that race and gender do matter rather than revelling in the fact that in B99-land, they don't...grrr.

I was talking to someone about the show Mom, and oddly enough they also brought up B99 as a countepoint. Mom is a weird, bitter, often flat out ugly show, nothing like B99, but it also wears class and gender politics on a giant flashing neon sign on its head, and it's all the more effective for being willing to be ugly and bitter. It gives it a bite - with much less stylishness and sophistication (phenomenal acting though. Someone knew exactly what they were doing when they cast Allison Janney in a sitcom) - that makes B99 look like "a hipster fantasy."


...and I'm off to watch the new episode now. :-) I swear I do really like this show. I wouldn't want to talk about it if I didn't.

Date: 2014-03-19 04:34 pm (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Right! The show *is* progressive with having Holt, Santiago and all, and having the not-straight-white-guys making up a large and important part of the show. The way to do more progressivism is to give them more attention and centrality, make them more complex and give them more stories, NOT by focusing on how progressive Peralta's attitude to them is.


Mom...is an odd duck. It's a Chuck Lorre show (of Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men) and it's very conspicuously unsophisticated and unprogressive in the way B99 very conspicuously is - loud laugh track, multi-cam, very traditional sitcom look and setting...bus it's also really startlingly very political and really, really dark.

It's got Anna Faris as a recovering alcoholic single mom, and her relationship with Allison Janney as her also recovering alcoholic mother. Both of them were teenage moms, both of them have deeply damaged relationships with their daughters that they're all grudgingly trying to fix. Both the show and the characters are very conscious of the cycles they're in, but breaking them is a huge struggle that they've all almost given up on.

Sometimes it looks just wildly schizophrenic, bouncing back and forth between crude, cringey physical humor and bathroom and sex jokes, to totally heartbreaking moments when it tackles one of the serious issues, but I think there's a method to the madness there (that admittedly hasn't quite gelled yet.) I think it's subversive precisely it allows itself to have this layer of bitterness and ugliness, and it lets them stand there and get the egg on their face, indignity after indignity piling on and reveling in how uncomfortable its own laughter becomes.

(I honestly think sometimes it's a deliberate tactic on the writer's part, using the laugh track against the viewer, trying to generate not laughter at pain but the awareness that laughter at pain is possible, for good and bad. It definitely used it deliberately in the last episode, where the rhythm of joke-laugh-joke-laugh suddenly broke with a missing laugh and gave a real punch to one line.)

And there's also a lot of class/work/money stuff and it's light on the shippiness, and it's almost entirely female.
Edited Date: 2014-03-19 04:35 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-19 09:47 pm (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Me too! It got a second season, which i'm happy about. It strikes me as very much an experiment, this degree of dichotomy between overt genre and subject matter (stuff like Orange is the New Black is comedic too, but it's a much more winking, sophisticated sort of comedy. Mom has the stylings and attitude of a lost episode of Married With Children) and I want to see how it plays out.

It seems very possible that even with the best intentions this is just an inappropriate mismatch and nothing of political or emotional interest can come of it. However, Big Bang Theory (which never seems to have had that sort of ambition to start with) really did build to some very intimate, very subversive stories that I love, so I'm willing to see where Mom goes even if it's still fumbling to figure out exactly how it's getting there. Plus, I just like the weirdness of the attempt. There's something quixotic to it.

And, yeah, it is about as embarrassing as anything ever (I think BBT kind of blew all my embarrassment fuses, because I identify more with those characters, so the more abstract embarrassment of Mom is effortless at this point) but I feel it uses it to good effect. Anything that can make me uncomfortable is...well, I admire that. And it has toned a lot of the broadest stuff, or pushed it out in favour of more plot and characterization.

Sorry to switch topics like this - it's a very strange little show, with a total, utter, complete lack of coolness, and that seems to mean not a lot of people are talking about it. At least TBBT gets a solid bit of hate :-)

Back to B99 - fiction vs. law making hits the nail on the head here, I think. B99 is coming with the sort of hopeful, aggressively forward, politically correct, can-do attitude I want from my actual politicians and laws. I want the opposite from my fiction - I want it to strip things back and make me feel something about what's wrong, especially when it's me - not to make me feel good about the ways that I'm right. It reminds me of a this interview with a (really liberal) politician I read once, where she proudly said she never read fiction, just non-fiction. It was a waste of time. What could some made up story possibly teach her about anything that matters? And that just sounds...utterly insane to me, and completely wrong. Fiction shows why anything matters.
Edited Date: 2014-03-19 09:58 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-19 10:58 pm (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Lorre may be an acquired taste, to put it mildly. Or require a degree of Stockholm syndrome, I'm not sure anymore. (Trust me, I have spilled a lot of ink trying to figure out my odd adoration for TBBT, :-)

I think that's why B99 is really at it's funniest when it's more of a workplace/environment thing, and focusing on the satire and the procedural elements and funny cases and characters of the precinct. It's like Community that way, I think, which is a very warm and very funny show, but I think sometimes gets a little glassy eyed around the edges when it tries to have deeper character moments, because it's invested too much in surreal shenanigans and it's completely unbelievable that these are real people any more. B99 can do it - scenes like Diaz and Santiago at that suburban police department at one point was great. It doesn't have to be Bertolt Brecht, just think your characters through like they exist in the real world just a little.

Date: 2014-03-20 06:13 am (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
Yes, one place I have no desire for the show to go at all is into actual issues of police violence/authority/corruption/racism etc. The dry, witty way the show treats the various crimes, even when the crime itself isn't inherently silly, is one of my favorite things about it. I always really enjoy whatever little comment they have for a random passing crook they've just caught. (The Santas everywhere in the Christmas episode just killed me.)

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