Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Sun Always Shines on TV

I wrote two blurbs for the best of television list at Popmatters on Enlightened and Treme respectively.

Coincidentally, I wrote the blurb for Enlightened after watching the third episode (subtitled "There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed") of Adam Curtis's brilliant four-part documentary The Century of the Self. Far more words than I have time for right now need to be said about the correlations between the individuation schemas described by Curtis that transformed communal hippies into selfish yuppies and Mike White's so-far brilliant workplace drama, but if anything the show illustrates how self-betterment is only achievable for those who already operate according to the rules of a luxury economy.

As for Treme, I continue to be a fan of the show, but I was shocked to learn that my entry would be fore the number one slot. There were many frustrating aspects to the first season (not least of which being the deification of preservationism as kind of saintlihood- it's as if Simon was trying to cement support from New Orleaners while critiquing nearly everything else about their city) that I thought were vastly improved by Season 2, but it was hardly my top pick for best show of 2011.

That honor would go to the harrowing, dark, and uncompromising (well, except in the letdown finale*) American Horror Story, a thrilling slice of hauntology that picks up the mantle of body horror long ago dropped by Cronenberg and includes among its cast a breakthrough performance. No, not the return of Jessica Lange, who is just fine, if a bit over-the-top at points. I'm talking about Evan Peters as the school shooter Tate Langdon, who provides the show with nearly all of its edge as being one of the show's only sympathetic leads. Hopefully, more words on this too when I get a chance.

*The series of events that transpire in the final episode have the unfortunate effect of making the entire season look like a lead-in to an episode of Tales from the Crypt (with hints of Scooby Doo).

RIP Jimmy Castor

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Finalized

My final thoughts on 2011 (for now) can be read in my new PopMatters column over here, touching on Skillrex, the death and afterlife of Altered Zones, radio pop's delightfully techno bent, maximalism, reissues, industrial house, and more.

Overall, an exciting year.