Last Week’s Episode – If America Were a Reality Show I Still Wouldn’t Watch It

Last Week's Episode

It’s been a month since the last time I caught up on entertainment news en masse and distilled it all down for you. But here I am again to report on the random happenings in nerd media. Over here in America, things are… I don’t even know how to put it in words. I wish it were fiction that the only smart thing the governor of Texas has said this week is we might keep to-go and delivery alcohol after the pandemic (still can’t buy before noon on Sundays though). Alas, the reality we live in right now is pretty wild and often I wish I could just turn off this channel. Since that’s not possible, I’m here to try sifting through the good, bad, and reunion news for you. But not in that order, because we could all use some good news to end on.

The Reunions

Tonight (or tomorrow for streaming people like myself), Parks and Recreation fans everywhere can tune in for a special reunion episode to benefit Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Co-creator Mike Shur has said that the original show came out of the economic crisis of 2007-2008 and the current situation we find ourselves in seemed like a “compelling reason” to bring the group back together. In one interview Aubrey Plaza was vulnerable and discussed how getting back into character as April brought up a lot of stuff for her. I, for one am excited to see the special, especially after reading about the interesting ways they handled producing and shooting the scenes remotely. Actors were their own location scouts and sent in pictures of areas of their houses for potential places to shoot. In keeping with the humanitarian spirit of the original show Shur reminds people that food insecurity is an issue we should be addressing pandemic or not. Hopefully, this episode will help bring awareness to an important issue and give fans a little fun peek into what the Parks and Rec characters would be up to if they were in this quarantine time with us. [Variety] [Variety 2]

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#FreshPrince #willfromhome (@via @willsmith & @westbrook)

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“This is a story all about how, [our lives] got all flipped-turned upside down” makes a pretty great theme song for 2020 too, doesn’t it? Will Smith reunited the cast members of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for a special episode this week on his virtual show Will From Home. They paid tribute to the late James Avery (Uncle Phil) and replayed fun clips including the iconic dance routine with cousin Ashley played by Tatyana Ali. Last month Will was in the news when he called an emergency family meeting on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk and tried to stem the misinformation about COVID-19. Next week Smith will be a topic on the popular social media show again in an episode titled “How Your Relationship Can Survive Quarantine”. [Billboard] [ET]

Tennis superstars like Serena and Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka, and recently retired Maria Sharapova are reuniting after the cancellation of Wimbledon 2020 earlier this year. This time in the virtual realm via a video game! That’s right, these pro athletes are turning to esports during the pandemic and teaming up with celebrities for a charity tournament on Mario Tennis Aces. In maybe the most bizarre pairing, John McEnroe is teaming up with YouTuber iJustine as commentators for the event. [Polygon]

The Bad

Indian film fans around the world mourn the loss of legendary actors Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor. Khan died at 53 and was most known for his ability to cross easily from commercial to art-house projects. He was in Hollywood films such as Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi. Also a cancer survivor, Kapoor died one day later in Mumbai at the age of 67. His Bollywood legacy will be carried on by his son and wife, both prominent A-list actors themselves. [NYTs] [Variety]

Last week Rosie Knight covered the many furloughed entertainment workers and this week’s news on that front isn’t much better. NPR reports that a recent survey found two-thirds of creative artists have lost their jobs and many have had huge losses of income. The voices of furloughed Hollywood were recently featured on Variety. These stories are a good reminder that the entertainment industry is built on the backs of working-class people that string together jobs to make ends meet. Not everyone in entertainment has yachts and can weather this storm from the safety of their penthouses. [NPR]

The success of  Trolls World Tour moving its premiere from theaters straight to on-demand has sparked an industry war between NBCUniversal and AMC theaters. The movie theater giant has said they now refuse to play NBCUniversal films. Yes, that is correct. AMC made this statement before most movie theaters are even allowed to reopen. Rather than see the opportunity for an innovative partnership in the playground that is streaming services, AMC will take their toys and go home. In a particularly prophetic comment during our discussion of this news WWAC editor Wendy Browne said, “This is Blockbuster turning up their nose at what would become Netflix.” Only time will tell how this film feud will affect future revenue. [THR]

The Good

There is some good news in animation of things to come and things to come back this week. Sailor Moon Eternal released a new trailer.

And all three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender are returning to Netflix by mid-May. Who else is ready to rewatch a show where a group of kids defeats an evil overlord destroying the environment?

Netflix’s Queer Eye is joining the Animal Crossing New Horizons bandwagon. The Happy Home Academy can eat their heart out, the show’s interior designer Bobby Berk is here to offer decorating tips. Comics artist Babs Tarr showed off her kitchen design and got a gif of approval from Berk for her pastel witchy vibes. [Kotaku]

Recovering hobbit and actor Elijah Wood is also getting in on the AC action by the power of the Twitterverse. An Animal Crossing player tweeted their good turnip prices and apparently Elwood (Elijah’s avatar) responded. There is a kind of in-game stock market where people buy turnips from an adorable pig with allergies then resell them, hopefully for a profit, to the tanuki twins who run the general store. This interaction has already been meme’d, of course (see below). Wholesome stories like these are keeping me going right now. [Twitter]

Little did Twitter user Louise O’Conner know back in January just how prophetic this statement would be. One portion of the media many are turning to right now is the food industry.

When I saw that Great British Bake Off former contestant and winner Nadiya Hussain has a new show on Netflix, I decided it would be nice to end this week’s article with a foodie and fun section. So enjoy this video of Hussain making the most delicious looking dish that looks like an omelet and a quesadilla had a baby. I’m already in love with how she’s being pro-dried herbs and casually talks about how sometimes she can’t be bothered to mince 2 cloves of garlic. All about that dried garlic over here! It sounds like the perfect show for those who want to up their home cooking while stuck at home without the energy it takes to do something like making bread from scratch.

I also feel like I’m the one millennial left in the world who does not have a sourdough starter. My friend Hannah is currently winning a local contest for naming her started Doughlene with the tag line “she just might steal your man.” I do love clever names and puns, but don’t have the energy to keep anything else alive these days. But if you do want to get in on the baking bonanza, former GBBO contestant Dan Beasley-Harling has shared a recipe for a sourdough starter.

Rather than watch baking like me or baking yourself like half of the world, maybe you’d rather read about food. Another alum of everyone’s favorite wholesome reality cooking show, Ruby Tandoh has an awesome book about eating and food culture called Eat Up, which I’ve added to my reading list because of another friend named Hanna. Read her glowing review below and dream of when we can return to bakeries in person again.

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New ✨review✨ of a must-read and absolute favorite of 2019! • Ruby Tandoh, of Great British Baking Show fame, is such a gem! Before even finishing this book, I knew it landed a spot in my top 10 reads of the year. Part memoir, part manifesto, and 100% ode to food, this book was an absolute joy to read. Ruby discusses food in every context, as a way to show love & connection, as self-care, as one of life’s greatest pleasures, as a way of understanding the world, as a tool of oppression & subjugation, as another conquest of capitalism, and most importantly, as all around political. • She talks about food culture with relish and often criticism. How something so beautiful & a simple joy of life can be used in so many harmful ways by governments & capitalists & the diet & wellness industry. This book is anti-fatphobia, pro-recognizing your privilege, and inspires unpacking the many complex feelings & experiences we have around food. I genuinely can’t recommend enough. I wish everyone would read this book. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5⭐️’s • “No doubt some people, probably guys, will be thrown off balance by your forthrightness. Who cares. Eat their leftovers. If they carry on judging you, eat them, too.” • Shout-out to @the.alphabeth & her review being the exact reason I decided not to wait in this read any longer! • #bookstagram #bookworm #booknerd #booklover #bibliophile #mynonfiction19 #nonfiction #memoir #bestof19 #feministreads #5starreview #mustread #rubytandoh #eatup #food #foodwriting #importantreads

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Or you could swear off baking all together and join celebrity chef Ina Garten in a cocktail.

Happy binge-watching and baking this weekend nerds! Eat and drink during the pandemic responsibly folks.


Lola Watson

Lola Watson

I'm a community college professor, nerd, and mom who collects comics, knits, and procrastinates a whole host of other hobbies in my lack of spare time. My research focuses on using technology in the classroom, pop culture, children's literature, and comics.