Sex Education: The first great TV show of 2019

I think we can all agree, the only thing more awkward than the greasy, confusing, acne-ridden years of puberty were the embarrassing and wholly uninformative sex education classes taught by your elderly Maths teacher who broke into a sweat every time he said “vulva”. “Sex” was the hushed word on everybody’s lips and with it spread increasingly ridiculous myths like a bad case of oral herpes. No one knew anything, even the people who had already “done it”. Thankfully, current media has picked up the mantle school curriculums so clumsily dropped and have taken it upon themselves to impart their wisdom of the nether regions. Netflix has already opened eyes to the grim truths of puberty with their hit show Big Mouth – a funny and ridiculous cartoon that everyone should check out, even if they think they know everything about S-E-X – and now they continue their wildly entertaining educational journey with Sex Education.

Sex Education follows Otis (Asa Butterfield of Boy in the Striped Pyjamas fame), a sexually repressed young man with a sexually liberated mother, Jean (played by the utterly fantastic Gillian Anderson of X-Files). Jean works from home as a sex therapist and despite this being a topic of distress for the irked Otis, it soon becomes apparent that her skills have rubbed off on Otis. Maeve (Emma Mackey) – a wickedly smart and blunt social outcast at high school – recognises Otis’ talent after seeing him couch a fellow student through a sexual problem. Maeve, being the cunning young entrepreneur that she is, convinces Otis to set up a high school-based sex counseling business with her for their sexually hapless student body. The plot unfolds with all the whacky fun and explicitly captivating sex tales you would imagine from this setup.

Along with a long line of ridiculous yet fully relatable sexual drama, the show also outlines a clear and captivating story arch thanks to the brilliance of the characters. It would have been so easy to simply rely on worn out high school stereotypes but thankfully Sex Education takes time to craft fully realised, complex characters. Thanks to this, it’s difficult to find a character you fully dislike as everyone has a characteristic that people can relate to or empathise with. The show strives to show that there’s more to people hidden behind the guise of Jock or Bully or Popular or Nerdy – everyone’s going through similar puberty issues and everyone’s got their backstory.

The realness portrayed on screen is helped in large part by the excellent casting. There wasn’t a weak performance in the bunch; everyone fully encapsulated their character. Amazingly, the majority of the main young cast are all fairly new to acting, with some only having two or three credits on their IMDB pages; this would not be at all recognisable based on their performances. Performances from Ncuti Gatwa (who played Otis’ enthusiastic and lovable best friend, Eric) and Emma Mackey, in particular, demonstrated a sort of tender beauty which should certainly help launch their acting careers.

The series offers more than any school curriculum could – it’s got intelligence and heart. The wide and inclusive scope of topics explored are handled with care and respect. The show takes time to analysis and explores each character’s issue and it gives the audience time to care and empathies even if they cannot personally relate. Although the show seems to tick off the list of topics that should be discussed, it never feels forced or like the audience is receiving a lecture and that’s mainly because the show as a whole feels so real and cleverly crafted.


Brains isn’t all Sex Education has, it’s bright in more ways than one. The actually visual aesthetic is brilliant in its fun, retro style. The series looks like a visual ode to American 80’s rom-coms from the likes of John Hughes, with enough eye-assaulting bright colours and clashing patterns to give a vintage fashion fan wet dreams. Despite the complete 80’s feel with aged architecture and furniture completing the retro portrait, it’s clear the series is not actually set in this period due to modern technology continually cropping up. Visually, it’s more like a little-idealized pocket of time that’s free from the constraints of reality.

This series was a delight, with far too many brilliant plot points and characters to discuss in just one review. Sex Education should be added to everyone’s Netflix list, whether you’re a sexual novice or practised expert. It’s difficult not to feel attached to the characters of Sex Education and with a second series planned, fans will surely be excited to see what’s still to cum (sorry). – Michaela Barton (@MichaelaBarton_)              

rating 9

Looking for some dark, spooky fun? The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has you covered

Sabrina Spellman is facing all the typical troubles of teen-hood – a bully infested school, conflict with parental guardians, the looming spiritual imprisonment into Satan’s servitude, balancing friendships and a love life. Just classic teen drama, really.

A gritty reboot of a silly 90’s sitcom had so much potential to fail and yet The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina defy low expectations and proves itself a thoroughly decent show. Thank Satan for that! Sabrina’s life is messy, even more so than your typical adolescence, and sometimes this messiness can seep into the storytelling technique but despite some slight missteps, the journey as a whole is still entirely bewitching and rather charming.

Even though people are initially going to compare this show to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it’s actually based on a comic series and is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also created the Netflix series, Riverdale. The series opens with our half-mortal, half-witch heroine, Sabrina, having to make a decision between her two lives. To fully come into her witch powers, she must sign her soul away to the Dark Lord in a coming-of-age ceremony however, this would also result in her giving up her human life, human friends and human boyfriend.

Despite playing with some dark, satanic plot points, this series still delivers the fun, mostly thanks to the excellent cast. As in the 90’s sitcom, the aunts are a prominent source of entertainment with their often-tumultuous relationship. Zelda and Hilda, played by Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings) and Lucy Davis (The Office) respectively, act as Sabrina’s stern, logical voice of reason and her bumbling, empathetic heart. The one notable missing ingredient to the classic crew is the dryly witty and meme-able Salem the cat. Salem is present in this series but as a mute, protective Familiar of Sabrina. Though this alteration may be enough to turn old fans off the show entirely, all is not lost. The reins of sarcastic quip dispenser are picked up by Sabrina’s cousin, Ambrose.

Ambrose is a British, pansexual warlock bound to the house by a curse and living out their days helping the aunts with their funeral business. Though they’re not given as many classic lines as the 90’s sitcom Salem, they’re still a cheeky, laidback confidant for Sabrina and the acting performance of Chance Perdomo is brilliantly enjoyable.


The only slight hiccup (and I really do mean slight) in acting ability is the main star Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men fame. As a whole, she is a more than competent actor – she’s enduring, wholesome and you can’t help but root for her. However, she may be too sweetly innocent. In parts of the show which demands a sinister edge, it’s hard to see past her child-like innocent demeanour. However, seeing that she plays a sixteen-year-old who’s newly entering a darker period in her life, this tameness can be forgiven.

Other areas of the series suffer from slight stumbles also. Occasionally, the exposition vomit from characters can be clumsy and jarring, especially in the first episode. Despite the relatively short run of the series (with only 10 episodes), the show still can’t escape the mistake of using  a “filler episode” which really doesn’t contribute anything to the overall story arc and leads the series to feel like an unimportant Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, with the dodgy monster costume design only hammering home this feel. The monster design throughout the series was rather hit-and-miss, with some looking like cheap trick-or-treat costumes. Oddly, for once the CGI was actually fairly decent, which suggests most of the budget went to this, leaving practical monster design quality to lag behind.

This show could have easily been light teen drama fluff but thankfully they do deliver with the horror. A lot of sequences are genuinely chilling, with sinister visuals that stick with you. There are plenty of storyline and visual references to classic horrors like the Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, Cronenberg, the fun is in trying to recognise them all – there are certainly enough to keep a horror buff entertained.


Another way they keep the show from leaning towards “useless fluff” is through the exploration of feminism. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina uses witchcraft to explore female empowerment within the limitations set by men. The coven is described to Sabrina as her only path to power and yet the coven is controlled by male figures – the slimy high priest (Richard Coyle of Coupling) and Satan. These are who give witches their power but only at the cost of submission and enslavement. The ceremony of joining the Black Church is even described as a “marriage” to Satan. It’s this sacrifice of freedom that Sabrina fights against.

The series also presents another female-led group fighting for power except this group is the complete opposite of the Black Church. WICCA is a group Sabrina and her human friends created – it’s a group created for women by women to fight for more representative education and against transphobia in the school. The series is clearly conscious of social issues and represents LGBTQ+ and race discussions throughout but without seeming too overly preachy, which should keep people afraid about those mythical “PC police” quiet (though, let’s face it, they rarely give up an opportunity to complain).

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was enjoyable. Was it fantastic and without fault? No. The pacing was often a bit sloppy, acting occasionally cheesy and some special effects questionable. But did it hook me in and get me invested in the characters and plot points? Absolutely. If you’re looking for a spooky and fun binge this Halloween, this series is the show for you. – Michaela Barton (@MichaelaBarton_)

rating 7

A Series Of Unfortunate Events continues to be a delightfully dark and faithful adaptation

words fae olivia armstrong (@starcadet96)

Before I begin, I would like to say that the review you are about to read is very unpleasant. It tells of many awful things, such as a Netflix adaptation of an exceptionally depressing series of children’s books, detestably great casting choices and adaptational changes that serves the story well. It is my sad duty to document this series and inform of whether it is worth your Netflix subscription. But you could certainly find more pleasant things to read on this site, such as Looking Back At…Elephant –  The White Stripes by Ethan Woodford or Every Biffy Clyro Album, Ranked from Worst to Best by Liam Menzies.

However, if you wish to read about this sorry series, we shall press on with the second season of this adaptation of the trials of the Baudelaire orphans.

This season continues where the last left off, with the Baudelaire’s being sent to boarding school at Prufrock Preparatory and Count Olaf hot on their tail with his intent to capture their large fortune. The structure of this series is the same as the first, with each book being split into two episodes going from book 5 to book 9, with more details of the true underlying story unravelling and more quirky characters to be found as the Baudelaire’s situation worsens with each passing episode.

The show continues integrating the VFD plot into the narrative much more than the books did and the few adaptational changes they make in terms of detail and characters are welcomed. Olaf’s henchman, in particular, are given far more character and screen time than they ever had in the book and the expansion on the VFD agents as they track down the Baudelaire’s ties the mystery of the story in much more closely. This season also marks the darker territory of the later installments in the series, with The Hostile Hospital being particularly dark even by the standards of the series. But there is just enough of that dark whimsy that keeps it a hugely fun ride. While there are a few modern references and fourth-wall jokes, most of the dialogue lifted from the books keep in with the quirky and timeless dark humour of the books.

As established in the first season and the book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events is set as more of a dark tale in an ignorant world as opposed to any sort of realistic setting. The adults of the world never being able to recognise Count Olaf even when he is right in front of them and the Baudelaire’s being the only characters who seem to have any common sense are stables of the series at this point and should be expected from fans of the original books. It’s a surreal yet delightfully macabre story of children who are never listened to in a world that refuses to take them seriously, highlighting the absurdity and ignorance of the world of adults who refuse to listen to the children.  

The original actors continue to reprise their roles and do an exceptional job. Patrick Warburton once again sells the gloom and dark humour of Snicket’s overwrought dialogue and the comic timing of Neil Patrick Harris as Olaf and his acting troupe keep the dark giggles coming. As far as new characters, two casting choices emerge as the stand-outs. Kitana Turnbull as Carmelita Spats deserves her due, as she turns a character who is unbearable on paper and makes her hilariously obnoxious as a complete brat who makes Count Olaf look bearable by comparison.

Another standout is Lucy Punch as Esme Squalor, who is the absolute highlight of this season. When you manage to out-ham Neil Patrick Harris in every single scene, you’re doing it right. She completely steals the show as the devious partner/semi-girlfriend of Olaf who is insufferably rich and completely fabulous in her deviousness. Lucy Punch is already a great comedic actress but it’s wonderful to see her take a larger part than is usual for her and run to the moon and back with it.

Netflix’s adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events continues to be a delightfully dark and faithful retelling of the series, with some adaptational changes which are very welcomed for the most part. If you love series or dark comedies, you’ll watch this sorry tale until the end and won’t be able to look away, to Lemony Snicket’s dismay.

Every Black Mirror Episode Ranked Worst To Best

by chris mcqueer (@ChrisMcQueer)

Since it first burst on to our tellies back in 2011 with an episode based on what would happen if the Prime Minister was forced to fuck a pig, Black Mirror has gone on to become a cultural phenomenon. There’s at least one person in every group of pals who loves to tell you that it’s their favourite programme, even though you never asked. In the comments section of every technology-based news article, there’ll be at least half a dozen people cracking the same joke – ‘Ha! This is like something from an episode of Black Mirror!

Although the show has been an unrivaled success, it’s a wee bit hit and miss – to be fair, though, there’s definitely far more hits than misses. Here, I’ve ranked every episode from the absolute dirt worst to the very best.



19. Men Against Fire – S3 E5


This episode is a car crash.

The premise of it sounds amazing; Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future, soldiers, fitted with neural implants that heighten their senses, hunt down and exterminate mutants known as ‘Roaches’. However, the main character’s implant malfunctions allowing him to see that the mutants he’s been mercilessly killing are actually normal people who happen to be the survivors of a genocide during a global war ten years before the events of the episode take place. The roaches are deemed ‘genetically inferior’ and the main character is actually working for a global eugenics company who are trying to ‘protect the bloodline’ of humanity.

It all sounds quality, but it’s poorly executed with characters who come across as barely even two-dimensional and the ham-fisted social commentary does it no favours. I’ve watched every episode at least a couple of times and this is the only one I struggled to get through even on my first watching. Forgettable, dull and boring.

18. The Waldo Moment – S2 E3


The runt of the litter; well, until Men Against Fire came along.

This political satire is just about every Black Mirror fan’s least favourite episode. A failed comedian finds himself running in a local by-election as the voice of a cartoon bear. It’s hard to believe the characters in this episode found the bear as funny as they seemed to – Waldo is like an old guy down the pub doing a really bad impression of Ali G. Brooker himself has admitted that this was an episode he “didn’t nail” and it’s hard to argue with that.

The episode ends with Waldo being the leader in some dystopian nightmare world but it doesn’t explain how this happened which would’ve made a far better, more interesting episode.

17. Playtest – S3 E2


Another episode from the third series which doesn’t quite live up to the standards set by other installments.

Again, it’s an episode with an amazing premise – a guy tries out a new hallucinatory, augmented reality fear simulator, which is more terrifying than the main character could have ever imagined. It delivers a couple of twists which you’ll see coming a mile away.

It is however probably the scariest episode of Black Mirror. There’s a few good jump scares and creepy visuals and the main protagonist, Cooper, is quite likable which makes the ending all the more jarring.

16. Arkangel – S4 E2


This episode feels like it could be set in the same universe as the far superior The Entire History of You from the first series and the White Christmas special.

Directed by Jodie Foster, it tells the story of an overprotective single mother and her rebellious daughter. The mother has a chip implanted into her daughter’s head allowing her to see everything her daughter sees through her tablet. She can then pixelate distressing images so her daughter can’t see them. After a couple of years, and a visit to a child psychologist, she realises the emotional damage she’s causing to her daughter and stops checking up on her, stowing away the tablet she used. Another few years pass by and we see the daughter has grown into a happy and well-adjusted 15-year-old. But as her daughter starts to rebel and lie about her whereabouts, the mother reactivates the tablet and starts interfering with her daughter’s life.

It’s a decent episode, just not as gripping as it could’ve been and it’s very predictable how things are going to turn out.

15. Crocodile – S4 E3


One of the most gritty episodes, with brilliant performances from the lead actors and a great concept but it’s let down by a clunky, muddled plot.

It’s very dark, even by Black Mirror standards, featuring a lot of killing (including that of a blind baby) and an end scene which attempts to be funny but just doesn’t fit with the rest of the episode. The technology which the plot revolves around is a device which allows your memories to be shown on a small, portable DVD player-like device. It’s a nice take on a concept Black Mirror has already used, with the memories coming across as distorted, grainy footage.

An okay episode, just not the most memorable, even with the shocking scenes.


14. Hated in the Nation – S3 E6

The first almost-feature-length episode, this installment takes place in a Britain where tiny robotic drones have replaced the dwindling population of honey bees and taken over their pollination duties.

These drones are tapped into by a hacker and used to kill people by flying into their orifices and exploding inside their skulls. People vote on Twitter to decide who the next victim will be by using the hashtag #DeathTo followed by their chosen victim’s name. Kelly Macdonald delivers a phenomenal performance Detective Chief Inspector Karin Parke and you could imagine her starring in her own detective drama off the back of this.

There’s a great scene where hundreds of thousands of the bees descend on a safe house and try to get to their target inside which is genuinely chilling.


13. Fifteen Million Merits – S1 E2

Probably the most Black Mirror-y episode of Black Mirror.

There’s not really any backstory for the complex where this episode is set which would’ve made the episode better, I think. It’s an episode with amazing set design that makes it stand out as one of the most visually stunning episodes. It’s a scathing critique on the class system with the unfit being assigned to janitorial tasks around the complex as well as being constantly mocked by those in the higher class who pedal on exercise bikes to earn ‘merits’, the currency in this bizarre world. As well as attacking the class system, the celebrity-obsessed culture of today also comes under fire.

It’s very clearly influenced by the likes of 1984 and Brave New World. It’s a bit depressing but also very watchable.


12. White Bear – S2E2

This is a lot of people’s favourite episode of Black Mirror and it’s easy to see why.

It starts off a bit like 28 Days Later except the zombies are just people on their phones. It seems like a bit of a heavy-handed metaphor for the way people are, apparently, on their phones too much these days (someone once tweeted a Black Mirror episode pitch – “what if phones… but too much”) but there’s a big reveal at the end which is one of the best Black Mirror twists so far.

I admit this episode is brilliant but it’s so far down on my list simply because it’s let down by the constant screaming of the main character in the last 15 minutes which will make you want to stick your foot through your telly to make it stop.


11. Be Right Back – S2 E1

Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson put in stunning performances in this tender episode.

Following the death of her partner, a woman signs up for a service which allows her to communicate with AI software replicating him. She then goes further by having an android made which looks and acts just like him as she tries to cope with her grief. Again, the path this episode takes is predictable but it works here and doesn’t make it any less watchable.

It’s an emotional study of grief and a very melancholy episode which stays with you a long time after watching it.

10. The National Anthem – S1 E1


I remember sitting watching this episode for the first time absolutely stunned at what I was seeing.

The Prime Minister is woken up one morning to be told that a much-loved member of the Royal Family has been kidnapped and her captors are demanding that the Prime Minister fuck a pig on live TV or they’ll kill the princess. This was the perfect first episode and has had me hooked on the show since.

It’s the perfect mix of dark comedy, satire and social commentary. The tension throughout the episode is palpable and has you on the edge of your seat.

9. Metalhead – S4 E5


Aesthetically one of the best Black Mirror episodes, this one is filmed completely in black and white to show us that this a world completely devoid of all hope. It’s minimal, eerie and tense as fuck.

Maxine Peake is one of the few survivors in a world overrun by sentient robotic ‘dogs’, based on the four-legged robots built by Boston Dynamics, which are hunting down and killing humans. I am desperate to find out the backstory of the dogs in this episode and how they managed to turn against humanity. Brooker said in an interview that he originally wrote a scene where it shows a man on the other side of the world controlling the dog from his as it chases Maxine Peake’s character which was cut because he wanted to pare the episode right back.

The lack of backstory is why I think this episode didn’t work for a lot of people but I thought it was class.

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8. Nosedive – S3 E1

Set in a world where people can rate everybody they interact with on an Uber-like 1 to 5-star system which then impacts your socioeconomic status, the concept for this one is on the nose but done very well.

The pastel colour scheme makes this episode beautiful to look at and it’s what I imagine a sci-fi film directed by Wes Anderson would look like.  The episode tackles the way use social media to define our own self-worth and how it affects our self-esteem. It’s yet another episode that follows a very predictable plot but it’s still well-written with plenty of humour and likable characters which makes this one of the more upbeat episodes.


7. White Christmas – Christmas Special

Two men stationed in a remote outpost in a snowy wilderness tell each other their life stories.

Their respective stories from the 3 part narrative which comprise the episode and explain the two men’s situation. Blocking people in real life, a dating coach who can see everything you see and give you advice piped right into your ear and a perfect copy of your consciousness used to control your smart home make up the technology used in this excellent episode. Jon Hamm changing the way the copy of a woman’s consciousness perceives time so she experiences months of isolation while only a few seconds pass in the real is a harrowing scene and the ending of this episode takes it even further.

There’s a lot happening here but it’s brilliantly-written and the 3 mini stories link together brilliantly. After watching the newest series, this episode now feels like it was almost like a dress rehearsal for the superior…


6. Black Museum – S4 E6

Following the same kind of structure as White Christmas, this is another anthology episode.

This one, however, is bigger and better, perhaps owing to the bigger budget Netflix provided. The proprietor of a museum which houses ‘criminological artifacts’ gives a tour to a young woman, recounting to her the chilling stories behind 3 of the artifacts. A doctor is fitted with a device allowing him to feel the pain of his patients (based on a short story written by one half of the magic duo Penn and Teller, Penn Jillette), a woman in a coma’s consciousness is transferred into her husband’s brain allowing her to live again within him as a ‘passenger’ and the consciousness of an executed murderer is reborn as a hologram and visitors to the museum can pull the lever on the electric chair, punishing the man for his crimes over and over again.

The stories and characters here are all worthy of full episodes to themselves. The episode is also littered with plenty of Easter Eggs to look out for such as the hunter from White Bear.


5.Hang the DJ – S4 E4

I first watched this episode while in the throes of a behemoth hangover and at the time, I said it was my favourite episode of Black Mirror ever and it turned me into an emotional mess. Having now recovered from said hangover, I still think it’s a great episode, but it’s not quite the best.

From the very start, we become emotionally invested in the two very likable lead characters as they are brought together through a Tinder-like dating app. There’s very heavy-handed foreshadowing about the eventual twist but it’s a beautiful reveal and has an uncharacteristically happy ending. Someone described this episode on Twitter as “San Junipero for straight people” which leads us neatly on to…


4. San Junipero – S3 E4

This episode won multiple awards and has been almost universally acclaimed. It’s a lot of people’s favourite episode and it’s in just about everybody’s top 5.

On first watching, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what is going on but after 20 minutes or so all becomes clear and it paves the way for a truly emotional love story. Two women meet and fall in love inside what is revealed to be a simulation, a haven where the elderly’s conscious minds can be uploaded and live on even after death.  It’s good to see technology being portrayed as a force for good for a change and the episode asks some cool questions about the afterlife.

And since it’s set largely in the 80s, the soundtrack is absolutely banging as well.


3. USS Callister – S4 E1

When I first saw the trailer for the newest series, this episode looked to me like a Galaxy Quest style parody of Star Trek etc. and I wasn’t looking forward to watching at all.

Thankfully, it turned out to be the best of the new series and one of the best episodes so far. Merging the simulated reality story with a real-world one may have been done before in Black Mirror but here we see it on a much grander scale. It’s a not-so-thinly-veiled attack on the way guys tend to abuse their authority as well as their sense of ‘superiority’ over women and PoC. The episode explores these heavy themes with humour and a great storyline. Jesse Plemons (AKA Meth Damon) is brilliant as the twisted Robert Daly.

Brooker has managed to deliver an ending here that is somehow both dark and uplifting. He also recently revealed what happens to Daly after his consciousness becomes trapped in the game – he dies of starvation due to the ‘Do not disturb’ sign he puts on his door.


2. Shut Up and Dance – S3 E3

Where do you even start with this episode?

It’s phenomenal. Honestly, my heart was pounding watching this and you can practically feel the anxiety that Kenny, the main character, is experiencing over the course of this episode. After being videoed via his laptop webcam by a hacker as he has a wank, Kenny is blackmailed into doing increasingly bizarre and criminal acts. The pace is just completely relentless and breath-taking. You are rooting for Kenny throughout the whole episode, it’s easy to so see why, as a young guy, he’s so desperate to keep the video of him masturbating from being sent to his friends and family.

And then, right at the end, comes the twist. It’s one you don’t see coming and that will leave you feeling sick. It’s the best twist throughout the entire show by a mile.


1. The Entire History of You – S1 E3

I’m expecting to receive some pelters for ranking this as the best-ever episode of Black Mirror. The episode is based on a piece of technology that you can imagine coming true in the near future; it’s called a ‘grain’, an implant that allows you to record everything your eyes see and then play it back in front of your own eyes for yourself or share on a screen for others to see.

Liam leaves a job appraisal and heads to meet his wife Ffion at a party where he notices she seems to be flirting an old friend called Jonas. It starts off with Liam picking apart his appraisal at work but then moves on to him picking apart his relationship, ultimately uncovering his wife’s infidelity and the fact he might not even be the father to his daughter. It’s very dark, it’s very tense and it’s very uncomfortable to watch at times as Liam forces Ffion to replay her memories for him. It’s not the most in-your-face episode of Black Mirror, instead, it’s more understated. Some episodes are let down by a lack of backstory but here, as the implications of the world where everyone can record their memories are slowly revealed through snippets of conversation.

For me, this is Black Mirror at its very best.



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BoJack Horseman & Loss

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

*Spoilers ahead*

It’s become common knowledge that BoJack Horseman has become an anomaly in of itself: starting off as a seemingly normal albeit crude show about the titular alcoholic horse, voiced by Will Arnett, no one could have possibly guessed how the Netflix original would become not only one of the funniest shows on TV but also one of the most depressing. 

It’s assumed that if you’re reading this that you’re familiar with this show but if not, here’s a quick synopsis: in a world where humanoid animals and, well, humans live side by side, BoJack Horseman takes us to the city of Hollywoo where our eponymous, culturally forgotten protagonist attempts to reclaim the fame he had during the 90’s and make a come-back.

With support from characters such as his feline manager Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), homeless but wholesome friend Todd (Aaron Paul), ghost-writer and kindred spirit Diane (Alison Brie) as well as sitcom “rival” Mr Peanutbutter ( Paul F. Tompkins), the show avoids putting all its eggs in one basket and diversifies its cast to show a truly varied world with a whole host of interesting perspectives.

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While this setting sounds like one that would be rife with laughs, and it definitely does so with its twenty jokes per minute attitude, the satirical series has hit on a lot of hard notes over its run, none more so than in its latest season that aired last Friday. With all the promotional material revolving around the absence of our lead, “where is BoJack” being the tagline, many assumed this would leave a void in the show and though it didn’t, it gave viewers their first taste of a season revolving around loss.

Last time we saw BoJack, he was over-encumbered with grief even if it wasn’t apparent: having lost one of the last people to care about him via a drug literally named after him, pushing away all of his loved ones and his acting going without academy recognition, one of the few things the sombre lead ever thought he was good at, it wasn’t looking good. Ruining everything around him, it’s not until given some harsh love that BoJack finally realises what’s causing all of this – it’s him.

You can’t keep doing this! You can’t keep doing shitty things, and then feel bad about yourself like that makes it okay! You need to be better! … No! No, BoJack, just stop. You are all the things that are wrong with you. It’s not the alcohol, or the drugs, or any of the shitty things that happened to you in your career, or when you were a kid. It’s you. All right? It’s you. – Todd

Season 4 sees BoJack on what can only be seen as his last life-line and life isn’t making it any easier: episode two sees him return to his grandparent’s home while flashbacks reveal to us how the grief and torment he has faced have been inflicted by a mother who faced the same. In addition to this, a fly who he befriends named Eddie is a mirrored version of BoJack, eventually revealing to have lost his wife and explicitly stating that he wants to die. This moment hits home as an ultimatum of sorts – BoJack can continue with his downward spiral alone or return to the place that has been described as a “tar pit” by the show. He may have a choice but much like a Telltale game, this illusion of having a real say only entertains this idea of having control.

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When he eventually returns to Hollywoo, it seems like the characters there have found this out all too late. Mr Peanutbutter and Diane’s marriage is hanging on by a tether, their only moments of intimacy arising from hatred-fuelled actions which stems from the two of them feeling lost and having no way to get out: our favourite Labrador Retriever is being made to run for Governor, a role he admits he has no idea about, while Diane finds herself in a workplace where her hard hitting pieces are given less priority in comparison to click-bait pieces about sex. When she finally gets the chance to do what she wants and reclaim some command, she threatens to ruin the only good thing that has ever happened to her and time will only tell if that’s the case.

One of the few upbeat things about last season was Princess Carolyn’s story-line, seeing the pink feline becoming the strong woman she always was capable of being but never had the chance to. With a new rodent love interest in the shape of Ralph Stilton, it seemed like no matter what challenges that our anthropomorphic ensemble faced this time, we’d still have one bit of positivity throughout.

It feels like that’s exactly the case, at least from the start as the couple try for a baby but as Carolyn finally meets her partner’s family, resulting in this universe’s equivalent to animal racism, as well as her own paranoia, this all eventually ends up as more of a 500 Days of Summer kind of segment than a rom-com kind. The fact that Carolyn still soldiers on, and has her actions set up what’ll no doubt be the premise of Season 5, shows that while she’s faced negativity for years, she isn’t about to let the pit drown her, meaning we don’t end up with a show full of BoJacks.

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There’s plenty of other characters moments that add to this loss, BoJack’s mother could be a whole piece in of itself, but it’s worth noting that while most of these characters have little say in what’s happening, it’s not all bad. Todd has consistently been the ying to BoJack’s yang and while it seemed like his negativity would rub off on our lovely beanie wearing buddy, it thankfully hasn’t.

Struggling with accepting his asexuality, Todd finds himself not being able to cope with this revelation from last season’s finale but as the show progresses, one of the oddest story-lines revolving around clown dentists and dentist clowns culminates into one of acceptance and romance. If this is the first mainstream representation of asexuality then it’s hard to think of one done better than seen on this show.

BoJack is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally complex characters and shows in TV, easily sitting alongside the likes of The Sopranos and Tony, and loss has played a huge part in making him who he is – for better of for worse. However, as this season draws to an end and we see our final shot of him before another year long wait, we see a smile: something as rare as an eclipse and one that feels just as important for our protagonist. Much like the disastrous political year that the show clearly parodies, BoJack somehow keeps hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel no matter how bleak things may seem.


Game of Thrones’ Most Shocking Deaths

By Fraser Nunn (@badknitbear)

As you may have expected, SPOILER ALERT

Hello, Bingewatchers! With Game of Thrones penultimate series making its way to our telly screens, it’s time to look back at the series and its host of iconic moments of character biting the big one. There are a lot of phenomenal deaths, so I’ve narrowed it down to named characters whose deaths were cool, emotional, satisfying or unexpected. 

10: Tywin Lannister

Tywin’s death was not the coolest of deaths, but he managed to make the number 10 spot because he was killed on the bog by his son the dwarf, Tyrion. Tywin’s death was plenty satisfying for the viewer as well. 

9: Walder Frey

Oh, speaking of satisfying deaths – after the events of the Red Wedding, we’ve been waiting for our good pal Walder to get his comeuppances. Thankfully, it finally came at the end of season 6 at the hand of Arya Stark as she uses her time with the many faced God to its full potential, slipping right under the noses of Frey and even Jaime Lannister. Arya feeds Frey a pie made of his own sons before slicing his throat: satisfying. 

8: Red Viper (Oberyn Martell) 

A far more brutal one here, we see a trial by combat between the nimble Oberyn and his adversary, the Goliath ‘The Mountain’ (Gregor Clegane). Clegane squashes his much more minute opponent, pushing his thumbs into his eyes and caving in his skull though not before Martell lands a good few hefty hits to the Mountain with his poison blade, getting vengeance for his sister who was raped and murdered by Clegane. 

7: Viserys Targaryen

The brother of Daenerys, mother of Dragons, Viserys sold his sister to the Dothraki back in Season 1 with justice brought swiftly as he is ‘paid’ with the crown he was promised. Khal Drogo is more than happy to pay this price – a golden crown as was promised though, unfortunately for this Targaryen Prince, still molten. 

6: Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun 

Season 6 episode “The Battle of the Bastards” had a pretty apt title considering it has the best fight of the series. It also has some of the best deaths which includes the emotional end of the Giants. Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun is the last remaining giant and he sacrificed himself for Jon Snow, bursting down the door to Winterfell only to be shot down by Ramsay Bolton.

5: The Red Wedding

This is maybe a bit of a cheat answer because so many died at this well named wedding, but we see at least 3 named primary characters being slaughtered, including the young wolf Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn, his wife and unborn child (Eddard) and his Wolf – the Starks faced a real battering here. The attack, orchestrated by Walder Frey (this is why we’re glad he bit the bullet in season 6) saw Robb gutted at the hands of Roose Bolton and Catelyn’s throat slit in a heartbreaking scene at an event intended to be a celebration. 

4: Shireen Baratheon

Gosh, talk about heartbreaking. In a scene that’s honestly damn hard to watch, Shireen Baratheon, the young girl saved from a stony demise from Greyscale at a young age, and only child of Stannis Baratheon, is sacrificed to the Lord of Light. Man, screw the Lord of Light taking away the girl that taught Ser Davos to read. Melisande assures Stannis that sacrifice will save his troops as they march on the Boltons. But for fuck sake, the little girl we’ve all grown to love is burnt at the stake and it does nothing for the Baratheon troops or Papa Stannis – devastating.

3. Hodor

A fan favourite is our Hodor, recently spoofed in a KFC advert, his death is used to explain how he can only say one word Hodor. Young Bran Wargs (honestly, don’t ask me to explain what that means) is in a moment in Hodor’s past (seriously don’t ask me to explain) while simultaneously in the present Wights attack. Bran warns Hodor in the past to “Hold the Door” and we see the phrase morph into the characters Catchphrase “Hodor” while he holds back the Wights. Briefly. A seriously intense moment.

2: Jon Snow

Labelled a traitor by the men of the Night’s Watch whom he commands, Jon is lured to a sign in Castle Black that says traitor and is stabbed a good few times while his former people chant “for the watch”. Little did they know, our boy Jon is a potential candidate for the Azor Ahai and is resurrected shortly after (so like, I’m not entirely sure this counts). Regardless, it’s an emotional, unexpected death.

Booby Prize: 

Before I get on to the best death in the series it’s hard not to mention one of the worst, Khal Drogo. One of the Biggest guys in the series, taken out by a pillow. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely extenuating circumstances here but it’s a little funny. 

1: Ramsay Bolton

Finally we’re at the number 1 choice, and it’s another Season 6 belter. Bastard Ramsay Snow, who was granted his father’s name shortly before murdering him. The man who raped and beat his wife Sansa, the man who killed Rickon Stark, the man who maimed Throne Greyjoy. The most satisfying death of the series so far, we see Ramsay torn apart by his own dogs who he swears are loyal to him. But how loyal can a starving dog be? Sansa watches as Ramsay sees justice.

So folks, are we ready for the next series? Anyone you think is getting ready to bite it this series? Feel free to let me know on Twitter @badknitbeard or in the comments below. 





Every Rick And Morty Episode, Ranked From Worst To Best

By Will Hardie (@REMAININLlGHT)

Like fractal dust junkies we wait, mouths agape, appetites thoroughly whetted by the April Fools’ Day episode, for Season 3 of Rick and Morty. Hanging over our heads for what feels like decades, the release date of July 30th has been revealed, our collective calendars have been marked, and the impending arrival of depraved intergalactic shenanigans has never been more real. Wait, what’s what? You want an exhaustive ranking of all 22 episodes of Rick and Morty to get you hyped for the new season? OOOOOOOH, CAN DOO!!!

22 – Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind (S1, E10)

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This episode marks our first meeting with the Council of Ricks, consisting of all Ricks from infinite universes. The episode features a favourite recurring gag; Jerry forming deep emotional bonds with characters who only stick around for an episode. He is enamoured with Rick J1927, the kindest of all, who in a post-credits scene is revealed, by the show’s central Rick (told you there was a lot of Ricks), to be the only Rick who eats his own shit. The main plot is relatively stock when cast against other episodes; there is an enemy to defeat, and our Rick only bloody goes and defeats them.

21 – Raising Gazorpazorp (S1,E7)

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In this episode, 14-year old Morty impregnates a sex robot and spawns an alien hybrid child from the planet Gazorpazorp. Longtime fans of the show, calloused to the show’s insanities, may shrug their shoulders at such a linear plotline, but this particular episode features the unique pathos that has come to be associated with the show. Morty’s brief and disastrous flirtation with fatherhood leads to a resentful, violent son, and a tell-all book in which he is shamed for all the galaxy to see. Kids are the worst.

20 – Something Ricked This Way Comes (S1,E9)

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Satan himself running a pawn shop is the kind of storyline you only really find in a show like this. The show showcases Rick’s unparallelled talent for pettiness; dismayed at the Devil’s business tactics of selling items that come back to punish its buyer, Rick sets up a rival business to de-curse the items, running him out of business. This episode gets bonus points for my favourite post-credits scene, where roided-up Rick and Summer gleefully kick the shit out of Christian fundamentalists, abusive dog owners, and neo-Nazis. Rick and Summer are a woefully underrated comedic pairing, and this is the first episode to explore that potential.

19 – Anatomy Park (S1, E3)

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Coming early on in the show’s run, this show begins to show signs of the balance between emotional family drama and sci-fi campiness that comes to define it. The episode features Rick shrinking down Morty to help save the life of a homeless man, whose body contains a theme park housing various deadly diseases. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go great, but then it does, and everyone’s fine. The episode also features a subplot wherein Jerry, who in a rare moment of clear-headedness set against his family’s immediate acceptance, struggles to deal with his parents accepting a third party into their sex life. Charming cameos from John Oliver and Dana Carvey help make this a thoroughly enjoyable episode, but nothing to write home about.

18 – A Rickle In Time (S2, E1)

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The Season 2 premiere is perhaps the most complex episode of all; so much so, in fact, that some scenes could not be physically rendered by the show’s animation software. While some episodes feature a mix of pathos and action in both plots, I can’t help but think that Rick, Summer and Morty’s encounters with a time-cop testicle monster and Beth’s efforts to save the life of a deer feel somewhat disjointed in the same episode. That being said, this is still a very strong episode; the dizzying, mind-bending genius of the time-travel elements are not overpowered by the show’s strong comedic focus; rather, the two dance gracefully along the galaxy together.

17 – Look Who’s Purging Now (S2,E9)

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In an homage to films such as The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, and The Purge: The Re-Purge-ening (presumably), Rick and Morty stumble upon a planet whose citizens are free, for one night, to purge themselves of all violent tendencies so as to create a wholesome, crime-free planet the rest of the year. Morty’s boner leads him to form an emotional bond with a young girl on the planet who eventually betrays him. The episode builds to an explosive climax featuring Morty’s teenage angst manifesting itself in violent murderous rage, that makes even Rick blush. The post-credits scene deals with the aftermath of Rick and Morty’s heroic intervention to cure the planet of purging, where the planet’s inhabitants almost immediately decide to return to purging.

16 – M. Night Shaym-Aliens!

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Hungry for apples? My man! This episode sees our heroes trapped inside a simulation, inside a simulation, inside a simulation, inside a simulation, and so on and so forth. Held captive by alien scammers attempting to steal the formula for dark matter, the pair beat the system glitches and escape in typical fashion. The highlight of this episode, however, is Jerry; accidentally also trapped in the simulation, his attempts to sell an advertising slogan for apples are received warmly by the robots. In peak-Jerry style, however, faced with a soft, rubbery wall of acceptance, he repeatedly runs into it until he hurts his head, and loses his job at the end of the episode. Left alone to his own devices, Jerry is a mess, and it’s a delight to watch.

15 – Pilot (S1,E1)

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Ah, the origin story. Where it all began. Home of some of the series’ most memorable quotes, the first episode sets up Rick Sanchez as the grandfather from hell, taking his teenage grandson on deeply dark and dangerous missions throughout the universe. Rick is portrayed as an unfathomably bad influence; where other shows may lean on such traits as mischievousness and a cheeky bit of sarcasm to create a lead character, the show makes no apologies for Rick’s apparently genuine murderous traits, his sociopathy, his alcoholism, and his borderline abusive deceit of his daughter and son-in-law. Episode 1 leaves us in absolutely no doubt that the show will push the borders. And lo, the borders were pushed waaaaaayyyy up inside our buttholes.

14 – Ricksy Business (S1,E11)

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The Season 1 finale features the classic 80’s movie genre of Parents Are Away, Kids Have Party™. Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have a knack for creating unapologetically one-note, absurd characters, and we see this with the arrival of Rick’s charming buddy Abradolf Lincler, who, in case you were wondering, is half Lincoln, half Hitler. This all ends fantastically, and Beth and Jerry’s subplot sees them returning in a huff after Jerry was forced at gunpoint to reenact famous Titanic scenes with a deranged janitor. Season 1 is left on a cliffhanger, after Rick and Morty decide it would be easier to free all of time instead of cleaning up their party before Beth and Jerry return. Rick and Morty’s superhuman efforts to avoid even the most mundane of tasks never disappoint.

13 – Lawnmower Dog (S1, E2)

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The second episode of the series wastes no time; moving at a mile-a-minute, the show features creepy scenes of dominatrix Summer, pancake-based sex idols, dogs with increased intelligence, dogs in mech-suits with scary fascistic tendencies, Scary Terry, philosophical exchanges about the cruelty of sentience, and Rick and Morty inhabiting the dreams of multiple people all in an attempt to increase Morty’s math grade. Heavy on the action, the episode builds to a heartwarming climax showing how Morty’s true affectionate nature spares him from his new canine overlords. We do see a slightly-tired “it was all a dream” plot device, but this does very little to detract from the episode’s quality.

12 – Big Trouble In Little Sanchez (S2,E7)

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This episode is another deep dive into Beth and Jerry’s otherworldly-bad marriage, and features one of the series’ most iconic characters, TINY RIIIICK. Rick, being transformed into his tinier self so he can deal with a vampire threat at the kids’ school, fits seamlessly into the school scenario; the fact that he is an old man living in a child’s body is just sort of not mentioned, in typical Rick and Morty fashion, and it’s beautiful. The intergalactic marriage counsellor outlines in horrifying detail the Smith parents’ dysfunctional marriage, to a rather sweet and charming climax, where Jerry’s glowing, idealised anthropomorphic vision of Beth brings them together again. The highlight of the episode of is Rick’s journey into hardcore, Elliott Smith teen angst, leading him into a fit of murderous rage against various clones he’s made of himself.

11 – Rixty Minutes (S1, E2)

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This episode is another glorious showcase of Harmon and Roiland’s talent for creating short, memorable gags; Rick upgrades the Smith family’s TV package to include shows from infinite realities. Highlights include Detective Baby Legs (“I feel like I don’t need no Regular Leg Partner”) and the self-explanatory Ants In My Eyes Johnson. The real emotional meat and potatoes of the episode comes from Beth, Jerry and Summer’s use of inter-dimensional goggles, to show the wildly different paths their lives could have gone. Summer’s emotional breakdown upon learning her parents might be happier without her is soothed by Morty, who dishes out perhaps one of the hardest-hitting quotes of the series: “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody is going to die… Come watch TV?” This episode has earned high praise, and for good reason; not many animated shows gracefully juxtapose Sartrean philosophy with characters like Strawberry Smiggles.

10 – Mortynight Run (S2,E2)

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Oh boy, here I go reviewin’ again. The show yet again mixes diverse genres and devices to create a gorgeous philosophical clusterfuck; the video game Roy, a simulation of an entire human life that Morty briefly plays, features more character development than some shows can manage in a whole season. Rick and Morty’s debates about the moral implication of arms deals wouldn’t be out of place in a “Serious Show(™)” Jermaine Clement’s character Fart produces one of the finest songs not only in this series, but in TV in general. The Jerry Daycare subplot also holds strong; the emotional exploration of Jerry’s mental state always provides compelling viewing, and Morty’s climactic decision to put the protection of human life above all else is an extremely powerful moment.

9 – Total Rickall (S2,E4)

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A glorious clusterfuck of one-off characters helps to make this episode one of the show’s zaniest and most exciting. The premise of alien parasites attempting to take over the Smith family home starts off small with Uncle Steve, evolving to its logical conclusion of a whole house filled with oddballs such as Tinkles the Fairylamb, Pencilvestyr, Photography Raptor, and Reverse Giraffe. What elevates this episode to higher levels, though, is how the emotional pathos manages to cut through the chaos; Sleepy Gary is another instalment in Jerry’s history of tragic, doomed friendships. The philosophical implications of memories being implanted as if they were already there is terrifying, and Rick’s struggle to keep tabs on reality builds genuine tension throughout the episode. The family’s reminiscence of horrible memories only serves to build their deep familial bonds, as it is the bad times, rather than the good, that bring and keep them together.

8 – Get Schwifty (S2,E4)

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Forced to appear on an intergalactic X Factor, where losing planets are destroyed, Rick and Morty rise to the occasion by penning the insanely catchy Get Schwifty (take a shit on the floooooooooor), which eventually secures Earth’s safety. The rest of the Smith family mistakes the talent show judges for new overlords and quickly find themselves in a cult. Cartoons have changed a bit since I was a wee lad. This episode does what all brilliant Rick and Morty episodes to; take a simple-enough premise, push it to its logical conclusion, and squeeze it for hilarity at every step. The action and tension builds and builds, featuring cameos from Ice T and Keith David, until our heroes restore safety and sanity. One viewing of this episode will keep Get Schwifty in your head for years and years and years.

7 – Auto Erotic Assimilation (S2,E3)

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Rick Sanchez has a documented sexual appetite, but no more so than in this episode, where he essentially fucks an entire planet. A planet populated by a hivemind, whose peaceful harmony is very much threatened by the arrival of Rick, who along with his grandchildren, disrupt the calm and inject their own brand of chaos. Rick’s depravity and debauchery brings the hivemind back down to his level, as he does with so many other characters. The episode features perhaps the most emotionally powerful ending of the series; Rick, distraught from the breakup, creates a living creature just to kill it, and then attempts to do the same to himself. Rick is an incredibly flawed individual, but a troubled one as well, and the audience is taken on an emotional odyssey in the space of mere minutes, as he struggles to cope with his loss.

6 – The Ricks Must Be Crazy (S2, E6)

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Rick Sanchez is already an alcoholic, and a dangerously bad influence, but in this episode, we find out he has slaves; slaves that exist to run his car battery, and nothing else. The premise of his “micro-verse” is pushed to its logical conclusion, when his micro-verse has created its own mini-verse, and the mini-verse has created its own teeny-verse. This episode perfectly showcases Rick’s cynical nihilism, and his all-consuming desire to get other people to do stuff for him. The real star of the episode is the subplot, where the car Summer is trapped in, commanded by Rick to “Keep Summer Safe”, goes to chilling lengths to do so. At the episode’s climax, Morty’s insistence on showing Rick the error of his ways and the consequences of his actions leads to precisely zero character development for Rick, and he takes his grandchildren to get ice cream. It’s an incredibly psychologically-arresting episode, and it’s fucking beautiful.

5 – Rick Potion #9 (S1,E6)

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In an attempt to get a girl to fall in love with Morty, Rick accidentally creates a virus that infects the entire world population with a powerful erotic desire for Morty. The things we do for love. In one of the defining emotional moments of the series, Rick and Morty bury versions of themselves in their own back garden, after they are killed in an alternate universe, and in typical Sanchez style, decide to just start all over again. This nihilism is at the heart of the show, and while Rick appears blithely resigned to this particular character trait, this event clearly affects Morty, and Rick’s cynicism begins to infect him, just as the virus infected everyone else. This episode hits a harder existential point than most, and it’s what makes it so powerful.

4 – Interdimensional Cable #2: Tempting Fate (S2,E8)

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Carrying on from ‘Rixty Minutes’, this episode again features shows from all the infinite universes, and is a laugh-every-ten-seconds, sprawling, dizzying, sketch show-esque nugget of genius. Set against the zany featurettes is Jerry being asked to donate his penis as it closely resembles the heart needed to transplant to civil rights leader Shrimply Pibbles, voiced inexplicably by actual Werner Herzog. As a microcosm for Jerry’s character, he is initially reluctant, but is desperately eager to please, and offended when his refusal is met with contempt, leading to an explicit, near-murderous rage. The interdimensional cable skits, though, are the stars of the episode, turning it into one of those rare showcases of genius where the audience can actually feel themselves being taken on the creative journey of the writers in real time.

3 – The Rickshank Rickdemption (S3,E1)

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As April Fools’ Day pranks go, Adult Swim played a blinder with this one. Held in interminable anguish after the Season 2 finale, fans rejoiced when this episode dropped out of nowhere this year. Spawning what looks like it’ll be one of the show’s most iconic memes in ‘szechuan sauce’, this episode perfectly hyped us for the new season, and actually made me feel a modicum of sympathy for Jerry, with the news of his and Beth’s impending divorce. The climax of the show takes on a noticeably darker tone, with Rick outright boasting of his sociopathy and his deceit in turning Beth against Jerry. His drunken, manic rant at the episode’s end hints towards a dangerous Rick in the third season, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we can’t fucking wait.

2 – Meeseeks and Destroy (S1,E5)

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If you’ve watched Rick and Morty, and you’ve ever been in a club smoking area with someone who also watches Rick and Morty, you’ll have done a thousand Meeseeks impressions if you’ve ever done one. This episode pushes the seemingly harmless premise to its logical conclusion, with seemingly thousands of creatures screaming maniacally at Jerry to improve his golf game. It builds and builds throughout the episode towards a satisfying climax, and the Meeseeks characters remain one of the most iconic characters in the series. The subplot featuring our titular heroes also holds very strong; most animated series don’t feature scenes of attempted rape by jellybean royalty. It’s impossible to quantify how fucking good this episode, and this show, really is. Watch the episode. Watch it. I’m Mr Meeseeks, look at me, watch it.

1 – The Wedding Squanchers (S2,E10)

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This episode is sublime, and it’s brilliant, and I love it and love it and love it. Featuring sublime writing, a shocking climactic sequence, and gutwrenching pathos, this episode, the Season 2 finale, is one of the funniest of the entire series. The episode sets up Season 3 brilliantly, and leaves open several story possibilities; Rick’s imprisonment, for “everything”, leaves the audience on a goddamn good cliffhanger for Season 3, and the family’s travels through multiple planets in the galaxy really portrays their deep emotional bonds. Rick’s disdain for Jerry is shown to be mostly surface-deep, as he truly cares about the family’s safety, and gives himself up so that the family can be safe without him.

The episode brings closure to an incredibly good season while still building anticipation for new episodes; Jerry finally gets a job, Rick gets some sort of temporary comeuppance, and Morty’s despair tugs on our god damn heartstrings more than a silly animated show really should.





“I’ll See You Again In 25 Years” – The Troubled Production of Twin Peaks

By Olivia Armstrong (@starcadet96)

The revival of David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s cult-hit TV show Twin Peaks has been the talk of forums and twitter following its release in May 2017. Originally airing in 1991, the show quickly gained traction as one of the most influential shows of the 90s and inspired many later works who have taken influence or inspiration (including the Silent Hill game series, Gravity Falls, Welcome to Night Vale and that’s only a few). Despite only last two seasons and being cancelled following season 2, its influence cannot be overstated and the revival has served to enthral long-time fans and introduce newcomers who are equally dazzled by its eccentric creativity.

But, some may wonder, if the show left such an impact on pop culture and was seen by many as ahead of its time, why now after so long is the series being continued and why was the it cancelled in the first place?

There are many mysteries to be solved in the town of Twin Peaks but the biggest is the death of town darling and prom queen, Laura Palmer, who is found on a beach infamously wrapped in plastic. When the Twin Peaks police department and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper are called to investigate and solve Laura’s murder, they find that almost everyone around them has something to hide and even the town itself may have a much darker face lurking beneath the surface.

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Despite a positive reception to season one, things started to shift gears a bit during season 2. While still well-liked, executives were becoming concerned that the series ambiguity and slow pacing concerning the central mystery would wear thin on the audience’s patience. Therefore, there was immense executive pressure placed on creators Mark Frost and David Lynch to reveal the killer earlier than they intended because they were afraid of people losing interest and the ratings dropping. This cultivated with Laura’s killer being revealed in episode 16 (which is the single best episode of the show). Due to the reveal and subsequently the Laura Palmer story-line being wrapped up a few episodes later, the cast and crew were essentially left with half a season and no idea what to do with it.

This is not to say the show became completely plot-less or there was any lack of charm in the characters. After the end of the Laura Palmer arc, many of the subplots underlining the main mystery were given a lot more focus and this is where the series kept strong, giving us established conflicts and the development of more out-of-focus characters. However, many audiences and critics agreed the series did not nearly have the hook it once had with the Laura Palmer mystery and it took several episodes for the show to fully recover from having the mystery forcibly solved and pull itself back up into a solid season. And by then, it was pretty much already too late and it was moved by the network to one of the lowest rated time-slots on television (Saturday nights at 10), sealing its fate.

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It didn’t help that some subplots involved new characters who weren’t nearly as enthralling (seriously, where did John Justice Wheeler come from? The land of bland?) and the expansion of some characters who definitely didn’t deserve the screen time (James’ season 2 subplot in particular is almost painful in how long it is and how little it accomplishes in terms of plot or development).

There was still a lot of the quirky charm and humour that drew fans in but without the dark undercurrent of the teenage prom queen’s murder, the stakes didn’t feel nearly as high as they once did. Despite having a fairly strong finish and ending on what many consider the most surreal and one of the best episodes of the show to date with a titanic-sized cliff-hanger, it didn’t stop the series inevitable cancellation after the season 2 finale. It was in this episode that the enigmatic Laura Palmer uttered the iconic line to Dale Cooper “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” Of all the lines in the episode, this one was at least comprehensible but no less puzzling. Following the revival however and an almost recreation of the same scene 25 years on in the first episode, the line takes on a whole new meaning, suggesting this may have been Lynch’s intention all along or simply a joke on his part should he ever be allowed to continue the story.

This also undoubtedly played a role in the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me being received so poorly with critics and audiences. Fans who were left wanted answers about the season 2 finale and were disappointed to see the movie was a prequel about the life of Laura Palmer and many critics also felt the show had run out of steam by this point and the movie was the final example of Lynch beating a dead horse.

Over the years, critical reception to the movie has softened considerably to the point where some even consider it an underrated masterpiece and even Lynch’s best film (myself included). But most agree it was largely tainted due to its association with Twin Peaks, not only due to the season 2 cliff-hanger but also because it took a largely different tone from the series, being much darker and more nightmarish due to Lynch having complete control over the project (whereas the original series was a collaboration between him and Mark Frost). It was a box office failure and critic Vincent Canby even went as far as to famously state “it’s not the worst movie ever made; it just seems to be.” This was taken as the final sign that Twin Peaks was truly dead and buried and some of the mysterious town’s biggest secrets may never be revealed.

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That is, until several years ago, when it was announced in 2014 that a continuation was being planned by Lynch and Frost and produced by Showtime. Despite denying for years that they would ever return to the town of Twin Peaks, both creators finally decided to continue the story in real time, with 25 years also having passed in-universe. No less than 37 actors and original series composer Angelo Badalamenti returned to reprise their roles. Which brings us to the present – 2017. Despite being in his twilight years where many would have retired from directing at this point, Lynch still felt there was some unfinished business with the quirky residents of Twin Peaks and their stories needed to be continued. At the time of this writing, eight episodes of The Return have been aired and the first two parts were shown at the Cannes Film Festival – the same festival that viciously booed Fire Walk With Me in 1992. Lynch received a five-minute standing ovation from the audience.

In a way, maybe he was always meant to return because as much as he’s clearly not finished with Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks it seems is also not finished with him.





TV Review: GLOW

By Will Hardie (@netflixandwill)

Spoiler alert: you like wrestling. Wrestling is storytelling distilled to its purest base contents: there is a force of good, there is a force of evil, there is a conflict, and there is a resolution. Wrestling is the last true performance art, in this huge wrestling nerd’s humble opinion, and GLOW, the new Netflix series based on the real-life 1980s women’s wrestling company Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, conveys this fantastically.

The show follows a myriad of characters, both in their “staged” wrestling personas, and authentic selves, through their attempts to start a women’s wrestling promotion. The director Sam Sylvia, the archetypal sleazy horror movie director played expertly by Marc Maron, is assigned the task of casting women to play wrestlers for a TV pilot; ranging from Alison Brie’s lead character Ruth, a struggling actress newly entranced with the world of wrestling, Betty Gilpin’s Debbie, an established soap actress juggling a newborn baby with a broken-down marriage, actual Kate Nash off of the music charts and everything playing British model Rhonda, and Gayle Rankin’s Sheila The She-Wolf, who finds that the “costume” she finds herself wearing every day is not too dissimilar to the wrestling personas adopted by others.

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between GLOW and Netflix-stalwart Orange is the New Black, created by the executive producer of GLOW; certainly, the female-driven ensemble cast and the gritty storylines draw more than their fair share of similarities, but GLOW definitely shines brightly in and of itself. The attention to detail in terms of the period setting is spot-on; however many leotards you think there might be in an athletic-focused 10-episode series, there are definitely more. There’s also a gratuitous roller-skating scene, because of course there is. It features a range of complex characters, each with their own unique motivations and reasons for getting into the wrestling business, and each character is given room to grow throughout the 10 episodes. For an ensemble cast, there is a refreshing lack of stock characters.

The show perfectly captures the camp, cheesy gloriousness that was the 1980s, wrestling, and 1980s wrestling. The blending of real life and the hyper-exaggeration of professional wrestling matches is effortlessly displayed in Debbie’s realisation that wrestling is just a soap opera with added brutality. And motorcycles. And fireworks, and crowns, and glitz and glamour, and anything that makes the base senses swell and excite towards a terrific climax. Cameos from real professional wrestlers, both on the show itself and behind the scenes, help add to the show’s sense of authenticity, and the range of storylines, will keep you hooked at every turn.

GLOW deals with the balance of real-life interpersonal conflict, and staged, hyper-exaggerated conflicts in the context of a wrestling ring; the audience comes to realise, however, that there is very little difference between the two. GLOW highlights the wrestling-ness of the real world, and the real world-ness of wrestling; in Sunita Mani’s character Arthie’s struggles to draw on her heritage to play a problematic “bad guy” character that draws seemingly real anger and revulsion from the braying mob of a wrestling audience, we see the intense blurring of the lines between “characters” and their actors. It becomes hard to distinguish from the “fake” rivalries between wrestling characters, and the real rifts between their creators.

The show does not shy away from addressing wrestling’s tricky public image; rather, through the character of yuppie producer Sebastian “Bash” Howard, there is a real effort on the part of the show’s creators to highlight positively those with a genuine passion for the pageantry, the extravagance, and the visceral brutality of wrestling. GLOW puts forward the case that wrestling fandom is not something to make apologies for, or to hide away from, but to be celebrated for its ability to bring people together.

Put simply, GLOW is a loveletter to the art of wrestling, and it makes no apologies for being such. It’s satire. It’s comedy. It’s tragedy. It’s romance. It’s everything a storytelling medium can and should be. You might not be a wrestling fan at the moment. After GLOW, your curiosity might just have been peaked. If it is, watch some Sasha Banks matches on YouTube. You won’t regret it.










TV REVIEW: Master of None – Season 2

By Fraser Nunn (@badknitbear)

Allora! Turns out it just means ‘well’ but I can’t help but agree with our main man Dev Shah: it’s a pretty word.

Master of None seemed to catch everyone by surprise, Aziz Ansari previously being primarily seen as the pain in the ass Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation. I think a lot of us expected something more akin to his Parks and Rec role for Master of None season one but his performance as Dev Shah surprised us by being an incredibly deep ‘little bud’ that is full of life, energy and love.  If anyone watched the first series without wanting to hug him every time he smiled then I would argue that they don’t deserve Netflix. Now that the show has returned for a second season, let’s venture into this series full of wit, heart and, most importantly, pasta.

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Dev spends the early parts of the second series getting over his break-up with Rachel, and it’s evidently a pretty pivotal theme of the early half of the series: Dev spends a lot of quality alone time (not the bathroom kind), eventually meeting and gaining the phone number of a very nice British lady and then immediately losing said number to a thief. The black and white of this episode in the setting of Moderna, (vaguely ironic I suppose) makes the episode absolutely stunning and there’s something about riding a little bike around Italy and making pasta in black and white that just makes me want to be Dev.
We also see Dev dining on more pasta alone, and with his big bud, the lovable Arnold. Arnie teaches him how to say “hi cutie” to some ‘hi cuties’ and Dev takes this as an excuse to send a little ‘hi cutie’ flirtatious Gif to Rachel.  We get some obligatory pasta scenes in “Osteria Francescana”, one of the world’s best restaurants and honestly you can try not to salivate over it but that scene is amazing.  Arnie also has some ulterior motives in regards to his own lost loves which Dev has to talk him down from with the help of some tasty melon and a scooter trip. It gives Arnold some serious scenes which he sells incredibly well but it maintains its comic brilliance behind it so that no one sinks into some terrible depression over any lost loves in their own lives.

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“La Nozze” allows Arnie to bring our little Dev back to the Big Apple and back to his friends and family and new gig, hosting ‘Clash of the Cupcakes’. When back in New York, Dev has a difficult situation to face with his parents: they ask him to lie to his super religious relatives about his dedication to his faith and of course Dev obliges but feels off, he is eventually persuaded to tell the truth after a chance encounter with Denise when Dev and his Cousin skip Eid prayer to go to a Barbecue and eat Hella pork with a wide set bearded man. Obviously, this causes friction between Dev and his parents who ,I’ve got to say, I thoroughly enjoy watching on screen. Dev’s Dad Ramesh seems to quickly resolve everything by letting Dev know that he can do what he wants, eat pork, “smoke Mary Jane” but doing these things infront of his mum is not cool and “it hurts her feelings”. Soon after Dev and his mum reconcile and it just manages to be another amazing episode in the series and is probably one of my favourites of the second season.

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The season continues, as does the theme of break ups, seeing Dev start to delve into the terrifying and daunting world of online dating. It’s immediately clear that they’re tackling both the ease of access of the new online dating community as well as the idea of over dating: you can see Dev meets a total mix of people from friends he already knew, new friends he thought he had a chance with and the racist he goes home with. This episode lets us see into the world of moving on and Dev stares down rejection and girls he has no interest in, and through that we see some hilarious interactions and truly awkward moments and a totally new side to Dev and the way it’s cut makes each First Date work so well together.

We start to see a bit of a shift in the direction of the series when Dev’s lovely Italian friend comes over from Moderna. Francesca and Pino take a trip to New York, while Dev weighs up his happiness at “Clash of The Cupcakes” as we see him growing more and more unenthusiastic about his “uninspiring” role. Dev and Francesca visit a musuem together and start to catch up while Pino has to work. This is the first time we see Dev start to mix his work and personal life, as he meets up with producer and celebrity Chef Jeff who invites him and a guest to a dinner party. Dev weighs up who to take, contemplating one of the girls from the previous episode, but after 2 dates the conversation has gone flat (not sparkling) so instead he takes Francesca and immediately we see the flicker of excitement as something starts to brew beneath the surface. This episode is probably one that doesn’t have as much magic as the rest of the Series but Dev’s interactions are amazing, and there’s no doubt romance is in the air as soon as the John Legend cameos behind a grand piano.

It’s not often you see a series step away from its main character and focus on the people they pass on the street. Master of None manages this beautifully as we meet a barrage of New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives. We meet Eddie the doorman, the loveliest doorman in New York, a man who does everything he can for those who inhabit his building. He attempts to medicate a parakeet on incredibly vague instruction, and is taken advantage of by a horny Mr Strickland and his mistress. When caught, Strickland lets out a tyrade against the poor doorman, who ain’t taking none of it. Honestly this segment is excellent, a primarily ignored doorman becomes the sole focus and it sits so well, it’s easy to love Eddie and it’s just as easy to love Maya, the store clerk who is having a little trouble in the bedroom department.

Maya is deaf and it makes for one of the most interesting scenes in the series, with no sound and all interactions in subtitled American sign language, it’s easy for the characters to think they have privacy, and their topic of conversation provides one of the funniest scenes of the show so far.

The transitions were amazing and we’re led seamlessly into meeting Samuel the taxi driver who lives in a cramped little apartment with his roommates. They save up their cash to head out for a night on the town and get turned away from the nightclub they’re hoping for, eventually being persuaded into a shady little bar blasting ‘vengaboys’. The boys leave and meet a group of girls and they get to partying in a closed burger shop! Once again, it’s just an incredible sequence which manages to create a sense of belonging for these characters who are simply passersby in the life of Dev as they all venture to the Cinema.

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Vaguely reminiscent of the episode dedicated to parents in season one, we have door 3. Dev grows increasingly exasperated by his job hosting Clash of the Cupcakes, leading him to seek wisdom from papa Ramesh (the best part of any episode). Dev’s story is not the sole focus here as well, as we see Dev’s good friend Brian and his dad, who has just started dating again. Caught between two woman, who each have a trait Brian’s dad can’t resist. Honestly, the interactions between both father and son parties makes this episode amazing, incredibly funny and one warning to anyone who visits Dr Ramesh Shah’s practice, don’t touch his trinkets. Dev’s story leads to him having the opportunity to pitch a new show idea to Chef Jeff, which he takes to immediately but Dev’s mind is elsewhere with the news of Francesca and Pino’s engagement. 

It’s not often that you get two absolute belters from a show but that’s exactly what Master of None consistently offers, especially when after ‘New York, I love you’ we are gifted the absolute peach that is Dev’s Thanksgiving traditions. The episode is primarily flashbacks seeing the growth of his friendship with Denise or apparently… DD. It shows Dev’s relationship with Denise’s family and how welcomed he is as part of the family. We see how Denise’s mum and her aunt take to the relationships she has, their reactions to her coming out as a lesbian and her partners. Denise’s mum struggles with the idea at the time but Denise knew from a young age and shared the information with Dev. Thanksgiving gives the opportunity for Denise to introduce her partners to her family and some go down better than others (nipplesandtoes23. Not nipples&toes23. Nipplesandtoes23). But this episode is riddled with poignant emotional moments that are full of love and humour and seeing Dev in this kind of family shows how tight he is with his friends, and how much love he has for them.

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By this point we somehow find ourselves at the last few episodes of the season and the only problem so far has been “how did we get to the end already”. It’s one of those whirlwind series that disappear before your very eyes. It maintains focus and it feels like the main story is simply a side plot for the simple reason that it is a side plot. Dev’s life is the main story, and the Best Food Friends storyline and the Francesca storyline slide in to be a massive part of his life. I don’t actually want to ruin any of this for anyone who’s still to catch the last few episodes. The rest of the series is one of those series where nothing major happens and nothing really exists as a spoiler but the last two episodes are what everything has been leading up to and none of it disappoints!

The series as a whole is full of warmth: it’s beautiful, poignant and smart. It’s witty and has a sense of normalcy about it. There’s no extravagance, no bells or whistles, just a lot of love in the life of everyone’s little bud, Dev. Give it a go if you like understated, if you like colourful, if you like character based humour or if you like dramady: in short, just give it a go.