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Courtesy Netflix

There is way too much television content out there right now. While this could be an understatement, consider the following: “Comedians portraying a fictional version of themselves” is now a comedy subgenre. At least five of these shows have premiered since 2010, and there are probably more examples if you stretch the definition a bit[1]. All are set in urban environments and feature a famous comedian playing a not-yet-famous performer who is unlucky in love and life, and probably depressed as a result.

These shows are meta as hell, but they still expect the audience to empathize with the characters as if they were not just stand-ins for the comedians. It seems doubtful anyone would have understood how this could become a trend as recently as ten years ago, but now standup is practically a stepping stone to creating dramedies, not helming a sitcom. Comedians are now expected to be auteurs.

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None returned with a new season a few days ago, and it feels most akin to the show that truly started this trend, Louis CK’s Louie[2]. CK and Ansari both masterfully channel the same, neverending frustration of searching for a perfect partner, while also paying tribute the hilarious oddities and breathtaking beauty offered by Manhattan’s diverse expanse[3].

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Brian Kraker / Tuesdays With Horry

Brian Kraker / Tuesdays With Horry

Right from the very start, 2016 stood to challenge us. From the very start, we knew it wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill annum, from North Korea’s interstellar aggravation to the deaths of every stranger we thought we knew, from our laughter at nationalistic shortsightedness abroad to the joke turning on us with an apolitically exhausting election cycle that, even now, seems interminable, this year has cast shadows into every corner and fear into every heart, asserting its overwhelming pessimism past the point of absurdity and into realms of dystopian ennui.

But then, light is said to shed out of darkness; without the light, we wouldn’t know dark from darker, and pitch blackness would be broad daylight. As historically low as some of the valleys insisted upon going, a great many peaks, more than we’ll care to recall, shot up with a distinctly human, distinctly empathetic vitality. 2016 was the equivalent of the Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal first, an assist next and one giant, inevitable fight, with indescribable rage having finally boiled over to manifest itself in hideousness antipathy. It is with this in mind that we at TwH look back, one final, bitter time at the insanity of the preceding twelve months, with an eye toward what society has constructed as 2017. If Earth is really dying, and if we’ve only got five years left to cry in, U better live now.

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Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Aside from my Abercrombie #8 perfume, Gilmore Saturdays were perhaps the most defining aspect of my early teenage years. In 2004, I was 12 and had just transferred to a new school. My less-than-stellar adjustment to this foreign environment prompted my interest in the more naïve and enjoyable world of Stars Hollow. Every Saturday, three consecutive reruns of Gilmore Girls aired from 7 to 10 pm. My dad ordered pizza and watched with me. Like any good father, he was Team Dean.

Eventually, as I came into my own, Gilmore Saturdays became a thing of the past, but my love and affection for the characters did not wane. I loyally collected every season of the show on DVD and faithfully watched every episode over and over again. To this day, after a frustrating week, I always return to the show as a sort of medicine.

There have been a lot of different takes on the revival. I do not pretend to stand apart from the thousands of other fan girls (and guys) who waited with bated breath and took to Twitter immediately following those final four words. My sentiments are surely repetitive and have already been proclaimed through eloquent think pieces and less eloquent social media posts. During a time when the term ‘echo chamber’ takes on increasingly polarizing meaning, there is none more righteous or as passionate as that which Gilmore fans inhabit.

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This past summer I taught a college composition course that focused on Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The final assignment in the class required students to assemble an online portfolio where they reflected on their progress as writers and researchers over the quarter.

Having taught this class before, I knew that these portfolios often provided insight but sometimes devolved into a series of clichés about improvement accompanied by colorful and irrelevant images designed not so much to convey a rhetorical message but to distract from the lack of substance in the writing. It is with this cynicism that I regarded the above image, prominently plastered on the homepage of one student’s portfolio.

Though I found the Pepe the Frog meme a bit baffling in the context of the assignment, I quickly dismissed it as an attempt to take up space and moved on to grading other portfolios.

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What is it that riles up the Gallagher brothers? The list of answers to that question are as extensive as the number of fans that fill the grounds at Knebworth in 1996, the framing device for the Oasis documentary Supersonic, which enjoyed a one-night U.S. debut Wednesday evening in cities across the country[1].

As several reviews noted ahead of time, Supersonic largely avoids anything from Knebworth onward, instead focusing its efforts on the Gallaghers’ childhood in a Manchester suburb, their shared musical ambitions and the eventual rise of Oasis while merely hinting at what falls outside of the film’s timeline. Despite this somewhat revisionist view – who among us in 2016 isn’t out to use filters to enhance away imperfections, real or perceived – the film is a compelling look at the most important, and self-important, British band of the mid-1990s.

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The best part of riding a roller coaster is often the first lift hill. While waiting in a way-too-long queue, the anticipation for the ride only simmers because the mind is restless and bored. Is this terrible wait time-to-ride time ratio even worth it? Yet, somehow, during that slow climb to the first drop, excitement builds exponentially. All of the sudden, the brain thinks, “This is really happening and holy shit, it looks incredibly dangerous.” The imminent thrills are typically right in front of the riders, in plain sight, but that does not take away from the natural release of endorphins that occurs when the coaster lets gravity take over. After that drop, it does not matter if some of the loops and bunny hills cannot compare to the very start of the ride because the initial acceleration was strong enough to carry everyone to end so fast that they barely noticed. The only people who get off of roller coasters without a smile on their faces are the ones who should not have gotten on the ride in the first place.

What that gratuitous, paragraph-long allegory is trying to say is this: the experience of watching a great television drama is a lot like riding a roller coaster over the course of days, weeks, months, or years, depending on whether the viewer was on the train at the beginning or just binged it all on Netflix during one rainy weekend. Mr. Robot’s first season was a near-perfect thrill ride, much like the Coney Island Cyclone often present in the background, and its promise of more crazy loops and fun drops in the future seemed like a sure thing. Unfortunately, the second season did not deliver smooth navigation through inversions and instead opted to jerk the audience sideways through a series fits and starts.

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