Welcome to Obsessed, a weekly series featuring everything the KQED Arts gang can't stop talking about. We're bringing the conversation from the water cooler to cyberspace! This week, we're freaking out over a mole woman, a drug dealer, a child star turned artist, and more!
'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'
For the past few months, I've been marathoning Friends from the beginning. It was fun in a time capsule-y way at first, but all the homophobic jokes got to be too much. Just when I needed saving from the 10-season abyss of outdated social attitudes, in swooped Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to the rescue! The show, created by the perfect Tina Fey, is Netflix's latest foray into television and follows a cult member who's been underground for the past 15 years as she moves to New York and tries to be normal. The jokes write themselves. So far (I'm only on episode 3), Unbreakable is like a cartoon puppy, more twee than Zooey Deschannel eating a cupcake, but something about it (maybe the Amelia Bedelia reference) has me excited to see more.
Alia Shawkat's Art
You may know Alia Shawkat as Maeby Fünke from Arrested Development or her recent steamy cameo on Broad City, but did you know she’s also an artist? It’s true, and her work seems more genuine and is less conceptual than art by other actors who have dipped into the gallery game (ahem, James Franco and Shia LaBeouf). Shawkat has shown her work internationally and, though it’s possible her acting gigs are infringing on her studio time since she doesn’t list any recent shows on her website, she does have some funny drawings for sale. Maybe you should invest in a Maeby original at mutantalia.com!
After months of having this UK crime drama relentlessly “suggested” to me by Netflix, I finally cracked. What initially seems like a rural caper about a harebrained criminal scheme going awry gets horribly dark and nasty with terrifying speed (full disclosure: I binge-watched all six episodes in one night). It’s got an incredibly good, vanity-free lead performance from Sarah Lancashire (never write off former soap stars!), superbly drawn female characters by the bucketload, and one of the most truly hateful villains ever -- kind of remarkable in a TV landscape saturated with increasingly outlandish mass murderers. Violence is used so sparingly that when it appears, it’s genuinely shocking, with one pivotal scene that’s the scariest thing I’ve seen onscreen in a long time. So many UK crime dramas strain to look and sound “American” (looking at you, Luther), and I’m so glad this one doesn’t. It’s miles better than Broadchurch, and it might just (whisper it) be as good as The Fall!
Vimeo's foray into the world of original programming brings us the fabulous escapades of a nameless weed delivery man who encounters neurotic, awkward and hilariously real clients throughout Brooklyn. It isn’t a classic stoner comedy -- rather, it’s a parody on the life of city dwellers, and a quick look into people’s motivations, habits and homes. Husband-and-wife team Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair have skillfully repurposed their casting, acting and directing expertise from big shows like 30 Rock into an internet darling with cameos from folks like Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey) and Hannibal Buress. Before Vimeo came on the scene, the first episodes (still free online) were totally DIY -- self-funded, and filmed in Blichfeld and Sinclair's apartment with friends. Check out the episode above, which follows what happens when two Fleet Foxes-listening, Kombucha-drinking hippies find a mouse in a glue trap.
What is This Thing Called?
I can't tell you how many times in my life I've seen a stray metal object on the ground, clearly having once served a purpose now unidentifiable out of context, and thought to myself, "What is that thing called?" So it's a very oddly satisfying experience looking at pictures of such objects, over and over, captioned by the same question. The Tumblr 'What is This Thing Called?’ doesn't serve to provide any answers, which seems antithetical to the entire idea of the internet. What it does provide is a reassurance that curiosity is fine on its own, and need not be consummated with knowledge. I like that idea.
Want more? Check out our past obsessions!