Sebastian Cummings

iBoy

Netflix clearly has a boner for Science Fiction, because here we have, As DJ Khaled once said, “Another one!” iBoy is a Netflix original Sci-Fi “thriller.” So, here’s the gist of things: Tom is a high school student that lives in a tough neighborhood and is sort of the odd one out. You’ve seen it a million times. He’s got one childhood friend, a crush on a girl, Lucy,  who he is too afraid to talk to, and trauma associated with having lost his parents. I imagine you can see the picture hanging on the wall. Now, let’s focus on the frame. A bunch of the asshole students from the school have been sucked into a gang, because…. why not. I never understood how humans can be that young and that awful to other people, but anyway, here we are. Tom has made plans to stop by Lucy’s flat, for some reason that I don’t remember and frankly, it doesn’t matter. When baby boy arrives, the front door is open…. Here we go. 19484744_unnamedHe looks down the hall way and sees hooded figures leaving his crush’s bedroom as she screams, one of them, filming with their phone. The group of boys, maybe 4 or 5, see Tom and chase him around the building. As he runs, he dials the police and holds the phone up to his ear to speak as one of the, needs an ass whoopin boys, shoots him. Tom wakes up in the hospital some time later, to his grandmother, who is also his caregiver. Like you might expect, he spends most of his time expressing regret for not having done more to stop the gang… Do I need to explain why this is ridiculous? Anyway, as time goes on, it turns out that the chip from his cell phone has been embedded in his brain, in the accident,  and now homeboy got superpowers…. White kids always gettin’ special abilities and shit! That’s fucked up.

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So, there’s a bit of disbelief to suspend, given this plot, but it’s easily done.  I’d like to quickly note, that this film is done surprisingly well for a Netflix original, as far as cinematography goes. I was genuinely surprised. Good for Netflix, gettin’ shit right. The film shines as we see Tom discover his abilities and learn to command them as he and Lucy deal with the aftermath of game_of_thrones_star_maisie_williams_swaps_swords_for_guns_in_first_look_at_netflix_film_iboywhat has happened to the two of them. This film focuses heavily on Tom, but what I am grateful for, is that we are given the opportunity to learn exactly what happened to Lucy, and we get a nice glimpse of what it means to her, as a person, not just a damsel. She is given time to live in front of the camera, so we can see things from her perspective, which I think is very important. Meanwhile, Tom aims at getting revenge against the gang that has hurt him and his Lucy, but in doing so, he may cause more life threatening problems… for EVERYONE. Now that Tom has been “upgraded” how will his relationships change with his best friend, his grandmother, Lucy…. himself? I don’t want to give too much away about the film, but I will say this: We all like films, in which there is a clear underdog for us to cheer on. iBoy has that. We love when characters have special abilities we could only dream of having. iBoy has that. We love watching two people’s attraction for each other slowly meet in the middle. iBoy has that. It’s interesting enough, but we don’t have much to cling to as far as how the characters are written, and while I definitely cared about their well being (I really dislike seeing young people in danger, I immediately start crying), aside from their circumstances, I’m not sure the audience ever develops a true liking of them. The film goes from feeling like a “diet thriller,” if you will, to feeling like a “diet art film.” Don’t get me wrong, this film is worth your time if you are looking for something interesting to watch one Friday evening, you will enjoy it. Will you remember it a week later? I don’t know, but it’s worth your time. Check it out.

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From your career in social media, it’s clear to me that you need to refresh the browser that is your sense of humor. Why not breathe in some fresh comedy from across the pond? There are plenty of talented people in the world who don’t appear on American television. I know… you don’t have the drive to do the research on your own. It’s fine, I’ve done it for you.

I’ll just cut to the chase, Chewing Gum is the shit. It’s funny as fuck. You need to watch it.

There’s no real point in describing the set-up for a comedy, unless the situation is that outrageous. And with Chewing Gum, it’s not. The writing and the performances are what really make this show, but I’ll give you a little something, something to go off of. Chewing Gum follows Tracey, a 24 year old young lady who is a “religious virgin, who wants to have sex and learn more about the world,” according to Wikipedia. The show is written by and stars Michaela Coel. Ms Coel is a straight up “G”! I’m telling you, if she was white and from the US, Millennials would be on this show like wet on water. In real life, Coel is from East London, coming up in school as the only black person in her class… Perfect! Nothing inspires greatness like struggle! She came up in the Poetry and Theatre scene and get this…. The television show Chewing Gum is based on her Senior Project… Yes, you read that right. Her senior project from her college years was adapted into television show…. I mean damn! Homegirl is spoken for, don’t even try and come for you unless she sends for you. Thank you!

The entire cast gives stellar performances. It seems her entire building serves as her supporting ensemble.  Michaela, who, in my opinion, is of the same tribe as Kristen Wiig, Will Smith, maybe even John Leguizamo, breaking the fourth wall and commiting like her life depends on that shit. The scenes in which she explores parts of her sexuality for the first time are some of the funniest. Watch for yourself:

The show is surprisingly articulate when it comes to discussing sex and it really allows for some funny as fuck situations.

I really don’t have anything else to say about the show, there’s no point… Just give it a try. Season one is Netflix, Season two just started over seas in January, so it’ll be some time before we see it. WATCH IT!

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Travelers is co-produced by Showtime & Netflix. Airing first on Showtime and appearing on Netflix two months later. Here’s the basic idea of the show… The future is all fucked up, so in order to fix it, future humans develop the technology to send the consciousness of humans in the future, to the bodies of humans in the past. What happens to the consciousness of the human bodies they take over? Good question. Because it’s the future, they have the records of all past deaths, time and place. So… if Joe is going to die at 2:20 on Wednesday, they send someone back in time, to occupy his body seconds before his death, giving the new being in Joe’s body, time to stop the physical death and carry on in his body. What about Joe? He’s basically dead, his consciousness has been kicked out of his own body… “He was going to die anyway, so what’s the difference?” – seems to be the logic. These being call themselves, Travelers, and they are something like a SWAT team, coming back in groups to carry out missions.

The concept alone had me hooked. It’s a good spin on Sci-Fi. Eric McCormack of Will & Grace fame, stars as the lead. And don’t worry, seeing his familiar face does not take you out of the action of the show, he does a good job of making you forget you knew him. I’d like to keep the plot on ice, as much as possible, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But, I’ve come up with a few categories to help evaluate the show.

Innovation

The show definitely puts its own spin on time travel, which has been done a million times. The first few episodes enlist some futuristic tools and concepts, I have yet to see. These episodes are probably the most interesting because you are gaining context, learning what tools characters are equipped with, in order to better understand how the characters can navigate the ensuing drama, and when conflict arises, have a better understanding of why the stakes are so high. Cool!

Diversity

Science Fiction is a genre that, more so than most others, gives you an excuse to diversify. Personally, I don’t think it should be that difficult with other genres… suspension of disbelief goes a long way… but, let’s play stupid for a moment and say something like this:

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-Tim Burton

Because Science Fiction is almost always associated with the future and is… FICTION, you can literally do whatever the fuck you want. Race, Gender, Sexuality, Color….. what the fuck does it matter, right? Apparently Not. Travelers is so surprisingly white, it’s frightening. These people can come and jump back in any body, as long as they are about to die… Any. Body. Yet, 4 of the 5 main travelers are white… Three out of five… men! Ya’ll could have jumped back in anyone! Okay, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, just because. Let’s say they jumped back into white bodies for the social benefits. Naw, nigga! One of the white bodies they jump back into is an “intellectually disabled” woman, who is registered with the state and has a social worker… Another white body is a “college aged, drug addict”… Do I need to say more? And the leader of this group…. is a man! A white man! I’m not saying white men can’t do anything, but damn, you could have switched up the formula. Just a bunch of straight white people saving the world, what a missed, mother fucking, opportunity!

Storyline

39511f10-a8aa-0134-195d-060e3e89e053While Travelers focuses on saving the world from impending doom it also follows the lives of the “host” bodies. One of the many laws travelers must follow, is continuing the life of the host body, or the identity of the person they have taken on… Okay, this is an opportunity to discuss a shit load of problems we have today, through the lens of someone from the future, where maybe they have a different perspective, where maybe we find that the absolutes we live by today, in all actuality, mean nothing…. Nope! Doesn’t happen, we just follow these boring ass, repetitive stories of their host lives where almost nothing is solved. It actually gets quite annoying, given how much time they spend on these stories. One traveler is a high school student, struggling with grades and obeying his parents… Who the fuck cares? This is a Showtime/Netflix original, this ain’t Degrassi! Another traveler, the only person of color in pretty much the entire show, is a single mother with an abusive baby daddy. Okay, this has been done, but it’s still worth navigating. But, they don’t do anything with it. The structure of the show let’s you get away with almost anything and you can’t even give us Sleeping With The Enemy! Damn! Ain’t nobody dealing with race, sexuality, gender identity, Beyoncé Deniers…. I mean come on! When the show strays away from the main focus of saving the world, things get boring at an alarming rate.

Writing

The writing of this show is 50-50. The problems that arrive will capture both your attention and interest, but it’s the follow travelers_1through that gets fucked up. The character bend the rules of being a Traveler SO MUCH, nothing matters. One episode can’t hinge on the need to follow a rule, so much so that characters have to make difficult decisions.. the drama! and then the next episode, another character just decides, “nah, I don’t feel like following that rule today.” and then… no consequences. You can’t play with us like that. We just spent all this time learning the rules and basing our panic off said rules and you just gon’ throw them out the window whenever you feel like it? Hell naw! We pissed off, you can’t place us. We’re devoting 13 hours of our lives to this show, don’t play us like that. Shit, what’s the point of any of it then? Let’s just break all the rules. Let’s just give up on all the missions and do whatever we want. Would you like it if in The Matrix, Neo said… “I could try and save humankind, but I’d rather fuck a bunch of women and go shopping…” …would you be happy with that? I don’t think so! Homie don’t play that.

Conclusion

Overall, the show is worth watching. You care about the characters, a little bit, enough to keep watching and see what happens. And there are some touching and exciting moments. It’s just when you look at the world of possibility for a show like this, you might find yourself a bit disappointed… or, depending on what makes America great, in your eyes… maybe not.