“The Other Two” S2E03 & E04 – Chase Guest-Edits Vogue & Pat Hosts Just Another Regular Show

“I like sex too, obviously! I mean, not during the week, but on weekends. Like Sundays, before HBO.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’m slightly disappointed that Pat doesn’t get as much of a hefty storyline in this week’s episodes as I’d like, mostly because I think Molly Shannon has been killing it in the titular role of the enthusiastic, optimistic daytime talk show host, but Brooke’s arc more than makes up for that disappointment.

There’s a moment near the end of the third episode where Brooke and Chase are walking back from the Vogue party (that Brooke had to miss) and she sees a version of herself getting wasted and falling down at a bar. For a split second, Brooke admires that person and even goes as far as saying that she misses being that person, only to realize that “[she’s] good”. She has done that life, and now she is a manager who misses big-name parties and spends most of her time on the phone in dull meetings. The best part? Brooke actually loves it.

Drew Tarver (left) and Gideon Glick (right)

That kind of growth from the character she was in season one who was jobless, pessimistic and living in celebrities’ apartments is instantly gratifying for us viewers. Her pride in the big empty apartment she scores is beautiful and satisfying, even if the show implies that all this wealth and fame is not a solution to her loneliness. The difference is that she was already lonely even when she had the toxic Lance in her life and a lackluster housing situation; at least now she is the kind of lonely that makes a living and is able to reach out to Cary for help when needed.

Speaking of Cary, I was very disappointed with his entire storyline. Not only was he dragging Jess along for no good reason, I hate the implication that “gays have to have a crazy slut-phase in their 20s before they can settle down”. In many ways, I think it’s a very important story to tell; however, the show missed an opportunity to subvert these stereotypes and have Cary actually treat Jess with a little more respect and dignity. Regardless, I’m glad this arc is over now and I’m looking forward for some character growth for Cary as we head deeper into season two.

“What If…?” S1E04 – Doctor Strange

Come, this way, Sorcerer Armani.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

That hit me right in the feels in a way I absolutely did not expect.

What If…? has been quite an interesting show so far. Unlike Loki, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and WandaVision (which remains my all-time favorite show of the year), the MCU’s first entry into animated television hasn’t had high enough stakes so far, emotional or otherwise. What if…T’Challa Became Star-Lord and now Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands are both exceptions. Where the T’Challa episode shone for obvious reasons (getting to hear Chadwick Boseman reprise his titular role one more time was the greatest gift 2021 ever gave us), Doctor Strange hits all the right marks that makes time travel stories so fascinating.

Stephen Strange (voiced once again by Benedict Cumberbatch) finds himself compelled to travel back in time and save Christine (the fantastic Rachel McAdams) to the dismay of Wong (Benedict Wong!) and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton!). In spectacular time-travel fashion, every attempt fails. As the Ancient One explains to him, Christine’s death is an Absolute Point in time and therefore no matter how many times Strange tries to go back and reverse it, it will still happen.

Not that this particular explanation stops him from trying. What comes next is one of the most tragic sequences the show has produced yet, in which Stephen refuses to accept this, trying over and over (and over) again to save the love of his life. The episode also hilariously references the iconic “Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain” sequence, but it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that the self-obsessed Strange doesn’t take no for an answer.

Along with tragic storylines and gut-punch-worthy moments, What If…Doctor Strange also delivers one of the most entertaining fight scenes yet. We get Strange vs Strange (and Cape vs Cape! Unless they were…dancing?) and tentacles and fire effects and a goosebumps-inducing score (and the Watcher almost interfering?), all of which lead to a truly devastating ending as we zoom out on a lonely Stephen in a universe that basically dies out of existence. It’s the kind of bleak, somber ending that I absolutely would have never expected from a lighthearted, 30-minute show like What If…? but it works, and I am still at a loss of words.

“Only Murders in the Building” – Episodes 1, 2 & 3

“You Goddamn true crime f*ckin’ numb-nuts.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Within the first 10 minutes, Only Murders in the Building makes it abundantly clear that this show is a love letter to true crime fans, podcast lovers, and Broadway enthusiasts. It also has something for comedy as well as mystery fanatics. So yes, this show is basically for everyone.

Starring Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short, the show follows three neighbors who find themselves investigating a crime that took place in their apartment building on the Upper West Side. The trio have little to nothing in common, besides a shared interest in Serial-esque podcasts and keeping secrets.

(left to right): Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin

One of the strongest things about Only Murders, at least in the first three episodes (all of which Hulu decided to release at once), is its incredibly fast-paced nature and quick zingers. The premiere in particular wastes no time in setting up the premise of the show–besides a cringeworthy in medais res that we’re all going to pretend didn’t happen–and introducing us to the colorful characters of Arconia, the apartment building in which they all live. Director Jamie Babbit also does some incredible shots of the trio in every elevator shot that we see in the first three episodes (and we see a lot of elevator shots), so credit where credit is due.

Surprising no one, Martin, Short and Gomez are wonderful performances that bring so much nuance to their respective characters. Whether Mabel (Gomez), the archetype Millennial, is correcting Charles (Martin) on how he doesn’t need to sign every text or how she looked up “all of the websites on the Internet”, or whether Oliver (Short) lives every moment as if he is shooting a Broadway play, there’s plenty of meta-commentary on the cultural exchange that occurs, and it’s safe to say this would have easily fumbled with lesser performers. Gomez, who I have not seen in an acting gig since Wizards of Waverly Place, doesn’t quite the kind of hefty material her male counterparts do in the first episode. Luckily, that is slightly rectified by the time the credits rolled over the third episode (no spoilers).

Just when I thought the pilot was going in a very expected trajectory, the episode ends on a brilliant cliffhanger. It’s the kind of ending that is reminiscent of a network TV show closing out their pilot with a bang, forcing people to tune in the following week for more. While the consequent two episodes aren’t quite as meticulously plotted, I’d be damned if I didn’t say I am already hooked and can’t wait for more.

“The Other Two” Season 2 – Episodes 1 & 2

In more Gay News, Laura Stern is slated to star in a new FX series, which I already stan.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s been almost two and a half years since we last saw The Other Two, and it’s safe to say a lot has changed since then (both in the real world and for the Dubek’s) —but one thing remains absolutely the same: this show is still one of the funniest shows on TV right now.

As much as I want to praise the show’s first season (and, by extension, Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider) for its hilariously accurate depiction of millennial anxiety in the modern world, the first two episodes of season two immediately highlight just how much these characters have grown and matured. Now airing weekly on Thursdays on HBO Max, The Other Two starts with a news-like montage of what everyone has been up to. While Chase has decided to give up singing to go to college (for “however many years”), Mama Pat has become a famous and successful daytime talk show host, to Brooke and Cary’s dismay. Cary, no longer living with his toxic “straight” roommate, now has a boyfriend Jess (played by Gideon Glick), and Brooke is browsing TikTok on the hunt for the next “ChaseDreams”.

Drew Tarver (left) and Heléne Yorke (right)

Molly Shannon gets a significant boost in screentime this season already, and I’m absolutely hyped for her story arc. Shannon takes the goofy/lovable/cringey mother stereotype and turns her into a hilarious multi-dimensional character. Pat’s show (ridiculously title pat!) is filled with a series of repeatable catchphrases that her audience seem to love as well as an entire segment where she FaceTimes her kids. It’s brutal, in the most perfect way possible.

I’m also happy to report that the show is even gayer than ever. While Cary’s acting career hasn’t taken off the way he’d hoped, he still manages to give us some of the show’s funniest bits as he updates us on Gay News and is a recurring guest on BuzzFeed, BagelBitesTV and Thrillist, where he is the “token gay” host. The fast-paced, pop-culture references are sometimes blink-and-you’ll-miss-it types of bits, but they’re all very cleverly written in a way that is so remarkably relatable to queer millennials.

There’s a lot more to love and appreciate about the wacky, witty world that The Other Two operates in, and I can’t wait to see how this season unfolds.

“The Chair” – Season 1

I feel like someone handed me a ticking time-bomb because they wanted to make sure a woman was holding it when it explodes. –Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I started watching this show over the weekend, but within just a couple of episodes I was hooked — and eventually bingewatched all six episodes in less than 5 hours.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From the very start, as Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim (played by the incredible Sandra Oh) unwraps a gift of a desk nameplate that reads FUCKER IN CHARGE OF YOU FUCKING FUCKS, The Chair distinguishes itself from a typical dramedy. It never takes itself too seriously, while still tackling heavy subjects and modern-day “cancel culture” here and there. It’s bold and funny and unapologetic. And it’s amazing.

Created by Amanda Peet and Annie Wyman, the show revolves around Ji-Yoon, the new chair of the English department of the fictional Pembroke university, who is trying desperately to put out fires. Tasked with fixing the issue of enrollments going significantly down, Ji-Yoon must do so in an industry that has severely awarded older, white men for years even though she knows that change is necessary.

Oh’s performance, if you haven’t been blessed by her Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy, is nothing short of extraordinary. She tackles every interaction with every character with so much nuance — whether she is confronting her somewhat lover/somewhat friend Bill (Jay Duplass) for “not getting his shit together” after losing his wife and acting out in class, or trying to connect with her young daughter, I found myself emotionally attached to Kim’s story and constantly wondering when she is going to catch a break.

(L to R) SANDRA OH as JI-YOON, NANA MENSAH as YAZ, and HOLLAND TAYLOR as JOAN

Another reason to fall in love with this show is Holland Taylor and Nana Mensah, who play Yaz and Joan, respectively. Taylor has some of the show’s most iconic lines (“fanny”) even as she is stranded with what I believed was the weakest subplot — fighting over how she got stuck with a tiny closet for an office in a push to get her to retire. Mensah, a Ghanaian-American actor, writer and director, on the other hand, is given some hefty material. In one of my favorite arcs of the season, Yaz finds herself forced to share a classroom with Elliot (played by Bob Balaban), a white, older, tenured professor. The clash of Millennials and Boomers across the show’s six episodes goes about as well as you’d expect, but the writing elevates these scenes with witty dialogue and multi-dimensional storytelling. I wouldn’t mind spending another season or two with scripts like this.

The Chair ultimately does leave room for potentially more episodes to come. While the finale is satisfying in its own way, there is an open ending of some sort to Bill’s controversial storyline (much of which I would rather leave unspoiled). Overall, the show is both a hilarious and tragic insight into the academic environment, with powerhouse performances and a tight script from start to finish, no doubt making it a strong contender for next year’s Emmy’s.

“Cristela” 1×22 – Movin’ On Up

Grade: A-

I love this show, and I hope it will live to see a second season.

I just felt like I needed to put this out there before I start my review of the season finale of a show that went from being a slightly silly family-comedy that I sometimes to watch to a show that’s right up there alongside some of my favorite new series of the year.

The thing about Cristela that’s so interesting is that it’s never trying to do anything different. It’s as sitcom-ish and classic as Home Improvement–yes, I’m going back that far–and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many shows have attempted this “classic sitcom” trope before and failed miserably, but Cristela somehow makes it work. Well, not somehow: it’s definitely because Cristela Alonzo is a brilliant actress, writer and human being.

What I enjoyed about the finale–and the series as a whole (SO FAR, I hope)–is it didn’t try to end with a shocking albeit ridiculous ending. It was a game-changing ending that definitely changed the status quo of the entire show, but it’s not something that makes you frustrated if ABC executives decide to be horrible people and not renew the series. It’s a delightful finale…a quiet one that still makes the show “go out with a bang”.

I’ve always admired Cristela‘s ability to be both a family-comedy and a work-comedy. More often than not I’ve enjoyed the office-scenes more than the ones at home because I just can’t get enough of the Cristela/Maddie/Josh dynamic, but the finale somehow made the scenes at home feel earned and amusing as well this time. Yes, Cristela may have finally gotten what she’s always wanted almost 3 minutes before the finale ends, but then it all somehow starts crashing down on her–in a good, funny-for-us-horrible-for-her kind of way.

I definitely want to see season two happen. It will be a tragedy if it doesn’t happen, actually. But then again, I thought Trophy Wife was the best new sitcom last year and that didn’t even live to see a second season. So I don’t know if I have my hopes up for Cristela (I do), but it will frustrate me so much to know that I live in a world where something as trashy as Two & A Half Men lives on to 12 years but a delightful, amusing comedy like this one doesn’t.

Please, ABC, if you’re reading: make.it.happen.

“Jane The Virgin” 1×15 – Chapter Fifteen

Grade: A

#PregnancyTestMonday

The show has done it again–and by that no, I don’t mean accidentally inseminate another woman with her boss’s sperm. I mean, Jane The Virgin has given me the emotional chills once again. Am I #TeamRafael or #TeamMichael? Hell if I know.

And that’s such a fantastic thing about this show right now, the fact that the writers keep toying with our brains every Goddamn chance they get. I could’ve sworn I was 100% rooting for Jane and Rafael, like, a month ago. So what changed this week? Simply that final scene of Jane and Michael, laughing and exchanging shyly smiles at each other for a whole PERFECT minute. That scene was so real and so freakin’ amusing to watch, and that’s because of the impeccable performances by both Gina Rodriguez and Bret Dier as well as the incredible script written for these two.

Other than that, there was a proposal (until there wasn’t), a pregnancy scare (until there wasn’t) and a hilarious magazine test from Alba. The Latin narrator did another terrific job here tonight outlining his importance on this show (did you all catch The Affair references? They were fantastic!) as well as his sarcastic side, and I really loved how the question “does he know you, down to your core?” kept popping up during the episode and stayed there for a long period of time. This show is so refreshingly original, it’s no wonder how much critical acclaim it has received so far.

Luckily, there wasn’t anything that weighed the episode down tonight (no Sin Rostro stuff this week). Even the Petra/Lachlan drama was surprisingly intriguing as their manipulative nature extended to add Rafael to the mix. It will be interesting to see where this Rafael/Petra team-up will lead, and how it factors into his spotting Jane acting all “flirtatious” with Michael right after she said “no” to his proposal. If there’s one thing I will never get sick of, it’s this Michale/Jane/Rafael triangle. This is so deliciously satisfying to watch right now.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Season 1 Review

Grade: A

The worst thing that ever happened to me, happened in my own front yard.

I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch Netflix’s latest sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt–and I’m pleased to say I love it. In fact, I loved it so much that I finished all 13 episodes in 2 days (while also trying to maintain a social life of some sort).

The show, which is produced by Tina Fey who brought us 30 Rock, is absolutely hysterical, all thanks to Ellie Kemper who plays Kimmy, a victim who was imprisoned by a reverend in an Indiana bunker for over 15 years. Ellie plays the role in near perfection, gradually introducing us to this colorful universe that the show has created while giving us insight into the characters’ backstories in a funny albeit sometimes heartfelt matter.

There’s no denying the show has a lot of heart, and that kind of emotion comes from watching Kimmy be an eighth grader trapped in a 30 year-old body. Sharing her loss and confusion are Titus (played by Titus Burgess), her new gay roommate who has a weird yet honest perspective on life, and Lillian (Carol Kane), the creepy landlady who delivers some of the show’s best one-liners. Kimmy’s life changes when she finally goes out onto the real world again and decides to live the New York city dream we always hear about. It’s really not as cliche as I’m making it out to be.

And to make things even better, the fantastic Jane Krakowski stars as Kimmy’s rich, white and outrageous boss Jacqueline. While the Kimmy/Jacqueline dynamic takes a while to upstart, their ongoing interactions become a highlight for this show–and a huge reason to keep watching. Jane plays her part in a way that makes it seem impossible for any other actress out there to take on that role.

I won’t say much in fear of spoiling the show, but the pilot is an extravagantly, well-written episode that immediately drew me in, and what came next was a series of impeccably produced half-hours that passed by very quickly.

And the opening theme song is so catchy and AMAZING. I can’t even wait for season 2.

Memorable Quotes

“Dancing is about butts now.”

“You don’t know what you look like? How do you know your self-worth?”

“Spider-Man Too: 2 Many Spider-Men.”

“That was the fanciest sentence I’ve ever heard, and I used to watch Frasier.”

“So no one told you that adults should not complain” – new Friends opening theme lyrics.

Marvel’s Agents of Shield 2×11 – Aftershocks

Grade: B+

I honestly needed like a 2-minute recap before this episode–and a few tissues.

I’d almost forgotten about most of the storylines in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and that’s a shame, really, because watching Aftershocks reminded me what a Marvel-ous show this is (yes, horrible pun intended).

I’ll start with what I loved the most: Skye and Fitz. These two don’t usually have a lot of scenes together (I’m only assuming because, seriously, I can’t even remember…please, no more insanely long breaks, show), but their storyline here was both heartbreaking and incredible to watch. The scene with Fitz figuring everything out while Skye (or Daisy?) has a breakdown, thus destroying everything around her (yet again, according to Fitz) was EVERYTHING. And I’m sure you all squealed with me when this happened:

Fitz: Your heart rate was recorded at almost 300 BPM.
Skye: That’s very fast.
Fitz: No. That’s inhuman.

What a tease! And seriously, what an intense and pulse-pounding scene.

And everyone mourning over Tripp (R.I.P. dude) was very emotional and well-done. Kudos to the cast for delivering such heartfelt performances in an otherwise grim and dark episode.

Raina’s transformation into something “Inhuman” is something also fascinating to watch. Loved the new look, R, and can’t wait to see her face-off with May again soon! Or maybe even Skye. That would be kind of awesome.

Other than that, I do wish the episode had more “storyline” and less “emotions” into it. I’m loving all the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking scenes but let’s get back to some ass-kicking soon, fellas. If this show doesn’t get renewed, not only will I be pissed but I will laugh it off because crap like Gotham is seeing another season.

No, just kidding, I wouldn’t laugh. I would just be pissed.

Memorable Thoughts

-Loved Skye and Fitz’s final conversation and heartfelt hug. I can’t believe he lied for her! And his delivery of the line “You’re just different now, and there’s nothing wrong with that” was INCREDIBLE.

-We didn’t have too much Coulson this week (which is always a minus) but his scene at Trip’s mother’s house was just soul-crushing. Guh.

-Remembering Tripp: “C’mon girrrlll” was epic.

-What’s the deal with Bobbi and Mack!?? What are they hiding? That was quite the shock, honestly.

-Lady Sif returns next week! I’m actually really excited for this.

“The Last Man On Earth” Series Premiere Review

Grade: B+

Having other people around is what really makes life worth living.

I have to say, that was the fastest 40 minutes of my life. And the riskiest. And the boldest. In fact, if there’s one thing everyone who’s seen the series premiere of The Last Man on Earth last night can agree on, it’s this: this is new.

In a good way.

It’s so rare to find a comedy that is as bold and innovative, and that’s essentially the selling point of The Last Man on Earth. The first part of the hour-long pilot is definitely the better half with Phil just traveling across America (“hello? hello? bonjour? Chinese hello?”) doing all kinds of amazing things like bowling with lamps and fish tanks, relaxing in a margarita pool and  drinking a $10,000 bottle of wine. Those 18 minutes the series began with are perfect and I immediately fell in love with how hilarious yet easily depressing it’s going to be to watch Phil’s journey in a post-apocalyptic world.

Will Forte’s performance is easy to love and appreciate, especially in some of the show’s heartfelt moments like when we see a flashback to his birthday where he was surrounded by family and friends or when he’s flirting with a mannequin, only to accidentally break her arm off. Honestly, I would have enjoyed watching him do all these kinds of shenanigans for at least 5 more episodes.

However, and this is where I warn you of major spoilers if you haven’t seen the pilot yet, the show took a very safe and slightly disappointing route.

I was surprised the writers didn’t decide to stretch out Phil’s loneliness past one episode, and even more surprised by how cliched the “last woman on earth” turned out to be. Kristen Schaal’s Carol is a character I didn’t want to meet on a show as creative as The Last Man On Earth. The fact that she’s the exact opposite of Phil is so The Odd Couple and honestly made me a little mad.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy “The Elephant In The Room”. It had its funny moments (Carol cares about stop signs and handicapped parking) as well as its emotional ones (Carol wants Phil to care about stop signs and handicapped parking), but this is something I wanted the show to do a while later, maybe in 5 episodes or something. Perhaps that would have been too much to ask, as maybe we would’ve lost interest in seeing Phil alone this whole time, but regardless of that, why was the introduction so weakly done?

The “wetting my pants” and “ending sentences with prepositions” was too cringe-worthy and I never want to see it again. And I hope the show develops Carol’s character better in the future or else just get rid of her entirely. Because so far, she was too annoying for me to care for and I would have given the show an A if she were any different.

Still, it’s hard not to love The Last Man On Earth for the beautiful universe it’s created. I do wish we can get answers more as we dig deeper into the season (such as, why they’re the only survivors and what was this virus that magically made everyone disappear?), but so far I am very impressed.

Memorable Quotes

Phil: In the old world, I could never live in a house like this. And these are Hugh Hefner’s actual pajamas. Yeah. (Chuckles) I washed them.

Phil: That’s a $10,000 bottle of wine by the way. Goes great with the spaghettios. (takes a sip) That was, like,  a $400 sip.

(watching Cast Away) Phil: This is so stupid. I got news for you, Tom Hanks. I will never, ever talk to a volleyball.