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: Supergirl, Stan Against Evil and You’re the Worst!
Andrew Niemann is watching…
Season 2, Episode 4 “Survivors”
The new and improved second season of Supergirl has proven to be a huge boon for The CW’s ever growing ouroborous of comics based entertainment. For me personally, this episode may have even helped it jump completely over competing shows such as The Flash (and certainly Arrow). The last few episodes have almost established a live action equivalent to Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s DCAU, with fan favorites like Superman and Martian Manhunter existing alongside a plethora of aliens and metahumans alike. Lex Luthor himself is even an invisible threat mostly represented by his sister Lena (Katie McGrath), who may or may not have murky intentions.
Kara (Melissa Benoist), now employed as a journalist instead of a sub-Buzzfeed assistant secretary, is assigned by Will McAvoy cosplayer Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) to investigate an underground alien fighting ring hosted by none other than Roulette, played masterfully by Dichen Lachmann. Lachmann steps right off the page here as the femme fetale Veronica Sinclair and gets more to do in one episode than the entire second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in which she played a major part. Oh, and also Supergirl basically fights a Gorn, which is pretty tight.
We’re also given an extensive introduction to M’gann M’orzz—a.k.a. Miss Martian (Sharon Leal)—although oddly as maybe a love interest for J’onn (David Harewood). Thankfully, she seems to be aged up from where she is in the comics. There’s also an interesting subplot with Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) attempting to come out to Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), although a wrench is thrown in the works when it’s discovered Sawyer already has a wife or girlfriend. Supergirl is a great addition to CW’s slate of shows, and I appreciate how it builds its own corner of the DCU that’s immersed in Superman mythos. For that, I think it’s fittingly the strongest one of all.
Episode Highlight: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the inclusion of Chris Wood as Mon-El, who is essentially Super-Bro. I loved him and Wynn (Jeremy Jordan) sneaking out of the DEO to hit up a bar on Halloween to flirt with women and knock back shots.
Chuck Winters is watching…
Stan Against Evil
Episodes 1 & 2, “Dig Me Up Dig Me Down/Know, Know, Know Your Goat”
What a world we live in. The Evil Dead franchise gets a sequel series after 20 years and it’s a fucking blast so far, but the small little show that’s so clearly inspired by Evil Dead just can’t crack it, despite heroic lead performances and some clever writing.
Stan Against Evil takes place in a small New Hampshire town where every sheriff has been destined to die a horrible death. There’s a curse placed upon the town by the 173 innocent people condemned to death by a constable determined to make the Salem boys look like a bunch of wimps. The only sheriff to survive the curse is Stan, a racist old crank who loses his job after beating up a mysterious old lady at his wife’s funeral, and is looking forward to a forced retirement wasting away in front of the TV, drowning in cheap beer. Stan soon learns that his wife was a powerful magician who used her power to safeguard him from the curse, but now that she’s gone, it’s open season on him and new sheriff Evie, forcing the two to work together to battle back the demons that would claim their heads.
It’s a fun concept before you cast John C. McGinley as Stan and Janet Varney as Evie; then it becomes downright magical. McGinley already perfected this kind of smarmy prick on Scrubs; here he adds a few years and drops a few IQ points to turn out a remarkably fun character that feels unique while still owing a clear debt to Bruce Campbell and playing to McGinley’s known strengths. Varney, in turn, is a great straight-woman to McGinley, balancing Evie’s hardass streak with an incredulous and entertaining sense of disbelief over what she’s been roped into.
Unfortunately, the directing leaves a lot to be desired in the two episodes that aired last week. Granted, the show looks like it was made for twenty bucks and a case of beer, but so did The Evil Dead, and Sam Raimi was a strong enough filmmaker to overcome his clearly limited budget. Justin Nijm & Jack Bishop, by contrast, do justice to the cleverness of Dana Gould’s scripts, but really cannot make the horror of the show pop like it should. There’s barely any tension to be had throughout either episode, and without that tension you don’t get any satisfaction from seeing Stan or Evie spring into action. You’re left hanging onto Gould’s writing, which is fun, but the stories themselves center around artifacts Stan’s wife had that the demons want for reasons that I wish were more clear from the outset. I’m all for mystery and parceling out The Big Picture over time, but in this case, the mystery of it all comes off as a distraction than an escalation.
All in all, a rough start, with little promise for improvement, but McGinley and Varney should keep me watching for now, along with the occasional bursts of ingenuity in Gould’s scripts.
Episode Highlight: Deborah Baker, Jr. is a surprising delight as Stan’s daughter, and is responsible for a couple of the show’s best moments so far. She might be worth keeping an eye on.
You’re the Worst
Season 3, Episode 10 “Talking to Me, Talking to Me”
It’s trickier than it seems to live “in the moment.” Having lived with anxiety for most of my adult life, I’ve learned that telling yourself to do so can only go so far, and at a certain point, you have to accept that you have baggage. The trick is learning how to carry it.
Gretchen is about halfway there; she realizes that she’s been screwed up by her mother, but she still believes she can think that baggage away by learning to be “more mindful.” Self-help has always been skeptically portrayed in most entertainment, with disciples of these books tending to be more interested in the letter of their laws rather than the spirit. You’re the Worst keeps to that tradition in an interesting way: When Gretchen tries to listen to a guided meditation podcast, she keeps trying to guess what her guide is going to tell her to do next, echoing her story about how her mother used to make her solve the Wheel of Fortune puzzles before the contestants did. The things that inspire her to try and be more mindful are the same things that drive her failure to do so.
But what can mindfulness do? The episode presents us with three interesting case studies to contrast with Gretchen as she takes Lindsey for an abortion. (Lindsey decided she wanted one at the end of “Genetically Inferior Beta Males;” if I hadn’t completely missed that text she sent to Gretchen, I would’ve picked up on the heartbreaking irony at the end of “The Seventh Layer.” Go ahead and start ringing the shame bell.) Despite having some second thoughts as she’s about to walk into the abortion clinic, Lindsey is unfazed by the act because she lives her entire life within the moment; it’s a natural byproduct of her selfish nature. She doesn’t give a shit about the life she could have had as a mother or the effect this is going to have on Paul (whom she didn’t consult about this, though this is such an epic clusterfuck Lindsey’s created, who knows whether or not she should have). Why should she? None of that stuff has anything to do with the pie that’s in front of her.
Interestingly, Gretchen calls Lindsey a “mindfulness guru” because Gretchen thinks mindfulness is entirely about being in the moment. Of course, she’s missing the point, but earlier, with Jimmy, she compares mindfulness to standing on top of your desk like in Dead Poet’s Society to get a better look at the world, and the show brilliantly sets Jimmy up to do just that by stranding him on top of the treehouse base he built. The way this show has handled Jimmy’s grieving process has been inspired; there may come a point where we see something resembling traditional dramatic grief from him, but for the moment, the show seems to delight in teasing those moments and swerving from them at the last moment. Instead, Jimmy’s version of grief inspires him to do shit like put his book on hold to build a treehouse, which he gets stuck in, which gives him a literally different perspective on the life he’s built for himself so far. And as he tells Gretchen (who just can’t resist turning on Wheel of Fortune when she gets home), he’s not sure he likes what he saw.
Curiously enough, though, they may still be doing better than Edgar and Dorothy, which—I gotta be honest—just breaks my heart. I love Collette Wolfe in this role and I always thought she and Desmin Borges made an adorable on-screen couple. But it’s obvious that a sense of competition has started to fester within their relationship, motivated by fears of being stuck in neutral and perhaps dragging on their significant other. First, there’s Edgar being hit by the realization that he might turn into Dorothy’s pothead house husband, only to find a stunning reversal of fortune when Dorothy realizes that she’s now reading for “overworked mom” instead of “cute yoga girl,” and he gets offered punch-up work for Doug Benson (who does not smoke pot in his place of business, sir) on the strength of his Dr. Weed videos. Suddenly it’s Dorothy who starts to feel like she’s being left behind, and all of that is perfectly understandable. Whenever either one feels this way, however, it never occurs to them to talk about it the way it immediately occurs to Jimmy to talk to Gretchen. Instead they sit in their spaces, envious of the other’s apparent success, beating themselves up for not having the same.
Honestly. What a show.
Episode Highlight: Game ball goes to Celia Finkelstein, who played the protester that strikes up a conversation with Lindsey outside the abortion clinic. The reveal that she was going to tell Lindsey to go through with it because she makes exceptions for rape, incest, and “…whatever this is” had me crying with laughter.
That’s what we’ve been watching this week. What are you tuned into? Let us know in the comments, post on our Facebook page, or tweet us @DeadshirtDotNet!