underneath it all by kristen hoyt
netflix, black mirror, the future is bright, nosedive

Black Mirror: A Glimpse Into A Future That Is Not So Bright

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Technology is everywhere.  It’s inescapable.  The ubiquitous beeping and chirping notifying us of a text message, another “like” on our latest Facebook post, or a new follower on Twitter or Instagram, interrupts conversations, sleep, and our deepest thoughts.  It seems we cannot go two minutes without interacting with some form of technology.  And we’ve blindly accepted this without a second thought.

In the midst of all the hoopla over the latest and greatest tech, one show stands out as a cautionary message, a sort of prescient glimpse into what a future powered by artificial intelligence and machines and ordered by social media would look like.  And the forecast is bleak.

The Netflix original drama Black Mirror is both captivating and chilling. It’s like a car wreck complete with flashing lights and sirens and disturbing gore, from which you can’t peel your eyes away.  Named for the powered-down screen on your phone, tablet, or computer, Black Mirror is utterly unique in several ways.  First, each episode stands alone with its own storyline and cast. And each episode is a dark, satirical examination of a world where our technological gadgets control us.

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loving movie, 2017 oscar nominations, ruth negga, joel edgerton, loving vs virginia, richard and mildred loving

Loving is a Tale of Faith, Hope & Human Rights

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Loving debuted quietly in November 2016.  It tells the story of a brave biracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, who fought for their right to love one another within the bonds of holy matrimony.  Set in 1950s Virginia, the film draws a clear and shocking picture of true racism and celebrates the courage of this extraordinary couple played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga.

Directed by Jeff Nichols, Loving received a number of nominations including Golden Globes for best actor and actress. Negga was also nominated for her subtle and moving portrayal of the little-known Civil Rights icon Mildred Loving. The film is a testament to the tenacity of two humble icons of the Civil Rights Movement.  By refusing to settle for less, the Lovings drew attention to the truth that love knows no boundaries of skin color or social class.  The saddest element of this film is not the story, though.  It is the fact that prior to the making of this movie, I doubt many people knew who the Lovings were or recognized the impact they had on American history.  I certainly had never heard of them, and I’ve studied constitutional law!

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the walking dead, season 7, twd, andrew lincoln, rick grimes, zombie, atlanta, rise up, amc, negan

The Walking Dead: Walkers Are Just the Wallpaper

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I have to admit that when I first decided to stream AMC’s The Walking Dead  I was skeptical.  I did not expect to like it.  I’m not a big horror fan and gore’s not really my thing.  But I dove in and from the moment Rick Grimes rode down I-85 into Atlanta on horseback, I was hooked.

If you’ve watched the show for any length of time, you quickly realize that the “walkers”, or zombies, are just the wallpaper of the show.  Sure, they feature prominently in certain episodes because you need to understand the magnitude of what the characters are dealing with.  But over time their noises become almost soothing and the sight of them ceases to shock as they fade into the background of the drama.  What shines through for me in every episode is the indomitable force of the human spirit and the power that we harness when we put aside petty differences and work together for the common good.  In a world that is so polarized by gender and identity politics, The Walking Dead is a beacon of hope.

Season 7 of The Walking Dead returned on Sunday, and by now Rick’s crew includes people from all walks of life. 

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santa clarita diet, santa clarita, drew barrymore, timothy olyphant, netflix, netflix original, zombie

Santa Clarita Diet Falls Flat and Fails to Whet our Appetites

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I was looking forward to it. I wanted to like it and believed it had a chance. After all, I always enjoy a good Drew Barrymore movie.  But, alas, I just couldn’t do it.  And I really tried!  Unfortunately, the Netflix original dramedy Santa Clarita Diet failed to satisfy in almost every way.

The sad thing is the show should be funny!  The premise is clever — an average family in suburban Los Angeles has their lives turned upside-down when the mom wakes up as a zombie one day.  In an era where zombies are all the rage, you’d think this would be an easy sell.  But even the valiant efforts of a top-notch cast, including Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, and Nathan Fillion (who guest stars in the first two episodes), can’t save it.

Like many similarly promising shows that fail, the problem here is the writing. It’s really terrible. In addition to a lot of meaningless banter, the first few episodes are peppered with enough profanity to make you think you’re watching a documentary on the proverbial sailor. Add countless overt and less-than-tastefully-done sexual references, graphic violence, flagrant drug-use and bathroom humor, and it’s difficult to find any redeeming qualities.

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Outlander, Sam Heughan, Jamie Fraser, James Fraser, Starz

Outlander Is a Clear Winner With Four People’s Choice Awards

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How can television’s Outlander, whose main character, James Fraser, embodies all that women participating in last weekend’s marches rail against, win four People’s Choice Awards?  Outlander won for Favorite TV Show, Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress and Actor, and Favorite Premium Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series. Perhaps fans (whether they are marching women or not) see James Fraser as something more than just a man’s man. This 18th century hero has a modern view of how to treat the love of his life.

The Starz hit series is based on the series of novels written by Diana Gabaldon.  For those of you not familiar with Outlander, let me tell you first and foremost – you are missing out!  Not only is the show filled with intricate storylines and breathtaking cinematography, but it is infused with humor, history, and a love story for the ages. At the end of World War II, Claire Randall, a combat nurse, and her husband, Frank, a British intelligence officer, journey to Inverness, Scotland, for some much-needed R&R.

However, what was supposed to be a second honeymoon turns into the adventure of a lifetime when Claire accidentally wanders through the standing stones at Craigh na Dun in 18th century Scotland.

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