Netflix’s The Old Guard: Gritty Superhero Charm

Netflix’s The Old Guard shows us that it doesn’t always have to be a spectacle. No spoilers, guys!

Hello everybody! Today, we are going to look at Netflix’s latest action/comic book movie The Old Guard. We are also going to discuss the upside of scaled-down superhero movies, and who could benefit from this type of format. Let’s do it!

A Little About The Movie

The Old Guard is based on a comic by writer Greg Rucka and artist Leonardo Fernandez. Published in 2017, it’s a young comic published by Image Comics. Before I get into the plot, allow me to say that I’m only discussing the plot of the movie. I’ve not read the comics.

The story centers around Andromache of Scythia, also known as Andy (played by Charlize Theron). Andy and her soldiers are warriors who cannot die. The team tries to remain anonymous while fighting for what they deem are just causes.

During their most recent conflict, they’re betrayed by former CIA agent Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor). While persuing Copley, they learn that there’s another immortal. A young Marine named Nile (Kiki Layne) just awakened to her immortality. The team decides that they need to take her under their wing.

So, Andy and crew have a new immortal to acclimate, a guy that betrayed them, and some unknown force after them.

More Grit…Less Sparkly Things

One thing I really liked about The Old Guard is that it leaned heavier on the action and intrigue and less on the actual immortal part of it. If you ever watched Jack Ryan, it was kind of like that..but with immortals.

You sort of experience the same thing in HBO’s Watchmen and The Dark Knight. You know that these are extraordinary people. So, you’re not inundated with a whole bunch of CGI to prove that fact. It’s as if the creators understood that this isn’t the type of story that will benefit from all of those special effects.

You know which movie should’ve gotten this treatment? Suicide Squad. If the creators would’ve cut down on the spectacle and given us a strong story, it could’ve been great. It already had a decent cast and a fantastic soundtrack, but the movie was trying to do so much, that it did absolutely nothing.

One Small Issue

I really enjoyed the movie…for the most part. But, there were times that the writing felt a little pedestrian. The one scene that comes to mind is when Copley is showing Nile some of his research. Basically, they’re discussing Andy’s impact on history throughout the years. This moment felt a bit corny. I get the significance of the scene, I just don’t know if I agree with how the scene, and other scenes, are written.

Overall

I liked the movie. Charlize Theron makes a fantastic Andy. She gives you badass, but still vulnerable. Like I previously mentioned, the writing can feel a bit hack-y at times, but it’s not so much that it makes the movie unwatchable. The ending of the movie leaves an opening for a sequel, but it may be a while before that happens. For now, watch the current story and tell me what you think!

Wrapping It Up

Well, that’s it for The Old Guard. Today on Couch and Chill, I’ll give you my thoughts on The God of High School episode 2. Later this week, there’s more Food Wars and episode 1 of Gibiate. Next time here on Couch Cruisin, I’m going to bring you a list of my favorite black YouTube content creators. I will see you later!

Gangster Capitalism: Deep Dives Into Deep Deception

On this Cast Away, we look at the C13 podcast Gangster Capitalism.

Hello everybody! Today, we are going to discuss the podcast Gangster Capitalism, hosted by Andrew Jenks. I am a hardcore true crime fan. But when you listen to some of the most vile instances of murder, it starts to feel a little heavy. So, you look for other ways to be outraged and disturbed without the murder or molestation. That’s when Gangster Capitalism comes in.

The show deals with some of the biggest financial scandals of the day. The first season covers the college admissions scandal, nearly in real time. The second season focuses on the NRA and the massive siphoning of money from its members. We are going to talk about this one season at a time. Let’s do this!

The College Admissions Scandal

Last year. a huge scandal broke regarding college admissions. A guy named Rick Singer assisted rich parents in cheating their children’s way into college. He doctored test scores, paid off coaches to put the kids on sports teams, and a host of other things. Notably, he was paid by Felicity Hoffman and Lori Laughlin to get their children into schools.

Gangster Capitalism explores the intricacies of the fraud. More importantly, it shows the impact the fraud had on students without the privilege of wealth. Episode 2 really illuminates the true problem with these people paying their way into college. It takes opportunities away from less privileged kids that actually have the talent to attend college. I believe this is the episode where they talk to a coach of a row team. She explains how one of her students is a talented coxswain. But that position was paid for by Laurie Laughlin for her daughter Olivia Jade, someone that’s never been on a rowing team. It’s both heartbreaking and infuriating.

The NRA

The second season of Gangster Capitalism was released in March of this year. This was my first time hearing this story and boy, is it a mess. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a nonprofit gun rights organization. It’s also a huge lobbying force with millions of members. It’s members donate to the organization to aid in education and other gun-related issues.

According to the podcast, it turns out that NRA money was funding the lavish lifestyle of CEO and EVP Wayne Lapierre. There was also a substantial amount of money going to Ackeman McQueen, a large advertising agency. You guys, the shady business dealings of people at the top of this organization is astounding.

Like the college admissions scandal, episodes on the NRA puts a human face on a faceless, and to some problematic, organization. We hear from people who really believed that they were giving to a cause they felt strongly about. Some were giving their fortunes to the organization upon their death.

Wrapping It Up

Gangster Capitalism explores issues from all sides. We not only hear about the culprits, but we hear about their victims. You really get a sense of the magnitude the actions of a few privileged people have on so many others.

Well, there you have it! You can find Gangster Capitalism on your favorite streaming service. You can check out their website here. I’m not sure which podcast I’m going to cover next. If you have suggestions, let me know. Over on Couch and Chill, I discuss my favorite summer anime over the past five years. I will see you later!

Floor Is Lava: Smoking Hot or Hot Mess?

Netflix introduces us to a new, crazy, obstacle course-style game show.

Hello everybody! Today, we are going to discuss Netflix’s newest game show Floor Is Lava. I have to say, the name of the show alone gives me nostalgia for my childhood. I don’t know about you, but as a child, I was confident that there was something under my bed that would get me. Of course, it only came out at night and would probably attack me if I left my bed. So, if I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I had to leap from my bed, to the light shining on the floor from the bathroom. The dark part of the floor may as well have been lava. Keeping that anecdote in mind, allow me to tell you the premise of the show.

Let The Bodies NOT Hit The Floor

In each episode, there are three teams of three. Each team has to traverse a room where the floor is “lava”. My best theory is that it is a giant bubbling swimming pool with flotation devices made to look like furniture. In each episode, the room is different. It could be an Egyptian tomb, a bedroom, etc. The team has to jump from one object to another, trying not to fall into the “lava”. The team that gets the most team members across the room wins ten grand and a lava lamp. If there is a tie, then the team with the best time wins.

Now that you know the basics, here’s my thoughts on the show.

You’re Smarter Than The Contestants

There’s nothing like pouring yourself a nice cocktail and screaming at the players “jump this way!” or “swing your legs!”. You see, watching it on television makes the objects much closer than they probably are in reality. So two objects that may only look a few feet away from each other, in actuality may be several feet apart. You watch these contestants leap for their lives in the most dramatic fashion, and you find it hilarious.

At the same time you are critiquing their every decision, you find yourself rooting for the players. Even though you laugh when they fall, something deep down in you wants them all to make it.

A Bit Corny

When they do the team interviews, some of the things that these people say sounds extremely cheesy. You can tell some producer said something like “use this pun” or “tell this joke”. It felt a bit silly in a show that really doesn’t need it.

Overall

This show is a fun distraction. There’s so much garbage going on in the world. Flood Is Lava reminds me of Nickelodeon’s classic Double Dare or Legend of the Hidden Temple. It’s just a good time with a simple concept.

Netflix is really giving us outstanding reality shows. This show, The Circle, and even Too Hot to Handle all feel different than what you find on network television. It brings a burst of energy to a dull game show landscape.

Wrapping It Up

Well, there you have it! What do you think of Floor Is Lava? Let me know! Later this week on Couch and Chill, we’ll get ready for summer 2020 anime. Here on Couch Cruisin’, I’ll discuss Gangster Capitalism. I will see you later!

Podcast Spotlight: The Black Tapes

Today’s Cast Away features the supernatural…cults…math…you know, all the scary stuff!

Hello everybody! Turn on all the lights in your house because we’re about to get creepy. We are discussing The Black Tapes. We are about to take a journey into a dark world full of secrets, lies, misdirections, and crazy revelations.

My history with this podcast is kind of funny. I started The Black Tapes shortly after finishing season one of Serial. For the longest time, I thought that it was a true story. I mentioned this in my last post. The show is so well produced that it will fool you. It is actually fiction, really good fiction.

About the Show

The Black Tapes debuted in 2015 from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale. Presently, the show is in its third season. Like the AAU Murders, The Black Tapes is styled like a documentary.

The podcast follows Alex Reagan, a journalist investigating The Strand Institute. It’s founder, Richard Strand, dedicates his life to finding real supernatural phenomenon. Richard’s weird. He’s kind of like Mulder and Scully combined. He’s debunked a lot of supernatural occurrences but still looks for the real deal. He’s even put up a million-dollar reward if someone manages to have concrete proof that something supernatural exists.

Once Alex becomes acquainted with Richard, he introduces her to a set of VHS tapes. These tapes contain things he cannot just explain away. They lead Alex and Richard down the mother of all rabbit holes. They learn that people that are supposed to be dead are alive, there are terrifying mathematical cults looking to bring about…something, and that people in Richard’s life are somehow connected. It’s a whole mess, honey!

Favorite Episodes

Some of the earlier episodes really stand out from the rest. My favorite episode from season one is called The Unsound. One of the tapes centers around the suicide of a musician. This guy was experimenting with something called the “unsound”. Anyone that listens to the sound will die within a year.

I’ll never forget the first time I listened to this episode. I was on my way to work one evening. Alex talks about the unsound. Then she says “do you want to hear the unsound?”. Keep in mind that I thought the show was real. So I thought to myself, “Do I want to hear this?”. Of course, my curiosity got the better of me and I listened. This was years ago, so…there you go. But what a spooky moment!

Another creepy episode is the third episode in season 2 titled “Hush Little Baby”. A mother keeps hearing weird noises over her baby monitor. Underneath the baby’s crib are strange markings. It turns out that the baby’s housekeeper is involved in the supernatural goings-on.

When Alex and her producer Nic go to confront the housekeeper at her apartment…well, let’s just say they walk into something that can only be described as horror. The imagery is just frightening!

So Much Math

My only issue with The Black Tapes is that when it comes to the mathematical aspects of the show, we get a bit lost in the weeds. Understand that math, particularly Pythagerous, is feathered heavily in the podcast. That’s totally fine, considering the world the show builds. But, it can be a bit overwhelming, especially when Alex talks to “experts” on math and ratios and such. But, I manage to power through it because it often leads to new discoveries.

Wrapping It Up

In season 3, we get more questions than answers. We learn that more things are connected than coincidence. I’m going to follow Alex as she learns more and more about the black tapes and all the craziness the surrounds them, and Strand.

Well, that’s it for my thoughts on The Black Tapes. You can find it on all your streaming platforms. You can also visit their website here. Next week, I’m going to some true crime, but not murder, and discussing Gangster Capitalism.

Over on Couch and Chill, I give you my final thoughts on Tower of God. I will see you later!

[Review] The AAU Murders: Cast Away

AAU Murders - Posts | Facebook

Hello everybody! Welcome to my first review for Cast Away, my posts on podcasts. We are going to discuss The AAU Murders. I’ve kind of been putting off reviewing this podcast for a few days now. I really wanted to sit and think on it for a while. This podcast has some really terrific moments, but it’s not without its issues. Let’s get into it.

Disclaimer: I’m no podcast expert. I’m just a podcast fan!

About The Podcast

The AAU Murders is a four-part fictional podcast from Layered TV and creator Corey Dashaun. It revolves around successful single mom Virginia Collins. She meets and falls in love with Liam, a basketball recruiter. But, Liam has secrets…big secrets. Her friends and family are suspicious of Liam, but Virginia is so smitten that she can’t see the forest for the trees. Virginia’s lack of situational awareness puts her, her children, her family and friends in imminent danger.

The Podcast Style

The AAU Murders is fictional, but it’s structured like a true crime podcast. When I listen to this style of podcast, I want to be fooled by it. For the longest time, I thought that The Black Tapes podcast was a true story. I wanted to have a similar feeling. But, it didn’t feel that way. It didn’t feel organic.

The Second Episode

The second episode is really good. At the end of episode one, we learn that Virginia’s older sister Patty (I love Patty) is doing what a black older sister would do. She’s suspicious of her baby sister’s boyfriend, so she starts investigating. Episode two gives us some of the information that Patty learned. And, boy is it explosive!

We get some background on Liam’s past. The listener gains an understanding of how Liam’s family played a role in his present behavior. But, the coup de grace is near the end. It concerns Liam’s relationship with another family. We really see the depths of Liam’s depravity. It is so messed up! I was shocked!

The Time Thing

One thing that is difficult to feel in a podcast is the passage of time. You cannot see grey hair or children growing up. The combination of storytelling and your imagination really have to give you that sense of where you are in a timeline. The AAU Murders kind of has this issue. At certain points, I didn’t know if a week passed, or a year. Thankfully, we’re given a lifeline and the characters tell us “it’s been a few months” or something like that.

Yes Ms. Patty Girl

I’m going to circle back around to Patty. Here’s the thing I love about Patty. When she found out all of this information about Liam, she could’ve went to Virginia and spill all the beans. Instead, she waited until she compiled more information and had hardcore proof. She’s self-aware enough to know that her melodramatics may taint the evidence against Liam.

Now, I’m not going to say that Patty’s “sassy black woman” persona isn’t a little cliche. But, it fits Patty’s position in her family as the mother-figure and amateur investigator.

Overall

Even with my immersion and time frame issues, I do enjoy the podcast. We have one more episode and I’m wondering where it’s going to go from here. I wouldn’t mind having another twist in episode 4. I need another episode 2 type of energy.

Wrapping It Up

Well, that’s it for the AAU Murders. Speaking of The Black Tapes, I think I’ll discuss that next. Over on Couch and Chill, I reviewed episode 12 of Tower of God. I’m also going to write a post in honor of Father’s Day. I will see you later.

*Subscribe to The AAU Murders on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Sticher. You can visit the website here: The AAU Murders.

Finding Vanessa

Where’s PFC Vanessa Guillen???

Reward increased to $50K in search for Fort Hood soldier Vanessa ...

Hello everyone. Usually, my platform is pretty light-hearted. But today, I want to tell you about Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, a young soldier that’s been missing for nearly two months. I hope that, in some small way, my little blog can reach someone that may be able to provide information regarding her whereabouts.

The Facts

  • On April 22, 2020 between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm, Vanessa disappeared from Regimental Engineer Squadron’s Parking lot on the Fort Hood military installation in Killeen, TX.
  • Vanessa informed her family that she was being sexually harrassed prior to her disappearance.
  • Her car keys, the key to her barracks room, her ID, and wallet were found in her unit’s armory where she worked as an arms/artillery repairer.
  • Vanessa’s 20 y.o., 5 feet 2 inches tall, 125 lbs, black hair, brown eyes.
  • There’s a $50,000 reward for information.

Nothing Happens In A Vaccum

I spent the first four years of my military career at Fort Hood. Like most installations, it is massive. At the time of Vanessa’s disappearance, there would’ve been people everywhere, most likely heading to lunch. I can’t imagine that in the middle of the week, during lunchtime, on a massive military base that no one saw nothing. The military operates by different rules than in the civilian world. Soldiers don’t get time off due to a pandemic. Someone had to see or hear something, even if they don’t realize it, even if it’s gossip.

Battle Buddies???

I’m sure this is true of other military branches, but the Army is a world within itself. In this world, you form close bonds with friends you call “battle buddies”. These people become your family. They help you fight both professional and personal battles. You protect each other, support each other, argue, laugh, and cry together. I’ve been out of the Army for seven years and I’m still really close with my battle buddies. They know about aspects of my life that family members do not know about nor will understand.

There’s no way for me to know if Vanessa has that same support system. I hope she has a battle buddy that she confides in. Perhaps they can give investigators a better understanding as to what was going on in Vanessa’s military life.

Speak Up

As I previously mentioned, nothing happens in a vacuum. Someone knows something. Does her harasser have anything to do with her disappearance? Unfortunately, the military and Fort Hood has a history of protecting those in positions of authority. Those at the top quietly move the offender to another place or another unit. CID and the FBI need to be as transparent as possible during this investigation.

What do the people around her know? I’ve been in small units, I’ve been in large units. But whatever the size, word travels. Those people should help Vanessa and her family by telling the authorities any information they have.

More Information

If you want more information, you want to donate, or if you have any tips you can go to/call one of the following:

Facebook: Find Vanessa Guillen

Twitter: @whereisvanessag

Website: Find Vanessa Guillen

Sign the Petition: change.org

Donate: GoFundMe

To offer information; 832-651-9128; 713-885-7510

Update

According to the family’s attorney, it is believed that they have found the remains of PFC Vanessa Guillen. The suspect in her disappearance committed suicide and a civilian suspect is in police custody. My condolences are with the friends and family of this young soldier.

Welcome To Cast Away

Podcast Thoughts and Reviews

I LOVE PODCASTS! I listen to podcasts while I’m working out, cleaning, driving long distances, meditating, and going to sleep. My favorite type of podcasts are true crime, but my interests run the spectrum. This is why I’m introducing a new category here on Couch Cruisin’…Cast Away. I was going go with Cast Off, but I didn’t like it.

My goal for Cast Away is two-fold. One, I want to tell you about some awesome podcasts that will get you through your day, or ones you should avoid. Two, I want you to tell me about your favorite podcasts. I walk/hike three to four miles a day, so I have plenty of time to give it a shot.

My First Podcast

Like most of America, my introduction to podcasts came in the form of the widely successful Serial, season 1. If you’ve lived under a rock, Serial involves the death of Hae Min Lee. Hae’s ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was accused of the murder and imprisoned for life.

Journalist Sarah Koenig investigates the crime at the request of Rabia Chaudry (I follow Rabia on Twitter. She’s awesome!) Rabia’s brother was close friends with Adnan. The podcast is Sarah’s investigation.

There are so many sketchy things surrounding the investigation and prosecution of Adnan. Don’t get me started on the prosecution’s “star witness” . As a matter of fact, don’t get me started on the prosecutor.

At any rate, Serial leads to books and t.v. specials about the case. It also leads to my search for more podcasts. Speaking of which…

My Favorite Podcast

If Serial opened the door to my podcast obsession, True Crime Obsessed busted that bitch off the hinges. Gillian Pensavale and Patrick Hinds are theatre nerds who watch true crime documentaries and T.V. shows. Much to my delight, they created a podcast giving us their thoughts. TCO brings you true crime in an often hilarious but still respectful way.

TCO is like listening to your good friends get drunk and discuss true crime. Some of my favorite episodes are episode 12: “Jesus Camp”, episode 20: “Prophets Prey”, episode 26: “Tabloid”, episode 45 “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia”, and episode 74: “Grizzly Man”. All of the episodes are great. These are just my favorites.

True Crime Obsessed branched into other podcasts. Obsessed with Abducted in Plain Sight features Patrick and the director of Abducted in Plain Sight, Skye Borgman. There’s also Obsessed with Disappeared. This one features Patrick and his friend Ellyn Marsh. They are giving us their thoughts on episodes of Disappeared. It is hilarious!

Up Next…

In my next Cast Away post, I’m going to discuss the fictional murder podcast The AAU Murders. I tell ya, it’s a weird journey. Later this week (probably tomorrow), I’m going to review episode 11 of Tower of God on Couch and Chill. I will see you later.

List Fillers: Is It Sci-Fi?

Do we throw anything into this genre?

Hello everybody. So, I’ve been pondering various topics for this blog. I was looking for a show to review that is not a Netflix original (I’m trying to diversify). So I entered “science fiction tv shows” into Google to see what pops up. In typical Google fashion, a bunch of lists appeared. You know the lists: “10 Sci-Fi Shows To Watch”, or “The 100 Greatest Sci-Fi Show of All Time”.

I started clicking on the various articles and started giving them a scroll. I saw the usual suspects: X-Files, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Star Trek, etc. But the more I looked, the more I noticed something. Some of the shows I really wouldn’t consider “science fiction”.

I guess the genre can be subjective. What’s science fiction to you may not be science fiction to me, and vice versa. But some of the titles I saw feel like is a bit of a reach. So, I thought I would explore the topic by defining science fiction, some typical science fiction tropes, and shows that I see that may fit the trope but still may not be considered science fiction.

Science Fiction: Defined

According to Merriam-Webster’s website, Science Fiction is “fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component”. So, science is the core of science fiction. But how much science is the question? The show Eureka is textbook science fiction. You have a bunch scientists living in a science town where mysterious science things happen. Of course, there’s some comedy, sexual tension, and romance. But, the science keeps the story going. As the definition says, it’s the imagined science that is the orienting component.

But this is a glaring example, what if you have something more nuanced? Then I have to ask myself, “If I take out the science bit, is this story still plausible?”. I think when you’re making a list, you have to ask yourself this question, since science is the cornerstone of science fiction.

Sometimes I think that these list makers take a little bit of a sci-fi trope in a show and use that as a reason to throw it on a science fiction list. Let’s look at some of these tropes and a few shows I found on the lists. And then let’s ask ourselves, was that really sci-fi?

It’s In The Future

It could be 10 years or 1,000 years from now. If it happens in the future, it’s science fiction. In a way, I kind of get that. As time goes by, technology changes. The environment changes. After all time is science right? Shows like Doctor Who play with time all the time, and that is about as Sci-fi as you can get!

Then, there’s the dystopic future. The future where there’s a nuclear explosion or a scientific advance gone wrong. The world is grey, you can’t drink the water, humanity is barely surviving, or there’s a coup that changes the societal landscape.

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a future such as the latter. But does that make it science fiction? I don’t think so. The setting is very militant and very patriarchal society. Does the infertility due to pollution make it science fiction? Not really. The core of the story lies in the politics and class struggle more than the infertility. In the list of plot devices, the infertility angle starts us out, but it doesn’t drive us forward.

I actually conducted a poll on twitter (@couchandchill) asking if The Handmaid’s Tale is science fiction. It was more a less an even split. Some people said it is, some people said it isn’t.

It’s Weird

If it’s strange or unusual, then it must be science fiction. If that’s the case, then you should throw The Bachelor in this category. You don’t get stranger than that! Just because creators think outside the box, doesn’t mean the show is science fiction.

On one of these sci-fi lists, I saw the show Twin Peaks. I was a little perplexed. A town full of weirdos does not make it sci-fi. That’s another problem. I feel like people make this lists without watching the show. Twin Peaks is a mystery/thriller/drama in a creepy little town with creepy little people. There’s a town on the Virginia/North Carolina border that can be Twin Peaks.

At Least One Episodes Has The Word “Science” In It

This one really makes me mad. In my blogging life, I’ve made many lists. Some of them contain 20+ items. So, I understand when you’re desperate to fill in the blanks, grasping at straws. But that doesn’t mean you throw all the shows at the sci-fi wall and hopes one sticks.

Someone needs to explain to me how MINDHUNTER is science fiction. Mindhunter! I was so livid when I saw this. It goes back to the previous statement that people do not watch the shows they put on these lists! And I know how this person justified adding this particular show to the list. It’s because it involves behavioral science.

First of all, Mindhunter is based on a true story. Second, it’s a crime thriller without a hint of sci-fi. If you’re going to put Mindhunter in this category, you need to put CSI, Criminal Minds, and NCIS in there as well.

Let me tell you something. When you throw a show in a genre willy-nilly, and people are using your list to find something to watch, you are misleading them. If you put Mindhunter in the science fiction category, and the viewer watches it based on your list, then they may not like the show. They may say, “this is a terrible sci-fi show”. You may be able to change my mind about Handmaid’s Tale and Twin Peaks fitting in the Sci-fi genre. When it comes to Mindhunter, I will not budge! Fight me!

Wrapping It Up

So, what are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree with me? Or, do you beg to differ? I’m totally open to having my mind changed (except for Mindhunter. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one). Give me your thoughts!

If you want some anime discussion, I posted my thoughts on Vinland Saga over on Couch and Chill (couchandchill.com). I will see you later!

Netflix’s Control Z: International Media Wins Again

Hello everybody! Back in March, I made a list of Netflix shows you can watch on quarantine (click here for that post). On the list was a South African show called Queen Sono. Also earlier this year, I discussed why South Korean movie Parasite won so many accolades. It seems like movies and shows from other countries are giving us amazing content with fresh stories and compelling characters. Recently, it seems that American shows are just not bringing that same heat.

Now, Mexico is bringing us a really good show called Control Z. I turned it on out of shear curiosity and became completely immersed. If I were going to compare it to anything, it kind of reminded me of I Know What You Did Last Summer or Scream mixed with a little Beverley Hills 90210. It does have one flaw that I’ll discuss later, but it still was addictive in the way it fleshed out the story. Let’s get into it!

About The Show

Sofia (Ana Valeria Becerril) is a young outsider in her high school. She’s troubled, but has an amazing power of observation. She knows things about her classmates by merely observing them from a quiet distance. Suddenly, the students, including Sofia, began receiving texts from a mysterious account called allyoursecrets. The texts state that someone intends to reveal their secrets. This causes complete chaos in the high school. There’s violence, betrayal, sexual indiscretions, and lots of lies. Sofia makes it her mission to find out who is behind the account.

We Are All Exposed

One thing that Control Z shows is that we are all vulnerable thanks to our smartphones. I mean this is something we all know and subconsciously accept. After all, the right hacker can hack anything, especially since a lot of phone content is cloud-based.

This Colegio Nacional (the high school in the show) is a microcosm of our present world. Someone accesses the students’ secrets and exposes them to the world. Imagine if someone did not like you enough to hack your phone and put all of your business in the street? That’s how we end up with celebrity nudes, influencers showing “receipts” of something their rival said or did, and so forth.

In Control Z, the stakes become extremely high. It’s not just “oops, now everyone’s seen my nudes”, the damage is severe to the students, parents, and educators in the show.

Tackling Tough Issues

The secrets these kids keep range from gender, sexuality, finances, betrayal. I mean these are BIG secrets. In a world where we tell the internet everything, you tend to forget that there are some things you do not want the world to know. It’s kind of genius how the mystery guy uses the students themselves to expose the secrets. So, no one can possibly know who is responsible because everyone is in collusion with the culprit. What’s poetic about this situation is if the students would’ve made the decision to divulge their secret, they probably would’ve saved themselves a lot of heartache.

There’s A Slight Problem

Though I thoroughly enjoyed Control Z, the series kind of showed it’s hand a little too early. I think I had three or four episodes left when I knew who did it and why. This was a tiny bit disappointing, but I hung in there because I was invested in the characters’ stories.

But…The Ending!

Even though the big mystery is revealed pretty early, the last episode’s ending was fantastic! There are so many surprises and shit absolutely hits the fan! Even though it ends on something of a cliffhanger, it still left me very satisfied with it’s ending and looking forward to the second season.

Overall

International media is absolutely killing it. I’m glad that Netflix is offering us great work from different places. It doesn’t matter the country of origin or the language. If you give me a great storytelling and fascinating characters, I will read subtitles and watch dubs all day long! Dear Netflix, bring me season 2 of Control Z. Thanks!

Wrapping It Up

Well, that’s it for my thoughts on Control Z. I just posted my thoughts on episode 10 of Tower of God over on Couch and Chill. I will see you later!

5 Reasons Why You Should Watch Netflix’s The Hollow: TheList

Hello everybody! When you think of an adult watching animation, you think of shows like Family Guy, The Simpson’s, Bob’s Burgers, stuff like that. In other words, adults watch adult animation. If they’re feeling a little nostalgic, they may watch cartoons from their childhood like Scooby-Doo or Rocco’s Modern Life.

Recently, everyone’s jumped on the Avatar: The Last Airbender bandwagon. But, who could blame them? It is a beautiful, well-written piece of work. The story and characters suck you into this complex, yet still fun world. And also, Uncle is the best!

Even still, Avatar was from the mid to late 2000s. More than likely, you will never catch an adult watching one of today’s children’s animated shows, unless they have kids who watch them. But, if you will indulge me, I want to encourage you to watch Netflix’s The Hollow. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The Premise

In a world where everything’s been done to death, this show’s unique premise really stands out. Three kids wake up in a Saw-type situation. They awaken to find themselves in a locked room. The catch is that they have no idea who they are, where they come from, or how they arrived in this locked room. The only thing they know is that their names: Mira, Adam, and Kai, and they learn this from scraps of paper found in their pockets.

From episode one, the lack of information really caught my attention. It forces these kids to adapt and work together to get out of one sticky situation after another. And this sense of mystery stays with us for the entire season one, giving us a long-sustaining tension.

2. The Characters

I loved the relationship between Adam, Kai, and Mira. It was complicated like real relationships. They did not wake up in the locked room and were “instant best friends” or “felt some sort of connection”. Their friendship develops over time and, again like real friendships, are put to the test with each new conflict.

Another thing I like about The Hollow is that there’s no real leader. Even though Adam appears to lead the charge, he’s not always the one with the ideas, getting everyone out of trouble, or defeating the bad guy. Each character brings something to the table that proves to be invaluable to the team.

We also meet several other characters throughout the show. Some of them help our main characters, others set out to harm them. The kids do not always agree on how to deal with these characters, but somehow manages to survive these encounters.

3. The World

The world that these kids have to traverse is humungous and diverse. They’re in the desert one second, the jungle another second, and space another second. Each locale has its own set of perils and surprises.

I’m trying not to give away too much of the show but I’ll tell you my favorite location. In one episode, they are in the desert and run into the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse. Apparently, Death is a great cook and can make a mean scone.

Similar to Avatar, The Hollow’s variety of locations deters redundancy. Being stuck in the same place for an extended period of time can become pretty dull (The Walking Dead proves this). We do not have to worry about that in The Hollow.

4. The Season One Finale/Season Two Opening

At the end of season one, we know what’s happening. I kind of had an idea of it early on, but the show confirms our suspicions. By the end of that season one finale, I thought “what a good show”. But, it made me wonder what story was left to tell for there to be a season 2.

When I watched the first episode of season 2, I was pleasantly surprised! Everything I knew from season 1 is different. We have the same characters (I thought they’d bring in different people), in a new version of the same conflict. Yet, we still maintain the tension and sense of urgency from season 1.

5. The Story

You can have the best setting, premise, and characters, and still, deliver a lackluster story (looking at you the last season of Game of Thrones). If the charcters are the heart of the show, the storytelling is the brain. And The Hollow gives us intelligent storytelling.

The same reason why I feel like adults should give anime a try is the same reason I believe they should give this “kid’s cartoon” a watch. It’s a good story! There isn’t a bunch of tired cartoon slapstick and goofy jokes. And, when there are corny jokes, it’s the show taking the opportunity to laugh at itself.

I guess that’s why I’m a little dumbfounded as to why more people aren’t talking about The Hollow. It’s a really good show, animated or not. We as adults have to get over this “cartoons are for kids mentality”. Today’s cartoons are sophisticated and I often think we are too “grown” to see it.

Just because it doesn’t have adult language and themes, doesn’t mean it’s not mature and intellectually stimulating. In fact, The Hollow may be more mature than your typical adult animation.

Wrapping It Up

Have you watched The Hollow on Netflix? If not, I hope you give it a shot. If so, tell me what you think.

Still this week, I’ll bring you more Tower of God on Couch and Chill. Also, there may be a Sunday Drama in the works. I’ll see you later!

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