Deadshirt Is Watching…is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt staff, contributors, and guests sound off on the television shows we’re tuned into, from intense dramas to clever sitcoms to the most insane reality shows. This week: Steven Universe, You’re The Worst and Adam Ruins Everything!
Andrew Niemann is watching…
Season 4, Episode 5, “Future Boy Zoltron”
Is there any child on television more perfect than Steven Universe? The town of Beach City should be thankful to have him, because on top of serving as one of the seaside hamlet’s protectors, he also has an unofficial side-job as the town shrink. This episode seems to start as a riff on both Big and Astro Boy, but it goes in a different direction when Funland owner Mr. Smiley employs Steven as his own personal money scheme after Steven accidentally breaks an expensive “robot boy from the future who knows your future because he’s from there.” Steven seems to be having a good time solving everyone’s problems — that is, until he meets the incredibly depressing Mr. Frowny.
Frowny, an out of towner, is probably the strangest human character we’ve seen on the show thus far. He seems more at home in a Gennedy Tartakovsky cartoon as a background character than in Steven Universe. He’s remarkable mainly due to his unnerving presence that clashes with Steven’s happy-go-lucky attitude. I also love the implication that Mr. Smiley and Mr. Frowny had not only a comedy routine, but also the inkling of perhaps a more intimate relationship. Mr Smiley’s backstory continues to be even more heartbreaking, and he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the show. Even though he isn’t a Beach City resident, I’d love to see Mr. Frowny come back so more of their relationship can be explored, since there is real chemistry with Smiley.
The only fault I see in this episode is that Garnet seems like an all too easy “deus ex machina” here, “lending” Steven their future vision powers temporarily to assist Mr. Frowny with his problem. It’s not quite out of character, but it would have been more interesting if Steven had solved the problem on his own.
Episode Highlight: Onion never fails to amuse me with his criminal ways, donning a ski mask and wielding a crowbar to steal all the quarters from the Funland arcade.
Joe Stando is watching…
You’re The Worst
Season 3, Episode 1, “Try Real Hard”
The second season of You’re the Worst was an incredibly powerful couple hours of television, providing the strongest portrayal of depression in a series I’ve ever seen (and before anyone starts, I’ve seen Bojack Horseman, get over it). It was nearly flawless, but it also raised the question of what the show was going to do for an encore.
Season 3 gets back to the ultimate core of the series: a deeply genuine, romantic love story beneath a thick greasy patina of crass but clever jokes. A lot of this episode is still dealing with the back half of the previous season, but in a light, funny way: Jimmy’s trying to play off his “I love you” to Gretchen like it was nothing, Edgar and Dorothy are growing closer, and Lindsay’s giving her doomed marriage to Paul yet another go. It’s somewhat basic sitcom plots, but season 2 blossomed from similar set-ups, and going too hard too fast would miss the whole point. While there’s plenty here in the B-plots that will clearly pay off, Gretchen and Jimmy seem to be doing well for now, which is a relief.
Episode Highlight: Chris Geere continues to be surprisingly charming beneath his enjoyable boorishness. Jimmy was the character it took me the longest to fall in love with, but the bits of tenderness he hides from himself as much as anyone else are great. You’re the Worst is also one of the few comedies with a great sense of place right now, shining amidst a sea of Brooklyn-based Broad City clones. It nails vibe and culture stuff every time it tries, and the “Red Napkin” bit hit home especially well.
Adam Ruins Everything
Season 1, Episode 14, “Adam Ruins Football”
I’m not opposed to most of this show on paper. I like investigative but light documentary fare. I’m not even opposed to shows with a level of artifice to the “real” host. Stephen Colbert made a career out of parodying being insufferable for laughs. Joel McHale’s The Soup persona was always tinged with a bit of loathing and desperation. But while I’m sure the real-life Adam Conover isn’t as insufferable as the host he plays, that’s the guy we’re watching for a half hour, and I cannot handle it.
Adam Ruins Everything follows Conover as he mansplains his way through a variety of topics, focusing on a new one each week. It’s generally pretty accessible fare, debunking urban legends and common misconceptions through monologues, interviews, sketches and infographics. If that’s your thing, cool, more power to you. Personally, it feels like the worst possible hybrid of Daily Show-style self-congratulatory back-patting and flashy, empty TED Talks. It’s such an amazing exercise in prepackaged smarm that I’m surprised I don’t see it shared more often by the types of folks you went to college with you should probably unfriend off Facebook already.
But I digress. From a production standpoint, the show is well put-together, and the various stances presented are for the most part both well-reasoned and well-researched. This week, for example, Conover discusses football, tackling everything from concussions and head injuries to misleading marketing campaigns for sports drinks. It’s Conover himself that’s so off-putting. With his punchable grin and his condescending tone, he makes the show into a grating chore with little payoff. It’s as though he’s using sorcery to wring the joy from every moment he’s onscreen, or that his voice is heard. It’s an intentional bit; he’s supposed to be insufferable, which is intended to somehow make it better. But the show is what it is, and what it is right now is getting cornered at a party with your friend’s worst coworker while he tells you how stupid you are, and why you shouldn’t worry, it’s actually okay. No thank you.
Episode Highlight: Uh, the end credits? Nah, the best bits of the show are when they lean on other people Conover interacts with being irritated by him, or his own glimpses and quiet admissions of how awful he can be. These are genuinely funny bits, but even they pale in comparison to similar looks at alienation we get through the hosts of Nathan For You and Review.