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Photo by Sean Pollock, courtesy of unsplash.com

Fresh off two Emmy wins for its second season, I figured I ought to give HBO’s Succession a try. The long and short of it is that I binge watched it, felt like garbage, and began to miss it as soon I finished the second season. It’s good. Really good. It‘s just not particularly fun or pleasant to watch. But what’s American life without a little corporate oppression?

The timing of this show’s appearance seems both appropriate and inappropriate. Corporate greed is at an all-time fever pitch, as well as the enormous wealth gap between the working class and, well, the people you see in Succession. I don’t have to preach to you, and I’d rather eat a couple of forks than do that, so I’ll shut up about it. But you get the point. Who the hell wants to watch a bunch of spoiled billionaires push and shove each other to sit in the big chair at the top of the disgustingly tall tower? Well, as it turns out, I kind of do. …


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Photo by Jewad Alnabi, via unsplash.com

HBO’s Game of Thrones series ended and I was lost — or, at least, I didn’t know what to watch to fill that particular abyss. With the exception of the final two episodes, Game of Thrones was spectacular; it was another step up in the legacy of HBO series. I only recently discovered (and devoured) Deadwood and went through The Sopranos for the first time — yeah, I know, sue me — and they were superb. Sure, there were nitpicky things here and there, like Timothy Olyphant’s acting in Deadwood, and weird, half-baked storylines in Sopranos, but those were some seriously compelling shows, much like GoT. …


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Photo by Nathan Anderson, from unsplash.com

Today, I read an article about cancellation concerns for Rick and Morty. The calls apparently come from the resurfacing of a 2009 “pilot” video in which Dan Harmon “parodied” successful television show Dexter with an incredibly distasteful scene. I’ll refrain from elaborating, but I think you can tell by the always pretentious quotation marks that I have opinions on just how funny that video really was.

Before I read that article, I had been considering writing a Rick and Morty post regarding the character Rick Sanchez. …


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Image courtesy of unsplash.com

Please let me start with a few acknowledgements: Leonard is pathetic, Sheldon is annoying, Raj is stereotyped to the tenth degree, Howard is gross, and Penny isn’t much more than a two-dimensional blonde joke — I’m talking about the characters, of course; I don’t intend to demean the people behind the characters, or their acting prowess, which is surprisingly impressive for a sitcom.

Also, another acknowledgement: nearly everyone I know seems to think The Big Bang Theory is lame. In my experience, perception of the show by people my age is something akin to being the Nickelback of sitcoms. Dudes love to hate BBT. …


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Photo by Jake Blucker, via unsplash.com

There are elements of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman series that put people off, for reasons that I can only assume.

1.) It’s an animated series — I imagine some people immediately dismiss it as vapid or childish because of this. 2.) People seem to be more and more interested in intense, human stories lately (think Ozark, Breaking Bad, Atlanta, etc.) and perhaps less so than ever in sitcoms. 3.) Half of the characters are animals. How do you connect your human experience with that of a horse?

Again, these are only guesses, but I’ve heard these explanations when I’ve asked — because I definitely am the type of person who wants other people to experience the joy I get from things I love, and I annoy people about getting into those things. Being my friend is difficult. I understand. And I’m sorry. …


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We, as humans, have no objectivity. It doesn’t exist for individuals. The closest we can get to objectivity is when we come together as large groups and take a consensus. Large-scale statistics can offer us some version of objective data. We can draw “objective” conclusions based on that data. We can do our best to use empathy to act with objectivity. But we can’t remove our own bias from our thoughts, even when we try to remove it from our words and actions.

It’s a weird thing, to think that there’s something the human brain and body cannot do. We’re so used to hearing that anything is possible, but we know that isn’t entirely true; we know humans have limitations. …


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I’m not much of what anyone would call a gamer — I think. I play video games on my Playstation 4 when I don’t want to think about something, or when I want to relax. It does occur to me that this has eaten a much bigger chunk of time lately, but I imagine that many people are finding that they too have more free time on their hands during this pandemic, and also more reasons to want to escape reality.

For me, this is the time and space in which Red Dead Redemption 2 lives.

When the game first came out in late 2018, I had no inclination to buy it. To that point, I’d really only ever played the NBA2K and MLB The Show franchise games. When I got a 30-hour a week job during high school, I had to stop playing for local and travel baseball teams, I quit the high school golf team, and I was never involved in team basketball, but I loved those sports to death. Fitting in small amounts of time for those video games became a way to engage in those sports. But, as luck would have it, I had recently been on a kick of western films, and there was an especially cinematic aspect of the trailers for RDR2 that garnered my attention. Two months after its release, I found that I had some extra money, and I was bored, so I figured what the hell, and I bought it. …


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I should begin by saying that Mr. Robot is one of the best television series I’ve seen. I should also say that watching Mr. Robot was one of the more uncomfortable television experiences of my life.

A quick synopsis: Elliot Alderson, played by Rami Malek, is an exceptionally talented but mentally ill hacker daylighting as a cybersecurity engineer. He becomes involved in — or creates, rather — a major conflict with some of the most powerful people in the world, which, of course, does not bode well for Mr. Alderson’s solitary existence.

Mr. Robot is one of those rare television shows from a standard package network that transcends its home and makes you think, “Wait, was this on HBO?” There are a few in this vein: AMC’s Breaking Bad, FX’s Atlanta, FX’s Legion, NBC’s Hannibal (I know, right?), etc. And like those peers, the production quality and direction are superb, which is obvious from the opening scene of the pilot episode. There is a dark, cold tone to the series, which is bathed in dark steel-blue lighting for the first three seasons before brusquely changing to yellow in the final season. Elliot is constantly moving from his oppressively dark and sparse apartment to a local basketball court to his 9-to-5 office cubicle and so forth, all of which is swimming in this cold, blue light. The only reprieve from this is the headquarters of the aptly named “fsociety”, which is also dark, but reminiscent of your friend-with-the-cool-house’s Christmas lights lit bedroom, feeling undeniably warm and safe — which is how it is meant to feel, given its purpose. That was an impressive realization; the show’s creator, Sam Esmail, and its directors constantly used the setting of the show to impose the necessary thematic mood on the viewer. While this might be a duh kind of epiphany for more seasoned critics, it still took me by surprise, and I think I’m happier for that. When I was immersed in the series — and I was immersed from the pilot to the final episode — I felt as though I was experiencing the exact soul-wrenching, hand-wringing, acid trip of a life as a mentally fractured hacker hunted by the highest powers of the world. …


Hello, Medium!

It’s 6:20 AM and I’m usually not awake for another two hours. But I woke up at five to the usual existential panic, and my brain decided it wanted to tell me to do a whole bunch of new stuff. Here’s what I whittled it down to over the past hour and a half-ish:

1.) Start a podcast with my band, The Lively. I know, right? Very cliché. But hear me out: we’re really funny when we get together. I bet this is exactly how most sitcoms get pitched to network TV: “My friends and I are just so funny when we get together. It’s classic!” And most of those shows suck — I get it. …

About

Ben Zacarelli

I’m a writer — or at least I think I am. No, I am. Right? Right. Definitely. Definitely a writer.

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