What’s that? An actual, written blog post that’s not show notes for a podcast? I guess it had to happen eventually.
I always feel terrible when I sit down to write my Culture Consumed for Galactic Suburbia because I inevitably find out that most of what I’ve been consuming is non-genre and I have nothing to say. Yet, I’m consuming culture like it’s going out of fashion!
Australia got Netflix in March. And the first thing I did was gobble down the final season of How I Met Your Mother in case the whole Netflix thing was a joke and they were going to whisk it away from me. Then I sat through the entire series of Lost, so I could see if I hated the ending. And since then, I’ve been dipping my toe in and out of various genre pools. I figured now and again, I’d write some quick summaries.
Highly recommended: Grace and Frankie. (Netflix Original)
First up, I shouldn’t need to say anything other than Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. I’m so there and you should be too. But then bonus for Martin Sheen and Sam Waterstone. Sol (Waterstone) and Robert (Sheen) take their wives, Frankie (Tomlin) and Grace (Fonda) out for dinner to finally tell them they are gay and have been lovers for 20 years and now, since they can, they want to get married (and thus divorced). It’s, I guess, a sitcom, or a dramedy maybe? It’s funny. It’s brilliantly acted. It’s refreshing. It’s not often that older women are allowed their own show, and to be older on it. It enables all kinds of usually taboo topics to be addressed – sex post menopause, sex post marriage, issues relating to long term marriages. Plus Sheen and Waterstone offer another version of gay men to the small screen, one that is also not the norm – older men in a long term committed relationship. The two couples’ children are also interesting and funny. I’m so sad that there is currently only one season (Season 2 is scheduled for 2016) because I’ve already watched it all and I want more.
This weekend, I mainlined some Docos:
The Queen of Versailles
Real Housewives meets the GFC. This starts out as a doco following David and Jackie Siegel (owners of Westgate resorts) who are building the biggest house in the USA – it has 30 bathrooms, which apparently she needs (is it wrong that I was wondering what kind of cleaning schedule that would need, you could use one bathroom a day for a month?). It was modelled on … you guess it! Versailles. And at the height of the book, Siegel is totally really wealthy and can “afford” this ridiculous property. You get a brief intro to the family in a very Real Housewives style and then the GFC hits and it all goes to hell. Honestly, this was like watching a train wreck – the doco loses momentum and point, it is almost never about the house they are building and more about how people who have more money than they can fathom don’t know what to do when the money – or line of credit- is no longer there. Despite having an engineering degree, Jackie seems completely incapable of understanding that they have no money left. I kept watching to see if they ever managed to dig themselves out of the hole – they didn’t at the time of the end of the film – or manage to keep the house (couldn’t tell since it finishes with them in some kind of over the top house). The only point of real interest in the whole hour and a half was half a conversation they caught on camera between David and some friends where he talks about how he managed to remortgage his 11.3 million dollar loan by acting as a third party for refinancing and got it back for 3 million dollars loan. “It makes you wonder who’s making these decisions” he tells his friend. It made it clear to me a lot of the problems of US banking at the time.
Verdict: I watched this so you don’t have to.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
I remember when Joe Cross was doing promo for this doco in Australia and guesting all over the place with his juice only diet. I thought it was all a bit extreme at the time but was still interested in seeing how this doco played out. Cross is pretty fat, and sick with an autoimmune disease that has skin complications. He’s on a lot of drugs for his illness. And he doesn’t want to be anymore so he decides to do a detox and then only eat fruit and veggies for 60 days. He juices them so as to be able to physically consume the quantity needed for both I’m guessing caloric intake as well as recommended daily intake of micronutrients (which is a word used a lot in this film). He goes to the US to do his diet cause flaunting US food in your face when you’re trying to quit eating is the funnest. Whilst there, he finds a fellow sufferer of his illness, in a similar, if not more dire, state and he joins him on this journey.
Elements of this film are uncomfortable to watch as he travels across America scolding people for not eating enough vegetables, basically. And blaming them for being fat. I found that aspect quite unnecessary – noone is going to change the way they are just because you find them/yourself disgusting.
But Cross does drop a lot of weight, and quite quickly. As does his fellow journeyman. They inspire others to juice. And they claim to have more energy and zest for life. It was thought provoking enough that it got me thinking that I might pull out my juicer this week just to actually add some more micronutrients to my diet – but that’s all.
Verdict: Enjoyable if you like watching obese people drop weight (that’s totally a genre)
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
I’ve been meaning to watch this ever since Rivers passed away. Yesterday, I finally felt ready to and as I watched her, I realised how much I still really miss her. I don’t necessarily get all of her sense of humour but I love her for her ballsy take on of the comedy genre and paving the way for female comics. She said a lot of things that were taboo for women to discuss. And she was somethin, that’s for sure. This doco follows a year in her life and you see how hard she worked and how hard she worked at being able to keep working. Rivers is a great contrast to the Real Housewives style of fame in that her work ethic is outstanding and watching her, you understand how she built herself into a business. I’m fascinated by the reality TV stars in that really stupid people can get really rich by marrying the right people and getting good divorce lawyers (but they don’t always manage to stay rich). By contrast, I love finding celebrities who are rich and successful for who they are – and interestingly, a few of them I have found through Celebrity Apprentice, Rivers being one of them.
Verdict: If you love Rivers, this is a must view.