What I thought about: Teenage Bounty Hunters

This show about, well, bounty hunters who happen to be teenagers, has the same energy as Netflix’s Insatiable. That is to say, it’s random, doesn’t make sense, and is probably, technically, not a very good show. And yet, somehow, being drawn so much to the characters makes me want a sequel.

Looking far too happy, given the situation

What’s it about?
Actually, you know what? The title is misleading. The trailer even more so. I was led to believe that the show would start out with the main characters – twin sisters Sterling and Blair – already being seasoned bounty hunters. Instead, they stumble into the world of bounty hunting by virtue of being white, living in Atlanta, and thereby knowing how to shoot a gun. The girls help a stereotypical ‘old, tired, wise, and fed up’ character, Bowser, apprehend a bail skip.

They split the cash with Bowser but beg him for more work to pay for repairs to their Dad’s truck which they wrecked earlier on. I would like to say that the rest of the show sees the twins in various scenarios hunting down bail skips with a great deal of comedic violence, but bounty hunting is only about 30% of this show. The rest of the screen time is dedicated to the girls’ relationship issues with both their partners and their family, including an incredibly shaky family-secret plot that really doesn’t stack up.

What do I like about it?
The chemistry between the twins is fantastic (the actors are not actually related IRL) and despite the weird, disappointing, plot, you can’t help but be drawn to them. It is also funny in parts, and I suppose I have to give credit to the show’s creator for shining a light on the weird little part of society that is hyper-religious upper middle class Atlanta, not something you really see in television.

What do I not like about it?
Pretty much everything else. Like I said, the plot just doesn’t work. It’s too absurd in some ways, and too serious in others. There’s no equilibrium. The trailer also massively oversells the content of the show – I can count on one hand the number of bail skips they actually apprehend. Too much of the plot is mired in this bizarrely fake-feeling emotional turmoil experienced by the twins and their peers at school.

And don’t even get me started on the series finale. The writers kept everything so incredibly coy up until the final episode that the number of twists and turns occurring in it don’t have nearly as much satisfaction as they would if they were paced correctly throughout the show.

Worth a watch?
I know the show has some important undertones for some people, and there’s a lot of hype on social media for it. Unfortunately, from a technical standpoint, I just can’t recommend it. The story ruins it, the trailer massively oversells it.

By the way…

  • The show was going to be called Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters, which would have served basically no purpose
  • There’s a lot of Christianity in this show and honestly it’s just weird in 2020

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Quickfire Round – Middleditch and Schwartz

With no idea if any of it was objectively good, this long-form improv show made me genuinely laugh out loud – a rarity for American humour.

They’re able to do so much with just two chairs for props

Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz have a real stage show where they perform long-form improv based on an initial scenario discussion with a member of the audience. Netflix thought it would be a good idea to film three of these for a one-off comedy special – and they were right.

Each episode, roughly 50 minutes long, was hilarious and completely different. The first, involving a wedding, had the clearest (you might say easiest) plot line to follow and was therefore the least littered with unintentional gaffes. It’s probably my pick of the three. The second involved a class at law school, a truly random experience but with a satisfying pay off. The third and final episode was probably the weakest, not helped by the lack of detail provided by the audience member and the confusing plot twist which couldn’t be ironed out. That said, none of the episodes were a waste of time.

The show is just as much satisfying as it is funny. Middleditch and Schwartz are highly skilled, managing to weave in and refer back to both the nuggets of information gleamed from the audience at the beginning, and wacky details improvised throughout. Often times the funniest parts were the ones I saw coming, which did double work by reminding me of the initial hilarity and repeating it at the perfect time.

You’ll want to dedicate a solid 50-minute slot for each episode without interruptions, to help you keep up with the flow and keep the inside jokes at the forefront of your mind.

I’m just worried I’ll never see another improv show that compares.

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What I thought about: Good Girls (Season 2)

Having forgotten all about this crime comedy-drama until Season 2 showed up on Netflix, I went through a cycle of emotions. This show is dumb. It’s thrilling. It’s stupid. It’s unrealistic. It’s so, so long. But damn, it’s good.

Digging up flowers… or something else?

What’s it about?
Good Girls is about three childhood friends, each now mothers to one or more children, who are finding it hard to make ends meet. Beth is a housewife with four kids, living a seemingly idealistic suburban lifestyle. But her husband, the owner of a local car dealership, is a cheater, a loser, and clearly lacking in business sense. Her younger sister, Annie, works at grocery store Fine and Frugal under an asshole boss, as she struggles to earn enough to look after her daughter who she had at a young age. And there’s Ruby, who works long hours waitressing in a vain attempt to pay for her sick daughter’s medical care.

In the first season, they came up with a plan to rob Fine and Frugal to resolve their financial problems. Actually, they do it twice. Along the way they get tied up with a criminal gang’s counterfeiting operation led by the suitably mysterious Rio. In the second season, the FBI are closing in on their involvement in the robbery – along with a host of other crimes they committed along the way.

In a nutshell, it’s Breaking Bad with soccer moms.

What do I like about it?
When I first started watching this season, I recalled the plot and thought it was ridiculous. But the show has so much depth. It’s just as much about the personal lives faced by the characters as it is about the central criminality of their actions.

Beth, it turns out, really hates being a housewife. She wants excitement – in her work life and in the bedroom. Annie gets into a very awkward love triangle, and her relationship with her daughter is tested. Ruby’s husband, Stan, who recently became a cop, finds himself increasingly entangled in the group’s criminal acts, having to chose between protecting his wife and staying true to his honest nature.

The show’s production is also very good – I score it points for creative camera shots and a great soundtrack.

What do I not like about it?
I had to check the number of remaining episodes several times during this binge. The show is long – 13 episodes, 45 minutes each, and a lot of stuff happens in each episode. Don’t get me wrong, it’s largely good content. It just seemed to last ages.

Two more annoyances – Ruby’s family sub-plot is not explored in as much detail as Beth and Annie’s, although I understand why. And finally – this show is super unrealistic. I mean, these characters get no sleep and get away with doing a lot of bad stuff, especially for people under active investigation by the FBI.

Worth a watch?
Yes, but definitely start from the first season or else it won’t make any sense.

By the way…

  • A third season is already airing in the US. There’s a disappointingly long lag time on the UK release, so expect to see it in 2021.
  • If you’re wondering where you recognise Beth’s husband Dean from, the actor played Shaggy in the two live action Scooby Doo movies.

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