Glen Weldon

"What did you do today to earn your place in this crowded world?"

It's a question one particular character in Amazon's new eight-episode series Utopia demands of others, frequently. Given that the Amazon show is adapted from the first, six-episode season of a well-regarded 2013 British series, you may find yourself demanding something similar of various scenes and characters in the comparatively overlong and overstuffed US version, and even — ultimately — of the show itself:

"Plucky" is one of those words that doesn't get out and about much anymore.

Something about it feels off, a bit — regressive, condescending, even vaguely sexist, as it's usually only seen in the company of the word "heroine" these days.

The first episode of Luca Guadagnino's We Are Who We Are opens the way his film Call Me Your Name closes: in extended close-up of a young man's face. In the 2017 movie, the face belonged to Elio (Timothee Chalamet), who stared into the fireplace, wracked with sobs as he nurses his first heartbreak. In the eight-episode HBO series, which Guadagnino directs and co-writes (with Paolo Giordano and Francesca Manieri), the face in question is that young Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer).

I'm Thinking of Ending Things premieres on Netflix on Friday, September 4.

Here is a list of things that the HBO series Lovecraft Country, premiering Sunday, August 16th, has in common with the 2018 film Green Book:

1. Setting: Jim Crow-era America

2. Acting: Subtle, nuanced performances (Viggo Mortenen's dese-and-dose Green Book gangster notwithstanding).

3. Subject: Story features a road trip involving a travel guidebook written to inform Black people where they can safely eat and stay. (Green Book: Entire film; Lovecraft Country: Opening episodes only.)

The prospect of spoofing Star Trek represents nothing new under the (binary) sun(s). The franchise has become an institution, and mocking institutions remains a thriving American cottage industry. Saturday Night Live started taking whacks at Trek way back in the '70s, as did MAD magazine, and the short-lived sitcom Quark.

It's called The Go-Go's.

That's it. Just The Go-Go's. The new Showtime documentary about the first all-woman group to write their own songs, play their own instruments and snag a #1 hit doesn't come with a subtitle. That's notable because subtitles, in documentaries, often serve as thesis statements, organizing principles, saying, here is the throughline, the thematic infrastructure, of this film.

Tom Hanks' screen persona is ...

This review contains spoilers for the first two seasons of Search Party.

"What does this mean for ME?"

That's Search Party's text — as in, a line of dialogue that crops up several times, in different characters' mouths — and its pervasive subtext. Because the true subject of the series, which began life on TBS but returns for a third season on HBO Max today, is self-important, self-involved, self-justifying selfishness.

The main impression left by 2018's pat, polished and inoffensive gay-teen rom-com Love, Simon was how consummately unqueer it presented. Sure, its protagonist, Simon, struggled with his sexual identity, but he did so from inside thick layers of privilege that kept him safe, like a suit of bougie, masc-for-masc chain mail. He was white, he lived in a tony Atlanta suburb with his liberal, warm, wet-eyed parents — he could and did easily pass for straight.

No, I hear you: Now doesn't seem the ideal moment to Netflix-and-chill with an animated series about the last vestiges of humanity struggling to survive.

I mean, imagine the pitch meeting:

The future.

Cities lie in ruin.

The surface of the earth is overgrown with plant life — and with overgrown animals: mutated beasts, 300 feet tall, that stomp across the land hunting for prey.

HBO Max, WarnerMedia's new streaming service launching Wednesday, grants subscribers access to all HBO series and hundreds of movies, as well as some shows in the Warners stable that were originally broadcast on other networks — like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Big Bang Theory.

The service also launches with a handful of original series. We've got a quick preview of those that were made available to media early.

Craftopia

When we first meet The Great's young Catherine (Elle Fanning), she's dreamily pushing herself back and forth on a swing entwined with lush flowers. The year is 1762, or thereabouts.

"My time in Washington," Eleanor Roosevelt (Harriet Sansom Harris) says at one point in the Netflix miniseries Hollywood, "taught me a lot of things. I used to believe that good government could change the world. I don't know if I believe that anymore. However, what you do — the three of you — can change the world."

The nation's drag revues are shuttered, for now. Across the country, even as you read this, lace fronts are drying out, false eyelashes the size of tarantulas are losing their curl, and sequined gowns are gathering dust in dark closets, far away from any follow-spot that could set them shimmering. The collective experience of a live drag show, where you can smell the performers' perspiration, desperation and wig glue, is a pleasure denied us indefinitely.

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