Ex-PM Tony Abbott Headbutted

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:43 am
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Posted by camestrosfelapton

So former Australian Prime Minister was headbutted yesterday by in Tasmanian by an anarchist DJ. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/it-was-nothing-to-do-with-samesex-marriage-anarchist-dj-who-headbutted-tony-abbott-speaks-out-20170922-gymu2z.html

The DJ Astro Labe said:

“was just a lifelong ambition to headbutt a fascist because I’m a skinhead that likes ska music and hates fascism. He’s an evil c—, I’m an anarchist and I believe in human rights.”

Now I must say that I disagree strongly with his actions. Do not headbutt Tony Abbott. It is wrong and lowers the discourse and although he is loathsome he isn’t a fascist.

However, the right keeps telling me that I’m not respecting DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT and that the test of freedom of speech is not how we tolerate ideas we approve of but how we tolerate ideas we find obnoxious or reprehensible. I’m also told that we need to respect “both sides” of a debate even when one of those sides if offering violence, advocating genocide or treating the humanity of others as some kind of special favour.

So here’s an idea. Why not put the issue of whether headbutting Tony Abbott is OK to the Australian people? Naturally, I’d vote no – we shouldn’t headbutt Tony Abbott. The government could spend several millions of dollars on a shonky survey and put the question of whether Tony Abbott should get the same basic rights as everybody to a vote – because apparently, that’s how rights work in Australia.

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Posted by Cheryl Eddy

Horror short Rotary, from filmmakers Patrick Young and Powell Robinson, offers a couple of jumps—and one very important reminder. Woe unto the vintage-store employee who just can’t stop herself from answering a phone that should not be ringing. Girl, no! You know that old thing is just for show!


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Posted by Charles Pulliam-Moore

Because it’s her 25th anniversary, this year’s Batman Day has been hijacked by Harley Quinn. While the rest of the world is obsessing over a lovable maniac with a lapsed medical accreditation, we wanna revisit the question that always pops up when you think about how many versions of Batman there are.


There Are Too Many Shows

Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:11 pm
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Posted by Albert Burneko on The Concourse, shared by Cheryl Eddy to io9

There are too many shows on TV. Too many shows! Who can watch all of these shows? I can’t watch all of these shows.


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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern


A leaked tape of MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell having several angry outbursts while filming went viral this week.

On The Late Show, Colbert teased O’Donnell that he was showing “solidarity” by leaking his own outtakes, which are predictably hilarious.

  • Vampire Diaries star Ian Somherhalder “joked” about how he flushed his wife Nikki Reid’s birth control down the toilet because he wanted to start a family. No one was amused. Listen, I will always love Damon Salvatore but Ian Somherhalder can bite me. (via Allure)
  • Battle of the Sexes doesn’t go deep enough into the tragic nature of Billie Jean King’s relationship with Marilyn Barnett. (via Newsweek)
  • Neil Gaiman will voice a character in The Simpsons‘ annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode that parodies his Coraline. (via Slashfilm)
  • The brilliantly funny Kumail Nanjiani is slated to host Saturday Night Live this fall, and there’s some other Gal hosting another episode that you may have heard of. Honestly, give me ALL of the Wonder Woman sketches. And if Gal feels like bringing back singing Chris Pine for a cameo, I am here for that.

Happy imminent weekend! I hope the world doesn’t end tomorrow. What’d you see today?

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Posted by Kylie Cheung

Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

Just one week after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill which would have offered abortion coverage for all began to gain traction, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy introduced a new Obamacare repeal bill. The bill would — on top of taking away health care and potentially killing thousands of disabled, sick, and elderly Americans — slash women’s access to reproductive health care.

Obamacare repeal attempts are like a GOP zombie that refuses to die, and it would almost be comical if they didn’t pose continual threats to women’s living standards. Graham-Cassidy, like its previous incarnations, would defund Planned Parenthood and also slash Medicaid funding for maternal care, which really raises a question of whether Graham, Cassidy, and all Republicans, frankly, are “pro-life” or anti-woman.

And I think we all know the answer to that question.

Here’s everything else that happened:

Illinois governor refuses to say whether he’ll sign bill to protect Roe

This week, Illinois legislators passed HB 40, a bill that would ensure that Illinois women had access to safe, legal abortion in the event that a Trump-controlled Supreme Court were to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. The bill would also allow women with Medicaid and state-employee health insurance to use this coverage for abortion services, which is the controversial part for “moderate” politicians, who refuse to recognize abortion as the legal and objectively necessary medical procedure it is.

However, legislators say they will not send the bill to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s until he states whether or not he will sign it, and Rauner has said he can’t say what he’ll do until he sees the bill. Things are at a bit of a stand-still in the state.

Rauner has a record of signing off on anti-choice legislation, such as a bill he signed last year that would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortion services but require them to refer patients to abortion providers for religious or moral reasons. For obvious reasons, the law pleased absolutely no one, but at the very least it showed that Rauner isn’t as extreme as he could be. Rauner says he’s been meeting with advocates for and against the bill, but it’s unclear when a decision will be made.

Federal judge blocks abortion access expansion in Missouri

After one Planned Parenthood clinic in Kansas City, MO got its abortion license back after it was revoked in 2012 as a result of TRAP laws, a federal judge for the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a one-line ruling blocking three other Planned Parenthood locations in Columbia, Jopin, and Springfield from doing the same. The ruling put a stay on a previous April 2017 ruling from U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs that blocked the “undue burden” placed on Missouri clinics by laws requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges.

These laws existed despite the objective safety of surgical abortion, which almost never results in urgent trips to the hospital. Rather, the laws exist solely to shut down clinics that can’t afford to implement these changes, and either force women to travel miles for abortion services or deny them safe surgical abortion altogether. These laws caused a clinic in Columbia to shut down in 2015.

Sachs’ ruling earlier this year was meant to expand abortion access, but the stay implemented by the Eighth U.S. Circuit this week means this expansion will be substantially delayed if not canceled altogether.

Maine ACLU files lawsuit to expand abortion access

According to a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a person seeking abortion services in Maine’s Fort Kent would have to travel more than six hours round-trip to the nearest abortion provider. This is because presently, Maine is one of 41 states that allows only doctors and not health professionals such as nurse practitioners to perform surgical abortions.

The two aforementioned groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to overturn this law, citing the undue burden placed on people seeking abortion care in the state, as well as safety concerns.

“Anyone who has made it through a Maine winter in a rural area knows that travel can be dangerous or impossible at times–it’s wrong to make a woman risk a journey of hundreds of miles to get an abortion when there are qualified providers nearby,” Zachary Heiden, legal director of the ACLU of Maine, said in a statement.

California bill would prevent companies from firing women for using birth control

Last week, the California state assembly sent Assembly Bill 569, which would prohibit employers from punishing workers who use birth control, have abortions, or make other reproductive health decisions that employers disagree with, to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The bill passed among legislators in a 45-13 vote. It’s particularly significant under the presidency of Donald Trump, who has previously said Christians are the most oppressed group in America, and has promised to be the staunchest of allies to religious freedom advocates.

Few ever talk about how “religious freedom” laws that allow employers to fire or punish employees for not living according to their religious preferences seems more of a violation of religious freedom than the opposite.

“Women in this country have been fired for getting pregnant while unmarried, for using in-vitro fertilization and for other personal reasons related to their own reproductive health,” Democratic State Assembly Rep. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement regarding the proposed legislation. “No woman should ever lose a job for exercising her right to decide when, how, or whether to have a family.”

Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!

(image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by Vivian Kane

Ivanka Trump went on The Dr. Oz Show this week to talk about postpartum depression. Trump says she suffered from postpartum depression to some degree after the birth of each of her three children. “I felt like I was not living up to my potential as a parent or as an entrepreneur and executive,” she said.

Postpartum depression is incredibly common, yet highly stigmatized. Approximately one in nine women suffer from PPD, and too many feel shame because of it. It’s not talked about nearly enough, so I’m all for as many women as possible sharing their stories, and that includes Ivanka Trump.

However, in her case, we also have to address the hypocrisy. Trump has dedicated herself to supporting and representing an administration that is actively trying to strip people of their health insurance. Those defending the Graham-Cassidy bill–which was hopefully killed today, but which Donald Trump aggressively supports–promises it protects those with pre-existing conditions. That’s a lie. You don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to believe Jimmy Kimmel. It’s a lie.

If Ivanka Trump were at risk of losing her healthcare, or not being able to pay exorbitant premiums of being in a “high-risk pool,” she might be worried. Because postpartum depression can be considered a preexisting condition. But Trump doesn’t have to worry about those things; she’ll always be able to afford her health care.

Ivanka Trump never seems more out of touch than when she’s trying to be vulnerable and relatable.

(image: screengrab, Fox News)

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Posted by Germain Lussier

Science fiction is at its best when it takes a crazy concept and applies it to real world issues, and that’s exactly what writer director Yoshio Kato does with 3FT Ball and Souls, a teeny tiny Japanese film filled with big ideas and even bigger heart.


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Posted by camestrosfelapton


McEdifice Returns by Timothy the Talking Cat and Straw Puppy. For all rights reserved under both Common Law and Admiralty Law for ever. For the corporate shells known as TIMOTHY THE TALKING CAT and STRAW PUPPY.

Oh we should start this chapter with an excerpt from a future encyclopedia so we can do a subtle info-dump for background!

Planet Campus – the Boot Camp and Corporate Office Planet of Tau Bootes X. Straddled by a single ring-shaped continent that alternates in bands between lonely countryside fall of barracks and obstacle courses and dull looking office buildings full of out-dated office equipment.

The hyper-specialism of the galactic civilisation has inexorably led to planets that were just-one-thing: the desert planet of Sandy, the lumpy planet of Lumpus, the planet that just looks like Amsterdam all over of Damsterham, and the Sydney Opera House planet of Utzon-Jørn to name but a few. To resist the planetary monoculture creating a fundamental fragility to galactic civilisation, the ruling Galactical Confederation of Galactic Imperial Republics had instigated a controversial “Come on, Every Planet Has to Have at Least Two Things Guys” law, that mandated that every planet had to have at least a pair of signature things. The desert planet of Sandy for example also became the unfeasibly large worm planet whereas the lumpy planet of Lumpus tried to skirt the law by declaring itself also the Planet of Very Tiny Valleys planet.

Planet Campus of Tau Bootes X had already staked out a very stable niche as the planet of early 21st Century offices. In an attempt to preserve cultures of historical note and ways of life that might become extinct due to social and technological change, Planet Campus had been populated with low-rise office buildings and locked into 21st-century technology. Dealing with paperwork, and project management methodologies the planet had descended into urban warfare due to a quasi-religious conflict between traditionalist adherents to the church of Prince2 and ninja-heretics committed to Agile Methodology.  

Only after the civil war had consumed much of the planet was it revealed that the conflict had been orchestrated by histriosocioempiricists committed to Seldonism, who wished to see if 21st-century social media was the root cause of the factionalism witnessed on Earth at the equivalent time. After careful consideration of the evidence, they had absolved social-media as a root cause and had concluded in a lengthy report that the primary cause was that “people are just dicks.”

The Space Galactical Space Army landed in force as peace-keepers to end the conflict and to ensure that Planet Campus could return to its vital economic work of moving gradually towards the paperless-office by printing huge reports on the topic. After thirty years of a second civil war between the Space Galactical Space Army and the insurgents, a peace of sorts was brokered. The planet was divided into alternate bands – business zone/boot camp/business zone/boot camp etc. Thus successfully separating warring project management ideologies with military zones mainly filled with new recruits. The success of a planet with two signature things would be an inspiration for planets everywhere. – Extract from “What’s the Thing about Planet Campus of Tau Bootes X” Omnipancyclopedia Cosmosicos 3576

McEdifice stepped out of the post-orbital drop craft and looked around him. In the hazy distance he could just make out what looked like the central business district of a small town but surrounding him was green countryside, obstacle courses, barracks and a habit designed for cruel, demanding, sadistic and shouty drill-sergeants.

“Welcome to Bootcamp 17 of Planet Campus the Bootcamp Planet of Tau Bootes X.” said a particularly loud drill sergeant.

“Nooooooo!!!!!” cried McEdifice.

Tune in next time for another thrilling chapter!

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Posted by Beth Elderkin

Earlier this week, an episode of Netflix’s children cartoon Maya the Bee was pulled after a hidden phallus was discovered by an angry parent. Now, the studio behind the cartoon looks to be pursuing charges against the penis-drawing artist. But in truth, sneaking dicks and other sex jokes into cartoons is weirdly…


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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Entertainment Network (GLSEN) announced that they’re awarding this year’s Visionary Award to DC Comics, citing the publisher’s “commitment to showcasing diverse storylines.”

GLSEN is an organization dedicated to championing LGBTQIA students and causes in K–12 education. Their executive director, Eliza Bayard, explained the choice:

Superheroes hold an incredibly powerful place in our popular culture. Equally powerful is for LGBTQ youth to see themselves in our world, and DC enables just that. DC’s commitment to representing LGBTQ characters in all forms of media is both incredibly important and empowering.

GLSEN highlighted “Batwoman as the first lesbian super hero as a comic lead and [Batgirl’s best friend] Alysia Yeoh as the first trans character” in lauding DC’s accomplishments in this area. It’s great to see these characters acknowledged and celebrated, and the president of DC Entertainment and president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Diane Nelson, will be accepting the award on behalf of the company.

“At DC, we are committed to telling stories that reflect and inspire our diverse audience and we look forward to celebrating with the LGBTQ students and activists from across the country,” Nelson said, which is a very nice sentiment to hear broadcast from the top, especially a mere four years after writers quit Batwoman after being told to scrap several storylines, including a marriage between heroine Kate Kane and her girlfriend Maggie. (At the time, DC’s line was that no one in their universe should be happily wed, which, well, hmm.)

Comics have long been at the vanguard of social issues, and diverse LGBTQIA representation therein is growing. It’s a “trend” that I believe will continue apace until it no longer is a trend or a unique feature of a character that needs to be talked about, but is accepted without commentary. However, for all of the progress made in print, we have to draw attention to the continued shocking dearth of LGBTQIA characters in superhero mass media, especially movies. DC has given us Alex Danvers and Sara Lance on the small screen, for example, but what are the chances we’ll see Diana Prince explore her bisexuality anytime soon?

DC and Marvel have crafted massive, multi-billion dollar complex universes where, at current, we haven’t seen a single nod to LGBTQIA superheroes—or even sidekicks—as a concept that could exist. Aliens, mutants, magic, and super powers are viable, but not characters with a lifestyle that might be questioned by middle America or the massive Chinese market.

In 2017, this should be an unacceptable state of affairs. And before someone in the comments starts breaking out the argument that these movies are not about romance, consider how often a milquetoast love interest is foisted on one of our heroes, and the audience is supposed to accept it without question, because Heterosexuality.

Marvel is, in some cases, even worse in this regard, shoehorning in unearned romance (Black Widow/Hulk, anyone?) and seeming to do everything they can to shut down speculation on-screen about characters many fans prefer to see coded as queer. After Civil War came out, Vanity Fair observed:

…doesn’t Captain America: Civil War go out of its way to “define” Bucky and Steve’s relationship when Cap smooches Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) while Bucky looks on approvingly? Where’s the room for interpretation in that moment? And, leaving aside the vague creepiness of Steve making a move on Peggy’s (very willing) niece, the moment itself wasn’t necessary to the flow of the movie at all.

This hasn’t been a good time for LGBTQIA characters in big movies, period. We get winks and nods and passing glances and nothing else—take the recent cases of Beauty and the Beast, Power Rangers, and Star Trek: Into Darkness, whose “LGBTQIA” characters received a ton of headlines and buzz but little actual acknowledgment. Blink and you miss their LGBTQIA characterization entirely. There’s still a very, very long way to go, and we can never stop pushing the studios to be better and braver. As comics demonstrate, representation across many spectrums is vitally important.

With the recent mainstream success of LGBTQIA stories like Moonlight and “San Junipero,” part of me wants to believe that the studios will start making visible strides forward, if only as a cynical money grab, which is how much of showbusiness operates. “What is it the millennials are into these days?” I imagine some wizened old man smoking a cigar asking a Hollywood executive boardroom. “The gays? The superheroes? Get me a treatment.”

For the sake of the kids growing up who might now have a greater chance of seeing themselves reflected on screen, let’s hope this is the case. But I’m not holding my breath.

(via THR, image: DC Comics)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

We’ve reported more than once, over the past few days, on Jimmy Kimmel’s use of his late night show to call out the latest Republican health care bill and how it fails the very standards that one of its primary sponsors promised him on television. However, as is so often the case, those who disagree with Kimmel decided to disagree not with the points he raised, but with his very right to be a political advocate in the first place.

That’s absurd for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that Kimmel’s take on the health care bill has been supported by independent analysis several times over, while the Republican senators who back the bill don’t even care that they can’t get a full picture of its consequences from the Congressional Budget Office before voting on it. But perhaps the best way to combat this ridiculous argument is the strategy employed above by Media Matters.

In the Fox News compilation, they demonstrate that the network, over and over again, brings on celebrity guests to talk about politics, despite that a frequent talking point of right wing commentators is that celebrities like Kimmel should “stick to [whatever their profession is.]” Not to mention how one of their own hosts complained that Kimmel was a “Hollywood Elitist,” which could easily be applied to their own famous friends. That line of thinking belies the fact that the cable news hosts themselves aren’t much different—just a lot less (intentionally) comedic—let alone the celebrity guests they’re OK putting on their air to convince people, as long as their political opinions match up.

I’m not saying Fox should stop bringing celebrity guests on to talk politics. I’m saying we need to retire the “stick to comedy/acting/writing/whatever” and “Hollywood Elites” line entirely. The clip doesn’t need anything else to be a complete farce, other than just showing the hypocrisy unfold time and time again. Luckily, with John McCain saying he will vote no on the Graham-Cassidy bill, it seems that the Republican effort has failed, and it’s time for bipartisan action—even Republican Senator Joni Earnst just admitted as much after the McCain development, to applause:

(featured image: screengrab)

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Posted by James Whitbrook

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular roundup of the toys most likely to threaten our personal savings this week. We’ve got even more Star Wars, a wonderfully specific Spider-Man, and honestly, the world’s most adorable Godzilla action figure. Check it out!


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Posted by PZ Myers

Wow. Every person on the planet saw one version or another of this “Octopolis” story and had to send it to me. It was the subject of a Friday Cephalopod a year ago, you know.

Apparently, this is the second octopus city discovered, which is interesting — they’re exhibiting more complex social behaviors.

However, I have two complaints.

  1. A lot of the stories are describing Octopolis/Octlantis as “gloomy”. Why? Is it because the inhabitants aren’t swimming around with toothy grins? The cephalopods look quite normal to me.

  2. A more serious complaint, about this quote:

    The discovery was a surprise, Scheel told Quartz. “These behaviors are the product of natural selection, and may be remarkably similar to vertebrate complex social behavior. This suggests that when the right conditions occur, evolution may produce very similar outcomes in diverse groups of organisms.”

    Nope. You don’t know that. There’s no evidence and no reason to think this behavior is the product of natural selection — quite the opposite, actually. It looks to me like the spontaneous emergence of a novel property of octopus behavior in an unusual and fortuitous environment.

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Posted by Cheryl Eddy

In the new It movie, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a terrifying, sewer-dwelling killer who turns your worst fears against you. He is also, as his name suggests, capable of absolutely ripping up the dance floor no matter what song is playing, as a hilarious new Twitter account demonstrates.


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Posted by camestrosfelapton

Regular readers will know that I have some fondness for dysfunctional talking animals and I like cartoons and I like binge-watching Netflix. So yes, I’ve watched all four seasons of BoJack Horseman. You’ll note that while I’ve made passing comments about it that I haven’t reviewed even a single episode.

Mainly this is because I don’t know where to start or what the point of the review would be. So I thought I’d write two different pieces. This first one avoids big spoilers, talks more in generalities and focuses on what the show is like. If you haven’t seen the show, this review might give a sense of the show.

The second review will have more spoilers – if I write it. Part of writing about the stuff you consume is to debrief yourself and help articulate what you experienced. Season 4 of the show, in particular, has a lot to process.

Let’s begin. BoJack Horseman is an animated comedy aimed at adults about a washed up former sitcom star and his dysfunctional life. Simple. He is also a horse. The world he lives in is our world but also some people are animals. Some people are fish, some people are insects. BoJack’s agent/ex-girlfriend is a cat. Some people are humans. People still eat chicken but chickens are people and essentially chickens are people enslaved and kept docile to be eaten by people in what is a deeply disturbing nightmare scenario that isn’t a metaphor it is just how the world is.

The show is also very funny .

I love shows that have an inbuilt capacity to essentially do anything and BoJack Horseman is one of those shows. The core of the storyline is the life of a genuinely unlikable person. BoJack is conceited and cynical, he uses people and manipulates people. Not only is he unhappy but he takes active steps to sabotage the happiness of others. Narcissistic-yet-self-loathing and at best amoral, he operates in part as the antagonist of the show. When other characters make the move to get BoJack out of their lives, you cheer them on – it is always a smart move. When those same characters find themselves embroiled in his unpleasantness you feel sad for them.

Except…BoJack is also a sympathetic character. Which is hard and it is worth stating up front that having an emotionally abusive character at the centre of a show and also making him sympathetic is a problematic concept. Yet it works – it works because the surrounding characters are also sympathetically drawn even when some of them start just as one-note jokes. Also by making the audience feel sympathetic towards BoJack the cycle of emotional damage becomes intelligible. The ups and downs of his career, his occasional personal insights, the apparent missed opportunities for a better happier life put the viewer in the same position as those self-same characters that we think should just get FAR AWAY from the piece of shit that is BoJack. Except of course we also like those characters and want them to stay in the show and hence want them to stay involved in BoJack’s life and rationalise that maybe they are good for him… and once again the viewer ends up in the mindset of the person trying to be friends with a shitty person.

I’m not really selling this as a funny show.

It is a funny show. Talking animals is a basically funny concept. Taking that concept and then extrapolating it further makes it even funnier. Taking that concept and then occasionally delving into the implications of a world in which some people are literally animals and working out the mechanics of it, is both absurd and funny and pushes the show well into speculative fiction. If animals are people then what about sea creatures? Well, they are also people and live in giant sea cities and have a whole somewhat alien culture.

Showbiz, politics, sitcom cliches all get satirised both crudely and subtly. Sight gags and puns and wordplay keep the episodes sparkling with humour while absurd events send characters off on increasingly irrational sequences of events (e.g. the Governor of California having a hand transplant and getting lobster claws – also the Governor of California is a woodchuck called Woodchuck Couldchuck Berkowitz).

The humour is inappropriate and the events that happen to the characters are cruel but in general, what it avoids doing is making the humour pointlessly cruel. There are times when wordplay is both stupid-funny AND devastating to the character but it isn’t Seth Macfarlane or South Park nasty. There is a consistent current of humanity and sympathy throughout.

In part that is due to some amazing writing but also due to the cast. Will Arnett as BoJack is truly impressive but also in Season 4 Amy Sedaris as BoJack’s agent Princess Carolyn does some incredible and heart-wrenching acting. Alison Brie as writer/journalist/blogger Diane Nguyen is consistently good. Aaron Paul pulls off a different but similar trick that he did with Breaking Bad – taking an apparently shallow and uncomplex secondary character and turning them into the heart of the show. Paul F Tompkins as BoJack’s frenemy, the irrepressibly jolly Labrador Mr Peanutbutter also shifts a character who starts as a one-note joke (he’s a person who has the personality of a labrador) into a complex character.

I’m still processing Season 4 and that’s what I’d like to write about next because it was extraordinary and at times very upsetting. I don’t think there is a way to discuss it without spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the show but intend to, don’t read that post.

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Posted by Katharine Trendacosta

We’re inundated with comic book movies and TV shows these days. But for a decade now, we’ve been in the age of the “practical” hero look. And that was fine in the beginning, when everyone was worried about getting regular people to take this genre seriously. But we are far past that point now, and there are some…


New Books and ARCs, 9/22/17

Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:52 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Just in time for the weekend, a new batch of books and ARCs at the Scalzi Compound for you to peruse. Which would you want to give a place in your own “to be read” stack? Tell us in the comments.

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Posted by Vivian Kane

Coming into season two of The Good Place, the big question was how the show would move forward after exploding their entire premise in the first season finale.

Before we go any further, be warned that there are spoilers galore ahead, for season one as well as the first episode of season two, as well as lots of speculation on what’s to come. If you’re not caught up, turn back now and come back once you’re up to speed.

At the end of season one, we learn that the Good Place is actually the Bad Place, designed for the codependent torture of only four people. Whatever direction season two decided to take, it was going to be very different from season one. And as we saw with this week’s premiere, that’s very true, and completely fine.

More than any other character, season one was Eleanor’s show. We knew her secrets and her goals: that she doesn’t belong and wants to stay in the Good Place, and maybe also become a better person in the process. This season, it’s not yet clear who our main protagonist will be. The first episode was split between our four deceased characters, but the central focus seemed to be on Michael. Now we’re in on his secrets, both those being kept from the gang, as well as from his boss.

By the end of the second season premiere, we were already on Michael’s third pass with the construct of his “Good Place.” How many times will he have to reset? What are we rooting for, exactly? It’s not like Eleanor & co. can level out of the Bad Place. Unless they can. We don’t know! The possibilities and mysteries of this season are so exciting, and we have no idea where this ride will go.

As we look ahead, though, there’s one element from the season premiere that stuck with me. Having just done a season one rewatch, I was struck by how different Eleanor felt in this episode than in the pilot. This could just be wild speculation, but this show lends itself to that; it’s part of its fun.

(Me watching The Good Place)

The biggest indicator that something is different about Eleanor is her behavior at the welcome party. As the torture demons try to get her drunk, even Michael notes how out of character her sobriety is. (“She brought a flask to her driver’s test!”) Sure, this can be explained by her need to find Chidi, a circumstance that wasn’t there the first time around—and it doesn’t take long for her to (almost) give in to tequila shots—but this level of responsibility would not have been typical for living Eleanor.

There are other moments that seem to fit the Eleanor of the end of last season far more than her first day in the Good Place. They’re tiny things, like apologizing when she bumps into Jason in the street. That might not seem like much, but it’s worlds apart from this woman:

There’s a relative softness to this new Eleanor that could be dismissed as an acting or directing choice, but on rewatch of season one, you notice Ted Danson give nearly imperceptible reactions–just the tiniest flinches–when things aren’t going according to his plan. This show is committed to details, and if there are any changes at all in a character’s demeanor, I trust they’re deliberate.

All of this is to say, I believe that the growth Eleanor experienced last season has stuck with her on some unconscious, cellular level. And if that’s true, the possibilities for that unknowing evolution are really exciting.

And while we’re talking about awesome female characters who may hold all the answers of the show, let’s talk about Janet!

Janet had a huge moment in the first episode, though I didn’t notice its significance until my second watch. When Janet runs into Jason, he tells her how isolated he feels.

She responds, “What you’re saying is there are certain aspects of your existence here in the Good Place that are confusing for you? And you’re searching for someplace to go where you feel less lonely. I know someplace you can go.”

And then next time we see them, they’re walking into Eleanor’s house, so Jason can speak with her. “Privately. About something.”

And that’s all that’s said about that! Why did she bring Jason to Eleanor to make him feel less lonely? What does she expect him to talk about? The mere fact that she expected him to speak to anyone betrays his whole Good Place identity. THIS IS BIG.

Clearly, Janet doesn’t need notes in her mouth. She doesn’t reference her “marriage” to Jason, but she knows something about the history of the group. I’m calling it here and now, Janet is the key and the savior to this whole thing.

(image: NBC)

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