American Horror Story Rewatch: Part 2

Just like that, I am done. I can now dip into Apocalypse with a well-rounded understanding of all the characters, and where they cross-over/feature in each season. It’s so Stephen King!

I have absolutely loved my AHS marathon (which didn’t include Cult because that one is still so recent). Here are my thoughts:

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Freak Show

Freak Show starts strong but seems to drag in the last few episodes. Honestly, it could be cut by a couple of those, and the same could be said for the next two seasons as well. Like, we get it – let us live. As with the first two seasons, there’s a lot going on. The addition of Edward Mordrake is fun and it takes away one of the main villains early on (Twisty), leaving the coast clear for Dandy to step in as main psycho. But there’s so much to keep up with that it made my head spin a bit. I have also started to notice a trend for happier endings (for most of the characters) and it’s nice but also not really what I want. I sometimes want the wicked characters to get their comeuppance.

I also don’t really like Sarah Paulson‘s characters (Bette and Dot) in this (really bad FX) and find the addition of Neil Patrick Harris‘ Chester Creb a bit annoying (although it does bring back in the amazing Jamie Brewer). So it’s fun but could be condensed and therefore stronger as a result.

Evan Peters and Jessica Lange are spectacular as per and I really enjoy my attraction to Paul the Illustrated Seal. Frances Conroy and Emma Roberts are a bit wasted though – I prefer Emma when she’s being bitchy.

I did appreciate the tie in to Asylum as we meet Pepper again and then follow her journey to Briarcliffe. It’s sweet and sad but it’s nice to get a little bit of background on this character, who is played wonderfully by Naomi Grossman. We also enjoy a flash of Asylum’s Nazi doctor (James Cromwell) who is directly involved in a very macabre story line featuring Elsa Mars. This says a lot about me but I love the snuff stuff, it’s so horrible and that after all, is why we are here.

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Hotel

Hotel is majestic tbh and maybe my second fave. It is the first AHS without Queen Lange however, but Gaga does a mighty job as The Countess. Highlights here are Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Kathy Bates’ downtrodden Iris, especially when they team up against The Countess for some messy, bloody revenge. Again, this could be cut down a bit but when the setting is as wonderful and The Shining-esque as the Hotel Cortez, who’s really complaining? Evan Peters’ James Marsh is a little OTT but the Devil’s Night episode is magnificent. Lily Rabe is perfect as Aileen Wuornos.

Things that don’t work for me so well are Chloë Sevigny as Alex (she’s so amazing, why can’t AHS use her appropriately?) and I don’t give a damn about the Children of the Corn kids or frankly, serial killer (surprise!) John Lowe. What a dull family! See also: Rudolph Valentino and wife. Zzzzzz.

It is awesome to have Sarah Paulson back as Murder House‘s underused Billie Dean Howard though.

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Roanoke

This one is good because it really plays with structure and tries something new with the reenactment concept. It is also over long and very messy in places. For a time, in the second part when the real life characters and the actors who played them are trapped in the house, I lost the will to live for a while. There are good elements, don’t get me wrong but I didn’t really understand a lot of it – like Gaga’s character Scáthach – who never really comes to fruition and then just sort of peters out.

I still like it though and I particularly love the horrible Polk Family. Adina Porter enters the AHS franchise as the real Lee Harris and I bloody love her. She was amazing in Cult and she’s in the new one too, so yey for that! Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates both deserve to be strung up for their accents though, there’s no excuse.

Until Apocalypse, bitches.

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Weekly Digest – TV Special

Yes, I watch a lot of television, what of it? There’s so much good stuff at the moment, how can I not be regularly getting my fix, it would be rude. Plus, I hate to miss out.

Here’s what I’ve been watching…

The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1

I know, I know – I am criminally behind on this fantastic show but better late then never, right? My friend Helen has been vocal about her love for the show ever since I met her and thankfully, I have finally been able to set aside some time to rinse the first series. (And then text her at every available opportunity to report my thoughts).

Hello June Osborne! For the uninitiated, the IMDB synopsis:

Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.

Elisabeth Moss plays our titular handmaid, currently living with Fred and Serena Joy Waterford, otherwise known as The Commander and wife (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski). There’s a revolution going on behind closed doors but on the surface, women no longer have any power, whatever their social standing – and it’s an incredibly difficult and though-provoking watch.

I’m not going into it too much because I’m only on episode 6 as we speak, and so much has happened. So many shocking and tragic things, and I need to sit with my thoughts for a while. But it is excellent, truly powerful and wonderfully crafted. The cinematography is mind blowing, with such subtle symbolism in even the smallest detail.

And the performances, well they’re all top notch but with stand-outs from Moss, Strahovski, Hereditary’s Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel and beautiful Samira Wiley. No one character is truly good, nor truly bad – just human and trying to survive. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Sharp Objects

A reporter confronts the psychological demons from her past when she returns to her hometown to cover a violent murder.

The HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s INCREDIBLE novel. I’ve been waiting for this for so long and it is fantastic of course, with really quite brilliant casting, in the form of Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson – and it’s made me revisit the book again, which I’m reading in tandem.

Exploring the topics of grief, motherly love, self-harm and mental illness, it’s a brutal but compelling tale of small-town mystery and I am loving every minute, frankly.

Sharp Objects’ central voice, Camille Preaker is a flawed heroine with many mental (and yes, physical) scars and even when she’s not pleasant (which is a lot), you’re on her side. Something Flynn does is write great flawed female characters and she does it damn well (maybe better than anyone).

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Castle Rock

Based on the stories of Stephen King, the series will intertwine characters and themes from the fictional town of Castle Rock.

This is another show I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was announced but I have to say, although the first two episodes opened well (if a little slow), I’m starting to struggle.

I will try to see it through though because there are elements I’m enjoying, not least all the references to some of my favourite Stephen King novels (SK also holds writer credits on the show).

PLUS, it boasts not one but two of my favourite actresses, I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore alumni, Melanie Lynskey and Jane Levy. Also It’s Bill Skarsgård and Moonlight’s André Holland. With a cast like that it can’t be rubbish, can it?

I guess only time with tell…

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And a special mention to this next one, which I’ve been going through the motions with for the last few seasons (the last one of which I can barely recall that much about) – but JUST GOT GOOD AGAIN!

*Spoilers for past seasons*

Orange is the New Black – Season 6

I genuinely feel sometimes that I will never forgive the OITNB makers for the way they played Poussey (who I’m currently watching as Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale, above). And although the last, mostly forgettable series used her death as the catalyst for the prison riot and a larger conversation about the treatment of prisoners within the system, it wasn’t quite as impactful as I’d have liked. I’m not even sure why because looking back there was a lot of action.

Certain characters are always great – looking at you Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) and Red (Kate Mulgrew) but then there are others that are criminally underused. Looking at you Dyanara (Dascha Polanco) and Sophia (Laverne Cox) (IMHO) and I guess it must be hard to give all characters the airtime they deserve but my god can we move away from boring Piper Chapman (admittedly always going to be central since the series is based on her memoirs). But still.

This season, however introduces two great new characters, sisters from Hell Carol and Barb who each run their own wing. While their story is dark as shit, there is joy to be had in two such deliciously bad and bitter rivals as they dominate their environments and promote bloody, petty violence.

*Spoilers*

Stand out strands for me are Taystee’s trial (with devastating results) and the kick ball head to head – while I’ve still got nothing but love for Gloria, Blanca and Suzanne (Uzo Aduba). Can we also give Laura Prepon‘s Vause more to do – because she could be GREAT.

Oh, and Daddy (Vicci Martinez) is very cute indeed.

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What are you watching?

Weekly Digest – TV Special

While avoiding the World Cup and not watching Love Island, I’ve been doing far more intellectually significant things, obviously, such as watching these naked, lying under a fan and eating Wispas.

GLOW – Season 2

Liberty Bell and friends are back in the ring though things are far from plain sailing for any of them. Ruth (Alison Brie) becomes a problem for Sam (Marc Maron) when she gets ideas above her station and directs a really quite good promo video for the GLOWs. She also flirts with a cameraman and tries to rebuild her friendship with Debbie/Liberty (Betty Gilpin), which is easier said than done.

Deb, meanwhile fights for her Producer role (and to be heard as a woman) and is forced to examine the message the GLOWs are sending out to America when it is accused of being too sexy. Meanwhile, Sam struggles with newfound fatherhood and the girls are required to compete with one another to get in the show week on week, which causes friction, who knew.

GLOW is wonderful Technicolor goodness all round – bright, female popcorn viewing and it’s an easy watch, which means a lot on a Sunday afternoon.

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Good Girls

I’m already fully addicted to Good Girls, the Mae Whitman/Retta/Christina Hendricks starring comedy/drama about three mothers struggling to make ends meet. When they knock off a grocery store they could never dream they’d end up on such a roller-coaster ride, inadvertently involved with gangsters and trying to get straight despite every single obstacle that keeps popping up.

Or are they about to go a different way? If Beth’s head for lady boss business has anything to do with I think we have our answer.

The women are amazing, not only dealing with the drama but also their own lives. Beth is working through the aftermath of her husband of 20 years’ affair plus four children; Ruby has a sick daughter and needs to find a way to pay for experimental treatment, while Annie and her daughter Sadie have to face bullying as Sadie works out who she is.

It’s fantasy stuff I suppose but it’s fun and I like fun.

Preacher – Season 3/Luke Cage – Season 2

I’m only one episode in on each other these but so far so good.

Luke (Mike Colter) is a celebrity right now in his neighbourhood and Harlem is abuzz with his heroics. How long will this last and what are Mariah (Alfre Woodard) and her reluctant man toy Shades (Theo Rossi) up to? Meanwhile, Misty Knight (Simone Missick) comes to terms with the loss of her arm (pretty well if the above image is anything to go by) – and something terrible is surely about to happen for Claire (Rosario Dawson) and Luke because they’re so blissfully happy together. I can’t handle it!

While I am quite done with the Marvel Netflix shows, I really enjoyed the last Luke Cage and some of the episodes are directed by some great female directors, including Lucy Liu and Kasi Lemmons. Can’t say cooler than that.

As for Preacher, Jesse (Dominic Cooper) and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) rush to save the life of Tulip (Ruth Negga) as is hangs in the balance. Sadly this requires the assistance of Jesse’s heinous family and some supernatural ju-ju. What could possibly go wrong? I’m delighted we’ve finally got to this point in Preacher, in the graphic novel my favourite parts revolve around the swamp lands and Jesse’s evil grandmother (played by Split‘s Betty Buckley). So consider me sitting here with high hopes.

What are you watching?

Dietland

*The first 3 episodes*

I want to talk about the TV adaptation of one of my favourite books in recent years (and apparently, my Book of 2016) – Dietland. It’s just started airing in the US and thankfully also on Amazon Prime – which is the greatest weekly treat. The first three episodes are up now and so far so good.

IMDB Synopsis

Plum Kettle is a ghostwriter for the editor of one of New York’s hottest fashion magazines. Struggling with self-image and fed up with how she’s treated by her boss and society, Plum sets out on a wildly complicated road to self-awakening. At the same time, everyone is buzzing over news reports about men, accused of sexual abuse and assault, who are disappearing and meeting untimely, violent deaths.

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My Thoughts So Far

Joy Nash is gorgeous and so likable as Plum – and she’s actually fat! But I can’t help thinking she’s too good-looking and not fat enough – wouldn’t this be even better if she didn’t fit into the ‘beautiful’ ideal at all? (Hate saying anyone isn’t ‘enough’ of anything but hopefully you know what I’m trying to say) – that said she’s so bloody lovely, I want to see her in everything coming up, please.

Julianna Margulies as Kitty Montgomery is PERFECTLY cast – I despise her in every way. What a prize A CUNT

♥ I’d give anything to visit the beauty closet for just one hour – ten minutes, even

♥ It is never tiring to watch abusers get their comeuppance, even when it’s brutal and violent (particularly then)

♥ I really like that Malleck Ferguson is such a poorly disguised version of a well-known fashion photographer and abuser – down to the minute details of his over-the-top glasses and personal style – LOL

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♥ Marlowe Buchanan is also cast well (she’s played by Alanna Ubach) and so far comes across as a bit of an arse with a God complex – proof that heroes and villains aren’t always cast in black and white

♥ Not enough Leeta (Erin Darke) – so they better bring her back again soon

♥ The closing speech at the end of Episode 3 made me cry. I won’t spoiler but it starts with “I don’t hate myself, society does” and it’s important and vital and above all TRUE

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I haven’t seen any violence towards sex workers or porn stars yet but I’ve read a discussion about it on Twitter and I’m not into it either. I know that the book tackles the porn industry on the whole and it opened my eyes when I read it – but I don’t think this should be a judgement of the women themselves, in either capacity. I’ll see when it comes along how I feel but I am hoping that it doesn’t let me down.

I can’t wait until the next episode, TV just got GREAT again!

Anyone else watching? What are your thoughts? 

Weekly Digest

This week I am seriously digging:

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Atlanta, Season 2

The first season of Atlanta was so good, I feel like I’ve been waiting a life time for it to return. And now Donald Glover and friends (including the amazing Lakeith Stanfield) are back and it’s just as good as ever. Not only is deeply observational, it also has a lot to say about the state of the world, from the point of view of its mainly black cast.

It’s also funny as hell with some of the most off the wall scenarios (particularly episodes 1 (“Alligator Man“) and 6 (“Teddy Perkins“)). One of my favourites so far is episode 5, “Barbershop” which is pure perfection in its simplicity but is written so well and made me cackle all the way through.

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Killing Eve

I’m two episodes into this Phoebe Waller-Bridge co-written thriller and I’m frankly OBSESSED. Starring Sandra Oh, Fiona Shaw and always-flawless Jodie Comer as super-assassin Villanelle it’s already been pretty explosive.

Currently playing on BBC America it’s one of my most favourite current shows and I can’t wait to see how Oh’s Eve Polastri fares in her mission to uncover the identity of the woman knocking off several of the world’s most prolific people. What’s more this all feels very female and while we do meet your usual bullshit male bureaucrats, it’s very much the women who shine here.

Jillian, I think you will LOVE.

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This Jumpsuit (Above)

Look at this total babe in her orange kimono sleeved jumpsuit.

I can’t imagine myself looking half as good as this in it, however I still want to swan around in this in the warmer months, a straw bag swinging from one arm and my own statement earrings embellishing my ear lobes.

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Penguin Modern Collection

There are 50 books in the Penguin Modern collection and are only £1 a pop, so you can grab yourself some classics from the greats without breaking a sweat. So far I’ve got:

Fame by Andy Warhol
New York City in 1979 by Kathy Acker
Food by Gertrude Stein
The End by Samuel Beckett
Investigations of a Dog by Franz Kafka
Three Japanese Short Stories by Akutagawa and Others
The Breakthrough by Daphne Du Maurier
The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson
and The Custard Heart by Dorothy Parker

Not bad for under a tenner, eh? And they look amazing on the bookshelf or in my case, dotted around the flat.

What are you digging this week?

Weekly Digest – TV Special

Easter holidays means time off work for me this year (yey) and that obviously means it rains everyday and I get to nest indoors watching my shows.

This is what I’m currently digging…

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Ru Paul’s Drag Race – Season 10

I’m not blown away by anyone in the line up yet but then I’m only two episodes in and Netflix is releasing episodes week by week, so I can’t just rinse it in one sitting.

I think there’s potential for drams between Miz Cracker and Aquaria, and I’m kind of into The Vixen – but other than that we’ll just have to see.

Alongside Season 10, I’m also playing catch up on Season 5 and All Stars Season 2, which is a different kettle of fish altogether. Season 5 had so many stand-out queens – Alyssa Edwards, Alaska, Jinkx Monsoon, DETOX – that it’s almost unfair to all the other seasons. Anyway, I’m having the most fun.

Who’re your fave queens? Mine are Kim Chi, Detox and Adore Delano!

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Mr. Robot

I’ve only seen one episode but man, it was a banger. I’m now obsessed and can’t wait to dig in further. It has a sort of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo vibe with Rami Malek‘s socially anxious Elliot Alderson working for ‘Evil Corp’ by day and hacking shit by night.

He’s just met Christian Slater and done something dramatic that will set in the motion a series of events that will change his life – and society – forever. Presumably.

Eek!

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The End of the F***ing World

Everyone’s been gushing about this since it appeared on Netflix but I just wasn’t that into it. The two main characters – played by Black Mirror’s Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden – are kind of hard to love.
But I got there and then I really enjoyed myself. It’s quite bleak but also sweet with a great supporting cast, including Steve Oram and gorgeous Gemma Whelan.

What have you been watching?

Weekly Digest

Welcome to the first WD of 2018!

This week’s entry revolves around three TV shows because that’s basically all I’m doing at the moment. Working, coming home, reading or watching TV. It’s not the most exciting life in the world but it is January so it’s kind of expected, right?

This week, I’m digging, in no particular order:

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Lovesick

IMDB Synopsis

After finding out he has an STD, Dylan must get back in touch with every girl he has ever had sex with to let them know the bad news.

I’m behind the times a tad but Netflix has kindly just added Season 3 of this sweet little show and I’m delighted to be able to sit down and enjoy it. It’s fluffy viewing and very angsty about unrequited love and shagging but there’s something relateable about it. I think it captures your early twenties really well and the main characters are pleasant to look at.

I’m personally here for the friendship between Evie (Misfits’ Antonia Thomas) and Abigail (Hannah Britland) which is somewhat doomed given that Evie is in love with her best friend Dylan, who’s in a relationship with Abi. Awks.

(I’m only a few episodes in, so all this is of course subject to change).

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Dark

IMDB Synopsis

A family saga with a supernatural twist, set in a German town, where the disappearance of two young children exposes the relationships among four families.

This show is super weird and atmospheric – and I suspect, quite brilliant, though sometimes I feel as though I’m not following along as tightly as I should.

Something I do know, however, is that this feels like something exciting and new – and I’ll definitely be sticking around until the story has fully unraveled.

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Black Mirror

IMDB Synopsis

An anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech world where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.

The big don of viewing pleasures, BM is back and I’m so glad.

Season 4 has been more consistent and stronger than the last, and although at times it feels like we’re doubling back on themes we’ve already explored with Charlie Brooker, it still feels (to me) like fresh television.

I’ve enjoyed all of them this time round but my standout is Black Museum, which was GREAT. Special shout-out to Arkangel, directed by my girl Jodie Foster and Hang the DJ, which was a happy little tale (much like my all-time favourite BM episode, San Junipero).

Almost gutted I watched them all in such quick succession. *Shrug emoji*

What are you digging/watching this week?