Category Archives: TV Show Review

The Great British Bake Off

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Despite considerable effort, I’ve never been able to see this show regularly in the US. It’s a huge hit in the UK, top ratings every season, but not available in the US. I occasionally catch a single episode or two on YouTube, but this was the first time I was able to see a full season. Yay, up-to-date on the cultural zeitgeist.

So, for the Americans, here’s a primer. It’s a reality show. They pick amateur/home bakers from around the UK to all come to do a series of baking challenges. Each weekend, they film, and then the contestants go home until the next weekend. They don’t live in some incestuous mansion, thank god. They still are normal people, taking care of their families and working. Each episode, one baker is sent home, in traditional reality show fashion, and at the end you have one winner.

The whole show takes place in a large tent on some aristocratic estate (Welford Park, this year)in the country. It’s so English in that way. The focus on rural locations, the aristocracy, history, agrarian life. B-roll always features buzzing bees in flowerbeds and horses and sheep grazing in paddocks. And the whole idea of a baking competition is reminiscent of the sort of village bazaars, bake shows, etc. that would have taken place 100+ years ago throughout England, and probably still do in some places.

Apparently there was an American version last year, called the American Baking Competition. Most boring name for any show in history. Worse, the host was Jeff Foxworthy.  Okay, the American equivalent of Sue and Mel is not Jeff Foxworthy. Jeff Foxworthy…really?!? Why didn’t they just get Larry the Cable Guy as expert judge? Shockingly, it got terrible ratings. I never even heard about it. Ugh.

Here’s what I really enjoy about GBBO: It’s nice. I never watch reality shows because everyone on them is a terrible person. Even the nice ones are terrible, or else they wouldn’t be on the show in the first place. But GBBO has nice people, and they’re baking, and you’re rooting for them to do well at baking. That’s it. And Mel and Sue, the hosts, are nice and funny. I love Sue Perkins.

Great British Bake-offOf course, you also have your slightly evil judges, Paul and Mary. Paul is the only truly evil one, but Mary has a glare reminiscent of an unhappy schoolteacher.

So, to this season in particular. Everyone was really likeable (except that first girl. She had zero competence and I’m glad she was gone immediately). And I wanted everyone to do well. Particularly Norman, who was adorable.

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I mean how often do you have a reality show where you actually are sad to see the contestants go? Never. I’ve never liked anyone who has been on reality TV. And I think the reason might be that there’s no prize on this show, really. You get a trophy thing, rather than the thousands of dollars/pounds other reality shows throw around. So you’re only going to enter if you really just want to bake and show that you’re a good baker. Worth noting that the American version gave $250,000 to the winner.

Of course, this season had a large scandal (‘bingate’), but I won’t go into that. Selective editing means we can’t know the real story, so I’m not going to blame a sweet old lady for anything without more information, no matter how guilty they made her appear. And I can’t say I care that much. Iain, despite his lovely accent and fantastic beard, was never going to win anyway.

So…if you’re wondering what they actually make on GBBO, I can tell you that it’s a bunch of stuff that Americans have never heard of. I understood a few words (bread, eclairs, cake), but it seems that we bake very different things on our side of the pond. If you’re American, you’ll spend a lot of time wondering what the fuck a Victoria Sponge is.  It’s sponge/pound cake, apparently. I’m not a baker, so maybe some of these things are more known to Americans who bake. But we don’t do Battenburg, swiss roll, or toffee pudding in the US.  I mean, not your average home baker, that’s for sure. We do chocolate cake or yellow cake. If you’re fancy, you call them Angel’s food or Devil’s food cakes. If you’re really fancy, you do a red velvet.  That’s it for most cakes, even bought at shops.

And I’d never even heard of most of the technicals. Swedish Princess cake? Schichttorte??? It did make me feel better that the contestants hadn’t heard of it either. A look at what the contestants baked on the American version backs me up on this–we don’t do any of the same desserts. The American version had (non-savory) pies, doughnuts, meringues, souffles. All things I would recognize. Even the technicals in the US were mostly things I’d heard of.  So…who knew? Apparently baking is very very different in our two countries. Here’s a gallery of the bakes from the British version, if you want to look at all the things you’ve never heard of. Also the metric system leads to further confusion when I try to comprehend what they’re doing.  God I wish I had learned the metric system and could comprehend 99% of the rest of the world when they measure things.

I digress

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This year’s winner was Nancy, who made a very beautiful recreation of the Moulin Rouge, complete with spinning sugar blades on the windmill.

Nancy_great_british_bake_off_winner_-_moulin_rouge_showstopper_-_star_baker_final_-_good_housekeepingBut I don’t really watch it for the baking. Partially because I have no idea what the fuck they are making half the time. I just like that they all get together and try really hard to make something lovely to eat. And they’re nice. And Mel and Sue give them hugs at the end. Mel and Sue are a national treasure, btw, and I am jealous we don’t have them in the US. They deserve to be an international treasure.

In short, it’s a wonderfully simple and pleasant show. It’s small in scope and importance, but its existence does something to counterbalance the fact that Big Brother is still on the air.

 

 

 

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Happy Valley

MV5BMTQzODQ3OTA3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzUyNzI0MjE@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Yes, another police procedural. But, I really liked this one. Netflix suggested it to me because I liked the Fall. I can see why (police, strong female protagonist, evil man to catch), but they’re actually really different. Gillian Anderson in the Fall is very upper class, very separate from the common officers on the street. In Happy Valley, the whole show takes place at a working class level in a fairly working class area of Yorkshire.

It aired in April on BBC One, and was put on Netflix last month in the US. It has been renewed for a second season.

The show stars Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood. And oh boy does she have a life I wouldn’t want.  About 8 years ago, her daughter was raped and became pregnant. She delivered the baby, but hanged herself shortly thereafter. Catherine decided to keep and raise her grandson, against the objections of her husband and their son. Divorce and ostracism followed. The men of the family couldn’t look at the baby without seeing the rape and the suicide.

Now, Catherine still wonders if she made the right decision. Catherine and her recovering addict sister Clare (played by Downton Abbey’s Siobhan Finneran), and the two of them can barely handle the boy, Ryan, and their hectic lives.

Siobhan Finneran as Clare and Sarah Lancashire as Catherine in Happy Valley

Ryan has a bad temper, and you can’t hear that without wondering how much of his father is inside him.

Speaking of his father.  He was just released from prison. Not for rape. He was never caught for what he did to Catherine’s daughter, so you can imagine that revenge on him is just about the only thing Cahterine cares about when she hears he is released.  And, I can’t blame her, because he’s a sick and disgusting villain.

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On the other side of town, in a little bit better neighborhood, lives Kevin Weatherill. And if he isn’t the world’s biggest asshole, I don’t know who is.  Yes, I do, it’s Rupert Murdoch. But still. This guy is a douche.

p01xkx77He wants to send his daughter to private school, but he doesn’t have the money. So he asks his boss, Nevison, who he feels owes him something.  His boss says no, because if he did it for Kevin, he’d have to do it for everyone.

You can see Kevin’s big flaw in just this little bit of information. He has a problem, and he wants someone to solve it for him. When the boss says no, Kevin sees it as all the boss’s fault. Some people would take a second job, or cut back on vacations, but not Kevin. Kevin thinks the world owes him. He’s angry, so, naturally, he suggests to a criminal he knows that maybe the boss’s daughter could get kidnapped and he could get a cut of the money. That’s his solution.

So the criminal, Ashley, gets together his two workers, Lewis and Tommy Lee Royce. Tommy Lee Royce, by the way, is the guy who raped Catherine’s daughter. And together they organize and carry out the kidnapping.

As you can imagine, these two sides of the story meet in the end. And it’s superbly done. Dramatic, tense, disturbing, sad. Enraging.  By the end of the show, the person I was most angry with was Kevin. Even after it’s all said and done, and he’s dragged down his whole family in his ruin and disgrace, he still blames his boss. If his boss had just given him the raise, then the daughter would never have been kidnapped/raped/almost killed.  He’s a complete loon.

Here’s what’s great about this show: The women. They are tough. Smart. Capable. Most importantly, they are survivors. We see the men commit mistake after mistake, miscalculate, break down, cry. We see the women push forward and do what they think is right. Not just Catherine. Ann, the kidnapped girl, is an absolute survivor. Catherine saves her life, and Ann saves her right back. The men cannot be depended upon, and none of them prove anything other than a disappointment.

Before you cry misandry, let me remind you how many shows feature an almost entirely male cast. How many shows feature women as victims, women unable to do more than cry? Even Broadchurch, which had a female co-star and smart detective, left us with the question of how could she be so stupid as not to know about her husband. Happy Valley leaves us with no doubt that Catherine will continue her work, will take down drug dealers and murderers, rapists and kidnappers, and whomever else she needs to. It’s great to see her on television. And it’s rare. So…deal with the tables being turned for once.

Derek, season 2

Ricky Gervais as DerekRicky Gervais returned for a second season of Derek on Channel 4 in the UK, and on Netflix in the US. As with the first season, the show focuses on an elderly home, its workers, and its residents.  Derek, played by Gervais, is a slow, but kind-hearted.  The whole point of the show is that being kind is better than being smart, and that it will make you happier than money or accomplishment.  So our heroes and heroines are humble people. Derek, and especially Hannah, who runs the nursing home.

slide_277704_2042720_freeOne big absence this season is Karl Pilkington’s Dougie, who was my favorite part of season one.

Dougie-setups-083_A2Ricky Gervais said that acting made Karl way too nervous, and Karl has admitted he really disliked it.  Compared to An Idiot Abroad, where he traveled and saw new things, he did not enjoy sitting in a small trailer in Uxbridge between scenes.  Understandable.  I don’t even know where Uxbridge is, but I don’t think I’d fancy spending time in a trailer there.

Taking up a larger chunk of time, to make up for Dougie’s absence, is Kev.  The foul-mouthed slob accepted at the nursing home because he makes Derek laugh.  I have to wonder why Derek gets nearly whatever he wants in life. Kev, in season one, is pretty awful. With Dougie gone in season 2, he is slowly and haltingly redeemed.  Not all the way to normalcy, but to a place where we can hope good things happen to him.

Here’s the problem with Derek.  The world it presents is just too simple.  Everyone is too good.  For me, since I’m an emotional and optimistic person, this isn’t such a big deal.  It doesn’t bother me too much while I’m watching the show, but afterwards it gnaws at me when I think back. Because even if everyone were inherently good, all the different ways people think they are doing ‘good’ means there will always be opposition to one thing in favor of another. There will always be conflict.

So the show is unrealistic, to the point of being hard to swallow.  I cry in every episode.

But one episode nearly killed me, after what I went through earlier this year.

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In one episode, Ivor the dog has to be put down. He’s quite old and very sick, so it’s not as tragic as it might be.  But, the subject matter hit so close to home that we (my bf and I) had to stop the show and weep for a good 10 minutes before we could continue. I’m crying a little just thinking about it. So I can’t be too cynical about this show, because there are moments in life that bring out true and unadulterated emotions, and Derek is good about showing these moments. Since most TV shows don’t give death much weight at all, it’s good to have a counterpoint. Something uncynical.  It’s too simple, but I’d rather watch a show that is too simple and promotes kindness and unmaterialistic goodness, than watch a show that is too simple and promotes violence, tawdry affairs, and materialistic bullshit.

The Thick of It

In preparation for the new season of Doctor Who, complete with Peter Capaldi, I decided to get acquainted with his most well-known character–Malcolm Tucker.

10938The Thick of It is one of those backstage looks at politics. Like the West Wing, if everyone was terrible. It’s very similar to Veep, an American show currently on HBO, which is hilarious and similarly cynical and foul-mouthed. Veep is loosely based on The Thick of It. The show aired sporadically in the UK, with a new series every ~2 years from 2005-2012.  I watched it on Hulu, where you can see every episode.

Capaldi’s Tucker is the scheming, profane, morally-bankrupt spindoctor/slavedriver for the PM. Technically, I think he’s a director of communications, but they all see him as an enforcer. He keeps everyone in line. It’s his job to fire people when it’s good for the PM, or convince them to jump on a grenade to save the government, or to yell at them until they correct their colossal errors. He’s a truly terrible person. But Capaldi is brilliant. I love everything about him in this show. I mean, I love to swear, so anyone that can swear that much, and in a Glaswegian accent, has won my heart forever.

He’s delightful to watch, but I wouldn’t last one day working for him. I don’t mind swearing, but the constant insults and threats of violence..and occasional actual violence…I’d quit after our first conversation. He’s terrifying.

thickofitThey really are attack eyebrows!

To be fair, he’s surrounded by idiots. There’s Glen, Terri, and Ollie. timthumb

Ollie is a dreadful soulless human being. Glen is a good person, but he’s old and seems to become more useless each season. Terri is a civil servant, and isn’t really invested in the policy decisions or outcomes.

There are also the ministers of this department (the fictional DoSac). These alternate between an old man, a guy that looks like a deflated Muppet,

The Thick Of Itand a woman, who is said to be the inspiration for Julia-Louis Dreyfus’ character on Veep.

You’ve got a good mix of civil servants and party-specific staff.  This is something most Americans may not pick up on. Civil servants in the UK (generally) keep their job even when the government switches parties. The advisers to the ministers have to leave when the majority party switches, and they may lose their jobs completely. Some will keep working for (what is now) the opposition party, in the ‘Shadow’ government. In America, some jobs are generally replaced when a new administration comes in, but the majority of them are not. Also something that is not common in American politics: the reshuffle.  Sometimes a PM will decide to just re-assign the ministers in the Cabinet. The Foreign Secretary could become the Home Secretary, the Home Secretary could become the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the US, the president has to get congressional approval of Cabinet appointments (and a lot of other positions), so wholesale reshuffles are very rare. People are usually replaced on a case-by-case basis. Also in the US, not all positions are filled by persons in the same political party, and US Cabinet members are not legislators.

I digress.  If you enjoy watching swearing and bureaucracy, you’ll like this show. It’s funny, it’s cynical, sarcastic, clever.  But…I found myself feeling a bit tired by the end. Tired of the idea that the government is run entirely by idiots, egomaniacs, and the morally-bankrupt. I get the same feeling when I watch Veep or Scandal for too long. House of Cards would completely destroy any faith I have in government, so I’m avoiding it. Both the British and US versions. You do start to wonder–are these the best employees the government can get? Are these the best leaders?! Not a good sign for modern civilization.

The cynicism fatigue aside, it’s a good show. It gives you a great look at Capaldi and what he can do. I will say it might leave you wondering why he doesn’t just threaten and swear at the Daleks to get them to fuck off. So be warned about that kind of bleed through.

 

Orphan Black, season 2

tumblr_n2w6c7vKaA1rh0u2ko1_r3_500How ironic that I am moving to the UK and will no longer be able to see this BBC America show. Wait–is that irony? Alanis Morissette has completely ruined my ability to discern irony. Whether it’s ironic or not, it’s definitely annoying and stupid.  I really love this show. I think it’s a good show, and I think Tatiana Maslany is spectacular.  The fact that she hasn’t been nominated for an Emmy at this point is an actual crime.

There’s a scene where Sarah is handcuffed to a shower (happens to the best of us), and Helena appears with a massive knife.  I’ve never seen anyone look as afraid as Sarah does in this scene.

0Particularly when you consider the fact that a-the person she’s pretending to be afraid of is herself, and b-there was no one there to react to at the time. The Helena part was added afterward.

Season one ended with a focus on Sarah and Helena, who are apparently twins, born to the same surrogate mother. We also saw the inner workings of the Dyad Institute, including the clone-in-charge, Rachel.  Season two begins with Mrs. S and Kira gone, Cosima and Delphine ‘infiltrating’ the Dyad in order to learn more about the clone program. Alison is turning to drugs and alcohol to deal with the fact that she let her friend die–note to self, never run the garbage disposal while wearing a decorative scarf. Or any scarf, I suppose. Most disturbingly, Cosima is starting to show signs of the illness that killed Katja.  I swear, if they kill of Cosima I’m done. She’s my favorite.

Helena is a close second.  Helena is amazing.

timthumbShe goes through some shit this season. Kidnapped by a creepy Eugenics cult that seemed to combine the most horrifying parts of Mormonism and Nazi medical experiments.  Very very gross. Forced to wear horrible clothes out of Little House on the Prairie, and injected with (her own) eggs fertilized by the creepy prophet/cult leader.  Nope, nope, nope. On the upside, she gets to have a dance and a kiss with a guy in a bar, and she eats a lot of food.

The season focuses on a few things. Rachel, the uptight psycho who runs the Dyad Institute and treats herself and her fellow clones like subjects in a science experiment, but secretly harbors extreme anger over her loss of her parents, and her inability to have children. Major rage issues. The clones all learn more about themselves, both through Cosima’s work in the lab and by finding their ‘creator’, who also served as Rachel’s adoptive father, before he went into hiding. They (and we) learn that the clones are infertile by design (Sarah and Helena are the only known exceptions), and the respiratory problem (caused by tumors) can be treated with stem cells–from Kira.  We also meet Kira’s father, who looks and acts like Aiden from Sex and the City, but clearly has something to hide.  The question is, what did he know when he was dating Sarah?

I love all of the characters in this show, and I really enjoyed the plot. Shows like this have to walk a tightrope. Reveal too much and you lose audience interest. Reveal too little and you frustrate everyone (e.g., Lost).  Orphan Black does a great job answering questions and keeping interest.  You feel like you’re getting somewhere, even if the somewhere you’re getting is into deeper trouble for all the characters.

My only real complaint about the season is the same as everyone else’s, I think. Tony.

orphanblack_2x08_tonyLook, I have no issue with seeing transsexual characters on TV–it’s great for improving acceptance.  But this was not well done.  Tatiana Maslany didn’t do that bad of a job with the acting itself, but there were a few big issues.  One–the terrible pasted-on, barely-there facial hair.  No.  Do better.  The look overall, actually, was quite badly done in my opinion. Look at Boys Don’t Cry for better examples.  Actually, that terrible Amanda Bynes movie She’s the Man made a more believable male character.  Of course, Tony isn’t actually male (anatomically). He’s a pre-op transsexual, if memory serves.  He’s taking hormones, which would account for facial hair and a deeper voice. But I was thrown by the long hair and feminine eyebrows they retained.  But other than just the appearance, the writing of this character was not good.  He wasn’t likeable, and the pseudo-flirtation between him and Felix made me feel a bit gross, just because…Sarah is Felix’s adoptive brother and best friend, and this is basically Sarah’s twin.  I find it weird when people date their best friend’s family, particularly if they look similar.  Part of why Harry and Ginny bother me as a couple. The whole episode just made me unhappy and it broke the cognitive dissonance and left me cringing. I was also annoyed by his appearance, his possession of cryptic information, and then *poof*, he’s gone.  Annoying. I’m ready for him to never come back.

Setting us up for next season, they also introduced Marion. Marion is above Rachel in the Dyad Institute and whatever else they are connected with. I recognize the actress from her turn on True Blood, so I was all ‘Danger, Sarah Manning!’. She cannot be trusted.  Or killed, if she’s anything like her True Blood character.

Orphan-Black-210-Marion-Sarah-CharlotteCharlotte is the little girl in the foreground of this picture.  Marion tells us that, after hundreds of attempts, Charlotte is the only clone they’ve produced since the first batch.  Sarah’s face kind of says it all–imagine coming face to face with your 8-year-old self.

I’m going to have to figure out a way to watch this next year, because I really like it. It surprises and amuses me, and how often do both of those things happen in a TV show? That being said, I hope Tony only makes one more appearance, relaying a cryptic but important message before being tragically killed.

The Fall

The-fall-highres_8colI don’t think I knew about this show when it originally aired in the UK (early summer 2013). It’s on Netflix Instant here; it never aired on US TV.

There are a lot of police procedurals on TV. Way more than the world will ever need. There have been nearly 750 episodes of CSI and its spinoffs. And they just ordered another CSI spinoff focusing on computer crime. And don’t get me started on Law and Order (original, Criminal Intent, SVU, UK, Elevator Inspector’s Unit). So…most of them aren’t even good shows. They’re completely unrealistic with their ludicrously attractive casts, featuring police women in 6″ stiletto Louboutin shoes, lab scientists who are inexplicably present during police raids, SWAT missions, interrogations, the incredibly posh sets that no government could afford for what little lab resources they have, and their superhuman ability to zoom and ‘enhance’ CCTV footage to make a picture clear enough to identify perps and even take their fingerprints off the water bottle they can see through the camera. They are all stupid shows. The only good ones are those that either a-makes the situation goofy or b-show the darkness that comes with the job. Psych is my favorite version of the former, and Luther is a great version of the latter.

The Fall is neither as dark or as devastating as Luther. But it has a lot going for it, and is infinitely more worth watching than any episode of CSI (even that one Quentin Tarantino directed).

Reason the first: Gillian Anderson.

3619467-high_res-the-fall.jpgI have seen very little of her acting, as the X-Files scared the crap out of me when it was on TV–I was 12 when it premiered.

But I did see her in the recent miniseries of Bleak House and she was wonderful in it. In The Fall, she plays DSI Stella Gibson. She travels from the Metro Police to Belfast because of a missing woman. If Stella Gibson were a man, the character wouldn’t be much different, and would be a bit of a cliché. Cold, unemotional, focused on the hunt for the killer. Serial killer, Gibson believes after examining several similar cases. Gibson is smart, logical, eminently capable, and confident to a fault.  She asks to be introduced to a fellow cop because she thinks he’s handsome (she doesn’t say that last part). When she starts talking to him, she just casually (but pointedly) mentions her hotel’s name and her hotel room number. I don’t think I would ever have the guts to do something like that, but omg I wish I had that sort of confidence. I had to stare at the screen for a minute with my mouth open to recover from that scene.  The guy gets the hint and shows up later, and Stella is just as take-charge in that scene as she is during press conferences. Her character and her performance are very interesting and fascinating to watch.  She does approach her job as a hunt, and uses her ability to understand the killer to help find him.

Which brings us to reason the second: Paul Spector

-James-Jamie-Dornan-once-upon-a-time-31217066-569-740

Jamie Dornan plays the killer. He hasn’t been in much before (an American show, Once Upon a Time), but he’s about to be much more famous. He’s playing the lead in the 50 Shades of Grey movie.  A movie I plan to avoid with all resources available to me. Same strategy I’ve applied to the books, and it’s worked so far.

In the Fall, the viewer spends almost equal time between Gibson and Spector. We see the killer prepare, research, stalk.  We see him kill. We also see him at his mediocre job, with his wife and children. We see his infatuation with the babysitter. It’s a bit like Dexter, in that we see from both points of view. But though Dexter is a terrifying person and a serial killer with a much higher body count, I find Spector far more terrifying. Dexter has his ‘code’, his set of morals, and that makes the bitter pill easier to swallow.  Spector goes after professional women, brunette, pretty. He strangles them, slowly. He bathes them and paints their fingernails after they’re dead. And then he goes home to his wife (a neonatal nurse) and 2 children. His daughter suffers from night terrors. He has a normal life, and when he is with his family he seems like a normal man. In the end, he is able to keep his family together, which keeps him from being exposed as a killer. He is able to feign normalcy well enough to be assumed innocent.

Which leads us to the big problem with this show.  The ending. After 5 nailbiting episodes, the show ends with a cliffhanger.  The hunt is on a break, because Spector has left town. It’s not just a cliffhanger, it’s more of a no-ender. No resolution, no pause to collect thoughts, just a fade that leaves you thinking you must have accidentally hit pause and of course there should be another 5-10 minutes to this damn show! Frustrating!

The good news is that they are filming the second series soon. From what I’ve read, it should pick up exactly where the last one stopped. Right back to the pursuit.

This is a minimalist show. Not a lot of dialogue. Sparse. This makes it difficult for me to qualitatively describe what I liked so much about it.  I can only say that it was well-made, well-written, well-acted, and kept me interested without the need for big twists and unexpected coincidences. And how many shows can you actually say that about nowadays? Very few. I totally recommend watching it.  But keep in mind that you will be irritated when you reach the end.

 

In the Flesh, season 2

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The first season of In the Flesh was very good, but also very bleak. As bleak as its setting in a lonely North England town. It drew some fairly obvious allegories, using the zombies Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers as stand-ins for homosexuals, religious and racial minorities, immigrants, HIV/AIDS sufferers, and any other group that can most easily be trodden upon by the heartless masses.

I really grew to like Kieren and Amy, who have a pretty adorable friendship. The terrible prejudices and actions of the citizens of Roarton were really difficult to watch. Excruciating, in some cases, because of how easy it is to relate the way the PDS are treated to the way gay people are still treated, and the fact that some of them are attacked. Sometimes by family. In 2014, for fuck’s sake.

The second series is longer (6 episodes, rather than 3), and uses a different sort of allegory.  A new political group, Victus, has been winning seats at Parliament by campaigning with aggressive anti-PDS policies. They (like most far right parties) are channeling people’s fears to enact policies that restrict and control the PDS population. In Roarton, a new MP from Victus shows up, Maxine Martin.

in_the_flesh_wunmiSoon, she has put a system in place to invalidate the passports of all PDS persons. Kieren discovers this when he tries to leave town, to head to Paris and to live a life where he is not completely surrounded by people who hate him and his kind. In order to ‘earn’ his passport back, he has to work to ‘give back’. All the PDS people have to do a certain amount of community service in order to make up for some of the damage they wrought. But as time goes on, it becomes clearer that this is not a system that they can really get out of. The ‘community service’ is mandatory, and they shift the guidelines at a whim. You can draw obvious parallels to concentration camps and internment camps and no-fly lists and ‘random’ inspections of people of color, or anyone with Muhammad in their name. Also to immigrant populations, vilified and contained, mistrusted by the generally douchy public.

The overarching story of the season is the fabled ‘second rising’. There are a few schools of thought on how it may come about, and whether it should come about.  The Undead Liberation Army and its creepy prophet is trying to bring about the second rising. Enter ULA member, Simon. He’s Irish, and he’s all in for the ULA movement. Amy has a crush on him, but in typical Amy fashion, he turns out to be more attracted to Kieren. Que sera, sera.

Simon helps Kieren start to accept who he is–going out without the ‘mousse’ and the contact lenses, looking like the undead person he is. His family hates this, and sees it as such a radical move that he may need to be sent back to a treatment facility to be re-brainwashed.

The second rising can only happen with the help of the first risen. The actual first person that came up from the ground.  Simon thinks this is Kieren. But it’s not.

Amy, once she gets over the fact that Simon isn’t straight, turns her attention back to Philip. She’s going through some stuff–she has tremors sometimes, and occasionally forgets that she’s dead and tries to eat something. Things are changing for her and she’s not sure if that means she’ll turn back into a ‘rabid’ or what. Scary stuff.  The good news is that as soon as she reaches out to Philip, he immediately stops being incredibly creepy and pathetic, and starts to be a little bit adorable.

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In typical Roarton fashion, that doesn’t last long.

It’s a very bleak show, but I actually really enjoy it. The whole zombie thing is such an easy stand-in for so many awful social issues in history and in the modern day. I’m hoping it gets a third season/series, because I still want to see what happens next. It did not end on a resolution, but a cliffhanger. I don’t mind a cliffhanger when the show has definitely been renewed, but I get pretty annoyed when I watch a cliffhanger and then have to accept the fact that I’ll never get to see what happens next. There should be some sort of post-season special. Whenever a show is cancelled after a cliffhanger, they should shoot one more episode to wrap it up. If you are reading this and you work in TV, make this shit happen.