Good afternoon. My name is Karen, and I am a novelist. Gigi is taking a break this week because she will be starting her new story next Thursday. She and I agreed it was important to put a warning on this next tale. Although the last story she penned tried to stay light and fun this one, though still comedic, has a polarizing main character. Although she and I may not be averse to such characters some readers might and we just wanted to give you a heads-up as it were.
Gigi also asked me to talk a little bit about the difference between her writing style and mine. I write novels and as those of you out there who do the same know, there is a lot of rewriting and polishing that goes on before the entire story is complete. Sometimes a chapter is shifted around or perhaps taken out or expanded on. Sometimes characters evolve or change completely. Gigi’s projects are different. Hers are a more experimental type of writing where she pens one chapter for the week, does some rewriting, and then posts it. Once it’s posted she cannot go back and change the story except to clean up small things like a misspelled word, incorrect grammar or perhaps a character’s name. But she in general writes each chapter one week at a time and hopes all the pieces fit together. Or rather she hopes to make her chapter for the week copacetic with the chapter she posted the week before.
That said, this week I thought I would focus exclusively on the Emmy nominations so I will not be doing a Stream of the Week but hope that you will watch some of the nominees I found to be outstanding.
One of the true delights of the Best Comedy Series category is Cobra Kai. I did an entire blog post on the show before, and I will mention it again. This is one of the freshest, funniest most uplifting shows on Netflix and Season Three did not go politically correct as some feared. This season it also brought back more wonderful characters from the original movies. Its only downside is because of its much-deserved success it encourages other shows or films that should not be exhumed to rise from the celluloid tombs and pollute the airwaves. That said this is a standout winner and I love seeing it in the big fight finale.
In the Best Dramatic Series category one of the standouts is The Crown. Emma Corin’s portrayal of Princes Diana (INFP) is so spot on its eerie. You really do believe she is Lady Diana. She is well paired with Josh O’Connor’s portrayal of Prince Charles (ISFJ) who quietly becomes more jealous, delusional, and evil with each episode as a husband whose wife is loved by everyone in the world except him. Gillian Anderson turns in a fantastic performance as the diverging Margaret Thatcher (ENTJ). Her transformation into Brittan’s first female prime minister is stunning. Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Helena Bonham Carter as Princes Margaret all continue to shine as well. The writing is fantastic, so good in fact it almost disappears making us more and more engaged with the characters and their niche world.
Another highly impressive drama, which almost everyone has heard of unless you live under a rock, is The Mandalorian (ISTP). Yes, Grogu (still a young child and hard to type) is as cute as a button. But the real star here is the show’s creator and writer, the fabulous Jon Favreau. Just when you thought you were sick and tired of the Star Wars franchise along comes this fresh, fierce mindblower. Wow does this one keep you entertained. Not to mention how gorgeous it looks. And I love the code of the terrifying title character, a bounty hunter who is sworn never to show his face…and wears his heart in his pouch…and sometimes a floating bassinet. He’s a wonderful metaphor for fatherhood in a dangerous world and Pedro Pascal is outstanding in the title role.
But the best category of them all is surprisingly the battle for the Limited Series awards. If you have not yet seen Mare of Easttown you really, really should. Kate Winslet is phenomenal as the title character Mare (an ISTP) who has been brutally battered by life. Her father committed suicide. Her adult son committed suicide. Her husband left her for another woman. The mother of her only grandchild is a heroin addict. Her whip smart daughter won’t listen to her and go to Berkley University. And on top of all that she’s a detective who’s been working on a missing person’s case for a year with no breaks. Then one night a teenage mother from her neighborhood is murdered and at that point everything really begins to unravel. This is one of those shows you can’t take your eyes off and for good reason. The writing is sharp and clever, and you have absolutely no idea how it’s going to end.
In the other corner we have what might be one of Netflix true masterpieces, The Queen’s Gambit. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis who penned it for his daughter Julia Ann. The novel was in response to Bobby Fisher’s comment that women “The women aren’t really that good of players. I guess I could give every one of them a knight and still win easily”. Tevis, who also wrote the novels The Hustler (as well as worked on the screenplay for the landmark film) and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Tevis always gave his characters thoughtful names such as Fast Eddy Felson (Fast Eddy Fallen Son). Beth Harmon (Beth Harm Men) is no exception. Ironically Beth, like Bobby Fischer is also an INTJ personality type. INTJs are found in about two percent of the men in the world. Female INTJs, however, take up only 0.8 to one percent of the women.
Some cinephiles I’ve come across find Beth cold and hard to identify with. Personally, I find all the other characters except Beth cold and hard to identify with. Sometimes warm people are evil and smother you with their vicious narcissistic backhanded sweetness. Tevis himself was a chess player and fascinated with scientific studies. In addition to The Man Who Fell to Earth he wrote the science fiction novels Mockingbird, The Steps of the Sun, and The Big Bounce. He also had a rheumatic heart condition and at age eleven his parents shipped him off to the Stanford Children’s Convalescent Home in California. It was there he became addicted to phenobarbital, which is represented by the green pills called xanzolam Beth becomes addicted to in the film.
The story begins with Beth as an eight-year-old child (well played by Isla Johnston) whose mother decides to kill them both by getting in a car accident. The accident does indeed kill Beth’s mother, but Beth survives. Unwanted by her father who has married a wealthy woman and started a new family, she is shipped off to an orphanage where being an INTJ she is trapped in an evil bureaucratic SJ underworld. She however finds her fairy godmother in the grumpy janitor who plays chess in the basement. After much insistence from Beth who is enamored with his chess set, he promises to teach her the game. At first, he thinks she will give up. But not long after he makes that incredibly stupid mistake, she starts beating him consistently. And he begins to help her forge an escape from the hands of the ordinary and despicable Nurse Rachets of the world into the male dominated realm of chess tournaments. The lead part of teenage and adult Beth is played by Anya Taylor-Joy. And honestly, her performance is so good, so very good it’s iconic. One of the best young actresses working today.
Obviously, I have not watched all the shows nominated. For instance, I do not have Apple TV+ and cannot see Ted Lasso which I have heard very positive things about. And there are some shows I honestly don’t think are up to snuff like WandaVision (although I really like Elizabeth Olson as an actress) and Bridgerton. But I do hope you will take the time this week before the Emmys on Sunday to watch at least one of the possible winners.
Also, I am in the midst of finishing Oslo which is up for Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Music Composition For A Limited Or Anthology Series, Movie Or Special (Original Dramatic Score) which is based on the play of the same name. The film has been great so far and I will discuss more in depth next week.
You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!, Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!, Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!, Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!