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  1. I think they should end it right there. There's not much to come back to. In reality, leaving the base, taking the helicopter to rescue his (annoying) daughter and picking up his escaped wife and her guard would be career ending for him. I'm not interested in a second season of him bumbling around the moon while he tries to salvage his career. I think this show would have been better without the daughter and even the wife. If they felt that he needed a family, then it would have been better if they were divorced with some plot device to keep them in his sphere (maybe they stay in DC and he goes there semi-regularly to visit as well as check in at the pentagon; this worked fine for the joint chiefs - any more of them would have been overkill, but it was a fun diversion). I would have preferred that the focus stay on space force and the various hijinks around getting that off the ground (see what I did there?) Besides the joint chiefs of staff, I was oddly interested in Dr. Chan and Space Woman (I cannot remember her name) - for some reason that relationship worked for me. I also (as expected) liked Malkovich; he was what kept me watching. It's not that I dislike Carell, but something about him was off for me. I was hoping this would be like Avenue 5 - we were pretty ambivalent about it when it started, but we grew to like it. I can get into unbelievable and goofy stuff, but I also appreciate continuity and not wasting time on plot points that have no real purpose.
  2. Well, I see I'm not alone in some of my thoughts about this show. I love John Malkovich and I like Steve Carell, so we decided to watch the whole thing (still have one episode to go), despite what I thought was a really weak start. I think the show's strength is mostly its cast - the Joint Chiefs of Staff are great (and I thought it was pretty funny that they exclude the Coast Guard) and those bits are usually pretty funny. Otherwise, it's kind of a funny line here or there, but generally, it's missing something. It feels like this thing is all over the map, and like others have already said, it's Michael Scott in the Space Force. One minute I get the sense he's actually capable and has some idea of what he's doing and the next he's just an idiot. Plus, that voice...no. I don't understand the plot choices with the Naird family, including putting Mrs. Naird in prison for the rest of their lives with no explanation why. I also have a hard time believing that if his spouse ended up in prison with a 40-60 year sentence that he'd still be selected to head up the Space Force (I'm sure there's security clearances, etc. that he'd need for such a job and that kind of incident could impact that). I sense that the writers sat around and came up with bits - like let's have an Elizabeth Holmes type of character visit, or let's do something with monkeys and dogs, or let's have two characters dance to K Pop, Lisa Kudrow needs to wear cornrows once - and then tried to build a plot around them. It's chaotic and it seems the only character I really have any kind of a feel for is Malkovich's. Otherwise, I don't know if the Naird family members are smart and capable who have occasional mishaps or if they're a collection of bumbling idiots who have bungled their way to prison/command/an ice cream stand. Lady astronaut went from dreaming about being an astronaut and studying botany with Dr. Chan to landing on the moon in weeks??? The Russian "spy" went where? I know it's a sitcom and there needs to be some suspension of disbelief, but this is just a collection of gags, which are mostly not really funny, imo.
  3. It didn't bother me that they didn't follow the end of the book to the letter, explicitly spelling out what happens with Dessa and Dominic. For me, the real story was the relationship between Thomas and Dominic and how Thomas's illness, their upbringing and the disturbing family history impacted them. The final shot of Dominic getting on with his life, in some manner, with Dessa works just fine for me. Dessa and Angela were just part of his journey (and a failed marriage and dead child - oof. That's a lot for anyone and considering that's just one part of Dominic's story is pretty remarkable.) Generally, I give the side eye to books I enjoy being brought to the screen, but this was very well done, which makes me happy because Wally Lamb is one of my favorite authors.
  4. Purely my take on all this, but I see Thomas and Dominic as both mentally ill. Thomas's illness has manifested in this paranoia/bi-polar stuff that leaves him in such a state that he is a danger to himself (though I don't sense he'd ever purposely hurt another) and is better off institutionalized because caring for him would literally be a full time job. I don't know a lot about mental illness, so I'm spitballing here, but Thomas's situation seems to be the type of illness you're kind of "born with" - you know, brain chemistry, etc, and it feels like living with an aggressive, judgmental asshole like Ray exacerbated his illness. Dominic, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have the paranoia issues that Thomas has, but he grew up walking on eggshells around his abusive step-father and at a young age, took on a lot of responsibility for his clearly unwell brother. I don't know what the DSM would say about acquired/learned rage issues in regards to mental illness, but Dominic never learned about how to manage anger, grief, disappointment. It was either duck and cover or fight back - he doesn't understand nuance when things get bad. So when Dr. Patel told Dominic that she sees two boys in the woods and only one stands a chance of making it out, she sees potential that Dominic can work on his issues and become mentally and emotionally healthy;Thomas is a lost cause. I think that the twins are the same in that neither of them would intentionally hurt anyone else; Thomas self-harms and Dominic is verbally abusive and takes his rage out on objects, ultimately to his own detriment. If Dominic can overcome the damage of his prior life - the abusive upbringing, taking responsibility for his ill brother, the death of his daughter and the fallout from that - I think he'll actually turn out to be a decent person. The way he handled Ralph Drinkwater's revelation that Thomas had been abused in the facility surprised me, but it also impressed me a little. He was single minded in getting his brother out of there, so I can't disagree with him taking Thomas on (I mean, if it was my family member, you bet your ass he'd be coming home with me rather than leave him in there one moment longer than necessary). Consider that he walked out of the attorney's office when the lawyer started talking about a class action lawsuit - Dominic would have no financial problems in that scenario, and it would have been an easy win. I think a lot of people would have gone down that road. I figure Dominic knows that living with Thomas indefinitely isn't feasible, but all he knew was his brother was being abused and he needed to fix it; I understand that. I hope that when the dust settles, that Dominic informs Rosie O'Donnell of why he did what he did. He's in a tough situation; Ralph Drinkwater did him a favor and he owes Ralph for that, including protecting his identity as a whistleblower. But there is he fact that other patients are going to be vulnerable to the same situation. Finally, Domenico - yikes. As ugly as Thomas and Dominic's stories have been, Domenico's was even darker. I don't think I'd have gotten very far in that story if it had been my ancestor, but Dr. Patel was right - Dominic is learning a lot about himself and his family via that story. Every week I'm impressed by this show. I have to put myself in the right mindset to watch it, and we have something much lighter queued up to watch afterwords as a palate cleanser, but it's really been excellent on just about every level.
  5. Boy, old Domenico was a piece of work. Someone noted in the episode thread that his "book" could have been more concise but I would argue that having it not be concise was part of the point. Domenico had a high opinion of himself, so more of his words would be a great thing to him. I think Domenico's book did a great job of fleshing out Concettina's character.
  6. Dominic - or Domenico as the social worker likes to call him - can be tough to like. Even though I've read the book, I've forgotten so much of it, but I do recall thinking "yikes Dominic!" a few times when I read it. It's the same now, but I also think it's a byproduct of who he is, how he was raised and living with a mentally ill twin. It's becoming clear that he has always born so much responsibility for Thomas - since the beginning, really. So there's that mix of resentment, love and obligation that's doing battle in there. And then you add in the abusive step-father and the dead daughter. That's just a lot. When Dominic climbed the ladder to remove the shutters, I knew something bad was going to happen with the homeowner, but I couldn't remember exactly what. And then the guy came to the window and ugh, I remembered. I can't imagine witnessing something like that literally face to face. I have a friend who did the same and to even think about what she did is disturbing enough; to have to witness it (or even the aftermath) would be the stuff of nightmares and PTSD. Rosie O'Donnell is, surprisingly, really working for me. I love the vibe between her character and Dominic. Honestly, I think the whole cast is superb. The story is a tough watch - we have to make sure we're in the right mindset before we watch it (and it's really hard these days). But I'm glad we're doing it because I think HBO has done a great job adapting this book. Commenting on this in the book thread....
  7. It only occurred to me during this season that the "my brilliant friend" could be either one speaking about the other. I assumed it was all about Lenu telling Lila's story, given the narration, but whatever the complexities and competition in their relationship, they each see the other as brilliant/gifted and I think it had a life-changing impact for both of them. And in telling Lila's story, Lenu is telling her own story. I believe Lenu wouldn't be nearly as driven without Lila's presence in her life, but I'm starting to believe Lenu's presence is as impactful in Lila's life.
  8. I read this book years ago and forgot so much, but it all started coming back to me, seeing Ray's dickishness. I remember the broad plot points and how it basically ends, but since the finer details are fuzzy, it will be almost like watching it from scratch. I thought it was a tough watch, mainly because it's pretty dark, especially right about now. However, the acting is strong and I like the original story, so even though it's not exactly feel good tv right now, I'm in.
  9. Thanks for that - I always get Marcello and Michele confused - as to which is which. I think both of them and Stefano look a bit like frogs; sometimes they all look super unattractive and other times they are oddly appealing. They definitely have an interesting look to them. I think that is what's going on with Stefano and both of the Solara brothers - it's more about "owning/having" Lila than actually knowing or trying to understand who she is. I find it challenging to watch shows that aren't set in our more enlightened times simply because I do have a tendency to inflict my sensibilities onto what I'm seeing on the screen. Tolerating violence because that's just the way it was, or because it's the culture, or because it could be worse, or because someone is mouthy doesn't work for me. So I watch this and I understand that was perhaps the norm for the time and place, and therefore that it's an important part of this story, but I never think "poor Stefano, if only his stubborn wife would do what he wants he wouldn't have to beat her." I think there's a very specific reason this story is set in the time period it is and why we're seeing the thread of the social issues of the time running through the series (the workers rights demonstrations, discussions about communism and fascism, etc) as well as how the landscape is literally changing (all the building going on in post WWII Naples). Lila and Lenu are coming of age in a really critical time in history; civil rights movements were starting to take off and we get to see how they overcome (or not) what they were born into. I get that what was acceptable then isn't so acceptable now, and what is acceptable now may not be fifty years from now. Change doesn't come, however, if the Lilas of the world simply submit to the Stefanos. Finally, the only saving grace about Nino is that as far as we know, he's not physically abusive. But I really dislike him too. I'm not clear that he really loved Lila, but I'm really skeptical about his feelings for Lenu.
  10. I know it was a different time, and men were men and women were basically servants and all that, but no, he didn't do everything he could to make Lila happy. Think back to the end of the first season, Lila seemed to really love Stefano - she actually chose him - and then he betrayed her by getting into business with the Solaras and then that was that. I know that given the time and circumstances that he wouldn't have discussed such a thing with his wife, but still, she was blindsided at her wedding with Michelle showing up in the shoes that she gave to Stefano. In her eyes he sold her out before they were even married. I'm sure that's true, but it also sounds a bit like being held captive in your own home. When you're giving your body over to anyone to avoid being beaten, that's not really giving your body - I consider that rape. And if Lila were to end up submitting to Stefano - basically lose the essence of who she is - I bet he wouldn't want her anymore. Lila is a real interesting character. She's one of those rare people that have something that either draws or repels people. She's beautiful and intelligent, unafraid to say or do as she pleases - she's an other and everyone knows it. I think men are drawn to her because if they can "own" her, it says something about their power and their masculinity and other women seem to feel inadequate compared to her. In a way, that's had a positive effect on Lenu because it's (imo) a lot of what has motivated Lenu to keep studying and leave the neighborhood (because otherwise, Lenu would have been content to be married to Nino, or the closest thing to him). Finally, it's a bit troubling that Stefano gets a bit of a pass because he's behaving like other guys do and Lila should be used to it since it's what she grew up with. Lila knows it's fucked up that it's always the women being beat on and the men administering the beatings. And she knows its fucked up that withholding education is another way to keep women in their place. I believe that's why she's so distant with most men and it's why she fell for Nino - she understood that he represented a possibility of a different life and a different kind of relationship. Now that she has a son of her own, she has a choice to make - is she going to let that "tradition" continue or what is she going to do to break that chain. Stefano was thisclose to throwing Rino's small child down a flight of steps. She needs to get out of that house.
  11. The book was fine - it's not going to be one of those that sticks with me, but I didn't feel pissed off that I wasted time with it. Maybe I shouldn't have read it while watching the series, but I can't quite figure out why all the changes. The book and the show varied significantly in the portrayal of the three main female characters. My take on the book was that Mia was set up as this flawed, yet generous, wonderful bohemian artist. Book Mia is asexual; show Mia has sex in the car while baby Pearl sleeps and was her professor's partner. In the end, book Mia generously left a very personal picture for each Richardson, something meaningful or insightful; show Mia basically foraged through the house and took their personal belongings (and for what purpose - we never know, other than Izzy's feather). Book Elena was happy on her very deliberate path that she set for herself while show Elena had angst over the road unchosen; book Elena had a pretty frightening experience with her final pregnancy while show Elena simply didn't want the last baby. Book Bebe was legal, had a pretty good job in San Francisco that she left for her boyfriend, which is where things went bad for her; show Bebe was poor and undocumented and apparently only suited to wait tables in Chinese restaurants. So why make things more complicated? Even though the book wasn't great literature, the story as it was was compelling enough. Izzy did not have to be struggling with her sexual identity and Elena didn't have to be suffering a midlife crisis to add to this drama - their relationship was fraught enough as it was. Why did Bebe have to be a constantly struggling illegal? Wasn't postpartum enough? I was okay with them adding a bit of an edge to Mia - otherwise she was a little too awesome - but they went too far with her, imo. I've seen that there's been discussion about what we're "supposed" to feel/think, whose side we're "supposed" to be on in all of this, but in the end, it was all so mixed up that I ended up not being on anyone's side, other than maybe Izzy. I don't think all the changes made from the book helped the series and if a second season is what they had in mind, it wouldn't pull me in to watch.
  12. I think that's a great point. Mirabelle is going to want to know who she was before she was Mirabelle - she will know she was adopted. And given how Helen responded on the stand, it sounded like they hadn't even considered that, which is kind of mind boggling. I think anyone who adopts a child outside of their race has to be ready for those questions and be sensitive to those issues and the McCulloughs didn't appear to even think it matters. Plus, now there's the whole media frenzy associated with this thing. I'm certainly not advocating for staying within your race when you adopt, etc., but I think when you adopt outside of your race, you need to be ready to engage in your child's ethnic world a little bit so they have an understanding of who they are and where they're from. It's basic respect, really. Having read the book, I'm kind of meh on the finale. Elena was awful and hit new lows; I felt really badly for Izzy. But other than that, I don't really care. I didn't really buy that all three of the kids set the fire and I don't feel like Elena had any kind of epiphany when she went to the apartment. Someone as self absorbed as Elena wouldn't get that by looking at Mia's art. I half expected Elena to basically trash the whole installation; that would have seemed more realistic. Overall, I felt like the series started off strong but at some point it went off the rails. I can't put my finger on where, but I watched the final episode because I'd made it this far, I figured I'd see where they took it.
  13. I think one more episode would have been helpful to fill in a few blanks. As it is, I'm left questioning whether Mrs. Lindbergh's relationship with the rabbi and Evelyn may have had enough impact on her to lead to her speech; maybe actually being friendly with people who are so vulnerable to being killed by extremists made the violence a little more relatable to her??? I don't know if that had anything to do with her speech, but it's the only thing I can figure. I previously thought she was tolerating or humoring the rabbi and Evelyn for her husband's sake, but maybe she felt more for them than I perceived. It's interesting to me that in the end, Sandy was far more mature about his misplaced trust in Lindbergh than Evelyn and the rabbi. I'm sure at such a young age that it was tough for him to rip up his pictures and have the epiphany that his hero was such a let down, but he was wise enough to know that when you're wrong, you're wrong and there's no re-writing the past. Evelyn and the rabbi, on the other hand... maybe their age and place in life actually got in the way of admitting the mistake. There was no acknowledgement that their actions may have put her sister's family at risk and in fact, Evelyn was more than ready to put them at further risk by hiding out with them. It underscored that Evelyn and the rabbi were able to twist whatever good was happening to them into being good for the community and the cause. Whatever, I was very gratified to see Bess turn Evelyn away. I guess in the end it was good Sandy went to Kentucky because otherwise, poor Seldon would probably be dead. That phone call between Bess and Seldon was one of the best things I've seen on television in a long time. It was gut wrenching. Despite the rushed pace of the episode, I felt it was very well done - I was terrified during Herman and Sandy's drive to Kentucky and felt visceral fear like I've rarely experienced on a tv show.
  14. I think that is probably true, which makes her expression of anger and frustration somewhat more palatable. I think sweeping the cut out Izzy into the drawer, where someone (Izzy) was bound to find them, was a passive aggressive act. She could have thrown that stuff in the trash, never to be found, but she left it in the drawer for someone to find. I also think it's telling that it took Mr. Richardson to actually see the transgression, and it says so much about Elena that it's all about the surface. She was so focused on tartan and keds, etc., that as soon as it fit into her world view, she quit looking - she didn't really see the photograph or the people in it. Her husband saw it pretty quickly and had to point it out to her. It demonstrates her superficiality - the right look was all she wanted - proper facial expressions and clothing (this was the second sitting because she didn't like the facial expressions from the first shoot) - so it met her criteria for a successful Christmas card to show how perfect they are. There's so much discussion about what makes a "good" parent. I don't think the fact that Mia hid the potential pool of money from Pearl makes her a bad parent. I don't have a problem with them hitting thrift shops or even pulling stuff off the curb to re-use in their apartment of the month (I live somewhere that people regularly put stuff out on the curb specifically to be re-homed elsewhere; it's just part of the culture here). I do have a problem with living a lifestyle that requires you to sleep in a car if you don't have to, so that's my problem with Mia and her income choices. Elena seems to be a fine parent to Moody and Trip; I think she's a meh parent to Lexie (it feels a bit like she's living vicariously through Lexie) and I think she's a shitty parent to Izzy. As for May Ling, I think the McCulloughs will undoubtedly provide a more prosperous life where she will want and need for nothing, but given Mrs. McCullough's child-bearing challenges and now the custody battle, I'd be concerned that she becomes that parent who hovers and helicopters. I've got friends who do that and I don't think it's helpful in raising a self-sufficient human (co-sleeping a long time, never saying no and always saying yes because they want their child to "know how to be assertive" - it's terrifying to consider how dependent people like that make their children). I'd have a hard time turning May Ling over to Bebe simply because I don't have a sense that she's in a position to provide stability for the baby, but it wouldn't be an easy choice.
  15. I agree - that episode with the young Mia and young Elena did a great job of showing us how these two people ended up where they are. Consider that the last time Mia saw her brother alive that he was giving her a bit of a hard time about giving up the baby. His death threw her into a tailspin and subsequently, she decided she had to keep Pearl - maybe as a way of keeping her brother??? I think if her brother hadn't died, Mia would have continued with her plan. I felt that Izzy's art project was from the right place, but clumsily done. She has mature thoughts and feelings, and is certainly a lot more progressive than her peers in her time and place, but she's still only 14, so I give her a bit of a pass. Yeah, it was cringe-worthy, but she's still of an age when it's normal to think this is an awesome idea! and run headfirst into a brick wall with that awesome idea. Hell, I know plenty of adults who aren't real good at critical thinking and doing some basic if/then analysis, so I can see how she went off the rails. Compared to her sister, Izzy is far more mature when it comes to empathy and trying to do the right thing. By the end of the episode, we were slack-jawed at Elena's behavior throughout the episde - I went from being meh on her to actively hating her more than anyone else on the show. Obviously, telling Pearl about her origins was mean, vindictive and purely self-serving, but at least she's not Pearl's actual mother. The thing that really got me was how loathsome Elena was to her own child. First of all, the whole fight over the keds was ridiculous and it was telling that Elena would not tolerate the smallest bit of individuality from Izzy. But that bitch actively cut her child out of the photographs and was actually going to mail the family Christmas card with one member literally sliced out of it! What kind of message does that send to the eliminated child, the rest of the family, and everyone who receives it? She may love her child, but she clearly does not like her. I was wondering in the court room scene what difference it would even make that Mia has her own history with Pearl. I understand that she's a character witness, but I don't know how taking Pearl is really all that relevant to the proceedings (in fact, I don't even know how great a character witness Mia would be anyway because really, what does she know about Bebe other than what she sees at work? Who cares what Mia, or any other character witness, thinks about birth mothers and parental rights?). I just don't see where a character witness is very helpful in this particular case - if I were hearing that case, I'd want to hear from social workers, etc - how stable is Bebe now, what are her child care plans?, what is her plan to provide for May Ling, etc.
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