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Daily Reads: Netflix’s Binge-Watching Model Is Killing the TV Conversation, Don Draper’s Origins (and Future?), and More

Daily Reads: Netflix's Binge-Watching Model Is Killing the TV Conversation, Don Draper's Origins (and Future?), and More

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

1. Netflix’s Harmful Release Strategy. Netflix’s everything-at-once release strategy has effectively killed the spoiler alert and made it difficult to discuss shows with everyone else watching them. Medium’s Rex Sorgatz looks at how to fix it.

Imagine if “House of Cards” had played out over two weeks, like a mini-series. Today, we would be finishing up the 13-day marathon from when the show first dropped. Can you imagine? The conversation around this viewing window would be massive, almost unbearable. Fans would feel compelled to catch up every night, so as to be involved in tomorrow’s discussion. And if you missed a day or two, catching up would be painless.more.

2. The Colors of “Kimmy Schmidt.” Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff looks at how “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” uses colors.

Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) spent 15 years of her life imprisoned in a bunker, and now that she’s out, she’s moved to the big city. Thus, the dark, foreboding grays of the bunker need the bright colors of the city for contrast. Similarly, Kimmy’s kidnapper is framed with an utter lack of bright color. ;It’s not just the bunker, either. When Kimmy goes to work as a sort of ad hoc governess to the child of the rich Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski), she steps into a world of primarily beige and white, where everything seems ready to blend together. In the apartment Kimmy shares with her friend Titus (Tituss Burgess) and out on the streets of New York, however, the world is awash in color. Read more.

3. Studios Won’t Solve Sexism. Sony’s announcement of a new “Ghostbusters” movie had many irritated at the reinforcement of gender divisions, but Jaime Weinman of Maclean’s said we shouldn’t count on Hollywood to solve sexism.

Probably, this just goes to show why we shouldn’t look to “all-female” versions of anything to solve Hollywood’s gender balance problems. Changing male protagonists to female is a perfectly good idea for a film, going back to “His Girl Friday” and beyond. But it does sometimes risk reinforcing the stereotype that the good roles are men’s roles, and that boys’ comedies are more legitimate than girls’ comedies. The resulting movie doesn’t have to be gimmicky; it’s just that the concept basically agrees with the prevailing idea that a comedy for guys (like the original “Ghostbusters”) is worthier than the types of comedies that have female protagonists to begin with. And that doesn’t solve the problem, which is not so much that Hollywood doesn’t have roles for women; it does, but the movies are dumped on as “chick flicks” and not taken seriously by much of anyone, including the filmmakers. Read more.

4. “Better Call Saul’s” Best Yet. Mike Ehrmantraut’s backstory came to light in the latest, and best, episode of “Better Call Saul” yet, and it came from a first-time TV writer. Esquire’s Megan Friedman talked to writer Gordon Smith.

Jonathan Banks has this beautiful, gut-wrenching monologue in this week’s episode. Did you worry about it being true to the character, who’s not exactly known for his soliloquies?

You know, I think I went into it a little bit willfully ignorant of that. I know he’s not a character that speaks a lot, but I guess what I tried to do mostly was get into what I felt would be the emotional truth for somebody who doesn’t speak a lot. But this is the moment that he has to. He’s to the wall, everything’s gonna come out. It’s certainly an intimate moment and an intimate glimpse inside him.
Read more.

5. Neesploitation. Liam Neeson went from charming, often sensitive leading man to gruff action hero with seemingly no warning at all. Robbie Collin of The Telegraph tries to process how it happened.

To understand “Taken’s” success, you have to see it in the context of what Hollywood was doing at the time – and also what it wasn’t. The first of the interlinked Marvel Studios films, “Iron Man,” was released in the summer of 2008, “The Dark Knight” was one of the year’s most successful titles, and the age of the superheroes was upon us. Fantasy stories were replacing those that were set in a real, or at least recognizable, world. The emerging markets in Russia, China and elsewhere demanded a kind of homogenised blockbuster product, and anything that might impede a film from reaching the widest possible audience – strong violence, moralising and overtly sexual themes, for example– wasn’t generally seen as worth the trouble. But in France, there was a filmmaker who saw things a little differently. Read more.

6. Don Draper’s Origins…and Future? A “Mad Men” exhibit in New York’s Museum of the Moving Image features a section full of details of how Don Draper and other aspects of the show were shaped. The Los Angeles Times’ Meredith Blake reports:

In a journal entry from 1992, Weiner sketches a character whose hard-drinking, sexually voracious habits make him sound a whole lot like Don Draper:

“My character has reached the end of a long circle which has been filled with spirals. He has fought his inner desires, to act on them would be suicide (he has fought this also) all the time embracing the promises of the post-Depression America. He is raised with hope and an almost arrogant belief that anything can be achieved. He is apathetic about history and politics and he doesn’t even follow money. For him the great pleasures of sex + alcohol (the latter usually to deaden the lack of the former) work into his decisions on everything. Sex is his out, booze is his tranquilizer which allows him to act on his desires and dampens the damage he does to others. He is capable of great cruelty, and his secret feelings — the ones we deny — will be revealed in action. He will be brave and cunning but he is ultimately scared because he runs from death and family — for him they are the same.” Read more.

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