While news organizations chase The Narrative and drift ever more openly to the Left in a partisan manner,some writers and producers of scripted shows occasionally rebel against the politically correct—and sometimes in the most unexpected places.
Three of the shows highlighted here are written and directed by African Americans, one is about a firm of Chicago Democrat attorneys, and another is a movie in which two of the main characters are bank robbers trying to get their mother’s land back.
Each of these is the right kind of subversive. Not preachy, not conservative propaganda. Otherwise, this would be a Top Ten List of the most pointed moments in Tim Allen’s likable, but obvious, Last Man Standing, or Tom Selleck’s best lines on Blue Bloods.
5. Atlanta (FX), Luke Cage (Netflix)—Hands Up, Didn’t Shoot
Young Daniel Glover just may be a transformational figure for his generation. His brilliant sitcom Atlanta is not only extremely creative and hilarious, it is filled with heart. The former Community star writes, produces, directs, and acts in Atlanta (and also is as interesting a hip hop artist as there is, under the nom de plume of Childish Gambino).
In Atlanta, he plays Earn, the cousin of a would-be rapper called Paper Boi (real name Alfred) who has a song that suddenly (and with Earn’s help) blows up on local radio. A confrontation with an actual thug in the first episode leads to his arrest.
While the show mainly uses the fact that the incident pumps up Paper Boi’s thug cred (to his frustration, as he’s a nice guy) for sharp jabs at thug culture throughout the season, how the police react (this show was filmed at the height of Black Lives Matter) is also instructive.
The worst treatment Earn and Alfred get from the system is that they spend the night bored to death (or slightly afraid of the other arrestees) in a room waiting to be booked, bailed out, or released. An enthusiastic cop even wants a selfie with a befuddled Paper Boi.
Luke Cage, based on the Marvel Comic about a super strong, indestructible black superhero in Harlem (first seen in Jessica Jones) is even more blatant.
Cage has been framed as a hostage taker. The bad guys, taking the Black Lives Matter view of police, assume that the cops will shoot on sight since they have been cleared to do so (with super weapons that can actually hurt Cage).
How does Luke Cage escape the gung-ho SWAT team that storms the building loaded for bear?
He puts his hands up.
More on Luke Cage later.
4. Black-ish (ABC), Grandma Should Support Trump
While Black-ish has lost some of its subtlety this year, with dad Dre acting the TV dad buffoon to a sometimes sub-Homer Simpson degree (many times by overreacting on race), it still has just enough great moments that it is still on my DVR.
One of the best was when Ruby, Dre’s mom, was given a Who-Should-You-Support-for-President test by her granddaughter.
“You mean there’s NOT a wall between us and Mexico?”
Ruby scores 100% Trump, all the while insisting that because she’s black she knows she is a Democrat. Combined with last year’s episode about blacks voting Democrat—just because…? Moments like this give hope that the series hasn’t quite slid into utter sitcom silliness yet.
See the quiz here.
3. Homeland Season 5 (Showtime), Syrian Refugee Pipeline for Terror
Homeland didn’t rip Season 5 from the headlines, it anticipated them.
Season 5 had Carrie working security for an Internet whistleblower company that had one of its employees risking lives and treating terrorist threats as beside the point, while an ISIS cell was infiltrating operatives into Germany in order to attack the Berlin subway.
That said, Season 6 looks like it wants to make up for all the Islamophobe(!) charges that have been leveled against the show for 5 years. Blah! Let’s hope the trailers are misleading and there is a twist coming.
2. People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)—A Whole Deck of Race Cards
There is no coming away from watching FX’s fine scripted miniseries on the O.J. Simpson trial with any conclusion other than that he killed his wife, the jury knew he killed his wife, and they used Mark Fuhrman as an excuse to get back at the LAPD for Rodney King.
There is also no getting away from the fact that Johnnie Cochran deliberately risked more riots in favor of his agenda, knowing all the time he was doing it for a murderer.
The point is hammered home through the eyes of Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) and Bob Kardashian (David Schwimmer), personal friends of O.J. who were on the defense team. Shapiro was defending O.J., right or wrong, but balked at using race in a city that had recently rioted, and was gradually shut out from the defense. Kardashian was crestfallen at the defense because in his heart he refused to believe his close friend O.J. could do such a thing—until he realized that Cochran was fashioning this defense because innocence just couldn’t fly.
Oh, and if Sterling K. Brown and Sarah Paulson aren’t dead ringers for Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark, then the term has no meaning. No matter how tired you got of the story back in the day, or how much you think you know about the case, watch this. TV doesn’t get much better.
1. Hail Caesar (movie)—Yes, Virginia, There Were Hollywood Communists
There is no more worshiped of a sacred cow in Hollywood than the myth that the Hollywood Ten were just idealists who cared about equality and were blacklisted by hysterical McCarthyist America during the “Red Scare.”
Ron Radosh takes care of that myth for the serious minded in Red Star Over Hollywood.
But the Coen brothers introduced the topic in the little-seen Hail Caesar, a send-up of the making of religious epics in Hollywood of the ’50s.
Of course, Hollywood communists never kidnapped a clueless hunky actor and held him for ransom so they could afford to “advance the dialectic,” but that’s beside the point.
Unlike my least favorite Coen brother movie, Barton Fink, a dark, surreal mess that is also is about a leftist writer trying to change the world through film, Hail Caesar is a hoot. George Clooney sure is good at playing dumb when the Coens get ahold of him. (This typically liberal actor hilariously starts buying into the communist discussion sessions.)
By the way, is Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels the Coens’ favorite movie, or what? O Brother, Where Art Thou takes its title from the awful movie that liberal Joel McCrea makes in Sullivan in order to “change the world,” and this is the second Coen movie taking shots at left-wing writers trying to do the same.
And like Sturges, the Coens actually come down on the side of the worthiness of making good entertainment absent obvious propaganda. It’s really a shame this movie was ignored, but I think it raised a lot of uncomfortable topics for the critic class.
There is also a hilarious scene where a studio head tries to find out from a panel of religious leaders, “Does the depiction of Christ Jesus cut the mustard?” but that’s another topic.