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Anyone eager for a sophisticated dramatization of the Gwen Shamblin story should wait until HBO Max releases its upcoming series with Sarah Paulson. However, those craving a tawdrier take on the life, death, and weight-obsessed ministry of the accused cult leader can fire up their screens now. Lifetime’s new movie Gwen Shamblin: Starving For Salvation may not be tasteful or even very artful, but it lays out the facts with gossipy zeal, like someone screen-grabbing the juiciest bits of a tabloid story and texting them to a group chat. And to be clear: That’s fine. Sometimes, lurid escapism can be just as satisfying as tony drama, and Shamblin’s story is compelling enough for both.
It’s all fun and games until somebody uses their superpowers to start a violent revolution. The trailer for Prime Video’s The Power goes hard on the show's high-concept premise, about all the teenage girls in the world simultaneously developing the ability to conduct electricity through their hands. Playing...
“King of Pop” Michael Jackson’s family has been all over the news lately. The late pop star’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley passed away on Jan. 12. His daughter, Paris Jackson, attended the Los Angeles premiere of the documentary Pamela, a love story on Monday, Jan. 30. And that same day, Michael’s son Prince Jackson congratulated cousin Jaafar Jackson on his role as the “Thriller” singer in the upcoming biopic Michael. But what about Michael’s other son? Where is Blanket Jackson now?
Communities often form in the aftermath of a tragedy, from neighbors standing outside a burning house to survivors founding an advocacy group, and in 21st-century television, these ad hoc societies are often tinged with terror: Think of the cult on Yellowjackets, the smoke monster that chases the Lost islanders, or the troupe of artists that learns to kill on Station Eleven. Considering the anxiety that’s pervaded this century — and the catastrophes that have stacked up like leaves on the ground — this fraught tone might almost feel necessary. And that’s why Dear Edward is such a heartrending surprise. Though it begins in grief, it refuses to stay there.
When the story broke in 2019 that a coercive sex cult had been uncovered on the campus of Sarah Lawrence College, you could practically hear the documentary cameras getting set up. There's a fascination with cults on TV — look no further than HBO's The Vow for proof — and, in particular, with how free-thinking, rational people can fall under the sway of a charismatic figure who convinces them to act in ways that both harm them and isolate them from their loved ones. The Sarah Lawrence cult had a grotesque but compelling character at its center in Larry Ray, who moved into his daughter Talia's campus housing and within a couple of years wreaked emotional, physical, and sexual damage on a small group of Talia's friends and classmates.
It's nearly 10 minutes into the first episode of Poker Face, the clever and crackling new mystery series, before we see the show's star, Natasha Lyonne. By the time we meet her character, Charlie Cale, we've seen the bad guy, a murder has already been committed, and we know who did it. Every episode in this Peacock series is structured this way; the real suspense lies in Charlie's arrival. How will she find herself mixed up in this particular case? What's her angle going to be to nail the criminals? Charlie isn't a cop or a private eye; she's a woman on the run from a mobster, who has a habit of forging connections with doomed people and an uncanny ability to tell when someone is lying. That's the entire premise of Poker Face, and it works incredibly well on its own Columbo-esque charms.
If you pay any attention at all to TV reviews and news, you’ve likely heard by now that Poker Face’s creator Rian Johnson and its star Natasha Lyonne intend their Peacock mystery-comedy series to be a throwback to classic ’70s and ’80s detective dramas like Columbo and The Rockford Files. If you’ve watched the show, it’s hard to miss the influences. The opening credits’s font looks charmingly vintage, for one thing.
[Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for Poker Face Season 1, Episode 5.]. If it’s going to work, then “Time of the Monkey,” the fifth episode of Peacock's new mystery series Poker Face, has to trick us into loving the murderers. The gut-punch twist of the final act won’t land unless we spend the previous 30 minutes rooting for a pair of old hippies who have landed in an upscale retirement community. The script does a fantastic job of making them seem like counterculture heroines, but just as importantly, they’re played by Judith Light and S. Epatha Merkerson, whose careers have conditioned us to trust them on sight.
Jerrod Carmichael’s had a big year. Since his Emmy-winning comedy special, Rothaniel, dropped in April 2022, he’s gained widespread attention with major gigs like hosting Saturday Night Live and the Golden Globes. The latter allowed him to publicly criticize one of the entertainment industry’s largest institutions (the Hollywood Foreign Press Association), a move that during a different time may have made him a pariah in the business. But Carmichael seems to be doing just fine, and continues to be celebrated for the authenticity of his comedy — HBO just announced a comedy documentary project starring Carmichael has been ordered to series.
When the Black vocal group The 5th Dimension released their 1969 anthem “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” they sought to capture their community’s skepticism about the government. Taken from the counter-cultural musical Hair, the song’s lyrics are a call to action: regain control of your environment, let the sun shine in, and you will have “no more falsehoods and derisions.” Three years later, when Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman to run for president of the United States, she echoed those sentiments in her announcement speech, calling for a need to “reshape our society and regain control of our destiny.” Music captured the feelings of a community, and the community responded with an organized social movement. The New PBS documentary Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World argues that this call and response helped hip hop become a tool for Black Liberation, but as it seeks to prove that thesis, it skims over the inherent challenge of advocating for radical political reform while trying to appeal to a mainstream audience.
[Spoilers abound for The Last of Us Episode 3, "Long Long Time," and both The Last of Us games.]. In the decade since its release, much has been written about representation within The Last of Us video game and, even more notably, its sequel Part II. The series has garnered as much praise for its handling of queer relationships in the midst of an apocalyptic scenario as criticism about the way the games approach everything from race to trans characters.
He may have the silliest name, but Tricki Woo is the most powerful dog on TV. Consider this clip from “What a Balls Up!,” the Season 3 episode of All Creatures Great and Small that aired January 29 on PBS. Clip provided by Masterpiece. Those who watch the...