What References, Depictions, and Themes Should We Anticipate in Fargo’s Season 3?

While this blog’s last Fargo article gave you a list of ways to get hyped for the forthcoming third season, it didn’t go very deep into what we’ve seen in Fargo so far and what we can expect in the third season.

The following is some of what I expect to see in this upcoming third season. Of course, I do not know for certain what to expect. I have not seen it yet. But this is some of what I hope to see, based on what we’ve seen before.

Innovative and realistic depictions of Minnesotans

Minnesota is known for many things, but rarely is it known for being a setting for violence, tales of organized crime, and conspiracies of murder. This is arguably because of misunderstandings and stereotypes in the media. As noted in my previous blog post on the matter, there are plenty of violent moments in Minnesota’s history but Fargo seems to be one of the few mainstream fictional works interested in this ugly history.

Fargo‘s second season also contains one of my favorite descriptions of the typical Minnesotan male. It occurs when protagonist Lou Solverson first comes face-to-face with Mike Milligan, one of the many violent main characters in the story. Lou learns that Mike met Hank, his father-in-law, earlier that day, and refers to Lou (and Minnesotans in general) as friendly.

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Ted Danson as Hank Larsson in the second season. 

Milligan disagrees with this assessment, offering one of my favorite summations of so-called Minnesota nice:

“Pretty unfriendly actually. But it’s the way you’re unfriendly. You’re so polite about it. Like you’re doing me a favor.”

Perhaps the media will never really get Minnesota right, largely because it just isn’t depicted enough. But Fargo does so much better than most of its predecessors. Let’s anticipate more of such in its upcoming season.  Continue reading “What References, Depictions, and Themes Should We Anticipate in Fargo’s Season 3?”

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The Rick and Morty Fan Theory That Explains Total Rickall and Rick Breaking the Fourth Wall

An avid Rick and Morty fan has many questions, some of which were answered (or at least addressed) in the Season 3 premiere that aired on April’s Fools Day.

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One of the more memorable scenes from the new episode, and also one of the more memorable McDonald’s moments in pop culture.

These questions include:

  • Is Rick C-137 truly the Rickest Rick? What makes him Ricker than all other Ricks?
  • Is Morty C-137 the Mortiest Morty, or the Rickest Morty?
  • What ever happened to Evil Morty?
  • Does Rick C-137 really know that he’s in a television show? What’s the deal with him breaking the fourth wall all the time?
  • What’s the deal with Mr. Poopybutthole?
  • Are Jerry and Beth really going to get a divorce?

Naturally, questions of this sort are what drive fans to create fan theories. While the following fan theory does not answer all these questions, it does answer the ones that I find most compelling.

First of all… Continue reading “The Rick and Morty Fan Theory That Explains Total Rickall and Rick Breaking the Fourth Wall”

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.

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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”

Was Seinfeld a 1990s Greek Tragedy?

It’s known as the greatest sitcom of the 1990s, starring the arguably most famous comedian of all time. But is Seinfeld even a comedy? Or would we be better off labeling it as a tragedy, owing its themes and plot structures to Sophocles and Euripides more than Cheers and Bunker?

Let’s take a look.

Jerry’s stand-up is the prologue

With very few exceptions, you can be certain that any classic Greek tragedy will open with a prologue. The prologue is one of the most basic and expected foundations of the tragedy’s structure.  Likewise, you aren’t watching a Seinfeld episode unless it opens and closes with Jerry walking you through some witty deconstruction of human interaction, which itself highlights and introduces the themes of the episode.

While the prologue is often performed by a chorus in a classic tragedy, it can also be delivered by the protagonist or another central character. And this is actually an important thing to note: Jerry is not the protagonist, not the tragic hero. That role belongs to another character, which we will discuss below.  Continue reading “Was Seinfeld a 1990s Greek Tragedy?”

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?”

Don’t Call a Show Good, or Bad, Until The End is Known: On Ballers, True Detective, and House of Cards.

In a previous post, I mentioned Herodotus’s lesson, to “call no man happy until he is dead.” My specific application of his lesson in that case was to say that the biggest issue with HBO’s Ballers is the tendency for the episodes to end on soft, conflict-free notes.

I hope I didn't hurt the feelings of these guys.
I hope I didn’t hurt the feelings of these guys.

But I also failed to bring the point full-circle, which is that it’s unfair to call Ballers good or bad before we know how it ends. We should get through this season before we trash it. In particular, it’s unfair for me to do this when I can’t stand that the same thing is being done by critics and audiences to another show I love: True Detective. Continue reading “Don’t Call a Show Good, or Bad, Until The End is Known: On Ballers, True Detective, and House of Cards.”

How Taylor Kitch’s Paul Woodrugh Should Have Been Introduced in True Detective

So far, so good, for Season Two of True Detective. Except for one aspect of the first episode that didn’t work for me.

There are four main characters in this season, double the number of the first season. None deserve the label of protagonist. And of the four, none serve less of a purpose in the first episode than Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitch)… right up until the very end of the episode, when he serves a crucial role.  That pivotal moment serves as the apparent catalyst for the upcoming season of television: after driving his motorcycle very very fast, Woodrugh decides to stop driving it so fast and pulls off the highway. Then, he finds a dead guy. The dead guy is what brings together the plotlines of our four main characters (although the first two, Colin Farrell’s Ray Valcoro and Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon, have been connected since Vaughn’s first scene.)

One of the many moments before his character becomes relevant.
One of the many moments before his character becomes relevant.

The trouble is that the first episode feels bloated, confused, tangled, and that Woodrugh’s unrelated storyline is the least compelling of the four. He feels shoehorned in, and it’s obvious that his scenes (until he finds the body) exist only to give us context for when he does become relevant.   Continue reading “How Taylor Kitch’s Paul Woodrugh Should Have Been Introduced in True Detective”

Why Silicon Valley’s Approach to the Bechdel Test is Brilliant

We all know what the Bechdel Test is.  Or, if you don’t, it’s that rule, invented by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, about fiction which describes whether or not a work approaches gender in an appropriate way. Among the many works that fail the test are Star Wars (not a single film in the series passes it so far), The Lord of the Rings, almost anything involving Batman, and roughly 90% of other popular movies, television shows, novels, comic books, etc.

The first sighting of the test.
The first sighting of the test.

The test is simple.  First, does the work contain more than one female character?  Second, if there are two female characters, do they have a conversation?  And finally, is their conversation about something, anything, other than a man?

It’s worth discussing this in relation to Silicon Valley, the HBO series whose second season concluded a week ago.  The first season of Silicon Valley completely fails to pass this test.  At no point do two female characters interact. Continue reading “Why Silicon Valley’s Approach to the Bechdel Test is Brilliant”

What’s Missing From True Detective Season Two

Am I the only person disappointed that the episode didn’t end with Matthew McConaughey showing up to the crime scene, winking at the camera, and saying “All right, all right, all right.  Turns out time really is a flat circle.”

That's all.
That’s all.

Other than that, pretty good episode.  Very different from the first season, but if it was too similar it would probably feel stale, expected, redundant.

Let’s just hope that they find appropriate cameo moments for Marty and Rust.

The Book You Need to Read Before Season Two of True Detective

People are always recommending things with the equation of if you liked this, then you will like that. Or, before you see ____, make sure you read _____. And while these recommendations can be tiring or obnoxious, there are times when they can be warranted. Or, at least, it can be good to know what influenced and inspired the things you like, because maybe you will like those original inspiring and influencing works as well.

While True Detective has become known for a host of literary references, in particular The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, the novel that I think all True Detective fans should read is Roberto Bolano’s 2666. I will admit that 2666 is one of my top five favorite novels, and True Detective is one of my top five favorite television shows. But the similarities are not limited to the fact that I really like both of them, and my reason for recommending it goes deeper.

Read it.
Read it.

Continue reading “The Book You Need to Read Before Season Two of True Detective”