For your viewing pleasure…my extremely biased opinion of shows during the lockdown
Firstly, the obligatory Happy Mother’s Day to any of you Mom’s out there!
Here, we don’t really “do” holidays. The Hubs and I just are not into them. As a result, we are often looked sideways and whispered about behind hands, snickered at too. We like to give holidays new names. For instance, Mother’s Day in our house is called “Pushed a baby out a vagina Day”. Yes, we share a dark and twisted sense of humor, but it’s mainly because we find most holidays are really about money, not the subject matter.
We prefer our kids to spend their money on making their lives better instead of blowing it on us. Same for birthdays, Christmas, etc. don’t waste the cash. They have families, bills, obligations of their own. Maybe we’d feel differently if we didn’t have what we need to be happy. It’s simple for the Hubs and me, that is each other and the basics. We aren’t big on decorating (sorry Martha Stewart) or dusting countless tchotchkes. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s just that we are happy and don’t need more stuff. (Except for books, I always need more books.) We especially don’t need the stuff to prove our kids care about us.
We spent Mother’s Day weekend the same way we spend most weekends (even without the COVID lockdown), with each other. The Hubs and I are happy social recluses. We simply love being together and the rest of the world can go Frog off. Weird, right?
So we stream, a lot. This weekend we got around to Amazon’s new original called “Upload“. Starring Robbie Amell (a cousin to Steven Amell of “Arrow” fame) who does a reasonable job as Nathan, a programmer/playa who is killed in a self-driving car accident. His consciousness is then Uploaded into a swanky, high dollar digital afterlife by his girlfriend Ingrid (played excellently by Allegra Edwards) where he meets his “Angel” tech support specialist Nora (played by the beautiful and talented Andy Allo).
Several things are going on here.
Firstly; it’s supposed to be a comedy but neither of us really laughed much. The humor is on the crude end when it does happen- such as when Nathan has issues having sex with Ingrid or when his new buddy Luke is a smartass to his own Angel and she takes his fingers (and more).
Second; it’s trying to be a bit of a mystery/who done it. Why did Nathan’s self-driving car crash? Something that Nathan has an unnatural lack of interest in. If I died in a self-driving car the way it went down in Episode 1? I’d be all over that crap. He seems very zen about it, only giving it a passing shrug and “Huh?”. Even when David Choak (played by William B. Davis aka the Smoking Man of X-Files fame) flat out tells him he was murdered; he does nothing but say “Nah”. Nathan’s cousin, Fran, is playing at being an investigator looking into the crash. Her role is so stereotyped it goes past funny into insulting. Who doesn’t have that one crazy family member that spends too much time watching crime shows and thinks they know how to do it better than the cops? But to make her an overweight crazy cat lady (though they never show her with a cat, that’s the typing) who acts like a female Ace Ventura wannabe? It’s just a silly distraction, put in to fill a plot hole. (There are many, many plot holes here but I won’t bore you with them all.)
Third; is the science. Yes, I’m a nerd. No, I’m not taking it too seriously. It’s just that they had a great opportunity here and they missed it. Don’t get me wrong, they got parts of it spot on and should get kudos for that. The whole only the uber-rich getting to eat food that isn’t 3D printed, yeah I can see that. The “In-App Purchases” aspect of the digital afterlife? Nailed it. The “Taco Bell/Intel Digital Chalupa”, meh on the funny scale. The head-exploding? No. Just, no. It’s not funny. None of that is funny. They try to do it in an over-the-top way, a bathtub full of digital Chalupa’s anyone? But it just feels desperate. I know it was never going to be anything near like Iain M. Banks take on the digital afterlife, but come on…
(PS, if you haven’t read Banks’s Culture Series, you are missing out on one of the most brilliant science writers ever. Amazon is making the first book in the series, Consider Phlebas, into a show. How they are going to manage that, I am curious to see because his books are brilliantly complex.)
Lastly; I’m apparently a dinosaur. The Hubs is too, actually. A “Prudeasaurus“. We just don’t like the way humor on screen has gone the last decade or so. Stupid crude humor like Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, or Anchorman. Everything in tv and movies seems to be shifting to this base crude humor, or full of sex and violence. (Sometimes all three.) Graphic sex is something I just do NOT want to see. Call me a prude if you want but in reality, I’m just totally happy with my OWN sex life and feel zero desire to watch other people engage in sexual activity. We fast forward through bits of it if it’s not too long or too frequent but there are entire shows we’ve just given up watching.
Shows that had promise, like Fleabag. It was deliciously dark and quirky but really didn’t need the graphic sex scenes. Or the Netflix Original After Life by/with Ricky Gervais. We made it through season 1 because it was brilliantly dark and brutally honest. But we gave up on season 2 because he escalated the sex, the vulgar language, and the vulgar behavior to absurd levels. We don’t find a guy telling a joke to a woman about an elephant having an orgasm, which he then graphically demonstrates spraying all over her, to be funny. Nor do we need to hear a guy talk graphically about having sex with a waitress in the crudest and most degrading way possible. Is that really “funny”? I know, I know, we are in the minority on this one but dang, Eeww. (And I see that After Life has been given a third season now. <sigh>) As for the sex scenes I mean, how dense are you if you don’t get that two people kissing their way into a bedroom isn’t ending in sex? Do you really need to watch it happen to get the point?
In the end, Upload is okay. It’s better than another recent Amazon Original “Tales from the Loop“. We made it through a few episodes “Loop” but it just DRAGS. The pace is so slow a drunk snail would fall asleep trying to watch it. It’s supposed to be dark and intense but it’s boring and predictable. I have a bad habit of watching the first ten minutes of a show, then predicting the outcome. With this one, I was spot on after only four minutes. Still, it’s better than a lot of other crap out there. At least it’s trying. Though there are episodes of unnecessary sex scenes in it too. I know, “sex sells”. Does it? Or do we just tell ourselves that so that we don’t have to demand content without it? Because it’s easier to just shrug and say “okay”?
What are you watching? What would you recommend?
(Please don’t say Tiger King.)