today we’re talking series and podcasts I loved in April.
S-Town is the podcast everyone has been raving about in the last few weeks. I have checked it out upon the recommendation of a colleague and oh boy it was awesome! Produced by the producers of Serial and hosted by Brian Reed, S-Town is a 7 episode-investigative podcast that was made over three years. Everything started in 2012, when John B. McLemore, a horologist from Woodstock, Alabama, emailed the staff of This American Life to ask them to investigate a murder having allegedly taken place in Woodstock and been covered by the local police. John B. McLemore also reported a very high level of corruption in the Woodstock police department. After exchanging emails and phone calls with McLemore for about a year, Brian Reed went to Woodstock to investigate the murder. That’s the premise of the podcast. But the podcast doesn’t actually focus on this murder investigation. No, S-Town turns out to be a character study focusing on John B. McLemore’s eccentric and very complex personality, and a realistic depiction of a little rural town in Alabama – Woodstock or “Shittown”, in Bibb County – and its inhabitants. It’s beautiful, very-well written and narrated, go check it out if you have not yet!
Love (TV Series)
Last month I was mentioning the series “Freaks and Geeks” in my monthly favourites,without mentioning that the series was produced by Judd Apatow, shame on me! This month, I kept on digging into Judd Apatow’s TV stuff, with the TV series Love, created by himself, Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust. This “comedy-drama” is truly hilarious, I love it. It mostly focuses on the beginning of a relationship between two outstanding characters, Mickey (played by Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (played by Paul Rust). When I say outstanding, I don’t mean it in the way “astonishingly beautiful and perfect”, obviously. On the contrary, Mickey and Gus are two losers in their own way: Mickey is an addict (sex, drug and alcohol, the full combo) while Gus is a too kind guy who, in the beginning of the series, has just been dumped by his girlfriend because…he’s too kind. Gus also works as an on-set teacher on a crap TV show, “Wichita”, but actually dreams of becoming a screenwriter. So yes, the series is mainly about these two characters and how they interact with each other, but there are a lot of interesting secondary characters too. Just a really funny and authentic TV show that provides a good look on relationships in general.
O.J.: Made In America (Documentary)
O.J.: Made In America is a five part documentary directed by Ezra Edelman. It recounts NFL player and actor O.J. Simpson‘s life with a big focus on Simpson’s famous criminal trial following the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in 1994. Everyone knows about these murders and about this trial and its somewhat surprising outcome (Simpson was found not guilty despite a certain number of forensic evidence linking him to the murders). What makes this documentary extremely interesting is that it emphasizes the malfunctioning of the American justice system. I don’t want to say too much about the documentary because it is a masterpiece of a demonstration that you just need to see, but to summarize it sets Simpson’s criminal trial as the very embodiment of the flaws of the American justice system – flaws that ensue from a fundamentally racist society. Indeed, O.J.: Made In America deeply focuses on the socio-political context (and above all, the racial discrimination) of Simpson’s America (from the end of the 1960’s when Simpson became famous as a college football player to the mid 1990’s, when the trial took place). By showing this context, Ezra Edelman brilliantly demonstrates how Simpson’s criminal trial turned into a Los Angeles Police Department’s trial… This documentary won a whole bunch of prizes, among which the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and it was well deserved.
Finally, I just would like to recommend a podcast for those who are sometimes too bored to read my “favourite of the month” posts but like the principle: Pop Culture Happy Hour. It is a podcast about books, movies, TV series, other podcasts and so on and – unlike my posts – it really focuses on new releases. It’s hosted by Linda Holmes, editor for NPR’s entertainment and pop culture blog Monkey See. For every episode Linda Holmes invites a few NPR journalists and editors to talk about two to three pop culture new releases or subjects. Recent episodes that I particularly enjoyed were “Changing Colors in Comics and RuPaul’s Drag Race”, “Big Little Lies and Feud” and “Summer Movie Preview 2017”. It’s sometimes better to listen to the episode once you’ve watched the movie/TV series Linda Holmes and her guests are talking about because the discussions can go pretty deep and be spoiler-heavy (but they’ll always let you know before getting into spoilers)…
Is there anything that you have recently discovered and liked?