Is Hannibal Buress the Architect of Eric Andre’s Pain? The Fan Theory No One Asked For

If you aren’t familiar with it, The Eric Andre Show is a post-modern talk show starring Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress, two comedians who are either parodying a late night show or trying to escape one.

the-eric-andre-show
Hannibal Buress on the left, Eric Andre on the right

In its description of the show, Hulu describes it as the “most manic and unorthodox late night talk show ever made,” calling Andre “inept and bipolar” and Buress “his apathetic co-host.” The AV Club says “what most distinguishes The Eric Andre Show is its disintegration.” MediaLife Magazine, in a furious review, calls it “slapdash, noisy, annoying and not funny.” IndieWire, in a review of its fourth season, calls it “some beautiful chaos.”

But the review that still haunts me and informs my entire viewing of the show is one on IMDB, titled Is This Comedy?  The author, diesixdie, describes the experience of The Eric Andre Show with such troubling precision and insight that it has informed my view The Eric Andre Show ever since:

“We seem to be viewing some sort inescapable closed universe containing nothing but an endless slightly nightmarish talk show. It feels like a bad dream, half remembered. It feels like there’s some unspeakable horror lurking just off-camera that the people on-stage can see, but, we can’t, and they can only stay safe by pretending to ignore it.”

This season, the show’s nightmare elements have only magnified and escalated. Zombies crawl from the floor. Crewmembers fall from the ceiling. Andre’s desk gives birth to a baby desk. Cockroaches and snakes emerge from the set, frightening the celebrities who have, for some reason, agreed to an interview.  Continue reading “Is Hannibal Buress the Architect of Eric Andre’s Pain? The Fan Theory No One Asked For”

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Some Commenters Just Want to Watch the Internet Burn

A strange thing happened today.

Those of you who have read this blog with any regularity will recall my True Detective review in which I offered a fan theory about the fate of Ross Geller’s son, Ben. It was a strange blog post, in that it ended up being a theory about a show I haven’t watched in years. The other strange thing about that blog post is that it got a lot of attention, showing up referenced or summarized on Entertainment Weekly, Hello Giggles, Cosmo, Redbook, Refinery29, and a series of other websites.

I’ve written about the reactions to my Ross Geller fan theory a few times, most notably in a post entitled “Commenters Gonna Comment”, in which I pondered the angry and hostile comments that readers leave on inconsequential pieces of pop culture writing. Continue reading “Some Commenters Just Want to Watch the Internet Burn”

The Real Ending of Breaking Bad: No One is Okay

With Saul Goodman once again gracing our televisions as of last week, it’s a good time to reflect on Breaking Bad. Specifically, on its final episode, the polarizing finale entitled “Felina.”

Of course, many people loved the finale. But, on the other hand, there were those who found no satisfaction in it. Or, more accurately, they found no satisfaction  because they found it to be too satisfying,  too easy for both Walter White and his audience.

Breaking-Bad-Felina-Heisenberg
A moment from Walter White’s final return home.

Unrealistic, people said. Too happy and too smooth, they said. The consensus of many seemed to be that the last episode had abandoned the realism of the show in favor of a (relatively) happy ending.

In The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum called it “closure-happy” in and said it felt like  we were watching “a dying fantasy on the part of Walter White.”The Wrap called it “too perfect.” Maureen Ryan of the Huffington Post said it felt like “mopping-up exercises.”  A common argument floated around that the fourteenth episode of the final season, “Ozymandias,” should have been the end. Or that the penultimate episode, “Granite State,” with its ambiguous cliffhanger ending, should’ve been it. One redditor suggested that “Ozymandias” was the actual ending, and various bloggers argued that yes, the entire final episode was a dying fantasy, a cancer dream in the mind of Walter White.

I do agree with one aspect of this criticism: we should not view the ending as being the true ending. But I think that there is a third way to view the finale. No, it wasn’t a dying fantasy of everyone’s favorite cancer-ridden drug dealer anti-hero. But no, it wasn’t “closure-happy” or “too easy” either. Continue reading “The Real Ending of Breaking Bad: No One is Okay”

The Most Important Ross Geller Analysis of 2015

With the year ending, it’s time to write and reflect about something that I had never thought about until 2015: the Friends character Ross Geller, portrayed by David Schwimmer.

ross-friends
This guy.

During August of this year, I wrote an article in which I suggested that perhaps Ross lost custody of his son, Ben Geller, in the later seasons of Friends.

Two strange things happened after this: this blog began to receive more traffic than it ever had before, as my theory was huff-and-posted across the internet during two mild waves of virality. My theory was often described as “heartbreaking,” which surprised me, granted that the entire theory was that Ross was an unfit father and disturbed man who deserved to lose his son, and that Ben still had two good parents even without Ross in his life.

ben-friends
This kid had two good parents and one really bad one. Probably better if the bad one just disappeared altogether, which is what appears to have happened?

The second strange thing – which is what this blog post is about – is that I began to notice Ross Geller everywhere. It seemed strange. Continue reading “The Most Important Ross Geller Analysis of 2015”

Commenters Gonna Comment: Responses to a Ross Geller Fan Theory

After several waves of intermediate virality regarding a theory about Friends, this blog and its author have received some very entertaining feedback, through the legions of recappers, bloggers, and commenters that have thoughts and feelings regarding my suggestion that Ross Geller was an inept father who lost custody of his son. My initial response, when reading some of these, was to want to go out there and argue with people.

Instead, I remembered something important: haters are inevitably going to hate. As proven by the celebrities who read mean tweets about themselves, the best thing to do is laugh and shrug and keep doing what you’re doing.

You guys really that mad at me for making fun of this guy?
You guys really that mad at me for making fun of this guy?

So here are some of the rave reviews that I’ve received:

“…completely ridiculous.” – Michelle B, commenter on Huffington Post.

“What a waste.” – Sally K, commenter on Huff Post.

“….what a bunch of dribble….” – Patrise S, commenter on Huff Post.

“This is stupid.” – Jessica F S, commenter on Huff Post.

“Seriously? I think a hobby is needed…” – Melissa S-A, commenter on Huff Post.

“Anyone who spends this much time analyzing character on a comedy, yes – a fictionalized version of peoples lives, has way too much time on his or her hands. Do something productive!” – Lori M. H., commenter on Huff Post.

“He’s not a bad professor.” – Nait A. C., commenter on Huff Post.

“Waaaaay too much time on your hands” – Jay R., commenter on Huff Post.

“Way too much time on your hands. How many years ago was this show cancelled?” – Deborah B., commenter on Huff Post.

“Someone has way too much free time.” – Ephy K, commenter on Huff Post.

“Coming to all of these conclusions would be like arguing for statistics based on the frequency of extremely rare medical cases all occurring in Princeton-Plainsboro from House M.D. …” – Vadim B

“…maybe the child actor who played Ross’s son had to be somewhere else, like school.” – Ariel Karlin, someecards.com

“Or more likely, the boy or boys, playing Ben actually had some career success with Big Daddy and decided not to be on the show anymore.” – Joseph F.

“…smells of SJW…” and “This author has sympthoms of feminazi.” – Honza8D, on the Friends subreddit. (SJW, I learned, means “Social Justice Warrior.” Huh. Okay. Thank you!)

Now brace yourself for this one, because it’s long but it’s a good one:

“I just finished binge watching Friends from beginning to end on netflix, over the course of a few months. Friends had a lot of internal inconsistencies which indicate that actually it’s not a show where you should put a lot of effort into logically understanding. For example in one episode Chandler flies to Yemen and in the following episode (one week later) there is no mention of Yemen. It takes practically a week just to fly to Yemen and return. In another episode Joey’s eyebrows are destroyed and in the following episode, another week later, his eyebrows have returned to normal. This is a show that can be enjoyed for the wonderful acting and wonderful writing and jokes, but that is not a holy text to be understood through study and close analysis. It’s more like Gilligan’s Island, less like Lost. What is going on here is that Lovett has his own dead horses to beat, and is using old episodes of Friends to beat those horses.” – Peter J, commenter on Huffington Post.

Haters will hate

I’ll leave one response to all of this: over-thinking things is fun. Blogging is one of several fulfilling hobbies that I have, and a hobby I would recommend to all the angry internet commenters.

And to answer one more question I’ve gotten: No, I’m not much of a Friends fan. If you recall from the original post, I thought of this while watching True Detective, not because I watch Friends. I didn’t watch a single episode of Friends while writing this theory. I’ve never even seen most of the episodes. It took, from start to finish, about one hour to research this theory on Wikipedia and a few other sites, and another hour to crank out the original blog post, which has now been viewed by over 10,000 people. (My favorite recap of my theory is the one on Cinema Blend, because it’s the only one to consider my thoughts on True Detective and Ray Velcoro.)

Or, as Chad Velcoro would say: “K.”

K.
K.

Commenters gonna comment.

For those of you who enjoy this kind of thing, help yourself to some more fan theories here.

Does Every Episode of The Simpsons Take Place in a Different Universe?

It’s Halloween season, which means all the usual trappings that come with this time of year: pumpkins, corn mazes, shockingly-early Christmas advertisements, and the annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode of The Simpsons.

“Treehouse of Horror” is a pillar of The Simpsons, referred to by The AV Club as “a reliably inventive exercise in non-canonical Simpsons fun.” Wikipedia tells us that these episodes “take place outside the show’s normal continuity and completely abandon any pretense of being realistic.”

One of many Treehouses of Horror.
One of many Treehouses of Horror.

But as I thought about the upcoming “Treehouse of Horror” episode, which I may or may not watch, I started to wonder: do the regular episodes of The Simpsons all take place in the same continuum? Are they actually one story about one family in one town in one universe? Is there such thing as a canonical Simpsons episode? Does The Simpsons make any sense at all?

And thus, a new fan theory: every single episode of The Simpsons takes place in a different universe.

My suggestion is that every time we see an episode of The Simpsons, we are getting a glimpse into a slightly different version of Springfield and this family. There is an infinite amount of universes in which The Simpsons exist. No two episodes show us precisely the same family or the same world. Sure, sometimes a character will remember something from a previous episode, but they are only remembering a similar instance to what we previously saw. Every Lisa, Bart, Homer, Marge, Maggie, and the rest of them are always slightly different, like the differing iterations of Spock and Kirk between the old Star Trek and the new one.

If every episode is a different universe, this theory explains all the continuity issues and changing details.

The Simpsons, like many cartoons, refuses to allow its characters to age while the world around them changes. This is not unique to this cartoon, but there are many issues that have arisen, both in addition to this and beyond this. A few of them:

  • Homer and Marge were once Baby Boomers; now they’re on the young end of Generation X.
  • Waylon Smithers used to be black.
  • Homer once was in a Grammy-winning band, which appears to have been mostly forgotten and irrelevant.
  • Seymour Skinner was revealed to be an impostor, with a stolen-identity Draper-esque plotline, before the entire town agreed to never speak of it again.
  • Apu’s children age while other characters (such as Maggie, who should be older than them) stay the same age.
Remember
Remember “The Principal and the Pauper,” in which Principal Skinner is revealed to be an impostor, and then no episode ever mentions it again? Was that the only universe in which this strange event happened?

It explains the evidence behind  “the Tesseract theory.”

In addition to the issues above, there are some really bonkers ones, that some have argued can only be explained through the idea that Springfield exists outside time and space. Examples like:

  • George Bush lives next door to The Simpsons in a mansion that doesn’t exist in other episodes
  • West Springfield is three times the size of Texas.
  • There’s a mountain called the Murderhorn that doesn’t otherwise exist.
  • Paul McCartney lived above the town’s convenient store.
Hard to believe that this moment is meant to be remembered by the characters in every subsequent episode.
Hard to believe that this moment is meant to be remembered by the characters in every subsequent episode.

This theory would not only eliminate the need for such a “tesseract fan theory,” but also eliminates the need and evidence for the “Homer is in a coma” theory.

It explains why no one ever learns any lessons.

Episodes of The Simpsons regularly end with a character learning a lesson. Or multiple characters. Or the entire town. But when the next episode begins, these lessons aren’t remembered. The events that triggered them rarely even are.

This might be the greatest example of a lack of continuity. How many times has Homer tried to be a better father, a better husband, a better man? How many times has he quit drinking? Unlike Randy Marsh or Sterling Archer, an action that Homer does in one episode will have no effect on himself in a future episode. And what happened to all the role models that Lisa has had: does she remember Bleeding Gums Murphy?

And perhaps that is why this theory is needed: it makes us feel better about the lessons that the characters gain from their triumphs and pitfalls. Imagine that there are countless versions of Homer who has learned his lessons, countless successful Lisas. Perhaps a version of Barney Gumble who is still sober. Maybe even a version of Homer who didn’t have the crayon re-inserted into his brain. 

And finally, this theory explains what happened to Troy McClure.

Is any character more missed?
Is any character more missed?

Perhaps, if this theory is true, there are universes where Phil Hartman’s Troy McClure still exists.

Enjoy this? Check out more Fan Theories here.

Can Spectre Disprove the “James Bond is a Brainwashed Codename” Theory?

If there is one fan theory I love above all others, it’s that James Bond is a codename. I’ve written about this extensively, including my own unique take on it, which is that James Bond is a codename given to every agent who has been brainwashed into believing that:

  • his name is James Bond,
  • it has always been James Bond,
  • there are no other James Bonds before him
  • he grew up at a place called Skyfall.

My interpretation, as described thoroughly in my post “Yes, Indeed, James Bond is a Codename,” (which was then thoroughly discussed and dissected in a reddit post on the subject) takes most of its evidence from the film Skyfall, including the relationship between Judi Dench’s M and Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva. I believe it’s implied that Silva is an agent previously brainwashed into thinking himself Bond.

This guy.
This guy.

But what does all of this mean when considering the new James Bond film, Spectre?

What do we already know about Spectre?

Many people already consider Skyfall to have disproved the codename theory, arguing that the graves of the dead Bond parents and the visit to Bond’s family estate prove he can’t possibly be a guy whose nickname/codename is Bond. Plus, as people always point out, we already know James Bond’s codename: 007.

Either the gravestones of Bond's parents... or another detail in the grand brainwashing codename conspiracy. I prefer the latter interpretation.
Either the gravestones of Bond’s parents… or another detail in the grand brainwashed James Bond codename conspiracy. I prefer the latter interpretation.

This dig into Bond’s backstory appears to go deeper in Spectre, with the catalyst for the film’s action apparently involving a box of possessions from Skyfall. And the villain is none other than Christoph Waltz, who is either:

  • classic Bond villain Blofeld
  • a new character named Franz Oberhauser
  • or both.

(It’s worth noting that Waltz emphatically denies that he is Blofeld.)

Regardless of how evil Waltz is in Spectre, it's hard to believe he can be more evil or charismatic than he was as Hans Landa.
Regardless of how evil Waltz is in Spectre, it’s hard to believe he can be more evil or charismatic than he was as Hans Landa.

But, most importantly about Waltz’s character, he is certainly someone who already knows James, as we see in the teaser trailer:

And who is the other guy? To whom Bond’s face is familiar? To whom James may be bringing death? (Edit: it’s been pointed out that this man is Mr White, from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.)

And then there is this trailer, in which we learn that James is “who links them all”

But what does this mean for the James Bond codename theory?

The real question is whether we can continue to believe that Bond is a brainwashed spy who wasn’t born as James Bond, but that he doesn’t know that.

I would say, yes. I would say, I hope so.

Consider what we hear Oberhauser telling him in the second trailer: “It was me, James. The author of all your pain.”

Did Franz Oberhauser author Bond’s pain? Or did he create Bond himself? Is he part of this brainwashing, codename-assigning conspiracy in which some of us so fervently believe?

Will it confirm the James Bond codename theory?

No. Certainly not. But it cannot disprove it either. We will continue to believe, and there will undoubtedly be a reading of the film that allows for the James Bond Codename Theory to continue to exist.

We will know soon. Spectre comes out on November 6th. As Oberhauser says in the trailer: “It’s been a long time. Now, finally, here we are.”

The Net is Buzzed and Full of Feeders: On Plagiarism and Ideas and Open Letters

What is it to plagiarize in the age of the internet? What is it to steal?

The Open Letter

I read this open letter from comedian Davon Magwood, posted on his WordPress blog. I discovered it because someone else I follow tweeted about it. In the open letter, he says: “I shouldn’t have to asked to be credit for my work, neither should other comedians or clever social media people.” His open letter tells the story of having his jokes and content stolen by spammy, scammy comedians, the same ones that the rest of the internet is giving a very hard time right now.

I did a few things after this: I unfollowed @FuckJerry on instagram, I started following Davon Magwood on WordPress and twitter, and I clicked “like” on his blog post open letter. I have never followed Josh Ostrovsky (the person at the heart of most of this controversy through his repeated plagiarism) on any social media, so there was no need to unfollow him.

Davon Magwood's album cover. Artwork by Matt Gondek.
Davon Magwood’s album cover. Artwork by Matt Gondek.

But then something started to bother me. As I researched more about this entire scenario, I realized that a lot of the people who were complaining about having “jokes stolen” are people connected with websites that routinely abscond with the jokes and ideas of others. Particularly, Buzzfeed. Continue reading “The Net is Buzzed and Full of Feeders: On Plagiarism and Ideas and Open Letters”

True Detective vs. Friends: Did Ross Geller Lose Custody of His Son?

Enjoy fan theories? Check out more fan theories here, or buy D. F. Lovett’s novel The Moonborn here

A recent scene in True Detective got me thinking about something I haven’t thought about in a long time: Friends. In probably the saddest scene of the second season, Ray Velcoro and his son Chad eat pizza in silence while watching the famous sitcom. It’s Chad’s idea.

chad_friends Friends strongly contrasts poor little Chad’s reality. Friends is about a group of six, fun-loving twenty-somethings in Manhattan in the 1990s and early ’00s. Chad, on the other hand, gets bullied at school and has supervised visits with his father, a corrupt cop with a penchant for cocaine and at least one murder in his past.

But as I watched Ray Velcoro get overly-intoxicated alone and destroy his apartment, I started to think harder about how much this reality really is different from that of the Friends friends. Sure, the antics on Friends were slightly more cheeky and fun. The guys had a menagerie of fun pets. Monica dated Tom Selleck. Phoebe wrote jingles about cats. Ray Velcoro, on the other hand, threatens children and promises to “buttfuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn.”

But one character didn’t seem dramatically different from Ray Velcoro. That character is Ross Geller. Sure, on first thought, Ross’s shenanigans seem just as cheeky and fun as the rest of the gang. He loves dinosaurs. He dresses up as the Holiday Armadillo. He claims to have invented the Got Milk? catchphrase. Continue reading “True Detective vs. Friends: Did Ross Geller Lose Custody of His Son?”

Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News

Before you read: I assume you have seen the first four seasons of Game of Thrones, but have not necessarily read the books.  I have carefully written this to not give anything major away about upcoming plotlines that may or may not be in the show.  (But note: book readers, this is written for you as well.  I just tried to keep it vague enough for the non-readers.)

There has been a lot of negative hype recently about this upcoming fifth season of Game of Thrones.  The main theme of the hype is that the show and the books are diverging dramatically, that the show will “spoil” the books, that a major character who does not die in the books will die in the show, etc.

But here’s the thing: all of this is actually good news.

And here are the reasons why:

1. The fourth and fifth books of A Song of Ice and Fire are not as good as the first three books.  If you aren’t aware, the show has thus been adapted with Book One (A Game of Thrones) inspiring Season One, Book Two (A Clash of Kings) inspiring Season Two, and Book Three (A Storm of Swords) inspiring Seasons Three and Four.  The confusing thing is that Books Four and Five are actually parallel storylines, because Martin’s story and characters got so bloated, epic, and unfocused that he had to say “I’m not even including Jon Snow, Tyrion, or Daenerys in Book Four.”

Sure, I couldn't put this book down, but it's definitely my fifth favorite of the five books.
Sure, I couldn’t put this book down, but it’s definitely my fifth favorite of the five books.

Everyone agrees that A Feast for Crows is, without a doubt, the worst book in the series.  He introduces many new storylines, settings, and characters, while ignoring established ones, but, more importantly, these new storylines are not as compelling as the established ones. In A Dance with Dragons, he returns to many of those characters, but it basically feels like he is not very focused and that no one helped him edit any of it. Yes, some amazing things happen, and a lot of it is beautiful, poetic writing, but there are also other parts that are basically just kinda boring, and lots of other parts where you just aren’t sure what is going on.

2. There is a 150-page section of A Feast for Crows dedicated to pirates electing a new Pirate King, and it will not be in Season Five.  The worst portion of the ASOIAF storyline is, almost indisputably in my opinion, the half dozen chapters in which the Greyjoys (Theon’s sister and four uncles) all decide to have something called a “kingsmoot,” during which they figure out who will be the new King of the Iron Islands, i.e. the new Pirate King.  It’s long, boring, confusing, and becomes predictable about halfway through.  How we know that we won’t have to suffer through this endless kingsmooting in Season Five?  Because not a single new Greyjoy has been cast, and we should all be very thankful for that. Continue reading “Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News”