The History of Swear Words: Damn, This Sh*t’s F*cking Funny – Netflix Review

Nicolas Cage and a cast of great comics and historians give us a humorous look at the history of cussing.

SUMMARY

Composed of six episodes addressing the six most common swears in the English language, the show has Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman, Nikki Glaser, Patti Harrison, Open Mike Eagle, Joel Kim Booster, DeRay Davis, London Hughes, Jim Jefferies, Zainab Johnson, Baron Vaughn, and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. do commentary about the history, use, cultural impact, and just plain fun of using curse words. They also have historians, linguists, and lexicographers on hand to provide the real information: Benjamin K. Bergen, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Mireille Miller-Young, Elvis Mitchell, Melissa Mohr, and Kory Stamper. 

AND NICOLAS CAGE!!!!!

END SUMMARY

What’s most interesting about this show isn’t just that it’s full of great comics telling funny stories about how they’ve used swear words, it’s that the comedians are sometimes overshadowed by the hilarious revelations of actual historical uses and origins of many of these swears. There is a particular name which is revealed in one of the episodes that, having looked it up, is even funnier because it was a name assigned to him by a court. I don’t want to spoil it, but it made me laugh. 

It’s funny sugar honey iced tea.

I think another great part of the show is how they discuss the impact of having certain words in common parlance and how it can amplify misogyny, racism, or other harmful things, but how society has worked to reclaim or undo that damage. It’s also interesting that the show, on the whole, endorses swearing as something that people use for various reasons, ranging from emotional release to pain management. A number of the episodes attack censorship, but also do point out the problems that can come from heedlessly using certain terms. It’s a very balanced show.

They do both real and folk etymologies and both are funny.

Overall, this is a great series and I hope they keep going. We haven’t even gotten to all of the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, so there is room. Also, Nicolas Cage does a great job, even if, on some level, I know Samuel L. Jackson should have hosted “F*ck.”

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Lupin: A New Take on the Gentleman Thief – Netflix Review

The legendary rival of Sherlock Holmes inspires a new master criminal.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Assane Diop (Omar Sy) is a janitor at the Louvre who is in debt to a number of gangsters. To pay off his debts, he offers to help the gangsters steal a priceless necklace. It turns out, however, that Assane is much, much more than he seems. He is, in reality, a criminal mastermind who has based his life on the famous fictional thief Arsene Lupin, and is working to uncover the truth behind who framed his father for a crime that he did not commit. 

He looks at jewels like they’re items on a private buffet.

END SUMMARY

I will admit that I was very excited about this show, but made sure to avoid spoilers. I am a huge fan of Arsene Lupin and am disappointed that the series has made relatively little impact in the US compared to other countries. That made me initially pretty disappointed when the show turned out not to be an update of the character, but instead a completely new character. However, when the first heist gets underway, it becomes apparent that this might not be Lupin in name, but it is definitely the character in spirit. Most of the episodes contain references to various Arsene Lupin stories, but they’re intentionally done by Assane and, amusingly, one of the police investigators also realizes that the criminal is a Lupin fan. 

In fairness, might have been difficult to adapt a guy in a top hat and monocle to 2021.

Even if you don’t know much about the books by Maurice Leblanc, this is one of the best heist shows I’ve seen in awhile. It helps that, unlike almost all modern thief shows, this one is not about a team of criminals. This is all about one man who is just that good at what he does. While Assane is a bit more sympathetic than Lupin, he still has all of the panache and talent that you want. In some ways, it’s actually more impressive that this man has spent his life building up the skills required to be almost the equal of a fictional character. 

And yes, one of those skills is making people feel bad about their inherent biases.

The show does a great job of balancing most of the heists and crimes with the ongoing story about Assane seeking justice for his father. Most of the crimes we see him commit are related to the progression of his investigation, but it’s often done in a way that comes with a great reveal to the audience. We also get a picture into the rest of Assane’s life outside of crime, but much of it isn’t revealed until the final episode of this season. Omar Sy’s performance is amazing, as he has to play the character as not only the “real” Assane, but also all of Assane’s aliases and alternate personas. 

And yes, there are some decent action sequences peppered in.

Overall, just a really great show. I can say that it’s better in French with subtitles, but it’s pretty good dubbed, too.  It just doesn’t show off Sy’s range as well.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Midnight Sky: Long, Slow, Decent – Netflix Mini-Review

It’s not a movie you can watch without focus, but it’s worth setting the time aside.

SUMMARY

Welcome to the future where Earth is mostly screwed. Or just the future, I guess. Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney/Ethan Peck) is a scientist who studied habitable planets. Years ago, he fell in love with a young woman named Jean Sullivan (Sophie Rundle), but they separated due to his obsession with work. This turns out to not be the worst decision as thirty years later, Augustine is apparently the last person on Earth, having managed to find a habitable moon of Jupiter for humans to move to after a catastrophe has rendered the planet uninhabitable. Trying to warn manned space probes about the situation on the planet, he only locates one, the Aether, a ship returning from the moon Augustine discovered. The crew consists of Commander Adewole (David Oyelowo), Maya (Tiffany Boone), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler), Sanchez (Demian Bichir), and Sully (Felicity Jones). Augustine attempts to contact them to explain not to come back to Earth, but his antenna is too weak. His situation becomes more strained when he finds a mute girl hiding in his facility, now Augustine must try to warn off the Aether and keep the child, Iris (Caoilinn Springall), alive. 

Clooney, rocking that beard.

END SUMMARY

I’ll start off by saying that cutting 30 minutes out of this movie would be a great help. This movie aims a bit too high by trying to go too grand on the scale of the narrative. If it had pulled it off and kept a decent pace, this wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, it ends up feeling a bit longer than the audience is likely willing to endure. So many of the subplots or conflicts could easily have been cut, as many of them focus only to try and artificially heighten tension, rather than deepening the narrative. On the other hand, the movie is very dark and mostly pessimistic towards the future, so maybe having too many crises is thematic.

The visuals are pretty great.

George Clooney is either alone much of the film or talking to a mute girl, so it is a credit that his performance never really feels like it gets old. Augustine is a man who has to constantly get dialysis (or blood transfusions, I feel like I might have gotten confused) and so can easily just let himself die, but keeps fighting to help keep humanity’s torch alive. It’s a very powerful portrayal. Most of the crew of the Aether, in contrast, usually provide the human interest aspect or the comic relief, but their performances help break up the dark, slow stretches.

Yes, they’re floating in the aether.

Overall, it’s not that this is a bad film, I just think it wasn’t supposed to be two hours. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: A Masterpiece – Netflix Review

Two fantastic performers and a great cast bring August Wilson’s play to life.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Welcome to Chicago in the Summer of 1927. Legendary blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) is set to do a recording of her famous song “Black Bottom.” Awaiting her arrival is her band, composed of leader and trombone player Cutler (Colman Domingo), bass player Slow Drag (Michael Potts), piano player Toledo (Glynn Turman), and ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman). The group exchange stories and opinions as they wait for Ma to arrive, only to find that she’s brought her young girlfriend Dussie Mae (Taylour Paige) and her nephew Sylvester (Dusan Brown). Ma gets into a number of arguments with her manager, Irvin (Jeremy Shamos), the recording studio owner Mr. Sturdyvant (Jonny Coyne), and even the band. As the day gets hotter, tempers and egos start flaring.

It’s a hell of a performance.

END SUMMARY

I don’t know if I can really say spoiler-free on a play that is older than I am, but I have read at least a few pieces that suggest that August Wilson’s work doesn’t get represented well in a lot of areas of the country, so this might be a lot of people’s first chance to see the play. I have only read it, but it seems like a pretty faithful adaptation from what I remember. There were some things that naturally were changed or added, and mostly subtracted, for the adaptation, but it seems overall to have gotten it right. 

The power of the performances still comes through.

The biggest plus in this adaptation is that the two central figures, Ma Rainey and Levee, are both played by ridiculously talented actors. Viola Davis is… do I even have to explain how good Viola Davis is? She’s one of only 24 people to win the Triple Crown of acting and she’s both the only African-American to do so and the youngest winner. Since she won both a Tony and an Oscar for a previous adaptation of an August Wilson play, Fences, she was a natural selection here and her performance elevates every scene she’s in. She’s portraying a powerful black woman trying to use every bit of the power she has in a world that is dedicated to keeping her down and she sells it completely. Chadwick Boseman’s performance as the young and ambitious Levee was made only sadder by watching him play a character so focused on finding a future and knowing that his was so short. I can’t say whether it’s because I know he died after filming, but he looks like he’s trying as hard as he can in every scene to make sure that he shows a burning intensity befitting a character like Levee. You can practically see a raging fire behind his eyes in almost every shot, particularly when he’s explaining the story of what happened to his parents. He’s full of fury and power and is burdened with the knowledge that he can’t ever show it or his life will be over. It’s amazing. 

Such a loss.

The supporting cast is also fantastic. Each of the members of the band has a story to tell and the performances have to be captivating enough to keep you focused during the monologues they give. Colman Domingo is particularly good as Cutler because he’s stuck between trying to keep Levee in place while trying to deal with Ma’s diva demands. While he’s much less outspoken than Levee, you can see that he’s watching every situation, monitoring it like a cook trying to keep pots from boiling over, trying to do just enough to keep everything moving forward. Dusan Brown does a great job as Sylvester, who has to overcome his stutter in order to do the introduction on Ma Rainey’s recording, because she wants to help him earn some money. Since this is before multiple-track recordings, every time he messes up, they lose an entire master record, and he knows it. Brown’s portrayal is a perfect blend of scared, angry, and happy for the opportunity. Then there’s Taylor Paige as Dussie Mae, who gets to add a decent amount to her relatively scant dialogue through her reactions to both Ma and Levee. Really, just everyone is top-notch without exception.

Her eyes are always looking down but her gaze keeps looking upward.

Overall, just a fabulous movie. I haven’t been this captivated in a while, and I recommend it highly.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Christmas Catch: A Masterpiece of Cheesy Xmas Movies – Netflix/Amazon Prime Review

I may have just watched too many bad movies, because I enjoyed this.

SUMMARY

Detective Mackenzie “Mack” Bennett (Emily Alatalo) is single at Christmas and, due to her natural awkwardness, has trouble finding dates. This causes no end of derision from her partner, Reid (Andrew Bushell), and her superior/mom (yes, her boss is her mom) Captain Bennett (Lauren Holly). However, when trying to find a guy at a singles night, she accidentally falls, literally, into the arms of Carson (Franco Lo Presti), a perfect guy with whom she immediately connects. The only problem is that the next day FBI Special Agent Robertson (Genelle Williams) arrives to inform the local police that Carson is a professional diamond thief along with his ex-wife. Now Mack has to go undercover, as herself, and date Carson in order to find the diamond encrusted reindeer that he supposedly stole. 

Yes, there’s a Santa sting.

END SUMMARY

Cheesy Christmas movies usually tend to involve two people who learn to love each other despite starting out disliking or not understanding each other. This movie kind of eschews that by having the two main characters fall in love at first sight. Literally, when he catches her (get it?) as she falls, they immediately are attracted to each other and bond quickly. There’s no question that they’re going to get together. Honestly, I buy their chemistry a little more than I should, because the dialogue they exchange is actually more than just “oh hey, you’re a hot guy and I’m a hot girl and it’s Christmas.” It’s a genuinely decent meet-cute scene that actually makes you root for them throughout the film. 

Also, this film lets the lead guy be more roguish than usual.

The general plot of the movie is predictable, of course, but the actual way it plays out has some fun moments, mostly because Mack’s character is almost entirely defined as “can’t flirt, not good under pressure.” It doesn’t help that her mother is her boss and combines the tropes of those roles we usually see in these films: too involved, inappropriate comments, lots of catchphrases, etc. It’s an insane conceit that her mother could somehow also be her commanding officer and no one seems to question that, but it leads to some interesting moments. 

Nepotism. It’s a thing.

The actual humor that comes from the characters interacting is not bad, the only problem is that almost no one ever quite nails the delivery. I will be frank, aside from Franco Lo Presti (whose appearances on Letterkenny might make me biased), most of the performances are a little too clearly composed of people acting. Line delivery is often unnatural, but I admit that it is more challenging to do the style of comedy the film is asking for from the actors. Alatalo is being asked to flirt badly at one point and, while she does flirt badly, it’s not quite the trainwreck that the screenplay seems to call for. The other person is supposed to be repulsed, but it’s hard to buy that from what Alatalo does in the scene. Still, there are at least some genuinely funny moments. 

There’s a lot of Christmas in it, too.

Overall, I have to say this was close to one of the best cheesy Xmas movies I’ve ever seen. Yes, it’s got some bad acting moments, but it actually skips the “will they won’t they” facade and I appreciate that. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Christmas Chronicles 2: Elf-lectric Boogaloo – Netflix Review

By far the worst pun I’ve ever made. I love it.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s been two years since Kate Pierce (Darby Camp) and her brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) met Santa Claus (Kurt F*cking Russell). Now, Kate’s mom (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is dating a new man (TYRESE GIBSON) and the family is on vacation with him and his son, Jack (Jahzir Bruno), in Cancun. However, Kate and Jack are abducted and sent to the North Pole by the renegade elf Belsnickel (Julian Dennison). The pair must help Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) stop Belsnickel from taking the Star of Bethlehem and destroying Christmas. 

Also, Mrs. Claus gets a village named after her.

END SUMMARY

So, I was pretty explicit in my review of the first film that this movie literally only worked because Kurt Russell is a hell of an actor and can make almost any character badass or cool. You would think that wouldn’t extend to Santa Claus, but he pulled it off. Unfortunately, while Santa in this film is still the cool character from the first film, the story in this film fails on almost every level.

The elves continue to be a very weird choice.

The problem is that the film shifts from being Santa’s plan to help inspire the Christmas spirit in a young girl to being about trying to stop a generic evil character from taking over the North Pole. That means that the conflict and the threat is now external, so you have to find a way to make it feel like there are stakes. Unfortunately, that’s never the case here because the Kurt Russell version of Santa is an invincible force of nature. He has magic, he knows martial arts, he’s almost omniscient, and often he only seems to have any problems because apparently he is amusing himself. Having a character like that guiding a third party can be interesting. Having that character dealing with a threat directly makes you wonder why the movie isn’t four minutes long. Even with Belsnickel’s elf artifice and magic, Santa generally just swats his threats aside easily. It never feels like there was any chance Santa doesn’t win this fight, a sentence that is just so weird to write. 

This is the only Santa who can say “Bring it.”

The film also really tries to expand on the mythos of this world’s Santa and it made some odd choices. It conveys that this is actually THE Saint Nicholas of Myra, which raises a number of questions, including why he looks like the version of Santa from the most recent century and why a Greek bishop in Asia Minor in the fourth century looks like Kurt Russell. I’m also curious if this version resurrected the three children murdered by a butcher. On top of that, they reveal that this Santa is actually powered by the Star of Bethlehem which is basically saying that Santa runs on Jesus juice. It probably helps curb complaints by some groups, but I also think that saying that elves were the ones who monitored the Star of Bethlehem probably causes a lot of other dogmatic issues. 

It doesn’t help that the bad guy was once played by Dwight Schrute.

Overall, though, the only thing that keeps this movie interesting is Kurt Russell, but you could just as easily rewatch The Thing if you want to see Kurt Russell being awesome in a snowy location.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Great Pretender (Season 2): The Long Con – Netflix Review

One of my new favorite shows returns for a new season and a massive scheme.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

Makoto “Edamame” Edamura (Chiaki Kobayashi/Griffin Faulkner) is a small time con man who gets tricked by international major con-artist Laurent Thierry (Junichi Suwabe/Aaron Phillips). Chasing Laurent, Edamura ends up getting dragged into a scheme by Laurent and his team, consisting of the muscle Abigail Jones (Natsumi Fujiwara/Kausar Mohammed) and actress Cynthia Moore (Mie Sonozaki/Laura Post). The trio, now a quartet, work to scam money from the most evil people on the planet, often with the help of Edamame’s associate Kudo (Yōhei Tadano/Mike Pollock) and Laurent’s old friend Kim Si Won (Kujira/Karen Huie). Despite Edamura’s attempts to get out of working with the trio and to reform his life, he keeps getting dragged back in. Now, it turns out that Edamura’s new employers in his “honest” life are involved in international child slavery. The team reunites for one last score, as they say.

Guess which one keeps getting dragged back in?

END SUMMARY

When I first watched this show, I felt it had many of the same strengths as the show Leverage, but with the advantage of being able to spend multiple episodes on the same heist. There were only three total heists in the first season, which allowed them sufficient time to explore the characters and to show more of the work that is going into each of the cons. They all take place in new locations and with wildly different modi operandi, which continues to keep them interesting. The second season doubles down on that quite a bit by being only a single heist, just one that gets increasingly more and more complex as more players keep entering the story.

And the bad guy is fully prepared to kill anyone at all times.

A big thing is that, while two of the cases in the first season expanded on Abigail and Cynthia, this season gives us a deeper picture of the motivations behind Makoto and Laurent. As you would expect from a pair of criminals who seem to have strong internal moral codes, their backgrounds are extremely compelling. I particularly love the reveal of what drives Laurent, but Makoto’s story is the one that actually ends up continuing during the present narrative. 

I’m not sure how long ago the flashback is, but he’s got some 90s hair.

The other thing I really like about this season is that it posits that what the gang does is not just good for society, it’s actually good for their victims. Many of the people they steal from, or at least their families, seem to have become genuinely better people after they realize that the money and power that gave them immunity also led to their corruption. It turns out that the power cannot compensate for the feeling of a clean conscience. I’d like to believe that to be true, even for all of the powerful bastards out there.

Not that it stops them from seeking some payback.

Overall, still a good series. Check it out if you haven’t.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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A Christmas Prince: It Certainly Is Christmas With a Prince – Netflix Review/Reader Request

I mean, the movie gave us what it promised.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

During the Christmas season, journalist Amber Moore (Rose McIver) is sent to the country of Aldovia to report on the mostly-absent Prince Richard (Ben Lamb). It turns out that Aldovia only allows a total of one year between rulers at most and the Prince must take the throne or abdicate by Christmas. When Amber tries to sneak around the palace, she is caught and mistaken for the new tutor to the Princess, Emily (Honor Kneafsey). Amber goes along with the routine, being supervised by the strict Mrs. Averill (Sarah Douglas), and ends up growing closer to the Prince. At the same time, the Prince’s cousin, Simon (Theo Devaney), is trying to find his way onto the throne.

And yeah, there’s a ball, because of course there is.

END SUMMARY

Okay, so, Rose McIver is as charming as it gets. I loved her in iZombie and I even like her in this movie. She puts so much energy into her performance that it honestly gets me to overlook the fact that this is an extremely poorly-constructed film. While the title of the movie indicates pretty clearly that Amber and Richard are going to end up together, their romance is largely just kind of assumed. They have the standard cute scenes of them together, but objectively most of the stuff they say doesn’t really come across as facilitating the whirlwind romance that this film depicts. Not that most Christmas movies do much better, but this one is incredibly generic. Instead, many of the best scenes are between Rose McIver and Honor Kneafsey, because both of them come off as genuinely interested in spending time together. 

There are actual looks of concern between them.

Then there’s the B-plot of Simon conspiring to take the throne away from Richard. While the idea of a scheming noble is a pretty traditional subplot for a movie about Christmas royalty, Simon’s plan is impressively bad. We are shown him wanting to take out the Prince early in the film, but it takes one of the most unbelievable plot devices of all time for him to even have a chance. It turns out that a completely secret and important document that, arguably, should not even exist was left in someone’s desk and accessible by almost anyone. Without that, there really is no B-plot nor a third act conflict. Moreover, the stupid plot device is only undone by another plot device which was actually slightly better hidden but really had no reason to be. This movie checks off a lot of bad screenwriting lists. 

Yeah, he sucks, but he’s also more interesting than the actual prince.

Overall, though, I really didn’t dislike this movie. Rose McIver is suitably entertaining and fun and most of the scenes are cute and you know there’s a happy ending. Why think too hard about it?

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again: Vanessa Hudgens Demands All The Parts – Netflix Review

There’s the princess, the pauper (who is now a princess), and the evil twin of the princess. Because why not?

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s been two years since Stacy the Baker (Vanessa Hudgens) switched places with Margaret the Princess of Montenaro (Also Vanessa Hudgens) and ended up falling in love with Prince Edward Wyndham (Sam Palladio) and becoming a princess herself. Margaret is now set to become Queen, but the stress has put a halt to her relationship with Stacy’s former partner Kevin (Nick Sagar), much to the chagrin of Kevin’s daughter Olivia (Mia Lloyd). Margaret wishes to fix this with Stacy’s help, unaware that there is also a plot by one of Margaret’s cousins, Fiona (Vanessa Hudgens) to steal the royal coffers. 

The evil one. Or, at least scheming.

END SUMMARY

I genuinely didn’t expect a sequel to this movie, but I really didn’t expect the second film to use “there’s actually a THIRD identical person” as the plot device. I now hope they keep this going until we get to Princess Switch 8: Kansas City Royals, in which Vanessa Hudgens plays 9 different roles and the princesses are forced to start a baseball team in order to avoid an economic crisis. 

Let’s do this, Netflix.

If you liked the first movie, you’ll probably like this one. It’s still got a cute Christmas romance, only this time it’s focused on Margaret and how she is having legitimate problems keeping a social life due to her duties. The plot about Fiona keeps everything a little more tense, particularly when the switches start getting a bit out of control, but you ultimately know that everything is going to end up fine because that’s how these movies go. It does have some fun scenes and Vanessa Hudgens clearly loves playing characters who are pretending to be other characters. She goes really over-the-top at times and that’s what we need for this kind of film. 

Mia Lloyd continues to be the adorable kid character.

Overall, it was an okay sequel. I also like that they bring back the magical guy who helps with romance in the first one.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Dash and Lily: A Cute Tale of Quirky Young Love – Netflix Review

Warning: Don’t watch it after December 1 or you’ll lose Whammageddon. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Dash (Austin Abrams) is a deeply cynical 17-year-old bibliophile still angry at his parents’ divorce and his father’s general selfishness. One day at a bookstore he finds a red notebook left by a girl named Lily (Midori Francis) for a worthy boy. Intrigued, Dash follows the book’s instructions and the two start a relationship based entirely on leaving messages and tasks in the red notebook. Dash is helped by his best friend Boomer (Dante Brown), while Lily is encouraged by her brother Langston (Troy Iwata) and her Great Aunt (Jodi Long). 

Yes, she has a candy cane phone case.

END SUMMARY

I admit that this show played heavily on my personal influences. While it’s a bit ridiculous for a pair of 17 year olds to be so determined to try and find true love, the idea of meeting someone through a ridiculous series of mostly literature-based exchanges appeals to me. The two lead characters are both avid readers that have used books as a form of escapism, something that appeals to me as both a cinephile and a library patron. Also, both of the leads are super awkward in their own ways, something that, without getting into it too much, I might be able to relate to.

The boots help.

The story is told typically by alternating viewpoints of the same events, something that can be extremely enjoyable when done right, and this series actually pulls it off pretty well. The first two episodes, especially, provide a large amount of fun revelation when we see what Dash believes about Lily and then we are shown who Lily actually is. Due to the structure and the nature of the show, the two leads are almost never actually in the same scene, meaning that they are often playing off of what the other person has written, rather than off of their actual performance. It’s fully to the credit of the leads that we can read their faces just as well as they are reading the missives from their potential paramours. Also, they’re both just the right level of “cute” to allow you to believe that two people in their mid-20s are both high school seniors.

This party is clearly filled with young people, right?

The supporting characters are great, particularly Boomer and Langston, but I also think that Lily’s grandfather was played well by veteran actor (and the first live-action Shredder) James Saito. Boomer is the only really close friend of Dash who is an upbeat extrovert in contrast with Dash’s sullen introversion. We also see other friends of Dash’s ex-girlfriend Sofia (Keana Marie), who clearly like her more than him (and let him know it). Langston is probably the funniest character in the show as he is a gay college dropout who constantly pushes Lily to do ridiculous things. 

Langston is amazing.

Overall, it’s a pretty fun series. My only warning is that they do play “Last Christmas” by Wham! in the first episode, so beware of losing Whamaggedon. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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