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: Mulaney, The Mindy Project, Doctor Who, and Real Housewives of Atlanta!
David Lebovitz is watching…
Season 1, Episode 5: “In The Name Of The Mother, The Son, And the Holy Andre”
Thought its mediocre debut may have scared a few people away, Mulaney’s spent the last few weeks making incremental improvements. Mulaney himself is moving away from his old material, and using the plot as more of a vehicle to expound upon his material than recite it verbatim. The show’s still not as good as it could or should be, but the modifications are easy to spot–Jane (Nasim Pedrad) is developing beyond the simple “crazy girl” characterization, Motif has become more than a throwaway roommate, and Andre’s becoming the dweeb punching bag the writers wanted him to be all along. With some more original material, this show is on the verge of a breakthrough. It remains to be seen if it will reach that point, but it’s almost there.
This episode featured John’s mother (played by Nora Dunn) visiting New York. Lou Cannon (the incomparable Martin Short) takes a liking to her when she admits she likes his dramatic acting, so he convinces her to stay an extra day so they can go to a Yankees game. This is a problem for John, since he’s been lying to his mom about going to mass every Sunday, and needs a miracle to maintain his cover. Meanwhile, Jane begins dating a handsome lawyer fighting to increase access to contraceptives, and starts taking birth control have “consequence free boning.” As the episode goes on, increasingly weird side effects from the pills happen to her, and to Andre, who had been taking the same brand pill for acne before learning it was birth control.
Episode Highlight: Oscar (Elliott Gould) and John talk about keeping secrets from their mothers. Oscar says that when he came out of the closet, his mother was only disappointed that he thought he needed to hide anything from her. He then admits that he came out during that whole “Son of Sam thing,” and she might not have even heard it.
Madie Coe is watching…
The Mindy Project, Fox
Season 3, Episode 6: “Caramel Princess Time”
Danny is fed up with Mindy’s chronic lateness and stands her up at a comedy club to prove a point. Mindy doesn’t see what the big deal is and tries to get back at him, until she is forced to deal with Danny’s dawdling mother. Meanwhile, Tamara and Morgan set Peter up with Tamara’s friend Abby, a successful romance novelist, but he rejects her because she doesn’t fit Tamara’s description of “like her twin.” Danny deals with some of his daddy issues, and Tamara redefines C.P.T. as “Caramel Princess Time” (the wait for women of color to finish beautifying themselves for the public, which she sees as totally worthwhile). This episode highlights some of the best that The Mindy Project has to offer. This week’s episode manages to call out Mindy’s casual racism without being heavy-handed or defensive, and a slew of choice comedic moments work incredibly well in the context of the script and characters we have come to love.
Episode Highlight: Mindy tries to trick Danny into being late. Danny rushes into the office at 8:59 am soaked in sweat and wearing running shorts (and I mean shorts), and starts shooting everyone up with finger guns. Screaming “Michael Jackson!” he moonwalks backwards into their hospital supervisor who sends him to a mental health clinic. Danny works hard to maintain his cool most of the time, so when he loses his shit, he really loses his shit.
Sam Paxton is watching…
Doctor Who, BBC America
Series 8, Episode 12: “Death in Heaven”
Last week’s episode eschewed action to move a lot of complicated pieces into place, only to drop bombshells in the last moments. (Cybermen! The Master–er, Mistress!) This week’s Doctor Who kicked into high gear as the Doctor and Clara race to stop Missy from turning the human race into Cybermen, and to bring Danny Pink back from the dead. Michelle Gomez has an excellent turn as the newest incarnation of the Doctor’s oldest frenemy, tempering the Master/Mistress’s inherent zaniness with a frightening edge without devolving into the camp that too often typified John Simm’s previous portrayal. This season has been an excellent deconstruction of the Doctor/companion relationship, and Moffat has used Peter Capaldi’s smoldering intensity to explore what it means to be the Doctor. Is he a good man? Or is he more like the Master than he’d like to admit, desperately wanting to bring order to the universe while acting as agent of chaos. In answering these questions, Doctor Who gives us a thematically strong and moving finale.
Episode Highlight: When Danny, downloaded from the cloud into a Cyberman body, removes his faceplate to reveal himself to a devastated Clara. Aided by some excellently creepy prosthetic makeup, the moment is both horrifying and poignant at once. In fact, that entire scene, as Danny dares the Doctor to prove himself a hypocrite, had me on the edge of my seat.
Dominic Griffin is watching…
Real Housewives of Atlanta, Bravo
Season 7, Episode 1: “Bye Bye and Bon Voyage”
Generally, the only reality television I condone is wrestling related or MTV nostalgia, but after a year of my girlfriend subjecting me to every iteration of the Real Housewives franchise, I’ve grown a fondness for the format that borders on fandom. This week’s season premiere makes for a perfect jumping on point as the cast has been (at least temporarily) streamlined to a more manageable core, with each member finding themselves at something of a narrative crossroads.
Formerly omnipotent ringleader NeNe is in a musical on Broadway, but back home in Atlanta she finds her power waning in the circle she founded, as evidenced by her strained relationship with former model Cynthia. Their newfound antagonism has been seeded for seasons, and seeing Cyn finally come out from NeNe’s shadow opens up a slew of new storylines, primarily the shifted dynamic of her marriage with Peter (my favorite cast member) and her new sismance* with Kenya (my second favorite). It’s like watching Starscream legit tell Megatron to go fuck himself. The episode spends far too much time on lawyer/mortician Phaedra’s husband Apollo and his court shenanigans and not nearly enough on the engrossing Phaedra/Apollo/Kenya love triangle that calls to mind the Jean/Scott/Emma plot from Grant Morrison’s X-Men run. That leaves us with musician Kandi and her relatively humdrum existence with new husband Todd, which, for my money, is just not enough drama for a first episode.
RHOA has always had an embarrassment of riches in the character department, but outside of the production team’s penchant for addictive cliffhangers, their weekly installments suffer from shoddy pacing and a difficulty with juggling so many series regulars. But judging from all the teasers, this season is just getting started. Not since the Talls vs. Smalls rivalry has a season of this show had so many dividing lines rife with the potential for great television, so I hope they don’t take too long to get to the fireworks factory.
I guess if I really want wall-to-wall fuckery, there’s always Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood, but I’m too #TeamTwirl to turn away now.
*=a bromance but with ladies!
Episode Highlight: Porsha’s brief appearance centered around her new breasts. We will miss her misunderstanding the underground railroad.