BARRY (2018-2023)


No spoilers here, just (hopefully) a succinct bit of word-garbage.

BARRY’s premise initially seemed a little too sweaty and off-putting to me. It was as if creator Bill Hader got high and turned to his friend Alec Berg and exclaimed: “Now, now, now! Hear me out! I have the best idea! An ex-soldier turned hitman wants to be an actor! Do you want in?!”

I was thrilled to find that it was far more considered and thoughtful than that.

BARRY was stylish without being showy — long shots whenever action became intense (technically harder to pull off!) — and comedic without undermining the drama.

It’s worth noting: Hader loves film. He loves everything about film. Just read this New Yorker interview with him and he comes across as a young(-ish) Scorsese — someone who knows how to write, direct, and shoot films, even down to the lenses he wants to use.

So, it’s a shame that BARRY’s series finale was completely over-shadowed by SUCCESSION’s (brilliant) finale, as it was a thunder-blast. Some found the last season to be treading water, but I didn’t; it was a reckoning and meditation on what it takes to come to terms with your past.

Also, goddamn, the set-pieces. BARRY is very, very good at solitary and dramatic moments, but it absolutely kills (no pun intended) when it comes to action sequences. Absolutely nothing like it on TV now and, sadly, probably won’t be for a while.

Lastly, I’d be remiss to neglect to mention the cast. Everyone here is amazing, but especially the chaotic energy of Anthony Carrigan, Stephen Root (who goes through an amazing transformation), Sarah Goldberg who is revelatory and was really put through the wringer, and oh yes, Henry Fucking Winkler. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

WORK IN PROGRESS Season Two (2021)

(Cable+Showtime) Yes, I have previously posted about WORK IN PROGRESS, and yes, WORK IN PROGRESS has been canceled and has been off-the-air for several months now, but I still want to boost it because it’s amazing, and not just because they literally shot it next-door to me.

Re-read the prior post for the particulars but I wrote that during the first season, and despite the fact that I’m not a self-proclaimed fat, queer woman, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

WORK IN PROGRESS S1 centers on suicidal ideation due to the death of a therapist and general dissatisfaction in life. WORK IN PROGRESS S2 is all about discerning what you need with therapy. It’s an extremely complex and thorny season of TV, but vastly appreciated, because we can all use therapy; don’t say you don’t need therapy because I guarantee you that you over-use your loved ones for emotional labor and that’s a shitty thing to do! But knowing what you want from therapy is also extremely difficult, and requires quite a bit of self-reflection and acknowledgement, and successfully navigating that is a lot.

There’s always the question as to the means and ends of therapy, of when one can move along from trauma, when the problem is ‘solved’, and the penultimate episode reckons with that and it had me in tears.

Life is complicated. I hate this. I hate hurting so much. I hate thinking and feeling so much. This entire goddamn blog was started during the pandemic and I’d be a liar if I said it’s anything other than a way to try to process everything, and WORK IN PROGRESS is — well, was — an astounding piece that I could latch onto. Not just because it was shot in my neighborhood, not because of it being queer-adjacent, not just because it reflected on the lost past of Chicago’s Girlstown, but that it fundamentally grapples with people trying to fix themselves in an entertaining, but enlightening ways.

The show was unfortunately canceled after the second season, however, I feel lucky a second season exists. It resolves itself naturally and in its own humanist way, and is a work I will consistently extoll to others because of how frank it is, how heartfelt it is, and how singularly Chicago it is.


I initially wrote this post several months ago and sat on it because, well, reasons. I just learned that Showtime has gone all HBO MAX and scrubbed it from being available to stream for unknown reasons. Please keep your eyes peeled for its reappearance but, goddamnit, of all of the second seasons of shows to remove from streaming services, this seems absolutely hateful. My apologies for recommending something that is absolutely unavailable for the time being unless you have a proper cable subscription.

Favorites of 2022: Film

This was not a great year for prestige films or flyboy-less blockbusters, but it was a fantastic year for small-scale genre films. Granted, I have missed out on a lot of films — I have yet to see ARMAGEDDON TIME or EO or WOMEN TALKING or a bunch of others as there’s never enough time — but below are my current favorites of 2022.


Brilliantly nuanced work about youth and child rearing. One of the most intriguing body horror films since Cronenberg’s THE FLY.


“[An] absolutely outrageous film; it’s mind-bogglingly high-concept, often amusingly puerile, always inventive, but also remarkably emotionally grounded.”


“This is a quiet film, both in tone and in scope, but it confidently speaks volumes. It’s a work about ennui and minor victories and emotional stumbles while also being about longing for an accepting crowd. It’s a melancholy, complicated film told simply, one that’s destined for cult status, simply because it defies tonal categorization or, perhaps, because it’s so cute, so initially innocuous, while ultimately being a measured existential tale, one so immaculately put together in a way that will almost certainly have you smiling through tears.”


High-concept filmmaking with the heart of Cahiers du Cinéma; an audacious look at Hollywood’s role in representing history and people.


The film that made me ask myself: “Why the fuck do I put myself through this?” A brazen and tautly constructed spiral of trauma.


“A meditation on finding one’s identity and transformation [and] how people reach out through technology when there’s no other way. It’s a heartfelt, singular work.”


“Equal parts Truffaut’s THE WILD CHILD, Virginia Woolf’s novel ORLANDO and Sally Potter’s film adaptation, and Angela Carter’s THE BLOODY CHAMBER and Neil Jordan’s adaptation, THE COMPANY OF WOLVES.”



Cronenberg returns to body horror in a big way, letting Kristen Stewart do whatever she wants, indulging Viggo Mortensen in breath work, all while showcasing Tarkovsky-esque backdrops.


If life is fair — and we all know it is not — this film will become a cult-classic, at least as long as long as it’s available to stream. It starts off as a private high-school STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and then becomes something completely different, all backed by an astounding 90s soundtrack. Shades of a modern JAWBREAKER from the creators of SWEET/VICIOUS.


Extraordinarily winsome character drama that puts the delights and desires of the best features of attire forward.


A surprising “paean to 50s Technicolor melodramas” from one of the most humanist genre filmmakers working right now.

BETTER THINGS (2016-2022)

(Hulu) While I’m well-aware that I occasionally describe a work as a dramedy, it’s simply meant as shorthand rather than for any love of the term. While I use it, it means: this work isn’t wall-to-wall empty laughs or overwrought heartbreak. Real human drama is often funny ha-ha, and sometimes comedically tragic; I believe that great dramas generously sprinkle in comedy, and great comedies are built on dramatic tension. A spoonful of sugar, etc. — one way or the other — so to say. Yet, I don’t think I’ve seen a show that so perfectly balances the two as Pamela Adlon’s BETTER THINGS.

BETTER THINGS centers around Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon, who has been a very hard-working character/voice actor for years), an L.A.-based middle-aged screen-and-voice-actor and the single mother of three daughters: teenage Max (Mikey Madison from SCREAM (2022) and ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD), pre-teen Frankie (Hannah Riley), and youth Duke (Olivia Edward, who occasionally popped up in CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND). Living next-door to her is her willful, very passive-aggressive British mother named Phyllis, but Sam solely calls her Phil. (You may sense a naming trend here.)

(I need to note: Louis C.K. — who admitted to sexual misconduct, and who did fictionally sexually assault Adlon’s character on LOUIE — was a credited writer, producer and co-creator for the show, but while he is no longer a writer or producer, he is still credited as co-creator. It’s also worth noting that Adlon was the best part of the greatest episodes of LOUIE, as well as his short-lived show LUCKY LOUIE. In other words, they have history and it’s complicated, and she isn’t discussing it. As far as I’ve read, he’s had no input on the show for some time.)

Initially, the show is about Sam navigating her life as she feels her age and feels those around her react to her age, all while she juggles the needs of motherhood. However, with each subsequent season, the show expands, and it becomes far more about maintaining family bonds as your brethren move forward and change.

Additionally, as the show progressed, it became far more experimental, indulging Adlon’s delightfully fanciful filmic flights, often through local trips, or through another character’s POV. It feels like a true exploration of life, of aging, of self-acceptance, self-discovery, self-improvement, and reckoning.

It makes time to luxuriate in life and the little joys: the tranquility of cooking, a brief nap in the park, people-watching, while never turning a blind eye to the harder parts of living, especially when you have to tend to the ever-changing needs of your children and yourself.

No, the show is not a gut-buster; it’s not meant to be. However, it always makes me laugh, and then two minutes later my eyes are welling up.

I’ve seen all but the finale — which airs tonight (April 25th) — but I wanted to boost it now because I’m impatient.

Season 1 Trailer:

Final Season Trailer (for the brave):

Favorites of 2021: Films

Here are my favorite — note, not what I feel are the best — films of 2021, in alphabetical, non-prioritized, order:


“I miss this sort of comedy, the kind of comedy that doesn’t call attention to its jokes, the kind that’s sharply written and doesn’t meander or rely on extended improvised riffs. It’s tightly wound silliness with a ton of great talent”

“It was a real tit-flapper!”


“[U]ltimately this is a human drama, one which showcases how very little has changed over hundreds of years.”


“[A]n extremely mannered film until, well, until it isn’t. Stick with it and it will fuck you up.”


A surprisingly sincere triptych from Wes Anderson.


“We’re all healing as we (hopefully) come to the end of this awful era, and seeing JOY RIDE under these circumstances was such an immensely enjoyable time, and I’m so happy I could see it with such giving artists.”


“I can’t recommend these two films enough, but I would suggest watching them relatively close together. I hadn’t seen PART I since it screened in theaters in 2019, and felt like I was missing out on a lot in PART II because, uh, my memory, and the past two years have been particularly harrowing.”


I’ve had the goddamn hardest time getting people to watch this film, solely because of Kristen Stewart, but hell, the way she casts her eyes … I wish folks would just watch the trailer and see her transformation.

“You are your own weapon.”


“Will they kill me, do you think?”


“I can’t remember the last time I so extensively averted my eyes from watching a film. However, those moments are not exploitative — they are meant to be uncomfortable, they are there for a reason. I simply felt that I was able to glean that reason by listening, instead of watching.”


  • PLAN B
  • ZOLA

WORK IN PROGRESS “161, 153, 137, 122, 106, 104, 102 (We’re Still Counting Almonds.)” (S01E04, 2019)

(Showtime/VOD) WORK IN PROGRESS is a television dramedy about Abby (show co-creator and comedian Abby McEnany) who self-identifies as a “queer, fat dyke” and lives in Chicago. Abby is also 45-years-old and miserable, and she’s decided that if she can’t find some semblance of happiness within 180 days (marked by 180 almonds, one of which she throws away each day), she’ll end her life.

That sounds morose, but the show is often hilarious thanks to Abby’s cynical persona and the inclusion of Julia Sweeney, who Abby hates because for years people kept comparing her to Sweeney’s ‘IT’S PAT’ SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE character.

One endlessly fantastic facet of the show is that it is shot in Chicago, and quite a bit of it is shot in Andersonville, my neighborhood. Andersonville used to be known as ‘Girlstown’ due the number of queer women and lesbian bars — including the historic Stargaze — but that moniker no longer describes the area due to an influx of queer men and straight couples who will live here for a few years with their dog and toddler before they head to the suburbs.

But I digress. Andersonville is not why I mention this episode (although it does open with Abby at a bar just down the street from me). I’m bringing it up because the last third of the episode takes place at Ravinia — technically in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb — the oldest outdoor music festival in the U.S., and this episode features my favorite scene of the entire season, briefly featured in the trailer below. Additionally, it’s a great solo episode that encapsulates the show!

(Lastly, if you watch season two, you’ll catch a glimpse of our neighbor’s house, as they shot some interior scenes there several months ago. It was a tad surreal, especially during the pandemic.)


(Hulu/Paramount+/VOD) FREAKS & GEEKS is finally available to stream! If you haven’t already purchased the DVD, or have enough grey hair to have watched it when it first aired, Hulu managed to clear all of the music rights and — after a bit of a stumble out of the gait — have the eps properly ordered.

If you’re a product of the 80s — especially if you were a nerd in the 80s — it’ll be a trip down memory lane. If not, given how absurdly recognizable all of the actors and creatives are, it’ll be another sort of nostalgia for you, as it introduced the world to: Judd Apatow, Linda Cardellini, Paul Feig, James Franco, Busy Philipps, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Mike White. A laundry list of modern heavy hitters, all of whom cut their teeth on this show.