How “Okja” Will Change Your Life


As soon as “Okja” started streaming on Netflix on June 28, it started to generate intense online discussion about genetically-modified food, animal abuse and the virtues of a vegetarian diet. It is, in short, the type of film that gets people talking. Here’s how “Okja” will change your life.

#1: “Okja” will make you more aware of genetically modified foods in your local supermarket

The fundamental premise of “Okja” is that an evil corporation called Miranda Corporation is breeding genetically-modified superpigs. As part of a 10-year experiment, the company has placed 26 GMO superpigs around the world, to see where the most conducive environment is for breeding and raising these superpigs in the future.

But that’s where things go terribly wrong, because “Okja” – a superpig residing in South Korea with young Mija – is destined to become meat in the local supermarket if someone doesn’t save it. Miranda Corp. is ruthlessly breeding these superpigs as part of a broader strategy to solve the world’s food shortage problem. The superpig – which tends to resemble a really cute hippopotamus more than a pig – is a source of sustainable protein that “just tastes f***** good.”

Of course, that raises a bigger question about the role of genetically modified foods in today’s world. Do you really know what’s being sold in your local supermarket, and why? As we see in this really thought-provoking film, corporations can come up with an upbeat, positive marketing campaign for just about anything – and that includes pigs that are being bred to huge proportions as part of a master plan to solve the world’s food shortage.

#2: You’ll become a crusader for animal rights after watching “Okja”

One of the sub-plots of the movie involves the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a group of radical animal rights activists that are determined to free these genetically modified superpigs from captivity. Along the way, there’s even an epic scene where young Mija rides her superpig through the streets of Seoul, South Korea in an attempt to avoid Mirando Corporation.

As we’re shown time and time again in the movie, the Mirando Corporation often resorts to cruel and unethical treatment of animals in order to advance its corporate goals. No wonder PETA has become a champion of this film. And actor Paul Dano, who plays the role of the ALF activist Jay, has given interviews about the way the film has really affected him. Talking about Okja, he noted, “She’s beautiful, and feels real to me… and very emotionally real, too.”

Even pigs, it turns out, have emotions and thoughts. As PETA points out, pigs are social, playful and form emotional bonds. They can learn tricks, like sitting for a treat, and can often recognize their own names. And in the film, Okja is just so adorably sweet and wonderful – she’s like a hippopotamus that learns little tricks and is very loyal to little Mija. Who would possibly want to harm that wonderful creature?

#3: You’ll stop eating meat after watching “Okja”

The film also takes us behind the scenes to see how the meat is made at slaughterhouses. Your stomach will go sick from seeing these scenes – you’ve probably never seen what a mass killing factory looks like, and how little animals are ruthlessly slaughtered in the most inhumane way possible. The director of the film, Bong Joon-ho (who also directed “Snowpiercer”), himself visited a pig slaughterhouse in Colorado before making the film. And that experience alone completely turned him off meat.

Some, like foodie blog Eater, have declared that “Okja will turn the world vegan.” That might be overstating things – especially since BBQ is such a national pastime in South Korea, where the film was made – but it does suggest that people will re-think the role of meat in their diet. Some have also compared “Okja” to the 1905 masterpiece by Upton Sinclair, “The Jungle,” which chronicled the unethical and sickening behavior of Big Meat in America.

If you want to get started with a vegan diet after watching this film, PETA has you covered. They’re currently offering a “vegan starter kit” to help wean you away from meat. Every time you pass the meat section of a supermarket, you’ll be reminded that every beef burger is the byproduct of a cow that’s been murdered in some horrible way.


#4: “Okja” will make you yearn for your youthful days of innocence and purity

One of the real highlights of “Okja” is the very young Mija, played by South Korea actress Ahn Seo-hyun. Some have suggested that “Okja” conjures up the feelings and emotions that we felt a generation ago, when we watched Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” That movie, too, had a certain innocence and purity to it, reminding us that even strange alien beings can possess human-like emotions and thoughts.

And just as young kids rescued E.T. from harm, it’s the youngsters in “Okja” who must rescue the superpigs. It’s that scene of young Mija riding a superpig through the busy streets of Seoul that will leave an indelible mark on you. You won’t be able to get that vision out of your head.

The exact opposite of this innocence is represented by Lucy Mirando (played by Tilda Swinton), the evil CEO of Mirando Corp. Whereas the children are innocent and delightful, Lucy Mirando is ruthless and calculating (and just a little vulgar about the way she describes the superpigs). It turns out that the real “pigs” are the humans like Lucy Mirando and her evil twin sister Nancy Mirando (also played by Tilda Swinton).

Overall, “Okja” really packs an emotional wallop. When the movie first premiered at Cannes, it received a four-minute standing ovation from the audience. People loved the movie and it how it told such an important story in such a clever way.

This film will really change your life. You’ll become much smarter about topics like GMO foods and the perils of a world food shortage. And you might just decide to give up meat forever. Okja the superpig is more than just a cute pet – she is a symbol of something much more, and that’s why this film is so powerful and will resonate with audiences everywhere.


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“Orange is the New Black” Season 5 Is the Worst One Yet


Maybe long-time Netflix viewers started to expect too much from “Orange Is the New Black,” and they were inevitably doomed to be disappointed sooner or later. After four magnificent seasons, in which “Orange Is the New Black” made us re-think what’s possible in a TV series, Season 5 just never lived up to expectations. It’s safe to say that “Orange Is the New Black” Season 5 is the worst one yet.

Bizarre tonal shifts

While “Orange Is the New Black” has always shifted between genres, often interposing scenes of tragedy and comedy next to each other, there’s something distinctly “off” about this season. It’s almost like the series has lost its bearing, veering wildly from comedy to tragedy and then back to comedy, and viewers really don’t know what to think.

The New York Times has compared Season 5 of OITNB to “a speeding vehicle with a wheel missing.” With this season, the show is going too fast, the steering is unsteady, and it’s clear that there’s no slowing down. And this lack of focus can be disjointing – especially since all the action of Season 5 takes place within a very concentrated period of 72 hours. The mood swings are just too intense.

Plotlines and narratives just don’t add up

By now, you probably know that the dramatic narrative of Season 5 involves a prison riot and its aftermath at the Litchfield prison facility. The inmates rise up, take over the facility, take hostages, and reorganize themselves. One prison inmate, Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (played by Danielle Brooks), tries to negotiate with the private company that runs the prison, urging them to change the living conditions within the prison.

So far, so good, right? This is the type of compelling story that “Orange Is the New Black” is known for. But then comes an episode smack dab in the middle of Season 5 that just doesn’t make any sense. Online fans have referred to this as “an homage to slasher films,” and it involves one of the prison guards (Piscatella) acting like he’s a villain from one of the “Friday the 13th” movies, abducting and tying up inmates.

What’s so bizarre about this whole plotline is that even the show’s writers don’t know how to play this. As a result, you get an episode that’s part horror film, and part comedy. It’s campy and cute and also horrifying. At some point, viewers don’t really know what to think. “Are they just messing with us?” is a thought that’s going to come to you during Season 5.

And that’s not all. There’s also the plotline of the prison inmate Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett (played by Taryn Manning), who winds up getting married to the man who raped her in Season 3. The show tries to make this into a bigger story of forgiveness and redemption, but it just comes off as a mess.

“Orange Is the New Black” fails to deliver on Shakespearean-sized ambitions

After four seasons of being an “important” series, “Orange Is the New Black” seemingly overdoses on its sense of self-importance. The website Vox.com has called Season 5 “staggeringly ambitious” and “a huge mess” – in the same sentence. That’s because the whole series starts to take itself too importantly.

Here’s just one example: the effort by the prison inmates to reorganize themselves into some kind of new women’s commune. There are all kinds of “important” socio-economic issues raised here, such as the possibility of building a society anew so that it is fair to everyone. But “Orange Is the New Black” constantly interjects its Shakespearean ambitions here, almost as if the show’s writers were trying to combine the very best of Shakespeare’s tragedies and comedies into one TV show for the ages.

And here’s another example: the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (played by Uzo Aduba), who has a role very much like that of the Fool in “King Lear.” She’s been taking medications for her mental illness, but the more addled she becomes, the more capable she is of speaking truth to power. But when it all comes as a rambling monologue, it just doesn’t add up.


“Orange Is the New Black” has a final cliffhanger scene that may have driven too far off the cliff

The big cliffhanger scene of Season 5 – the one that has already sparked debate and discussion about a Season 6 for “Orange Is the New Black” – is a microcosm of what’s both right and wrong about the series. In that final cliffhanger scene, the riot police have stormed the Litchfield facility to restore order. And the 10 key characters are standing together in one room. For one of the first times in the five seasons of the show, the dramatic action has seemingly transcended racial and tribal lines.

This is supposed to be a big, important moment. It is supposed to be a moment when we imagine what’s possible when people rise up and reorganize into a better, more just society. But instead, the cliffhanger comes off as a tired ending to the season after the show has already careened out of control.

It’s almost as if many of the main characters are being prepared to be sent in new directions (or perhaps written out of the show entirely), and the easiest way to do this is just to gather all of them in one place (the abandoned swimming pool-turned-bunker at the prison) and then have the writers spend the off-season debating what to do with all of them. Next season, when some characters disappear, there will be a good reason why.

In addition, two of the main stars of the show – Alex Vause (played by Laura Prepon) and Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling) – seemingly no longer have a primary role to play in the series. In Season 5, they are often reduced to offering snarky commentary on the prison’s living conditions, but do not play a heroic role in changing those conditions. Some fans have even speculated that these characters won’t even be coming back for Season 6.

Ultimately, the problem may be that “Orange Is the New Black” simply raised our expectations too high. It was always one of the Netflix poster children for the “golden age” of binge-watching, but it’s clear that binge-watching (just like binge-eating) can have some pretty negative consequences. You don’t feel so good, and you suddenly can’t stomach the idea of one more episode of the series.

Hopefully, that feeling of a bad binge will wear off and we’ll be just as excited for Season 6 as we were for Season 5. But one thing is certainly clear – “Orange is the New Black” Season 5 is the worst one yet.



“Wonder Woman” Inspires Women Worldwide


The hype about the big screen debut of “Wonder Woman” on June 1 had been growing for weeks. Initial box office estimates for the film’s opening weekend continually grew – from $65 million to $75 million to $90 million and now $98 million. Everywhere, it seemed, little girls were looking for Wonder Woman costumes to wear to the premiere. And feminists embraced the film, too, given the strong female superhero lead (played by Gal Gadot) and the female director (Patty Jenkins).

As a result, “Wonder Woman” looks to be the type of film that changes our notions of what superhero films can be. If you hadn’t noticed, superhero films had been getting a lot darker recently. The line between heroes and villains seemed to be blurring, and too many superheroes were tormented by inner demons that gnawed away at their souls and personality. The trend had been towards the creation of flawed superheroes struggling between good and evil.

But that’s hardly the case with “Wonder Woman” – this female superhero is a shining beacon of hope filled with innate goodness. Gal Gadot is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and could become into the type of female role model that women have wanted for years. Almost unanimously, it seems, reviewers were calling this the “most inspiring superhero movies in years.”

Moreover, the box office success of “Wonder Woman” might just break the female glass ceiling for directors, too. Of the top 1,000 films in the decade-long period from 2007-2016, only 4% of them had a female director. That’s a staggeringly low figure. The highest-grossing box office weekend by a female director had been “50 Shades of Grey” at $85 million, and this new “Wonder Woman” film looks like it will decisively smash through that record. From here on out, Patty Jenkins will be able to direct any film she wants – not just the inevitable prequel or sequel to “Wonder Woman.”

The main reason why “Wonder Woman” is inspiring women worldwide is clearly the character of “Wonder Woman.” This is not just a sexy woman in a sexy costume. She is someone who will not be upstaged by her male co-leads. This is a movie where the woman is clearly the strongest character. And she does more than just fight the bad guys with her strength and courage – there’s an overriding sense of goodness about her.

The one line from the movie that everyone is talking about is when Wonder Woman (aka Diana Prince) says in a voiceover, “The closer you get to humans, the more you see the great darkness simmering within.” This is when you realize that we are about to see the world from an entirely new set of female eyes. Diana Prince is naïve, the result of living in an isolated Amazonian world filled with a community of female warriors. Now she is about to see “the war to end all wars” – and she alone is convinced that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The character of Wonder Woman has poise and beautiful feminine grace. At times she is naïve, but she is also filled with a sense of purpose. She can be funny and sexy. And, best of all, she understands that her own unique power is “fueled by the power of love.” That is the major difference between Wonder Woman and other comic superheroes – her power is not fueled by revenge, or a thirst for power, or a desire to avenge some wrongdoing in the world – it is just fueled by love.

And that fundamentally changes the way she approaches the world. Unlike the men around her, she is not willing to let a single person become a victim. She is not willing to write off a single life, and is firmly convinced that “only love can truly save the world.”

This film, then, is almost certain to reinforce society’s belief in the need for strong women – not women who are hardened and cynical and behave like men – but women who are beautiful and strong and good. This is a remarkable role model – and a good reason why Wonder Woman merchandise seems to be flying off the shelves. Girls and women (and even some guys) want to wear Wonder Woman T-shirts emblazoned with the “double W” and sass it up with Wonder Woman leather jackets.

Here’s just one indication of how popular Wonder Woman has already become – eBay sales of Wonder Woman-related merchandise literally doubled from April to May. The numbers for June are not yet in, but it’s almost a certainty that they will be at record levels.


On the premiere weekend, girls and their mothers showed up at the cinema in their Wonder Woman outfits. Guys showed up in drag as well. The positive word of mouth reviews are only going to create more demand for this “Wonder Woman” movie. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 94% freshness rating – an almost impossibly high score for a blockbuster summer film.

Everything about the film seems to have a unique female sensibility to it – much of I driven, no doubt, by the fact of having a female director. Take the fighting style of the Amazons, for example – it is a fighting style that is based on precision and agility rather than overwhelming force and violence. In the movie trailer, you can see this close up, as the Amazon warriors elude bullets or use perfectly-timed balletic movements to overwhelm their foes.

In other superhero films – such as the recent “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” in which Wonder Woman had a cameo role – women have always been secondary characters. At best, they have been the Lois Lane to Clark Kent’s Superman. In short, women have either been glossed over in these films, or just given secondary billing. In “Wonder Woman,” though, women are given first billing, and it’s a joy to watch.

Already, Hollywood insiders are predicting a sea-change in how the big studios think about superhero films. “Wonder Woman” has inspired them and showed them that “good” heroes are not “boring” heroes, that a story that is optimistic and full of hope about the future is more exciting than a story that is negative, cynical and full of dystopian story lines.

Truly, “Wonder Woman” inspired women worldwide – and this is just the start. After a mega-blockbuster opening weekend, this film could become the biggest hit of the summer. Get ready to see lots of people dressed up as Wonder Woman wherever you go this summer, as young girls and women embrace this new superhero role model.


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What To Expect From the “Will & Grace” Revival


The good news for TV fans everywhere is that “Will & Grace” – one of the most successful, Emmy-nominated comedy series in the history of primetime – is coming back to NBC in 2017. In January, NBC studio executives announced that they had placed a 10-episode order for a “Will & Grace” revival – and then later upped that order to 12 episodes in April. So what can we can expect from this star-studded comedy when it comes to TV in 2017?

#1: The same great cast, just ten years older

What’s remarkable about this “Will & Grace” revival is that NBC has convinced all four stars of the show – and all the show creators – to come back for the revival. That means fans of the show will get to see Debra Messing (who plays Grace Adler), Eric McCormack (who plays the gay lawyer Will Truman), Megan Mullally (who plays Karen Walker) and Sean Hayes (who plays Jack McFarland) reunited again.

From what we’ve seen from all the late-night TV shows where these stars have appeared, they all look almost exactly as they did back in May 2006, when the series ended after 8 wildly successful seasons. For example, Sean Hayes was on the “Jimmy Kimmel Show,” saying how excited he was to see everyone again, and that nobody seems to have aged in 10 years.

That leads to an interesting question for the show’s creators: Do they acknowledge that 10 years have passed since the comedy was last on TV – enough time for everyone to grow up and grow apart, perhaps with new families or new significant others – or do they create a fictional narrative that picks up just 12 or 24 months after the events of the comedy from 2006?

With most revivals, this would be a no-brainer – usually the characters look so much older, that it’s impossible to pretend that things are still the same. But in the case of “Will & Grace,” that’s not necessarily the case.

#2: A series updated for the sensibilities of the Trump era

What convinced NBC studio executives to give “Will & Grace” a revival was the spectacular success of a YouTube video that the cast created back in September 2016 by the cast. The video was a 10-minute special that urged Americans to vote in the upcoming presidential election. The YouTube video contained a lot of jokes about Trump and his team, and was directed against his treatment of both ethnic minorities and LGBT citizens.

For example, Megan Mullally came back as a flag-waving Trump supporter, utterly oblivious to Donald Trump’s worst attributes. That was in sharp opposition to Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes, who let go a barrage of anti-Trump jokes. So it’s quite possible that we could see an updating of “Will & Grace” for the sensibilities of the Trump era. Maybe “Will & Grace” will feature story lines of how the LGBT community is trying to resist Trump and his policies?

#3: More attention on LGBT issues

Not only was “Will & Grace” one of the smartest and funniest comedies on NBC ever, it was also one of the most successful TV series with openly gay characters as the main characters. The LGBT community has picked up the show, and even American politicians have heaped praise on the show for its courage in depicting gay and LGBT characters. So it’s perhaps to be expected that the revival of “Will & Grace” will continue to depict and portray issues that are central to the LGBT community.

For example, we might see episodes featuring protest rallies for the LGBT movement, or we might see some issues such as HIV/AIDS explored in greater detail. Maybe issues like gay marriage will be explored in greater detail.

#4: More great writing and scripts

As noted earlier, NBC is bringing back all of the show’s original creators. This is critical for so many reasons, most importantly because it means the show will continue to have some of the best scripts and dialogue on primetime TV. Over its spectacular eight-season run, “Will & Grace” actually picked up 16 Emmy wins and 83 Emmy nominations.

So we can expect to have more of the same great writing when “Will & Grace” returns in 2017. That means plenty of great dialogue, lots of great jokes, and plenty of the same fluid interaction between the show’s four stars that we’ve come to expect.

This is what will separate the revival of “Will & Grace” from other revivals. Usually, shows lose their focus over time, and bring in some celebrity producer or director to “update” the show in some new way. But that’s not what hard-core fans really want.


#5: Knowing winks at show nostalgia

Consider the election-themed video that the cast created in 2016 – the reason why it became such a viral hit is because it tapped into the deep nostalgia of TV viewers. When the show first debuted back in September 1998, we were on the cusp of a new century, and it seemed like a very unique time period in American history. And so viewers are naturally very nostalgic about that time period.

It’s almost a given, then, that the show will try to wrap up all the loose ends from the series. As in most revivals, we’ll see cameo roles from some of the characters that were nearest and dearest to us. And we’ll learn how they’ve moved on with their lives.


It’s almost a certainty that the “Will & Grace” revival will be a slam-dunk hit starting on the first night of viewing. The fact that NBC was so ready to green light the revival – and that all the star cast members immediately signed on – is further proof of just how much pent-up viewer demand there is for this show. This was simply one of the best shows on TV a decade ago, and it looks like the show has aged remarkably well, just like all the cast members. Most viewers will no doubt be eagerly awaiting all the funny scenes and dialogue featuring Will, Grace, Karen and Jack.


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How “House of Cards” Season 5 Stacks Up


By now, viewers know what to expect from Netflix’s “House of Cards” – a bleak portrayal of the American political landscape in which the only constant is the relentless ambition for power. And that’s exactly what Season 5 of “House of Cards,” which debuted on Netflix on May 30, delivers.

1. Raw political ambition and the lust for political power

If anything, Season 5 of “House of Cards” is bleaker and more nihilistic than any of the preceding four seasons. We’re already used to the raw power ambitions of U.S. President Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) and First Lady Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright), but now we’re convinced that nothing is ever going to change. In fact, if anything, it’s clear that America’s timeless traditions and institutions may be no match for the current powerbrokers in Washington.

There are scenes in Season 5 that have deep symbolic meanings – such as when Claire Underwood appears to trample an American eagle underfoot on a rug in the White House, or when Frank Underwood appears to wander the White House alone, almost like a ghost, while music plays at some party he has no intention of joining. The message is clear: America is now a waning power on the world stage, and there’s no idealistic young up-and-comer who is going to save the day.

In fact, one of the trademark plot twists in “House of Cards” is how even idealistic newcomers are quickly brought up to speed on how things happen in Washington, D.C. The people who survive are not those that have an ideology or who want to change the system – it is the people who spend all day thinking of ways to subvert the system to their own whims. They study constitutional law, not to understand how to protect the Constitution, but how to subvert it.

Even the war on terror becomes just another tool for political power consolidation. In Season 5, the Underwoods are intent on inflaming public fears about ICO (the show’s version of ISIS) in order to steadily erode constitutional rights and find loopholes to increase their own power.

2. An underlying pessimism about American institutions

“House of Cards” almost seems to celebrate the men and women who have no ideology and no guiding political philosophy. That, perhaps, is why so many critics have called this the bleakest “House of Cards” yet. There is a sense that any vestige of dignity has departed the office of the Presidency, and all we see, in episode after episode, is yet another lesson in how absolute power corrupts absolutely. The goal of power, it appears, is simply to get more power. In doing so, all the political actors in “House of Cards” go about their nefarious ways.

What is most disturbing about Season 5, perhaps, is that it is not just the men and women who are flawed – it is the very institutions keeping them in power. There is a sense that all the ideals, principles and careful checks and balances that the Founding Fathers had the foresight to create are nothing more than tools now in the hands of the wrong people.

And Frank Underwood has no shame whatsoever in rubbing this in our face. At one point, he turns to the camera and says, “You voted for me, America.” Thus, as easy as it might be to blame a single person (or power couple, as in the case of the Underwoods) for this low point in American politics, we only have ourselves to blame.


3. The Trump context

Of course, you can now see why so many people are trying to make this season’s “House of Cards” a pointed commentary on the current political environment in Washington. The Trump presidency, in many ways, is a mirror image of the Underwood presidency. You have an egomaniac in the White House, using the Oval Office simply to advance his own ambitions and business brand.

The way that Frank Underwood humiliates his underlings, too, has an analogue in the way that Donald Trump likes to punish and humiliate his underlings – whether it’s forcing Sean Spicer to go out and give a press conference at the most inopportune time, or when it comes to directly contravening statements made by one of his inner circle via a late night Twitter outburst.

And, of course, the way that many say that President Trump has degraded the office of the presidency with his constant half-truths and reckless Executive Orders have a clear precedent in the Underwood presidency.

But here is the thing – whereas Frank Underwood has absolutely no underlying ideology or values, one could argue that Donald Trump is at least following some abstract notion of “making America great again.” In the case of Frank Underwood, it’s not so much a case of making America great – it’s about making himself great.

And many people fail to point out that Season 5 of “House of Cards” actually started production BEFORE Trump was ever elected. Thus, even though the show debuted almost exactly four months after Trump was sworn in, it actually had already been in production long before.

For liberals, Donald Trump is just a slightly more odious version of Frank Underwood. For conservatives, though, the double-dealing and corrupt Underwoods are a slightly more odious version of the Clintons. You can see why we’re at such a political impasse in America these days – both figures are so polarizing that there’s little or no opportunity to meet in the middle.


So what to make of “House of Cards,” then? Many would argue that it has simply become too repetitive. The characters may change, but the plot does not. There is more scheming, more shifting of alliances and more egomaniacal attempts to subvert the system. Even the newcomers to Season 5 – Patricia Clarkson (as the deputy undersecretary of commerce for international trade) and Campbell Scott (as a top adviser to the President) – do little to change the underlying dynamic of the show.

But something very distinct has changed in the way that we view “House of Cards” in 2017. If, back in 2013 when the show first premiered, we thought that the Underwood presidency was pure fiction and too insidious to ever become true, we now realize that it is, indeed, possible. In fact, it may now be the case that fact is stranger than fiction. The naked power grab of the Trump presidency and all the inflamed rhetoric about making America great again may actually have the opposite effect – it may reveal just how low the American political system has fallen, and how the lust for power has become all-consuming on both sides of the political aisle.



“Master of None” Season 2 Sparks Social Commentary and Conversation


When Netflix signed up comedian Aziz Ansari to do a special original comedy series, they couldn’t have possibly expected that “Master of None” was going to spark so much social commentary and conversation. But Season 2 of the show has just absolutely changed the national conversation on so many topics, including LGBT issues and what it means to be a Indian-American.

The show, of course, is a fictional account of Aziz Ansari’s life in which Aziz plays Dev Shah, a 30-year-old New York actor. The show is “loosely based” on real-life experiences, including his travels abroad, his experiences in New York, and the friends and family members who have influenced him.

And here’s where things get really interesting. “Master of None” (the title of the show is a reference to the expression “Jack of all trades, master of none) was really meant to be more of an itinerant series, moving from here to there at whim, showing some funny scenes from Aziz’s life. (In Season 2, for example, Aziz winds up in Italy.)

That approach was a remarkably successful formula for Season 1 back in late 2015, when the show routinely made the list of “Best TV Show of 2015.” Critics loved the show, and ranked it as one of the Top 10 shows of the year. There was a lull, and then in May 2017, here came Season 2, fortified with 10 new episodes.

On the surface, perhaps, viewers weren’t expecting the series to become such a spark for social commentary. After all, one of the key plotlines of Season 2 was the character of Dev Shah going to Italy to learn how to make pasta. There were some funny scenes – like the one where Aziz Ansari and his friend accidentally get their car stuck between two buildings in Italy. But then came “Thanksgiving”…

In “Thanksgiving,” Dev shares the story of how he likes to celebrate Thanksgiving with his childhood friends since his parents do not celebrate the holiday. And one of his best friends from childhood (Denise, played by Lena Waithe) happens to be both black and queer. That led to the idea that the episode would feature Denise talking about her decision to “come out” and announce that she’s queer. The episode also featured Angela Bassett as Denise’s mom Catherine, and that’s where things became explosive – the mom is not so accepting of Denise, and that sparked a major conversation about LGBT life.

In fact, that one episode attracted so much buzz that Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe did a special feature for New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, in which they broke down, scene by scene, how and why they decided to do the “Thanksgiving” episode. Lena Waithe is also gay in real-life, and was willing to share her own experiences and ideas about what it was like to come out on TV.


And there have been other episodes that have also sparked social commentary. For example, Episode 3 (“Religion”) features Dev and his decision not to be a devout Muslim. He can’t possibly tell his parents that, so he has to fake it in front of them. That led to a lot of discussion in the media and entertainment blogs about Aziz’s “pork-fueled feud with his parents.”

More generally, it gets to the root of what it’s like to be Muslim in America. That’s a particularly sensitive topic right now, especially with all the discussion about a “Muslim ban.” How are Muslims assimilating into America? How are they reacting to the Muslim ban. Aziz is such a funny comedian, that we sometimes don’t even think that he’s thinking about these issues. But he’s only human, and it’s clear that all of his hilarious “brown people jokes” are really meant to be a biting commentary about America and its unwillingness to accept Muslims as equals.

And then, in another episode of the show, Aziz Ansari explores how it’s possible that everyday people can actually be racist in their own way. In Episode 4 of Season 2, for example, he dates a number of different girls, and the one he ends up sleeping with actually has a figurine in her home that the character Dev Shah interprets to be racist.

That raises an interesting question – especially from a social commentary perspective – and that’s how people can claim they have “brown friends” or “black friends” and yet still be racist. It could be that these feelings and emotions are so deep under the surface that they don’t even know that they are there. But the appearance of something seemingly as innocuous as a figurine can bring them to light.

Finally, there was one other issue raised in Season 2 that has started to get traction on the blogs and social media, and that’s the very difficult topic of sexual harassment. Despite all the claims that women are equal to men in America, it’s still the case that sexual harassment in the workplace is rampant. And that’s a topic that “Master of None” hasn’t been afraid to tackle.

So, as you can see, “Master of None” is really more than just a Netflix original comedy. It’s more than just funny insights into Aziz Ansari’s life. No – it’s really an increasingly important platform to discuss important social issues that show up again and again in daily life.

Take the example of LGBT issues. That’s something that Aziz Ansari rarely – if ever – tackles in his standup comedy routines, but it’s a topic that suddenly shows up in “Master of None.” Or take the issue of sexual harassment. Aziz may make a lot of jokes about how he is “human garbage” for the way he acts around women sometimes, but his show takes a deeper, more critical look at the issue.

Ultimately, comedy is a great tool for exploring these issues. And, as we’ve seen with Aziz Ansari and his amazing Saturday Night Live (SNL) hosting gig after the presidential election, he’s increasingly willing to take a stand on tough issues. That’s what makes “Master of None” such a great Netflix show. Even as we’re laughing, we’re also getting incisive takes on deeply important social issues.



Why Fans Loved Season 3 of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

When Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” first premiered back in March 2015, it was clear that this comedy was going to develop into a cult show with a huge fan base. And so, perhaps, it’s no surprise that fans loved Season 3 of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” as much as they loved Season 1 and Season 2. This show really delivered everything they wanted – and then some.

#1: More twisted, wacky plot lines

All you have to know about “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is that comedian Tina Fey is one of the executive producers and co-creators of the show. She is really the creative genius behind the show, and it shows up in all the plot lines of the show. Even the major premise of the show – that Kimmy Schmidt (played by Ellie Kemper) was rescued after being imprisoned for 15 years by a doomsday cult and is now living in New York City with a gay Broadway actor (Titus Andromedon, played by the amazing Tituss Burgess) – is just so wacky.

But it’s that 15-year separation from the world that makes Kimmy so endearing and lovable. It gives the show’s main actors a unique vantage point to question the world around them. Kimmy seems to question everything, and especially the Internet. She’s still fascinated by Google, and can’t quite figure out the meaning of Airbnb, asking at one point, “So, it’s basically like a sleepover with strangers?”

And the wacky, twisted plot lines include the appearance of characters like Jane Krakowski’s Jacqueline. She plays an Upper East Side society woman, but it turns out that her whole life is really just a façade. In fact, her real name is Jackie Lynn, and she’s a native American who fled her life on a Lakota Indian reservation. And to make things even more farcical – she’s dating someone who is linked to the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Everything about Jacqueline is a hot mess – like how she tries to keep the trappings of wealth even after her divorce by creating cardboard cutouts of jewelry – and that’s why fans can’t stop laughing when they see her.


#2: The new star power of Tituss Burgess

The show might be named for Kimmy Schmidt, and she may still be the star of the show, but the one actor that everyone is talking about these days is Tituss Burgess, who plays Kimmy’s gay roommate in New York. You’ve probably seen him making all the rounds on the late-night comedy shows, and for good reason: we may be seeing a new star break out on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

The best example, perhaps, is the parody of Beyonce’s “Lemonade” that was touted so highly in the trailer for Season 3. In this scene, Titus Andromedon dresses up in a yellow, flouncy maxi-dress just like Beyonce, grabs a baseball bat, and proceeds to take that bat to both a fire hydrant and a car belonging to his gay lover, a construction worker who happens to be cheating on him. And just like Beyonce sang about jealousy and craziness, Titus also sings about being turned crazy by jealousy. The actual Beyonce clip with the dress and baseball bat (“Hold Up”) has been viewed more than 100,000,000 times on YouTube – and now the parody video with Tituss Burgess is also going viral.

#3: The nuanced return of the doomsday cult plot line

In the first two seasons of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” we learn the basic back story of how she was held captive by a doomsday cult leader (played by Jon Hamm), and how she was kept in some kind of underground bunker for 15 years. But in Season 3 is where we really start to find out all the details. This makes the show much more nuanced and intriguing.

And, in some ways, the details are really dark. There’s the insinuation that Jon Hamm may have continually raped her over those 15 years – and that really gives us pause for thought. Kimmy Schmidt seems so optimistic and so naïve, that we suddenly realize how much of her past life she’s had to sublimate. There’s a dark alternative reality to all her good moods, and it involves both sexual and mental abuse.

In Season 3, the unhinged cult leader (Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, played by Jon Hamm) has a new surprise in store for Kimmy Schmidt, and that’s his plan to marry his jailhouse sweetheart, Wendy (played by Laura Dern). On the surface, Wendy seems like a very established, well put-together woman, but we quickly realize that she’s a lunatic, just like everyone else on the show.

In one plot line of Season 3, Wendy visits Kimmy, trying to convince her to sign some divorce papers so that she can marry the cult leader. That leads to a whole lot of hilarious jokes – like the need to print out the divorce papers using an outdated, archaic dot-matrix printer.


#4: The ongoing visual and verbal jokes

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” has so much humor going on at one time, that it can be difficult to sort through it all. On one hand, of course, there are all the verbal jokes. And then there are all the visual jokes. These visual jokes are really what separates “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” from other shows. In one episode, for example, a water stain on the wall becomes an ongoing sight gag.

In terms of the verbal jokes, Season 3 really distinguishes itself with all the ongoing jokes about young millennials. That’s because Kimmy Schmidt has decided to go back to college in Season 3, and somehow ends up on the campus of Columbia University in New York City, where she learns about all the strange habits of young millennial college students. One of these concerns dating – and the whole need to fill out a “consent form” if the two people plan to engage in any physical activity during a romantic relationship.

On Rotten Tomatoes, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a superstar show, pulling in a total freshness score of 96%. That’s just unprecedented, and it really shows how much fans loved Season 3 of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The show has so much going for it – the unique comedic talents of Ellie Kemper and Tituss Burgess, the diverse cast of wacky stars (including Laura Dern, Kane Krakowski and Jon Hamm), and, of course, the continued creative direction of superstar comedian Tina Fey. Fans just can’t wait for Netflix to greenlight Season 4 now.


I Gave Up Netflix for 60 Days – Here’s the Result


Two months without streaming a single movie or TV show on Netflix? When my co-worker first proposed this to me as a personal challenge, it seemed impossible. After all, I’m the type of person who binge-watches entire series over the weekend and who is always streaming video content on the go. But, never deterred by a challenge, I decided to give it a go. I gave up Netflix for 60 days.


Once I decided to give up Netflix for two whole months, my entertainment schedule seemed to be a disaster. This must be how people feel when they go on a juicing diet – you start to question how you can possibly follow through with it. There just didn’t seem to be anything to do with all those empty hours in front of me.

But that’s when I decided to take control of all those empty hours in my life formerly filled by Netflix. I started by actually taking a closer look at what was on live television. The problem here was that I had cut the cord with cable a long time ago, so it meant that I was limited to getting broadcast TV shows. And it meant actually looking at the TV schedule for the week and planning my time accordingly.

This was perhaps the hardest part – at least at the beginning  – of giving up Netflix. It meant that I was no longer free to consume content anytime, anywhere. It meant that I had to be on the couch right at 8:00 pm if I had any chance of watching primetime TV shows. And it meant that all of my multi-tasking habits had to be changed accordingly. If I wanted to watch TV, it meant that I had to give up my tablet or phone.

With Netflix, the great thing that I missed the most was the recommendation engine – always getting helpful tips about what to watch next. Staring at the TV in front of me, I reverted back to my old ways – just flipping channels incessantly, fervently hoping that something – anything!  – would be on TV. Only I didn’t have hundreds of channels, because I didn’t have cable. Instead, it meant that I had a handful of channels to choose from. And the commercials seemed to be everywhere! Every time I turned on the TV, there were commercials for medications that I couldn’t possibly use (or, at least, hoped that I wouldn’t possibly ever use).


By week two, I had abandoned the whole “let’s rely on broadcast TV” strategy as a way of watching content. Sure, it was fun to catch up on some of the sitcoms I had heard my friends at the office talking about, but what I really missed were all the movies. And, to be honest, there just weren’t a lot of movies on broadcast TV. Plenty of sitcoms and dramas and celebrity news programs, but no movies! And certainly not any art house cinema movies, or any quirky movies – the kinds that I loved Netflix for finding.

So I turned my attention to other things. I realized that all my Netflix binge-watching had been seriously cutting into my gym time, so I started going to the gym every other night. Previously, I might have watched a Netflix show while on the treadmill, but now I was forced to watch the monitor in front of me, showing my progress as I raced around an imaginary (digital) track.

Working out for a change was certainly good for me. Not only did I feel like I had more energy, I also realized how watching Netflix had ingrained certain behaviors in me that weren’t exactly conducive to losing weight or getting into better shape. For example, I loved to munch on chips while watching a movie at night. I bought “low fat” chips or “organic” chips, but still… chips are chips. So by cutting Netflix out of my nightly routine, I was actually helping to work wonders for my diet.


This was the week that I resolved to set up more social meetings to hang out with friends I hadn’t seen before. The first brunch date went well, but something seemed to be off – suddenly, I didn’t have as much in common with my friends. We used to talk about the latest episode of “Game of Thrones,” or discuss all the cool new movies coming out on Netflix this month, and now I was drawing a blank. As part of my “no Netflix for 60 days” strategy, I was doing my best to avoid reading any online content that might possible remind me of my glorious Netflix days.


Was it just me, or did it seem like Netflix was inserting itself back into my life in ways that I couldn’t have imagined? All of my email newsletters seemed to have a reference to Netflix, or some new show coming to Netflix. Every time I walked down the street from my home, it seemed like there was a billboard for a new Netflix original show. My social media feeds seemed to be filled with people talking about some Netflix show. It was just 30 days in, and I was beginning to feel the effects of Netflix withdrawal.



OK, I admit it. Week Five was originally going to be my “cheat week.” I knew that I could get through the first 30 days without Netflix, but to keep myself going for the full 60 days, I knew that I knew some kind of Netflix fix. I still wanted to observe the 60-day ban, but wow! It was getting more and more difficult. So I started to watch Netflix trailer videos on YouTube. I started to check out which new shows and movies would be hitting Netflix at the end of the 6o-day period. And I started to gravitate toward entertainment shows on TV, desperate for some connection to my Netflix days.


This was the week that I resolved to get through an entire novel. Yes, I was going to beat this Netflix challenge by going Old School. I was going to read an entire novel, cover to cover, during all the extra hours in my schedule that I used to fill with Netflix shows. I looked through my bookshelf and found a title that I had ordered from Amazon Prime years ago, but had never picked up. This was perfect! It was going to get me through the week.

But I found that my all-digital lifestyle – consuming all content on my tablet, or streaming on my TV – had made me flabby when it came to handling a written novel. In the same way that hitting the gym had seemed strange and unnatural after such a long absence, so was actually committing to a period of reading. In silence. With no TV on in the background!


Two weeks, and I would be done. This was the week that I decided to fill my hours with social media. I started to check out all the “live” broadcasts that my friends were doing, and I started to check out all the Instagram Stories my friends were creating on a daily basis. But you know what? All those brief snippets of video activity only made me realize how much I really missed Netflix. You can’t fill an hour with random “live” video clips that people post on social media, and certainly not the same way you can with a Netflix movie.


The Netflix detox was finally over! Somehow, I had made it through the full 60 days without watching a single TV show or movie on Netflix. It was finally time to add up all the pluses and minuses to see how it had changed me.

Most importantly, this 60-day challenge made me realize more than ever before how many digital entertainment options are out there that aren’t named Netflix. Believe me, I had sampled a lot of them, and I was now more attuned than ever before to their advantages and disadvantages.

And I had become a bit sharper about life in general. Going to the gym more often had given me more energy, and watching only broadcast TV had made me watch the nightly news – something I hadn’t watched for years. And I became a bit more knowledgeable about the level of programming on primetime TV. There were actually a lot of good shows on these days!

Would I do it again? It’s hard to give an unequivocal answer to this question. Much as some people go on juicing diets, or go on a social media detox, the idea of going on a Netflix detox diet still seems like more of a stunt than anything else. I still can’t imagine not having Netflix in my life. Old habits die hard. Once a binge-watcher, always a binge-watcher. Maybe I was watching too much TV, but I always told myself that I was watching “quality TV.” Somehow that always made me feel better.  At the end of the day, I felt an affinity for the Netflix brand, and what it promised. And I loved the endless stream of content that always seemed to be available. If other people want to cut their ties with Netflix, OK, that’s fine. But I’m planning to hold on to my Netflix.



“Everything, Everything” Is the Perfect Teen Romance


If there’s one thing that you need to know about the new hit film “Everything, Everything” it’s that it will make you believe in true love again. The film features two standout young actors, Amandla Stenberg (as Maddy) and Nick Robinson (as Olly), who will simply take your breath away with their charm and sweetness.

If there were ever two young people destined to fall in love together despite impossible odds, it has to be Maddy and Olly. You will be rooting for them every step of the way. And even when you think you know how the film is going to turn out, you find their romantic charm simply irresistible. So what makes “Everything, Everything” such a perfect teen romance?

It emphasizes that love overcomes adversity

The first place to start, of course, is the back story behind the romance. Amandla Stenberg plays an 18-year-old teenager suffering from a rare disease in which she can never go outside or leave her house. Her protective mother has created a sterile, hermetically sealed home environment, in which the only other person allowed to interact with her is her personal nurse.

You can immediately see where this is going, right? When she falls in love with someone, it will be someone who can take her out of her protective zone and show her the world. And yet, if she ever leaves her house, she may succumb to her illness.

In many ways, the story of the tragically sick Maddy sets up the whole “love overcomes all” story. The only way to overcome her illness is to find someone who can help her conquer this illness. And, as we quickly find out in the film, that person is the handsome and well-meaning Olly.

When we first meet him, he’s moving into a new house next door to Maddy. He spots the beautiful Maddy from a window and comes up with a classic teenage plot – he will show up at the doorstep of the home with a bundt cake and then ask about the teenage girl living inside. Of course, Olly – like any teenager – is a bit clumsy in pulling this off, and that leads to another big reason why this is the perfect teen romance: it perfectly captures the awkward nature of any teen relationship.

It captures the reality of today’s teens and digital relationships

Since Maddy can never leave the house, the only way for her and Olly to communicate is via text messages and by staring at each other in their windows. This might seem like a contrived plot device to some, but it’s actually extraordinarily clever, because it captures the rhythm and flow of today’s teen relationships. In 2017, some teens date and break up, entirely by text message. And so this film brilliantly captures this dynamic. Only, in this case, the need to correspond solely by text message is being forced on them.

It features a charming third-party facilitator

Once Maddy and Olly are desperately in love with each other, it’s time for them to meet in real life. The key here, of course, is to get Maddy’s nurse to become part of this plot. She, too, is well-meaning and understands that the key to Maddy’s happiness is for her to meet her would-be suitor in real-life. So the first meeting finally occurs, thanks to her, in which Maddy stays on one side of the room and Olly on the other.

Every teen romance, it seems, needs this type of charming third-party facilitator. In some teen movies that take place in high school, it might be a well-meaning friend who “sets up” two people without their knowing it. Or it might involve a teacher or other mentor, who is able to recognize the first bloom of romance.


It’s the perfect “girl next door” story

There have been plenty of “girl next door” or “boy next door” romance stories, and this is literally a story of the “girl next door.” Olly is moving in next to Maddy, and their lives will never be the same again. They start by looking through windows at each other, and then follow up by talking via texts. It is only later that they are able to meet in person and explore the full nature of their romantic relationship.

A modern love story based around diversity

What will make this film such a hit for today’s teens is that it’s not the classic story of “blonde cheerleader” and “jock hero.” It’s about two normal teens who just want to fall in love together. And it needs to be pointed out here that Amandla Stenberg is the daughter of an African-American mother and a Danish father. And, in some ways, that’s exactly what this film explores: what a romantic relationship between a black girl and a white boy might look like. At one time, that might have been taboo, but not in today’s liberal, progressive America.

This, then, is a modern romance story for the post-Obama era, in which the color of your skin simply should not matter. So, unlike some films that seem to be geared to white, Hispanic or black audiences, this film has a lot of crossover appeal. It doesn’t matter your ethnicity or race, this is the perfect film for you.

The eternal themes of parental control and running away from home

If you think of most coming-of-age movies, they feature a plotline of young people dealing with authority figures in their lives, and learning how to make decisions in their own lives. And that’s where “Everything, Everything” really excels. It’s not just that Maddy must decide to take responsibility for her sickness, but also she must go up against her controlling mother. And Olly, too, must decide to just run away from everything to be with the girl he loves.

In the film, we realize that Maddy’s mother might be exaggerating the extent of her daughter’s sickness, either to keep closer control over her or to induce certain feelings in others (like pity). If you read a lot of the online reviews, they will refer to a well-documented illness called Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. This means that a caregiver exaggerates problems of those in their care in order to meet their own emotional or psychological needs.

The notion of the tragically short “happily ever after”

Where “Everything, Everything” will really pull on your heartstrings is when it forces the audience to confront the notion of the tragically short “happily ever after.” In fairytales, the “happily ever after” is usually a full lifetime. But in this film, the “happily ever after” might only be a few days, a few weeks or a few months.

As Maddy herself asks in the film, “Would you be willing to sacrifice everything to live one perfect day?” For her, that one perfect day means going to the ocean – a place that she has never seen, but has only romanticized in her imagination. And, of course, the film delivers the ocean scenes we want to see – the two young lovers cavorting in the ocean, learning to swim, kissing, and jumping off cliffs together. Is that not the very meaning of what it means to spend a perfect romantic day with someone else? Just you two together, in touch with nature, and free to explore your relationship away from prying eyes.

We’re definitely looking forward to more films from Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson after watching “Everything, Everything.” Amandla is still a relatively unknown actress – she’s been in “The Hunger Games” and “Sleepy Hollow,” but is still such a new, fresh and charming on-screen presence. Ultimately, she’s one of the main reasons why “Everything, Everything” is the perfect teen romance. She perfectly conveys what it is like to live inside a bubble, and then to have the courage to step outside that bubble to experience the world around her. If you enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s #1 bestselling YA novel of the same name, you will absolutely swoon over this movie.



Chris Pratt Shines in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is the sequel to the hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy. This franchise is very different from many other Marvel movies. It took place in space, was a sci-fi fantasy, and most importantly, the characters were not well-known. They were not household names that had a huge fan following. However, when it did hit the theaters, people had fun watching it and it went on to become a successful venture. Now, making Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 could not have been an easy task. Guardians of the Galaxy had no expectations to meet, but for its sequel, it is a completely different playing field. There was too much hype for the movie and it could not have been easy to match.

The good news for the movie is that without buckling under the pressure, it delivered the comedy. The visuals were stunning and the space battles were worth watching. The first movie made the fans fall in love with its characters, whether it is Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, and the adorable Groot and Rocket Raccoon. There are many old and new characters in this movie that will fight for your attention. But, amidst all the chaos, Chris Pratt aka Star Lord has again managed to shine. This must have been especially difficult with the super-adorable Baby Groot, the charming Rocket and the amazing Yondu in the movie.

Chris Pratt is undoubtedly an amazing actor, and more so a comedian. He has made a career acting in comedy series which makes a comedy movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, right up his alley. Even outside of the movie, Chris Pratt was the one who promoted the movie the most. He could be seen on every event and talk show just creating the hype around the movie. He got people excited to watch the movie. Why wouldn’t he? This was a movie that changed his life.

Chris Pratt had to go through his fair share of struggle before he stumbled on Hollywood success with movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, and The Lego Movie. Christopher Michael Pratt was born on June 21, 1979 to Kathleen and Daniel Pratt in Virginia, Minnesota. He comes from a French, English and Canadian ancestry. Later his family moved to Washington where he ended up on the wrestling team. He always wanted to be rich and famous. However, Chris did not make much headway in his early life which included dropping out of community college, working as a coupon salesman, and even a stripper for a brief period of time.

At the young age of 19, Chris moved to Hawaii with a friend, where he again picked up odd jobs to support his life on the beach in a van. It was while waiting tables in Hawaii that an actress/director noticed the young man. She found him to be a good fit for a horror show she was going to make in Los Angeles. This one job made him realize that he wanted to be a part of showbiz and he went around town auditioning for roles. He finally got the role of Harold Brighton Abbott on the TV series, Everwood. After four seasons, the show went off air, but Chris Pratt had already found another gig on The O.C. By this time, Chris was a well-known face, who particularly impressed the audiences with his comedy and did not really mind bearing it all. During this time, Chris Pratt was called on to read for a few iconic roles in Star Trek and Avatar, but it wasn’t meant to be. The producers turned him down on account of Chris lacking the ‘it’ factor, whatever that means. At this time, Chris started rethinking about his career. Dwelling on that time, Chris even commented, “People have to work. I just don’t want it to be at a f—ing restaurant.”.

In 2009, Chris went on to do a small role in the comedy, Parks and Recreation. Andy Dwyer, his character was not supposed to be a significant part of the story. However, the audience loved him so much that the producers offered him a regular spot. As the comedy series became more popular, Chris Pratt’s fan following increased proportionately.


It was in 2011 that Pratt auditioned for the part of Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball. However, the directors told him that he was ‘too fat’ to play the role. According to Chris Pratt, he had gained 40 pounds at the time, which he could easily blame on his girlfriend (now wife), Anna Faris’ cooking. He took up the challenge and started working out diligently and lost a total of 30 pounds, resent his pictures to the casting director and won the role. That is some determination! Moneyball did a lot of good things for his career. However, the single most important was that Chris was now not typecast to the immature and goofball character he had on Parks and Recreation. He was seen as a versatile actor who could play serious roles too. Chris Pratt was now seen by directors as a possible lead actor. This was the time when Guardian of the Galaxy came along.

The directors of Guardians of the Galaxy had been on the hunt for a movie lead, but had not found anyone who fit the bill. Chris Pratt had been approached for the role, but who couldn’t seem to shake off what the producers had told him earlier about missing the ‘it’ factor. It was during this time that Chris Pratt was asked to meet the director. He was finalized within minutes and the nude scene in the movie, well, played to his strengths. It was the break Chris Pratt needed and he became an international celebrity when the first movie released.

Chris Pratt’s performance in the first edition of the Guardians of the Galaxy was loved across the board. He already had a fan following, but then the unassuming Marvel movie graduated him to the next level of fame. He was now an international star who knew his craft well and a body to make anybody swoon. He was the complete package.

Another important factor that contributed to Chris Pratt stealing the show is the plot of the story. Guardians of the Galaxy was a movie that was all about building the entire world in which the future stories would take place. Yes, the characters were properly introduced, but mostly the movie was doing the groundwork about how sci-fi fantasy fits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With this job done, the Volume 2 focused on characters. This movie is all about who each of the member of the ‘Gaurdians’ are as people and why they gel well together. They do argue, but still stick to each other because they are pretty much the same. All in all, this is a story or character-based movie, and Star Lord or Chris Pratt is of course the glue that is holding the whole story together. Not to give away any spoilers here, but it is a lot about Star Lord meeting his father and what he tells him.

Given that Guardians was a career-defining movie for Chris Pratt and that the plot revolves around his origins, he really does not have that much screen time. However, that does not stop Chris Pratt from making his Star Lord shine. His constant arguments with the crew and his fight with Rocket are really enjoyable. His background in comedy already gives him an edge over other actors. Other than that, he is an A-lister with blockbuster movies behind him. The first movie was different. He was a lovable actor, who people knew mostly from Parks and Recreation. However, all of that has changed. He is now in the big league. He has garnered a huge fan following now. This alone is enough to make him the star in the movie. But, add his acting chops and his great looks and you cannot ignore him.

Guardian of the Galaxy Vol.2 was a movie that deliberately put Chris Pratt on the back seat to let the other characters develop. It was a bold move that is nothing less of a genius. Each of the actors in the movie did their part well and the CGI delivered too. It was a successful movie that people enjoyed thoroughly. It is difficult for a sequel to keep the momentum going like its predecessors. But, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 has managed to pull it off and the fans cannot wait for the next adventure that the crazy bunch will have next.



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