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[S2E3] The Freak Show


We all get freaked out from time to time, but we keep trying because you have to figure, if the world fattest twins can find love there's hope for all of us. Somewhere, out there, there's another little freak who'll love us, understand us, will kiss our three heads and make it all better.

Because right now, this show looks and behaves like a good show in certain ways, but it is not actually a good show. Pretty and glamorous, yes. It is well-lit! It is beautifully costumed! It is impeccably designed! But as a story, it is ... well-lit. This episode feels like table-setting for episodes that are yet to come, but (so) there's a lack of momentum and tension about the events that are actually unfolding.

I am begging this show: Less of the stuff like Alex waiting out Laura at the interview, trying not to go out of her dressing room area first. There's a reason people call petty power moves petty! They are petty, in that they are trivial, in that they are not compelling, in that they lack meaning unless they are imbued with it from elsewhere! Even if they are true to life, they are not interesting. We already know Alex is a spoiled celebrity; this does not offer new information.

Elsewhere in the great big world of ethical compromises, Alex freaks out when one of Laura's questions seems to carry an implication that perhaps she slept with Mitch at some point (reminder: she ... did). So Chip re-edits the footage of Alex's stammering and evasive response so that it doesn't look as incriminating (tired: lying for Mitch; wired: lying for Alex). Still, it's hard for Alex not to worry about where, exactly, Laura got that question, particularly because Laura has an excerpt from Maggie's upcoming book.

I am extremely here for a romance between Bradley and Laura, let me be clear. But did this have to be the way this started Does everything that happens on this show have to be ... you know, gross Alex covering up her relationship with Mitch, Chip helping her, Laura making out with her mentee/subject, Mitch being pure of heart all of a sudden ... and most concerning, are all the things these people do supposed to be gross (or at least gross-adjacent), or is it supposed to just be one of those It's Complicated situations You can certainly make a show where everybody is terrible, but you have to know that about it as you're writing and casting and directing it, like Succession does. This, on the other hand, is a show where everybody is gross, but all the actors are ones who trade on your ability to like them.

Think about the actors who play the family on Succession: Jeremy Strong, Brian Cox, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Alan Ruck ... whatever you can say about those people, they're not trying to play those characters America's-Sweetheart-style. They're going to have to work hard to ever play anybody who's not a monstrous stain on humanity again. But then think about Aniston, Witherspoon, Carell, Margulies ... all of those people have pasts as "beloved" actors (which is not to say they haven't done other things and sometimes done them well, so don't email me, Tracy Flick). The show leans on their likability to protect the characters they're playing. There's an unwillingness to let practically all these characters be what they really are, which is mundanely disappointing rich and powerful people. Not villains, not dastardly monsters, just the kind of careless, oblivious, money-poached dodos who make the world a little bit worse.

Over and over, the show is sort of noncommittal about its central figures, not in the way that suggests nuance, but in the way that suggests a muddy quasi-moral point of view that's not fully thought through. But at least in addition to reliving COVID, we get to relive the most recent presidential election. Wheee!

Are all men freaks Carrie dates a bunch of freaks before she meets Ben, then ruins a great thing when she turns into a freak; Samanatha goes on a first date with a man who wears dog collars and likes to be


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