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: Vixen and You’re the Worst!
Dylan Roth is Watching…
Tuesdays on CW Seed
Vixen is a notable miniseries for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s the latest installment in the Arrowverse, the shared TV universe in which Arrow, The Flash, and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow take place, and the first animated entry into that universe. Just as importantly, it’s the first DC screen adaptation to star a woman of color as the lead. It’s also one of the first shows launched on The CW’s web-exclusive platform, CW Seed, that anyone’s likely to go out of their way to watch.
Vixen is an experiment of sorts, a six episode miniseries that will total under an hour when it’s all finished but presumably open the door for more episodes, or even an appearance of the character in one of the live-action shows. On the one hand, Vixen feels a little half-assed, launched online for relatively few eyes rather than as a fully-fledged series or TV movie—it’s essentially a pilot episode split into bite-sized parts. On the other hand, it’s being helmed by some real heavy hitters, directed by James Tucker (who’s in charge of the DC Animated Movies line), and plotted and produced by Marc Guggenheim (executive producer of both Arrow and The Flash). Steven Amell, Grant Gustin, Emily Bett Rickards, and Carlos Valdes each reprise their roles from the two existing series.
Last week’s episode sees Mari McCabe (Megalyn Echikunwoke) experimenting with her powers, and attracting the attention of The Flash (Gustin) and his techie pal Cisco (Valdez). Mari is hoping that the Tantu Totem—a necklace that she’s just discovered can channel the spirits and abilities of animals, and is her only tie to her birth parents—may allow her to finally discover her origins. A heart-to-heart with her foster father (Neil Flynn, Janitor from Scrubs) is interrupted when Flash and Arrow appear on her doorstep…in full costume. It’s a truly ridiculous moment that barely works in a cartoon, but would be completely beyond belief on either character’s live action series.
Mari is an interesting enough protagonist, though it’s hard to get too invested when we’re only treated to one five-minute chunk each week. Echikunwoke injects a lot of subtlety into the character, and is certainly the strongest member of the voice cast. While Neil Flynn seems fairly comfortable performing his character, Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes both seem to struggle with voice acting. Their performances here feel noticeably reserved, as if trying to avoid being too cartoony, which frankly is the kind of restraint neither actor displays on their own show.
Episode Highlight: It’s hard to pick a highlight from something so short, but I’d say Neil Flynn’s turn as a comic foil to Vixen as she practices her powers on the roof of their home is pretty memorable.
Joe Stando is watching…
You’re The Worst
Season 2, Episode 1: “The Sweater People”
Wednesdays at 10 PM on FXX
No matter how many times I reworked it, You’re The Worst always ended up on my list for top five shows of 2015. It’s a vulgar, bawdy “anti-romantic comedy,” but beyond the trimmings, it was one of the tightest freshman seasons of a sitcom I’ve ever seen. It’s really genuine, despite being very snarky, and everything—from the cast, to the writing, to the musical selections for the end credits—clicks. It also closes with an inspired film homage that’s a satisfying ending in its own right. So Season Two has a lot to live up to, is what I’m saying.
And “The Sweater People,” the second season premiere, gives me the confidence I hoped for. The tension of the first season isn’t quite there, as Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship appears for the moment to be sorted, but there’s plenty of room left for gags. Chris Geere and Aya Cash have a ton of chemistry not only romantically but comedically, and watching them bounce off each other in a more comfortable way is paying off already. It’s a solid opener, and I’m glad we get to have the leads just sorta dicking around before the next inevitable conflict.
Episode Highlight: The smash-cut style the episode used to depict Jimmy and Gretchen’s increasingly erratic partying is great, as is the image of Lindsay (Kether Donohue) drunk on the floor of the garage in her wedding dress. But my favorite part of You’re The Worst is still the surprisingly natural dialogue and banter. The show manages to weave setups and punchlines and running gags into conversations in a way that pays off afterwards, like the repeated bagel bites lines here. It’s one of the cleverest-written shows on TV in a way that’s reliable and consistent, rather than just peaking high.