Bored to Death
Bored to Death followed rising novelist Jonathan Ames (played by Jason Schwartzmen) as he tackled zany mysteries as an unlicensed private detective in hopes of inspiring his next novel. Jonathan’s cartoonist friend, Ray (Zach Galifinakis), and occasional employer, George (Ted Danson), added to the insanity of this hipster’s campaign of Craigslist cases. The show’s format was episodic, with two-episode arcs wrapping up in time for the next case to come in. It balanced the goofiness of its characters with witty mysteries that were fun to piece together as events unfolded. When the show was canceled, fans speculated that HBO was uncomfortable with the incest themes that featured prominently in the season three finale. Ratings showed a clearer picture of the show plummeting from around 900,000 weekly viewers to 225,000 in season 3. However, in an interview with Vulture, showrunner, Jonathan Ames (yes, like the main character), maintained that HBO was happy with the creative choices of the show, and also contended that they had done very well drawing in nontraditional viewers on HBOGo and DVR. The ending of the show was an eyebrow-raising moment that begged for closure, but it looks unlikely that we’ll see these characters again.
Some would argue that Sense8 fans were able to bully Netflix into giving it a conclusion, but this show could have gone on for way longer. This was an LGBTQ+ blockbuster of a television show from The Wachowskis. Eight strangers discovered a psychic connection to one another and lent their skills to help each other survive the ominous scientific organization that was hunting them down. The characters dealt with homophobia, transphobia, poverty and class tensions and The Wachowskis brought top notch action sequences and cinematography to every episode. It was really unique in balancing eight compelling storylines that explored each character’s struggles and insecurities. It was also beautifully shot across nine cities from eight different countries. Netflix canceled this show on the first week of Pride in 2017 and sparked a massive response on social media. Their compromise was to give Sense8 a two-hour finale movie that would wrap up some of the major plot lines of the show. It functioned to give closure to the cliffhanger of season 2, but I’ll always wonder how much more they had planned.
GLOW deserved so much more. This show was a masterclass in giving ensemble cast members moments to shine. The show followed a group of women who auditioned for a burnt-out director’s women’s wrestling show. Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron anchored the show’s major plot developments, as GLOW goes from a local television production to a Las Vegas show. The moments where this show shines is when members of the supporting cast rise to comment on issues of typecasting and misogyny within their world. I can’t even begin to talk about how good the show looks (especially the Christmas special!!!) because the characters are everything you need to fall in love with it. GLOW was a casualty of the pandemic, with filming for season 4 canceled after COVID-19 halted numerous productions. There’s been little word from Netflix since its cancellation, so we may have to settle for rewatching the three seasons that we got.
The story of how three suburban moms became cash-cleaning kingpins is one that will be missed. Good Girls brought endless laughs to a dark character exploration of what a mother will do to help her family. Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta all embodied women with clear motivations and seemingly insurmountable struggles. Their on-screen chemistry gave the show a believable lightness that made it a lot of fun to watch. There are hysterical scenes where these characters are so out of their league, but the writing is smart enough to make you believe in them. The soundtrack is also amazing. Although ratings for this show had steadily fallen, it maintained a strong group of fans on streaming and DVR and season 5 was rumored to happen when the three leading women agreed to NBC’s pay cuts. However, soon after the show’s cancellation, TVLine reported that Manny Montana, who played the show’s alluring gang member, was unwilling to work with the adjustments. They also comment on the hostile behind-the-scenes relationship between Montana and Hendricks, pointing to interviews where they were clearly not thrilled to work together. It’s a shame this show ended sooner than it could have and I hope that all of those women go on to fabulous new projects. They deserve it.
Two weeks after this show received a whopping 18 Emmy nominations, HBO canceled it. Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors turned in great performances and were beloved on social media, trending on Twitter almost every week that the show aired. I thought the show’s plot could have been better, but the direction and character work kept me coming back every week. There’s an incredible episode where Wunmi Mosaku’s character uses magic to disguise herself as a white woman in order to get a job at a department store. The final scene is a gory horror fan’s dream. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, showrunner Misha Green explained what drew her to adapting Matt Ruff’s novel, “It’s this idea of reclaiming all of the genre space for people of color, for people who have been left out of this space…”. Ultimately, HBO did not want to move forward with the original ideas that Green had lined up for season 2, but she did land a multi-year deal to develop shows for Apple TV+, so fans can hopefully look forward to more of her work very soon.
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