A Seattle-based podcast about games, comics, superheroes, zombies, robots, wizards, dinosaurs, and other things relevant to your interests. We're SJW FTW, and we’ve been nerding out about nerd stuff since way before everybody was a nerd.
Mary and Rob explain this surprisingly fun and compelling series and then spin wild conspiracy theories about what’s coming next season. We start out spoiler-free and then announce our descent into Wild Giveaway Time, so even if you’re not yet caught up, give this one a listen.
We’ve overcome our exhaustion and tech troubles to post our recap of this year’s PAX Prime. There was a lot to see and do–maybe too much? But we had a great time and are already prepping ourselves for next year.
We’ve been warned that we’re reaching Peak TV: the time when it becomes impossible to keep up with all the shows we want to watch–or even all the good shows we want to watch. Lord knows there’s a delicious glut of comics-inspired TV with plenty more on the way; we’ve discussed it atsomelengthonthepodcast and hereontheblog.
We’ve seen characters we love come to life–hello, John Constantine–as well as characters we could do without (sorry, Amanda Waller, check back with us when you get a second dimension). But there are thousands more waiting in the wings, hoping for some bright young writer (and grizzled old casting director) to help them make the jump from page to screen. Here’s our shortlist for showrunners:
1. Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan is one of our all-time faves, though her book has only been around for a year and a half. She’s smart, she’s conflicted, she’s excited about her newfound powers, and she sidesteps stereotypes of Muslims, women, and teenagers. As an Inhuman, she’d be a great match for Agents of SHIELD, though showing her powers might blow through their special effects budget unless they cut to animation whenever she’s onscreen. Show: Agents of SHIELD Actor: Sarayu Blue, though she’s already been on Agents of SHIELD, so maybe…Archie Panjabi?
2. Squirrel Girl: She effortlessly defeats the biggest of the big bads; even Galactus finds another planet to eat after meeting her. Despite this, her down-to-earth charm and easy-on-the-budget powers make her a great guest-spot match for any show that needs a lighthearted change of pace. Unfortunately, Marvel has gone all-in on Serious Drama, though SG was nanny for Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ kid, so we’ll just slot her in there and hope for the best. Show: Jessica Jones and Luke Cage Actor: Shailene Woodley
3-4. Dream and Death: Sure, they’re faintly ridiculous, grubby, deus-ex-machina characters who are relevant only in our 90s-addled minds, but come on! How awesome would it be for the Endless to start showing up in our favorite shows? They would have been perfect for one-shots or recurring roles on Constantine, but it’s now dead beyond hope, so we’ll have to make do. Gotham’s too gritty, The Flash is too flashy, and Legends of Tomorrow is probably too sci-fi-oriented, so it’s up to Arrow to make this happen. Show: Arrow Actors: Adrien Brody and Emma Stone
5. Midnighter: Warren Ellis’ take on the Batman archetype added superhuman fighting instincts and a license to kill to the dark vigilante myth, and Midnighter is one of the fiercest gay superheroes we’ve ever seen. He’d be interesting on Gotham if he powered down a little, if only to give Baby Bruce something to think about. But he’d be perfect as an adversary on The Flash–his overclocked tactical mind could challenge Barry like nobody else, and his status as permanent antihero would be a nice splash of darkness in Central City. Show: The Flash Actor: Taye Diggs
6. The Question: Yes, he started as a ridiculous mouthpiece for ridiculous political ideas, but the dude had style. Wearing a featureless mask was perfectly creepy, and his Justice League Unlimited incarnation is the perfect launch point for live action. He’s an ecumenical conspiracy theorist who’s always right (at least when the plot needs him to be), and that makes him a perfect quirky quest-giver for a show like Supergirl–or we hope so, as all we’ve seen is the trailer. Bonus points: There will be nerds who accuse the show of ripping off Watchmen‘s Rorschach. Show: Supergirl Actor: Kevin Corrigan
7. Sub-Mariner: Ah, Prince Namor. Marvel’s go-to asshole always tells the truth the heroes don’t want to hear while sounding like the rich villain in a summer camp movie. He’s got a longer history than most, so he could plausibly pop up in our favorite post-war comics adaptation, Agent Carter. No doubt he’d simultaneously recognize Peggy’s ultra-competence while still giving the SSR boys a master class in casual sexism. He’s just weird enough to fit into Carter’s world without delivering an “everything you know is wrong” vibe. Show: Agent Carter Actor: Harry Shum, Jr.
Once we take over Hollywood, we’ll make sure these folks get the love they deserve. Which characters do you want to see on screen? And hey, since there’s not a chance that every one of these casting choices is okay with you, let us know who should really play them in the comments.
We’re pleased with the response to our swag reading “SJW FTW,” but it turns out that not everyone in the world is familiar with our jargon. For you, we proudly present the Nerdhole Magical Nutshell of Exposition:
SJW: Social Justice Warrior. This is used as an insult by internet trolls who are upset that their privilege is expanding to include other people. We think it’s magically awesome and wear the name proudly.
FTW: For The Win!
It’s that simple. If you want a manifesto, keep looking. Better yet, write your own and share it with us!
I started watching Mr. Robot with even more skepticism than usual for an untested show. Oh god, a show about hacking? Oh god2, a show about hacking on the USA Network? But a smartie I trusted gave it a thumbs-up, so I swallowed my doubts and booted it up.
It’s…good. It’s not consistent, though that may be at least partly deliberate, and it’s hampered by weaknesses that feel inexplicable, but it is possessed of a unique vision–and that, all by itself, sets it apart from most TV, nerd or otherwise. It’s so weird and so well adapted to its medium that it feels like an environmental art installation designed to challenge our perceptions of a given space. For Mr. Robot, that space is USA Network.
For those of you who have skipped right past it or opted out of cable, USA network is widely seen as a dumping ground for lowbrow culture, from game show reruns to pro wrestling to Tekwar; it has (or had?) a rep for adding women in bikinis to every scene in which they were vaguely plausible. This is not where we go for heady mindfucks. And yet.
Mr. Robot has great fun playing with the viewers’ preconceptions. Mental illness is depicted as awkward and confusing and uncomfortable instead of menacing or, worse, meaningful. Casual drug use is just a thing people do. Hacking looks difficult and boring. A technothriller series is actually a probing dissection of late-stage capitalism and alienation. There’s a good case to be made that this show couldn’t work on any other network, as it’s at its best when viewers’ expectations are set to escapism rather than intellectual engagement. Subversion turns into smugness when it’s courted*.
But there are legit problems that don’t seem to be part of the installation. The most sociopathic bad guy turns out to be bisexual when he needs to be, because of course he is. The acting and casting are kind of all over the place; I thought maybe the producers had done that deliberately to fit the network more closely, but then I sobered up. Nothing’s perfect.
Elliot, the main character, is nimbly played by Rami Malek, whose eyes convey so much they deserve a special Emmy of their own. Suburgatory’s Carly Chaikin uses her unusually affectless face to great effect in a supporting role that develops organically through the season. Christian Slater plays himself, as usual. Much of the rest of the cast ranges from adequate to boring, with a few exciting (if underused) bit players floating around here and there.
The plot is super-twisty–it’s about mental illness and corporate malfeasance, so duh–and is clever enough to surprise viewers even when we’re expecting something. This isn’t a spoiler post, so I won’t dive deep, but the writing is nice and tonight even when the dialogue mirrors the awful conventions of the genre. Mr. Robot is a Trojan Horse, delivering something that feels real and true wrapped up in the confines of a crappy genre show.
* Yeah, that means you’re doomed because you’re reading this piece. You should still watch the damn thing.