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Luke Cage debases its characters and leaves us with blood on our hands  Luke Cage debases its characters and leaves us with blood on our hands 

Luke Cage is a lot of things: a crime drama, a comic book show, a modern take on blaxploitation. But this episode reveals that the writers and director of Luke Cage are able to deliver a taste of all these genres in one episode and pull off a devious misdirection. The first portion of “All Souled Out” is a light…

Luke
Cage suffers a defeat and the series slows down to watch his fall Luke Cage suffers a defeat and the series slows down to watch his fall

Because Netflix series are intended for binge-watching, it’s difficult for a single episode to stand out. Episode three of Luke Cage was tremendous episode. The episode that would follow a stand-out episode would naturally feel like a bit of a letdown after such an emotional episode. “I Get Physical” features the…

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tremendous emotional scene sets high expectations for the rest of Luke Cage’s second season A tremendous emotional scene sets high expectations for the rest of Luke Cage’s second season

There’s a lot written on “Netflix’s Strategy” to get viewers hooked. Pacing the season out to have the most impact on the viewer and carefully placing huge moments to get the viewers hooked to finish the season. Netflix also has a tendency for their series to feel aimless in the middle of the season and season one of …

Quick
pace and a mysterious villain make for a thrilling Luke Cage Quick pace and a mysterious villain make for a thrilling Luke Cage

When it comes to comic book villains, there are two tactics to take when it comes to their backstory. One: to carefully and deliberately lay out every single part of the character’s backstory so the audience can understand each nuance of the villain’s motivations. Then there is the strategy of The Joker in The Dark…

Luke Cage reinvents itself along with its hero Luke Cage reinvents itself along with its hero

After the mystical and enigmatic happenings in The Defenders, it’s a real treat to return to the down-to-earth setting of Luke Cage. The subject matter feels familiar; the thrilling chess game of the underworld, dirty cops, drugs, stylish musical performances, and jazz and that’s a good thing. The season two premiere…

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lighter episode of Rise isn't invested in the drama department A lighter episode of Rise isn't invested in the drama department

It’s telling that this episode of Rise spent an entire almost act of the episode on a tense, artfully shot football game and its aftermath. Rise just can’t help itself. It finds football more interesting and worthwhile than anyone or anything else involved in the play. For all its flaws (and it has many), Smash …

Rise can’t figure out how to mitigate its biggest problems Rise can’t figure out how to mitigate its biggest problems

In my experience, the third episode of a television show can be a make-or-break situation. In the best-case scenario, by its third episode a TV show should be able to exist and thrive confidently. Any initial issues from the pilot have been fixed, there’s been an additional week to stretch and get comfortable, and now…

Lou’s
sincerity hurts Rise more than it
helps and doesn't elevate cliches Lou’s sincerity hurts Rise more than it helps and doesn't elevate cliches

Over and over throughout this episode, characters tell Lou he can’t fix his problems with another passionate speech or a deep heart-to-heart conversation. Gordy, Gwen, and Tracy all are frustrated with Lou. Gordy is frustrated with his father trying to mold him into an when all Gordy wants is to play football and be…

Lazy
choices and too many tragedies lead to a disappointing Rise Lazy choices and too many tragedies lead to a disappointing Rise

Watching creative people build something together makes for great television. Whether it’s an ad, a musical, or a television show within a television show, the creative process is full of tension and release, and when the romantic subplots get a little tired, there’s always the finished product to look forward to.…

She’s Gotta Have It leaves questions unanswered in a disappointing
finale She’s Gotta Have It leaves questions unanswered in a disappointing finale

From the moment this series dropped, commentary and criticism about this episode has been all over Twitter. It’s the moment this series was building to: Nola getting all three of her lovers together. This episode should be the climax of the series but instead it’s a let-down. We don’t learn anything new. The episode…

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jumbled, pedantic episode does not bode well for the end of She’s Gotta Have It A jumbled, pedantic episode does not bode well for the end of She’s Gotta Have It

There have been more than a few remarks and concerns in the comments that I’m not a big enough fan of Spike Lee. It’s actually quite the opposite. I’m a huge fan of Spike Lee. His direction has a bold, colorful style that I think would be a good fit for the current Black cultural landscape. He has a colorful and hyper…

She’s Gotta Have It is too indecisive as it enters its final act  She’s Gotta Have It is too indecisive as it enters its final act 

One of the most infuriating things about She’s Gotta Have It is the show can’t decide if it wants to be an explicitly political and reactionary treatise on Black life in America or a soapy, sexy dramedy. Spike Lee has been able to balance the two. Jungle Fever is the classic example of Lee gradually turning a…

She’s Gotta Have It explores the men’s inner lives but it feels too
late She’s Gotta Have It explores the men’s inner lives but it feels too late

I said in a previous review that Nola Darling is a Hannah Horvath and that framing was crucial to the show. Understanding that Nola is selfish, immature, and maybe not as talented as she might think makes her slightly easier to watch. Unfortunately for She’s Gotta Have It, no one calls Nola on her bullshit or asks her…

She’s Gotta Have It loses it with unsuccessful attempts at comedy She’s Gotta Have It loses it with unsuccessful attempts at comedy

The climax of Shemekka’s plastic surgery storyline is so disgusting and revolting that it dominates this episode. It’s a confusing and tonally out of place moment that relies on body horror for shock value. The rest of the episode is what I believe is Spike Lee’s attempts at comedy and it falls flat. It’s a mess from…

She’s Gotta Have It explores the
characters’ lives but can’t give up the lectures She’s Gotta Have It explores the characters’ lives but can’t give up the lectures

This episode of She’s Gotta Have It finally expands the world of the show beyond what’s happening immediately in Nola’s loving bed. Knowing what’s going on in the lives of the other characters is a worthwhile endeavor and makes the series feel like television rather than an extended film split over ten hours. The fact…

Humanizing Nola creates a relaxed and sensitive episode of She's Gotta Have It Humanizing Nola creates a relaxed and sensitive episode of She's Gotta Have It

The next sentence is going to sound outrageous and might even offend and confuse some readers. Nola Darling is a Hannah Horvath and that’s a good thing. In “#LuvIzLuv (SEXUALITY IS FLUID)”, we get to see Nola for who she really is. She’s an educationally privileged, emotionally messy and selfish wannabe artist,…

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dour and unbelievable plotline sucks all the fun out of She’s Gotta Have It A dour and unbelievable plotline sucks all the fun out of She’s Gotta Have It

In the first two episodes of She’s Gotta Have It, we’re told by Jamie, Greer, and Mars that Nola is a freak and a sex addict. In “#LBD (LITTLE BLACK DRESS),” her therapist says that she’s insatiable. Her therapist says that Nola is wrestling with the question “Do I have to give up an essential part of my…

She’s Gotta Have It’s dialogue suffers from a dated point of view She’s Gotta Have It’s dialogue suffers from a dated point of view

The limitations of the writing of She’s Gotta Have It really come to the forefront in “#BootyFull (SELF ACCEPTANCE).” For Spike Lee, film, and now television, is as much a writer’s medium as it is a director’s medium. The dialogue feels written. Someone tapped it out into Final Draft and pat themselves on the back.

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