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DID YOU READ

“W.”

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10162008_w.jpgWhen the “South Park” boys looked at George W. Bush not long after he’d been sworn in in 2001, they saw in the malapropism-prone Texan we’d sort of elected the perfect sitcom character, a genial doofus whose hijinks could always be resolved in the space of half an hour, even though those problems hung on the unresolvable ones over which our country regularly tears itself apart. And with all that’s happened in the intervening years, with “W.” we find that when Oliver Stone looks at our current president, he apparently also sees…a genial doofus. “W.” isn’t a vitriolic indictment of G.W., or, despite the goofy soundtrack choices (“Yellow Rose of Texas,” more than once), so much a satire — it’s a “Nixon”-esque timeline-leaping biopic that, like many films in the genre, attempts to solve its subject as if he were a math problem. The answer here is: daddy issues.

It’s mightily unbalancing to watch selected moments of the past eight years in politics recapped (with recognizable actors) like the “previously on” preface of a primetime soap, and to see the current situation in Iraq attributed to the family fuck-up trying to prove to his pops that he’s just as a deserving of paternal affection as his brother Jeb. “W.” is bewildering all around, first and foremost because it seems to be the year’s most unrequested attempt at humanism: George W. Bush as a man to pity, as a good ol’ boy from a wealthy background who’s got neither smarts nor political drive, but who does have plenty of charisma, who gets into “the family business” to force Bush senior to take him seriously, who invades Iraq to do what his dad wouldn’t, who places his trust in his advisers and faith, only to have them steer him wrong, who’s an inept leader who always sincerely means well. (We also see him choke on that pretzel — some things you just can’t pass up.) G.W. is played straight, with Josh Brolin giving an earnest, unpretty performance that, unlike most of the cast playing the Cabinet, gets beyond impersonation.

We’re still too close for fictional takes on our two terms with number 43 to be anything more than knee-jerk — controversy-courting fantasies about assassination or limp lampoonery — but “W.”, hurried pointlessly into theaters before the election, affects having distance and perspective that isn’t there. In 20 years, it’ll be just another mediocre biopic. Watching it now, with its subject still in office, it seems like a dream of closure, as if by bending G.W.’s career into a familiar format we could be done with it when the credits rolled.

[Photo: “W.”, Lionsgate, 2008]

+ “W.” (Lionsgate)

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.