Squawk Box: Spring Grab Bag

Shrill: I think Aidy Bryant is pretty funny, so when I saw this show pop up on Hulu and saw that it was only six episodes, I popped it on and gave it a go and it was... pretty funny. Bryant stars as Annie Easton, an overweight young woman who is struggling to find her voice in journalism while juggling bad boyfriends, a sick parent, a perfectionist boss and a world that sees her as not being good enough, just because of her weight. A touching and humorous exploration of body image issues and all the horrible baggage women get weighed down with because of it, the show could easily have been just a meandering meditation on body image and not much else. However, Annie decides that she is good enough and takes on the world to find her voice at her job and gain some confidence along the way.

I'd say: it's six episodes, so it's not a big time commitment. If you're looking for a show to try, this is worth a peek.

The End of 'Catastrophe': Not just the end of Catastrophe, but the whole damn show is one of the best comedies I've seen in years. Basically, Irish primary school teacher Sharon is single and living in London when she meets Rob, an American ad executive who is in London on a business trip. They have a six day fling and then he goes home and the Sharon discovers that she's pregnant. She tells him and so he moves to London and they become a couple and get married and have another child while navigating the chaotic relationship and life they have together. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney anchor the show together as Sharon and Rob and it's... well, it's damn near perfect. They tackle love, loss, job satisfaction, Rob's alcoholism, Sharon's post partum depression-- it's life.

The other characters on the show orbit around the two of them and have various character arcs of their own- from Sharon's 'frenemy' Fran and her husband Chris to Rob's friend and fellow addict, Dave and Sharon's family- but the standout character is probably Rob's mother Mia, played by the late, great Carrie Fisher. Season Four sees the characters returning home to Boston on what they think is vacation, but turns out to be Mia's funeral. Rob's eulogy for his Mom is absolute perfection for both the character as well as the actor who played her. Grief seems to a strong theme in the final season- and when you realize that Rob Delaney worked through the grief at losing one of his own children the line between art and reality becomes very fine indeed.

I also love the fact that I found out that the show takes it's name from a quote from Zorba The Greek: "I'm a man, so I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe." That couldn't be more perfect for this show.

I'd say: every single episode of this show is worth watching. It's funny, touching, poignant, painful, chaotic- in short, a reflection of the messiness of life as it usually is, which is refreshing for a sitcom. The final episode made me laugh and cry in the space of thirty minutes and was the most beautiful finale to a show I can think of.

Star Trek: Discovery: Look, if you haven't seen the second season of  Star Trek: Discovery and are planning on it- just don't read this post, because I've waited long enough and I want to talk about some spoiler-y things. So, consider yourselves warned.

The end of Star Trek: Discovery's second season is probably the most ambitious thing the franchise has done in it's entire history- flinging the Discovery nine hundred years into the future has the potential to be absolutely brilliant because it both frees the show from the constraints of canon as well as makes the entire breadth of canon available to it as well. There are some fears on the interwebs that we're heading for Andromeda territory here- and I think those concerns are justified, but at the same time, I'm willing to give the show a chance to see where they go with this concept.

I mean, think about it: all the races and aliens that Discovery hasn't met yet because of where it landed in Trek's history? They're all available now. I don't know if they'll get the spore drive going again- but potentially all four quadrants of Trek's galaxy are available to them as well. What does the Alpha Quadrant look like? Or all the other quadrants for that matter? What are the geopolitics of the time? How has humanity evolved? What's it's like being lost in time? There are quite literally endless possibilities they could play with and that's incredibly exciting to me.

But what about what they left behind? There was a lot of sound and fury in the finale- but the departure between Michael and Spock was emotionally wrenching and devastating. Do I buy the erasure of any mention of Discovery from the history books? Or that Spock would never mention her ever again? I actually do. Section 31 had run amuck pretty hardcore. Control might still be out there and the Sphere Data needed to be protected. Purging Discovery from all mentions in the Federation Archives allows them to sweep Section 31 back under the rug where it belongs, conceal the truth from any remnants of Control out there while keeping curious folks from digging into the matter too much and starting the whole train rolling again.

As for Spock and his family? Well, they'll always have katras.

(Also, no I don't think Control is the Borg and I'll be thoroughly pissed off if they go there. For one, the Borg want to assimilate other people into their collective while Control wants to destroy all life and for two, leave them alone for a bit. Though- it might be interesting in a season or two to find out what, if anything, they're up to nine hundred years or so in the future.)

In short, Discovery rocked it this season and I couldn't be more excited to see where they go know next. Anson Mount as Captain Pike gave a beautiful performance- breathing life into that character and vaulting Captain Pike from a side character that appeared in a couple of TOS episodes firmly into the pantheon of the great Captains of Star Trek. Ethan Peck delivers as Spock. Michelle Yeoh remains excellent, because she's Michelle Yeoh. Even the Klingons look better!

I'd say: I think this season represents a huge step forward for Star Trek: Discovery. If you're not watching it yet, you should be.

The Call To Courage: I've listened to a podcast or two featuring Brene Brown and have always found her talks to be both insightful and inspirational. When I saw she had a Netflix special, I figured it was worth a peek and I was right! A wonderful talk of the power of vulnerability and how necessary it is to find courage in your own life, The Call To Courage is sort of like a super-sized TED Talk. Brown has been doing research on things like courage, vulnerability and shame for years now, so it's obvious that she knows what she's talking about and using a quote from a Theodore Roosevelt to ground the talk, she explores the ideas of courage and vulnerability and ends with a call for people to examine their own lives to make sure they're being open to the idea of vulnerability to find out the true meaning of courage.

I'd say: if you need a little bit of inspiration, you can't go wrong here. Brown is thought-provoking and engaging and her talk will make you think. While I'm not sure the idea of a super-sized TED Talk is going to go places, I'd be interested to see more talks from Brown- or even other people who have some interesting things to say.


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