Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season Two: Pop Culture, PTSD and Persistent Positivity

First and foremost, it’s important to note that in its second season, the theme song to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt continues to be a triumph of the human spirit. And criminally catchy.

For this reason, it’s next to impossible to not go into an episode of Kimmy without a big grin on your face. Rapid-fire punchlines, glorious 90s nostalgia and the show’s irresistible sweetness are sure to keep it there.

Is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a perfect show? No, but I’m happy to report that through its second season, it gets even closer to the mark.

Continue reading

The Path, The Serpent King and the Danger of Faith

WARNING: The following piece features spoilers from the first five episodes of The Path

Religion is hard.

In real life, obviously, there is probably no greater lightning rod than religion. It is simultaneously responsible for some of the greatest movements of peace and destruction in all of human history.

It’s also hard for TV. While faith is very much a part of the fabric of this nation through the years and including modern times, it’s very rare that a fair and accurate depiction is featured on television. There are the occasional caricatures (which is fair game; as a Christian I can certainly attest that some professing Christians certainly go out of their way to inspire mockery) and perhaps a few touchy-feely platitudes during “a very special episode,” but God is far more absent on our TVs than one might expect given the religious makeup of the U.S.

I guess it’s not hard to understand why. Religion is, after all, more than a little polarizing. Still, polarizing and difficult topics ranging from politics to race to rape and other forms of violence are explored fairly regularly on programs these days; but religion still seems very rare.

I think one of the main reasons is probably because of how incredibly difficult it is to depict something like faith. Many have tried and most have failed which is what makes The Path a refreshing surprise made all the more surprising by the fact that the show takes on the trickiest form of religion of all: a cult.

Continue reading

Welcome Back to Untempered Television

 

Hey guys, I’m Mark Gray.

Welcome to Untempered Television.

This is, in a sense, the same Untempered Television that some of you may remember from awhile back. I’m the same guy and all that.

But this Untempered TV is also going to be pretty different.

The story goes like this. I’ve loved TV for a long time and enjoy reading a plethora of TV critics and decided one day that I wanted to throw my voice into the mix. But the problem was, I didn’t just throw my voice into the mix, I threw my entire self into it.

I started running Untempered Television with an unbelievable intensity that no sane person could keep up with. It wasn’t my real job, I didn’t get paid for it, and although I ran Google Ads, I certainly spent a lot more money than I made. And I devoted every free second to writing post after post after post, updating the site several times a day most days. I did episode reviews, harassed networks for early pilot screeners (I’m surprised FOX didn’t take out a restraining order after the number of times I begged for the Gotham screener…which they did send me after all) and ended up turning something that I love into this laborious unforgiving grind that consumed my every waking moment.

When I was officially burnt out, I floated the idea of downsizing the site and doing maybe one post a week, but the fact of the matter is, I was too exhausted to keep it going in any capacity. So I shut it down and have only been sharing my TV thoughts through tweets for the past year or so.

During that time, I’ve certainly missed running the site and I’ve thought about bringing it back a number of different times but because of how out of control I let it get last time around, I was a little freaked out at the thought of it. But then I figured, why not do it again, but this time, do it completely different?

I don’t talk about my day job much from my Untempered Television related accounts, but a little ways into running the original site, things took a turn in my career. I spent several months clinging on for dear life at a company that was going under until eventually I lost my job and had no real plans for the future. Part of me wanted the website to be my way of getting noticed. Maybe someone would see my writing, like it, and suddenly I’d be a professional TV critic overnight. I thought the best way to get noticed was by churning out as much content as humanly possible, not considering the fact that my content would often suffer when I was valuing quantity over quality. I never really stopped to ask the question, do I really have anything to say about this? If it was popular and timely, I was writing about it, no matter how many other posts I had soldiered through that day!

That’s not what this site is going to be.

Nor is it going to be a site where I consider the most controversial and sensationalized way to say something just to drive traffic. After the How I Met Your Mother finale, I wrote a fairly brutal review just completely ripping apart every issue that I had with the episode and final season as a whole. As a long time fan who felt pissed off and betrayed, it felt great. And it was real and genuine and it was my most-viewed post by a wide margin. I’ll be honest, I tried to infuse later posts with some artificial snark and sarcasm to match the wit of that post, but it wasn’t honest so it didn’t work nearly as well. I, thankfully, didn’t indulge in that too often but it happened. With my job situation so crappy, I was writing out of desperation. Writing with this burning frustration to be noticed.

The other thing that this site isn’t going to be is just a bunch of reviews like the last one mainly was. I’m not killing myself to view every pilot and finale and post weekly episode reviews of every single show I can lay my eyes on. I want this to be a site where the writing is birthed out of my love for television, not my desire to churn out as many posts as I can. So instead of that type of content, I’ll be posting twice a week most weeks (again, I’m not torturing myself with imaginary obligations here so there may be off days), with new content on Tuesday and Thursday.

Some of these posts will look like a standard review, I suppose (still figuring it out), but more often than not, they’ll just be observations and musings better suited to spark conversation about the medium we all love. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a piece about Hulu’s The Path while Thursday’s post will be about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

With this layout, I’ll be able to deliver better content and make this site what it should have been all along. Just something fun to do on the side where I can connect with fellow TV lovers. I’m doing it free this time around so there’s still a .wordpress in the address and there’s no google ads or anything like that. It’s not sexy or anything, it’s just a dude writing about TV for the sake of writing about TV. I mean, I’d still consider an offer if someone stumbled across this site and decided they wanted to pay me for content, but I’m at a great job now and things are good so I don’t need some dangling carrot to motivate me other than my love of television. And since I’ll be devoting a lot less time to whoring myself across the internet in a desperate attempt for more views, feel free to share anything you deem worthwhile. I’d love to drive people to this blog, not to get rich or discovered or anything dumb, but just because I’d love the feedback from people who savor a great TV show (or detest a bad one) as much as I do.

For those who feel like this was the longest, most pretentious and self-absorbed introduction to a blog that you’ve ever seen, I don’t blame you. You might be right. Most people don’t care about anything I just wrote. So how about I just shut up and get to talking TV? Looking forward to you talking back.

See ya tomorrow!