We Have Opinions TV Edition #2

House of Lies: Everyone on this show is the worst
 Our mighty writers mini-review series for you: Orphan Black, House of Lies, Jane the Virgin and The Grinder.

Orphan Black s04e04, “From Indistinct to Rational Control”

This is how you keep the show interesting without throwing in males clones and general crazy shit (does anyone even remember what happened last season?). Orphan Black is also staying true to its nature by having comedy between the layers of anxiety and conspiracy. When Tina, the neolution girl from Beth’s investigation, mistakes Alison for Beth she mentions a place called Lifespring Fertility Clinic. After Sarah yells at Alison (oh no, don’t fight seestras!) she agrees to go there and snoop around. Meaning she does all the research and secret spy-type preparations, with color coding, and then send Donnie and Felix in as a couple looking to start a family.

Donnie isn’t quite as down with the whole spy-thing as his wife, so he decides the best way to seem believable is to act the way he thinks gay men do. Oh, Donnie… Luckily Felix shuts that down within seconds, with the use of statistics, common sense and plenty of side-eye.

It’s great how something that might be a longer joke in another show or movie is instead quickly addressed and acknowledged as stupid, by all parties involved. In fact, Donnie being stupid is the joke here - not gay men, or even the fact that a straight main has to pretend to be gay. And how we love to laugh at Donnie being stupid!

Tova Crossler Ernström

House of lies s05e04, “End State Vision”

This is what has happened so far on season five of House of lies:

Veronica Mars had her baby and started dating Vinnie Van Lowe, who is the worst even in this universe. Her new boss, the Angel of death, isn’t that great either. Jean-Ralphio is a douchebag, but his dad is/was a thousand times worse. Vaughn Du Clark is back, and though I can’t remember his role on the show I’m happy just to see his face. Mona-Lisa Saperstein is having anal sex with some hot guy, which the show handles with its usual grace. Grandpa is finally sleeping with someone older than his son: Wanda Freaking Sykes. Henry Higgs is way too much of a hippie to run a company and, in a surprising twist, the gang is going to manipulate him into giving them all of his money. 
In the latest episode, Jeremy Reed somehow manages to be menacing, and proves that while the women on this show are awful human beings, men are still the worst. Cliff Gilbert shows up for a quick second to tell Jean-Ralphio that his crush is a married lesbian but it’s okay because “I’m gonna offer you a job as a political advisor and that’s not the worst idea ever, at all”. The rest of the cast are preparing to screw everything up in their own unique ways.

I apologize if none of this makes sense to you. But if you haven't watched all of Rob Thomas' shows, you really only have yourself to blame. And as for the rest of the references… Google is one of your oldest and dearest friends, right?

Jane the virgin s02e20, “Chapter Forty Two”
I’m going to focus on the idea of bad mothers yet again, because when does that subject ever get old? (Answer: when the patriarchy is dead.) Petra’s problems with parenting has been an ongoing theme this season, although it has faded into the background more and more. A show that constantly reminds us how okay it is to be human is the perfect place to tell more complex stories about parenthood - and a feminist show can be expected to handle the demands and feelings of inadequacy Petra is experiencing better than if it lacked that point of view. And so it has! Seeing Jane try to help Petra deal with what was likely postpartum depression was great, especially since she is such a poster child for perfect motherhood herself.

With Jane embodying gender neutral aspects of “good parenting” as well as more gender specific societal ideals about mothers, her non-judgemental support of Petra is crucial and, if you’ll excuse the wording, fucking liberating to see. More interactions like this on my TV (or computer) screen, please! Though, as we see hints of in this episode, there may still be a little judgement there. I’m not sure if Jane is judging Petra, as she puts a lot of effort into not making her feel bad - in the short phone conversation with Alma, while talking to Petra about the Mother’s day lunch… But the general consensus among everyone but Anezka (and perhaps Jane) seems to be that Petra is a bad mother. In some ways that’s a fair assessment, but there is also truth to Anezka’s speech about the journey Petra has made.

If you compare the loving, albeit complicated, family Jane grew up in to Petra’s background, the latter’s ability to form bonds, show affection and take care of others almost seems like a superhuman feat.

I think what I’m trying to say is that there is a lot to unpack here, and frankly, I wish the whole episode had centered around the theme. After all, it takes place during Mother’s day! The episode basically writes itself in my head, and written by the people working on Jane the Virgin it would surely be ten times better.

Tova Crossler Ernström

The Grinder S1E21, “Divergence”
  In the penultimate episode of The Grinder, the main cast desperately searches for a side story in order to help the main plot. No, really.

The Grinder is the unholy lovechild of Arrested Development and Community, with extra emphasis on meta humor. Rob Lowe stars as Dean, who played a hotshot lawyer on Fox’s The Grinder. After the show ends, he has to move back in with his family, almost all of whom really are lawyers. He decides to join the firm, despite having no real knowledge of legal matters. To describe the plot of this episode any more would be an injustice to the show. Please, watch the episodes. Ratings for the series are low and we might not get a second season. The season finale is next Tuesday, so let’s rally and help the show!

Grind on, my friends. Grind on.

Zachary Krishef