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Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New ‘Twin Peaks’ Mystery, and More

Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New 'Twin Peaks' Mystery, and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential news
stories and critical pieces to you.

1. The Best Worst Show on TV. “CSI: Cyber” is not a very good show, but Mark Lisanti of Grantland writes that it’s a bad show worth watching (and not hate-watching).

The entire point of “CSI: Cyber” is to examine our increasingly obsessive relationship to technology and to illustrate how easy it would be for The Bad People — the “black hats,” to borrow a phrase uttered no fewer than 15 times per show — to turn our overreliance on it against us. Imagine that every episode is a new, panicked email forward from your grandparents urging you not to open any messages with the subject line WARNING: SUPER DEATH VIRUS ALERT that you actually take the time to read instead of reflexively trash, opening your eyes to the hidden horrors of the digital world. As you sit on the couch among your favorite iThings, watching the Cyber team extract a ballistic hard drive from a shredded corpse, you realize that all of your devices are nothing but sleeper agents waiting to be activated by homicidal black hats to slaughter you remotely. Read more.

2. The New “Twin Peaks” Mystery. Is the new “Twin Peaks” dead? Vulture’s Josef Adalian investigates: 

Industry insiders say Showtime hasn’t given up, and that from the network’s perspective, things pretty much are where they’ve been for weeks now: It’s trying to find a way to make the project move forward with both Lynch and Frost onboard. Among the reasons to be hopeful: Lynch collaborator Frost hasn’t joined his partner in expressing any distress over the show’s budget, or said or tweeted anything at all (at least as of this story’s publication). This doesn’t mean Frost is #TeamShowtime or doesn’t share Lynch’s desire for more money. But the fact that he’s not speaking out — and is still firmly attached to the project, as far as Showtime knows — suggests he may believe Lynch can be brought back onboard. Read more.

3. TV’s Diversity Push. 
There’s been an influx of POC-driven TV shows recently, but how is that going for most actors of color? Slate’s Aisha Harris talks three professional actors:

[Arjun] Gupta, an Indian American actor who played Sam on “Nurse Jackie” and, more recently, Kan on “How to Get Away With Murder,” said that one of the drawbacks to more “open” casting calls is that minorities tend to get plugged into bit parts rather than considered for lead roles. “They opened up ‘all ethnicities’ and I feel like what ended up happening was that people of color just started playing secondary parts — ‘Oh look, we have a diverse cast’ — but you’re not really servicing them with lead roles … you’re almost just fulfilling what you ‘have’ to do.” Read more.

4. A Corrosive “The Simpsons” Episode. “Homer’s Enemy” is one of the most aggressive episodes of “The Simpsons,” but it’s also a great one. Noel Murray of The A.V. Club writes:

Yet there’s a good reason why “Homer’s Enemy” is one of the most memorable episodes of The Simpsons’ eighth season — and it’s not because it’s memorably bad. First off, this is one of Hank Azaria’s finest half-hours. Using a voice close to his own, Azaria plays the reality of Frank Grimes, while simultaneously making him such a noodge that even though he’s absolutely right about everything, he’s impossible to back. Grimes is like a prototypical version of an internet crank, who nitpicks every error and won’t let it go. Homer makes an honest effort to befriend Frank — even trying to be a model employee who will only have casual conversations “during a designated break period” — but still hears Frank hiss, “You’re what’s wrong with America, Simpson.” This is how “Homer’s Enemy” is able to reaffirm everything the show’s about: by making the opposition look like a total asshole. Read more.

5. The Greatness of “Ex Machina.” Screenwriter Alex Garland made his directorial debut with “Ex Machina,” and Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com sings its praises:

“Ex Machina” is a beautiful extension of Garland’s past concerns as a screenwriter…Garland has demonstrated great interest in the organization of society, the tension between the need for rules and the abuse of authority, and the way that gender roles handed down over thousands of years can poison otherwise pure relationships… “Ex Machina” is very much about men and women, and how their identities are constructed by male dominated society as much as by biology. Nathan actively rebels against the nerd stereotype, carrying on like a frat house alpha dog, working a heavy bag, drinking to excess, disco dancing with his girl in a robotically choreographed routine, addressing the soft-spoken, sensitive Caleb as “dude” and “bro”, and reacting with barely disguised contempt when Caleb expresses empathy for Ava. It’s bad enough that Nathan wants to play God at all, worse still that he longs to re-create femininity through circuitry and artificial flesh. His vision of women seems shaped by lad magazines, video games aimed at eternal teenagers, and the most juvenile “adult” science fiction and fantasy. Read more.

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