2020欧洲杯体育投注网The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average American watches 2.8 hours of television a day. This seems low to me. I don’t see how it accounts for reality-show marathons left on as pink noise or “Peppa Pig” deployed as primary child care. But, no matter what hours she kept, the ordinary viewer of 2019 struggled to stay afloat in the godless river of televisual content: an unrivalled deluge of prestigious mediocrity, anesthetic trash, and fleeting curiosities. The foremost TV trend of 2019 is that there was much too much of it. Here are notes on my attempts to keep up with a superlative few.
Most Likely to Succeed: “Succession”
Here we have a classically built drama of a high-class soap, created by Jesse Armstrong and populated by recognizably complex humans in darkly farcical circumstances. Jeremy Strong had a fine season as Kendall Roy, thwarted multiple times as the would-be inheritor (or usurper) of the family’s media business. “And you must be Oedipus Roy,” the C-suite shark played by Holly Hunter says. The first season centered on the preparation for, and collapse of, a symbolic act of patricide; the second season re-creates a myth—Kendall’s father, Logan, is an Abraham figure told by God (played, in this version, by Mammon) to sacrifice a son. In the superb season finale, Kendall is like a burnt offering kindling an unexpected sea of flames. (Logan is played by Brian Cox, whose constitute the most subtle critical commentary I’ve encountered on the subject.)
Outstanding Achievement in the Terror and Joy of Pubescence: “PEN15”
This is a vital genre, an area of inquiry graced by the smacking jokes of “Derry Girls” and the raucous pustulations of “Big Mouth,” among other shows that forge safe spaces for nostalgia and play in awkward emotional muck. “PEN15” set itself apart as a wise and winsome memory piece. The show’s creators, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, are adults playing juveniles, revisiting an age of discovering one’s self and one’s sense of the world. The series gives the sense of a story unfolding in a special verb tense—first-person plural, viscerally immediate but lyrically retrospective, aching to communicate adolescent truths about imperfection.
Best Dressed: “Watchmen”
2020欧洲杯体育投注网The culture—the money, the youth, the dream of the cinema—has been swept away by superheroes, inexorably. “Watchmen,” created by Damon Lindelof, is an essential engagement with caped crusading, and it grapples with masks on the level of Eugene O’Neill dramas, and with Frantz Fanon-esque analogies. The cape and cowl of Sister Night drape Regina King’s great performance dynamically. Runners-up in the category include the vintage urban-cowboy costumes on Stephen Dorff in “True Detective” and the lilacs and lavender of Olivia Colman’s Elizabeth on “The Crown.”
Outstanding Achievement in Feverishly Mulling Sex, Death, and Meaning in Early Adulthood: “Dickinson”
Alongside the excavations of young-adult angst, there was a lot of comedy cringing at the twenty-first-century problems of twentysomethings. I would slot “Dickinson2020欧洲杯体育投注网,” created by Alena Smith, as the most exciting such project. Juxtaposing scenes from the life and times of Emily Dickinson with sounds from contemporary culture, it generates new energy from melodramatic commonplaces. Runners-up: “Now Apocalypse,” a delightfully strange summation of the themes of queer identity and doomsday-dreaming from Gregg Araki; the first episode of the last season of “Broad City,” which documented Abbi’s thirtieth birthday via a phone for a social-media stream—absurdity framed with love.
Class Clown: John Mulaney
In addition to the memorable contributions he made to “Documentary Now!,” “Big Mouth,” and “Dickinson” (in which his Henry David Thoreau seems to see Walden Pond as a gazing mirror), Mulaney returned to “Saturday Night Live” with “Bodega Bathroom,” a classic tribute to the magic and disgust of New York City. (The sketch blossoms like a Broadway baby when Pete Davidson’s character requests to use the john at a corner store; a song-and-dance routine ensues, as if Davidson’s transgression had summoned a giddy djinn.) Runners-up: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, for distinctions including “Fleabag,” the “Fleabag” awards-season P.R. gantlet, and her droll artist’s statement of a “S.N.L.” monologue; and “Desus & Mero,” for sustained achievement in bodega-based humor, late-night innovation, and local anthropology.
Outstanding Achievement in Dance: Beyoncé
“Homecoming,” a concert film assembled from Beyoncé’s 2018 performances at the Coachella festival, extrapolates a march into a monumental formation. It’s an arena-strength step show, a soulful spectacular, a platform from which to address a rhythm nation. First runner-up: Gwen Verdon, as played by Michelle Williams in “Fosse/Verdon,” where her Verdon curls and unfurls in Bob Fosse’s studio and shrugs and shoves through the couple’s home life.
Special Achievement in Philosophy: “Russian Doll”
2020欧洲杯体育投注网Created by Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, and Amy Poehler, the series spins through loop upon time loop with Lyonne’s hero, retelling the story of her accidental death and her ceaseless reincarnation on the night of her thirty-sixth birthday party, where she smokes a joint laced with a meaningful strain of thought about karmic fruition. “Russian Doll” happens to be a fine companion piece to “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” about RZA’s rap crew—both are keen on the ghosts of old New York and the teachings of Buddhism.
Best Attitude: Nam June Paik
Did you catch this reboot? The Whitney Museum of American Art’s “Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018” was heavy on video art, and never more weighty than when Paik’s partially restored “Fin de Siècle II, 1989” loomed into view: seven channels of footage flowing with looped visions of Beuys and Bowie and Merce Cunningham and throbs of light as pure as sensation. It is a transfixing beast, Argus-eyed and monolithic, pulsing with durable Kraftwerk beats, a monument to agitated awe. Runner-up: Andy Warhol in a Burger King Super Bowl Ad. Warhol, sliced from the documentary context of Jørgen Leth’s “66 Scenes from America,” . He boggles at his Heinz bottle. Nothing happens; it presents atmospheric money, ambient appetite: a clean, flat image of consumption.