Tag Archives: New York

TV Review: Seinfeld


“I’m A Great Quitter. It’s One Of The Few Things I Do Well.” – George Costanza


PREFACE

Sometimes, I begin to write a review and ask myself, how will I ever type the words I want to express my feelings about a television show or a film that I just watched and loved a lot. It becomes a mental challenge for me to find and complete words because there is a range of writing that is assigned for certain things.

I had watched a few episodes of Seinfeld in the past but never happened to complete them. Thanks to Netflix which gave me the chance to stream the episodes. And now I ask again, what am I going to write to justify my fondness for the show. I will try and hope Seinfeld lovers will accept this.


“The Sea Was Angry That Day My Friends.” – George Costanza


NEW YORK

Picture this, the late 1980s. New York, the city of immigrants. People land here and imagine the American dream, they bring their ambitions with them. The smokey streets of New York make the sound day and night. People of humor struggle their life to write something that makes the audience laugh. New York is the heritage of cultures and trends, call it mafia, call it fashion, call it comics, call it music, call it a comedy. Call it anything, New York is a dream most of us wish for. If I speak of comedy, so many comedy clubs came into existence fifty years ago. Comic Strip Live is arguably the most prominent of all comedy showcases where many great comedians performed and made their name. Jerry Seinfeld was one of them.

So picture this New York story. Jerry fictionalizes his own life story with his friend, writing partner, and the show’s co. creator Larry David trying to break into showbiz by convincing NBC executives to give them a shot. A middle-class fellow living in an apartment has a neighbor and ex-girlfriend to circulate his life around. With only four central characters, they have a lot to talk about. A very limited content for story continuity, the city’s four bachelors roam around, complain, whine, shout, argue, and fail. They are some bunch of losers who are meeting no progress in life. But the show goes on like that because Seinfeld is the show about nothing.

The idea of this sitcom was not bought by anyone in the NBC office. They had to wait one year to expect a kick-off to get a season that happened by chance. The order of the first season was of mere five episodes and that is considered to be the smallest sitcom order in television history. The first season didn’t run in favorable numbers but attracted a young male audience. So the producers gave a green signal to continue and the rest is history.


“Serenity Now!” – Frank Costanza


WRITING

SEINFELD — “The Pilot: Part 1 & 2” Episode 23&24 — Pictured: (l-r) Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld as Himself (Photo by Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

There are a lot of things about the show that was admired and praised. For me, the biggest talking point about Seinfeld was the writing, it was phenomenal, and it was compulsive. The humor had the quality of making the simplest jokes lively and funny. Seinfeld had nothing much to do with the story but the writing was so sharp that Larry and Jerry developed tons of ideas out of nowhere to start at the restaurant’s table as conversational humor and play it rightly for the next twenty-three minutes. Just, for example, a comedy about a pen, shoes, a red dot, a marine biologist, etc. The writers had an entire episode in a parking garage about a missing car. All this shows, how talented were the writers.

I still want to emphasize the show’s writing by speaking about the importance of a story. There were many unforgettable sitcoms before Seinfeld and those shows were heavily constructed on the humor as well as the plotline. And this is where Seinfeld distinguishes itself from the others, it didn’t have a story at all. And if there was, it was ordinary. Four strugglers hanging around a restaurant talking about their minutiae of lives and coming up with the episode’s topic of the day. So it is between the lines spoken by these friends that brings a lot of responsibility to the heads of the writing staff mostly led by Larry. In one of the documentaries I watched on YouTube called ‘The Making of Seinfeld‘, the writing staff confirmed that Larry was the one who orchestrated the show’s quality of writing. He was the one to approve and finalize every single line of humor to be used in each episode. Picking every line for scrutiny is why Seinfeld, to this day, is fresh and full of life.


“No soup for you!” – Soup Nazi


CHARACTERS

In my opinion, two factors are heavily involved to make a sitcom successful. One is writing and the other is picking the most suitable actors to fit in that writing. Yes, the latter condition is applicable in all genres of television shows and films. But here, I am stressing about the role of producers and the casting directors auditioning and deciding the right actor to fit in a role to captivate the audience by being funny. Because making people laugh is one of the most difficult arts in showbiz. Seinfeld, in both the factors, was collectively blessed with. As Jerry played his own role, the show found three of the most perfect choices who fitted in the shoes of Elaine Benes, George Costanza, and Cosmo KramerJulia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards.

Julia brought a lot of strength in her character that struggles to find work, meets plenty of boyfriends, and is stuck in bizarre situations. Jason Alexander as George gave his character physically the sorriest look of being a loser and a pervert who always fails, gets jealous, overthinks relations, and shouts and throws his anger. Speaking of the character’s superiority in being unlucky, I’ll be jocular to find Jason himself and inform the readers of his being the unluckiest actor to be nominated for a record seven times without winning ‘Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series‘ for the role.

Michael Richards was around 40 years old and the oldest of the four when he got the role of Kramer. This role will go into the history books of the American comedy shows when an audience of all ages and times will remember him as Kramer to be one of the most beloved characters. A physical comedian of that age and lanky height with the agility of a young man and rib-tickling slapsticks is a blessing for the audience and a luxury to the show. If the audience ever found any of the Seinfeld episodes boring and all the characters underperforming, they knew they can rely on Kramer to torch laughter in all his silliness. He was cordially acceptable even if there was a chance of his being offensive. He was the most beloved character of the show who many times saved the episode from falling flat.

With central characters came the recurring and minor characters who never looked to be just an extra effort of filling the space in the episode. Those were also well-written. Like Jerry Stiller as George’s hot-tempered war veteran Frank Costanza, John O’Hurley as Elaine’s boss Mr. Peterman with a peculiar speaking style of a radio jokey of the golden era, or Wayne Knight as Kramer’s overdramatic best friend Newman who loathes Jerry. Even in extremely short appearances, the show made us laugh watching the characters of African-American lawyer Jackie Chiles and a Pakistani restaurant owner Babu Bhatt. Although, the character of George Steinbrenner as George’s boss was never depicted from the front but his scenes were always shot from the back. I find it hilarious but the character became a question to me when his face was still not discovered in the finale. So what was the point of keeping his face away from the audience then?


“A Festivus for the rest of us” – Frank Costanza


SCENES

I am not sure how often this happened before the show’s creation but it was innovative to start and finish almost every episode of the first seven seasons with Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up comedy routines with his thoughtful and chucklesome observational jokes. That was also because Jerry played his own role so it made sense. However, the routine scenes were not mostly related to the episodes. It just tried to give importance to the character’s job. But in some episodes, Larry and Jerry wisely connected the routine scenes by depicting the life of a stand-up comedian who quests for moments that make him develop humor to use on the stage.

The finale of the fourth season “The Pilot” showed Jerry being recognized by one of the producers at the NBC that he cannot act because of his being a stand-up comedian. This covered the accuracy of the sitcom’s ugliest fact that Jerry Seinfeld really wasn’t a good actor at all. His writing and jokes protected his legacy and the other three characters also made his performance vulnerable.

As I talked about Elaine’s character above, on a few occasions, I felt Elaine’s character weight over her personal and economic life was given a sharp contrast as she was a lonely character like Kramer and the only female character in central. The backgrounds of Elaine and Kramer were not that much brought to attention as compared to Jerry and George who had their parents in the supporting roles and a lot of minutes and dozens of episodes were invested in them. If I am not wrong, the backgrounds of Kramer and Elaine were rarely touched. Once Kramer’s mother appeared in “The Switch” where we came to know that his first name was Cosmo. Elaine’s father appeared once in “The Jacket”.

So my point is that Elaine’s lone female character in the men’s world was challenging and several times gave attention to detailing woman’s struggles in personal and economic life. Like in ‘The Subway’ episode when she feels insecure stuck on the train and overthinks that someone will harass her. Or once in a restaurant, she is outraged witnessing all the hired big-breast waitresses that happened in the finale of the fourth season “The Pilot”. She was once in relation with a psycho in “The Opera” who attempted to be threatening to her and she pepper-sprayed him and ran away. In “The Pick“, she felt massively insecure when her nipple shows up on a Christmas card without her notice. There was certain awkwardness in her personality that made Jerry and George insecure. It was funny that they had no courage to admit to Elaine that they felt uncomfortable as she looked weird while dancing at the party as Elaine danced in “The Little Kicks”, only once in the entire show.

Babu Bhatt’s character of a Pakistani immigrant trying to do his restaurant business was quite a representation of those many thousands of South Asian low-scale/mid-scale workers who try to somehow settle outside their countries, especially in American and European regions but their visa/immigration situation becomes a problem. So comic story aside, I think it was interesting that the writers highlighted this issue.

From the seventh season, there was continuity in the comical incidents. The humor from the previous episodes of this season was mentioned in the coming episodes like the barking dog that disturbed Elaine and the pact between Jerry and George of changing their lives in “The Engagement” were mentioned later in that season. Maybe Larry and Jerry tried some new ideas for this season as this was the former’s final season as a producer and the writing head.


“Yada, Yada, Yada” – Elaine Benes


SEIN-VERSE?

There is room for a lot of ideas after we observe plenty of comebacks and returns from the original works in the shape of prequels, sequels, and spin-offs that become memorable on television and film formats. I don’t believe in the continuity of Seinfeld as it is a sin to even consider a one-season stretch for the sake of the audience missing it and regretting the consequences. Larry and Jerry have built their legacies around this show, with Jason, Michael, and Julia also.

But after watching this series and seeing the developments the other memorable programs are meeting ahead on different networks, I think of a few ideas that can get commissioned for max one limited series.

I think of a limited project about Kramer’s background story before he met Seinfeld. I think of Newman’s character post-Seinfeld. Or reflecting on Frank Costanza’s military life about his embarrassing series of mishaps and later as a traveling businessman. How about a funny courtroom drama about Jackie Chiles, no matter if pre- or post-Seinfeld. Seinfeld chronicles have a lot of potential to spare a thought and create a universe.


“Boy, these pretzels are makin’ me thirsty.” – Cosmo Kramer


GREATEST?

SEINFELD, from left: Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan addressing studio audience, 1990-98. photo: ©Castle Rock Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

This has been a decades-long debate if Seinfeld is the greatest television show of all time or at least in the United States. If I check Seinfeld’s rank amongst the greatest in the most popular magazines or the media companies of the United States, it will prove that the show has been almost every critic’s staunch favorite and has been stamped with great honors and regard.

One of the strongest American foundations for the writers, the Writers Guild of America, considers the show the second best-written television series after The Sopranos. Both Rolling Stones and Entertainer Weekly have ranked the show third amongst the all-time greatest.

Seinfeld tops on TV Guide and the most interesting part about this is that Seinfeld is NBC’s property and TV Guide is owned by CBS. This top 50 list was created by the TV Guide editors. They had 16 CBS shows on this list but crowned Seinfeld.

I have a lot to catch to understand if Seinfeld really is the greatest sitcom of all time if not overall genres. I have watched plenty of sitcoms from the 1990s and so far I believe, Seinfeld has to be the greatest sitcom of that decade. But I will not declare this because I am yet to watch Frasier.


“How long it takes to find a bra? What’s going on in there? You ask me to get a pair of underwear, I’m back in two seconds…you know about the cup sizes and all? They have different cups.” – Frank Costanza


CLOSING REMARKS

NBC
Seinfeld
(l-r) Jerry Stiller, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander

Seinfeld is typically an authentic New Yorker sitcom that gives an honest portrayal and feel of the city. In my sitcom-watching experience, the only other sitcom that had attractive New York aesthetics before I watched Seinfeld was Taxi. Seinfeld is one of the most deadly combinations of comic writing and comic acting. This is one of those classic sitcoms that proves that you don’t need to use curse words or talk about sex in all your comic lines to captivate the interest of the audience to maintain ratings. Apart from the first season which was quite average, I think the third, fourth, eighth, and ninth seasons were the show’s peak.

Seinfeld’s finale was watched by over 76 million U.S. television viewers which put them third in the list of most-watched series finales in the U.S. behind M*A*S*H and Cheers. The respect that this show earned was so vast that when this episode was aired, TV Land decided not to run any program at that time and rather showed a closed office door with some handwritten notes that said “We’re TV Fans so… we’re watching the last episode of Seinfeld. Will return at 10pm et, 7pm pt.” Such incidents hardly surface.

When the show was closest to farewell, the second last episode ‘The Chronicle’ recapped most of the memorable scenes that happened throughout the show with impressive editing and played Green Day‘s Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) in the background. The feeling was strong, my emotions were hurt, my heart was breaking, and I was in denial that the time is up and Seinfeld is wrapping up. I may watch it again but that impression of watching and completing the show in its entirety the first time is something else. That will never happen. If this is how I felt while watching this on Netflix, I wonder how the world reacted when the show was concluded in 1998.

When you immensely love a tv show, its characters, its continuity, you imagine that the show will never end. Seinfeld is one of those television shows that sentenced me to eternal grief that its life, that I thoroughly enjoyed and lived with, was finally expired.

SEINFELD — “The Finale: Part 1&2” Episode 23 & 24 — Pictured: (l-r) Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld — Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank

“George, we’ve had it with you. Understand? We love you like a son, but even parents have limits.” – Frank Costanza


FAVORITE SEINFELD EPISODES

S01 E01 – The Seinfeld Chronicles
S01 E04 – Male Unbonding
S02 E02 – The Pony Remark
S02 E03 – The Jacket
S02 E08 – The Heart Attack
S03 E01 – The Note
S03 E03 – The Pen
S03 E05 – The Library
S03 E06 – The Parking Garage
S03 E07 – The Cafe
S03 E12 – The Red Dot
S03 E13 – The Subway
S03 E14 – The Pez Dispenser
S04 E09 – The Opera
S04 E11 – The Contest
S04 E14 – The Movie
S04 E16 – The Shoes
S04 E17 – The Outing
S04 E23 – The Pilot (1)
S04 E24 – The Pilot (2)
S05 E03 – The Glasses
S05 E06 – The Lip Reader
S05 E10 – The Cigar Store Indian
S05 E11 – The Conversion
S05 E12 – The Stall
S05 E14 – The Marine Biologist
S06 E08 – The Mom & Pop Store
S06 E09 – The Secretary
S06 E13 – The Scofflaw
S06 E16 – The Beard
S06 E18 – The Doorman
S06 E21 – The Fusilli Jerry
S06 E22 – The Diplomat’s Club
S06 E23 – The Face Painter
S06 E24 – The Understudy
S07 E05 – The Hot Tub
S07 E06 – The Soup Nazi
S07 E12 – The Caddy
S07 E16 – The Shower Head
S08 E01 – The Foundation
S08 E03 – The Bizarro Jerry
S08 E04 – The Little Kicks
S08 E05 – The Package
S08 E06 – The Fatigues
S08 E09 – The Abstinence
S08 E10 – The Andrea Doria
S08 E11 – The Little Jerry
S08 E12 – The Money
S08 E13 – The Comeback
S08 E17 – The English Patient
S08 E19 – The Yada Yada
S08 E21 – The Muffin Tops
S09 E03 – The Serenity Now
S09 E06 – The Merv Griffin Show
S09 E08 – The Betrayal
S09 E10 – The Strike
S09 E11 – The Dealership
S09 E12 – The Reverse Peephole
S09 E17 – The Bookstore
S09 E18 – The Frogger
S09 E20 – The Puerto Rican Day
S09 E23 – The Finale (1)
S09 E24 – The Finale (2)


“It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous.” – Jackie Chiles


TV Review: The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age is a significant period in American history that began in the 1870s and lasted until the 1890s. This period is considered the golden age of industrialization and rapid growth in the American economy. This era witnessed the birth of many business giants, important inventions, and the rise of many wealthiest families. This was also the period of the shifting of wealthy generations where the old and new families were struggling to join the rank of elites and high societies. Julian Fellowes‘ latest creation is based on that struggle.

The HBO drama focuses on two rich families. The old money van Rhijn-Brook family and the new money Russell family. The latter is inspired by the real-life Vanderbilts who once were the-then wealthiest family in the United States. A sense of rivalry exists when the race of joining the elite ignites within the society and during all this hullabaloo, young Marian Brook became a lively figure between the two families when she moves from Pennsylvania to New York to live with her estranged aunts.

As true to the aristocratic nature and Julian Fellowes accurately admitting, The Gilded Age is the American Downton Abbey or shall I say, the American answer to Downton Abbey that was also created by Fellowes. Not sure if I must suggest that the dramas written by Fellowes are for rich people but there is no harm in developing an interest in dramas about the noble or upper-class lifestyle that proudly displays a fine exhibition of the aristocracy.

The show has taken good care of small accuracies and being a period drama, the costume and the production design are just marvelous. There is a scene, I think in the pilot or the second episode when the party host announces that she will organize a card game of Cinch. I found the name interesting so I googled it and I discovered that Cinch, which is also known as High Five, was the game that developed in Denver, Colorado in the same timeline where this drama is shot.

Downton Abbey fans are in for a treat as the music score, powerful dialogues and direction reminds you of the Downton Abbey show. Not only that, many characters of The Gilded Age will make the audience recall some Downton Abbey characters. The biggest one is Lady Agnes van Rhijn whose quick-witted one-liners will make you remember Lady Violet in Downton Abbey. Then there is Mr. Bannister, the butler who holds the same commands as Mr. Carson. The young chemistry of Jack and Bridget in the servant class is similar to Daisy and Alfred in Downton Abbey.

But one aspect where The Gilded Age edges over Downton Abbey is the representation of the Blacks. Downton Abbey have extremely shorter and limited roles but The Gilded Age has quite a take on the lives of African Americans. And their representation is the most different from most of the shows that are doing a favor to diversity. The show is giving its audience a sharp look at the certain existence of ‘elite’ African Americans which is quite disappearing from the script pages when we watch a historical drama where the Black Americans are mostly portrayed as slaves. One guarantee of trusting the Black representation is accurate is hiring Erica Armstrong Dunbar who is a Rutgers University history professor who specializes in Black American women of the 18th and 19th centuries, as a historical consultant.

The audience must also remember that this show is taking place in New York in 1882 which is around 17 years after Lincoln‘s historic Emancipation Proclamation, the ratification of the US constitution’s 13th Amendment that abolished slavery. So yes, the presentation is accurate, and more than that, the show still threw the shades of racial segregation and portrayed them as some second-grade citizens. Because this was still a fresh struggle for recognition.

Lady Agnes’ son Oscar is shown as bisexual and the flow of the characterization clearly proved that making him bisexual looked terribly forced. His being in relation to John has nothing to do with the story but just wanted the audience to recognize that LGBTQ+ existed in those times. And forced portrayals have this very problem in the films and tv shows that the writing and the direction of such chemistries do not come up with some genuine addressing.

Many of the cast have given fair performances but I will pick both the leading ladies Christine Baranski and Carrie Coon as Lady Agnes and Bertha Russell who gave top performances. Stage actress Louisa Jacobson, Meryl Streep‘s daughter, was first-rate and will take time to learn a lot since this is the beginning of her career. She made a television debut in such a bigger project.

Just like Downton Abbey, the show will be covering a lot of historical events and present portrayals of famous American people like the first season managed to do on a few occasions. For example, Linda Emond as Clara Barton who was the founder of the American Red Cross, and Ashlie Atkinson as Mamie Fish who was a lavish party-throwing socialite. There is a scene where Thomas Edison lights up the New York Times building, a historic moment in New York city’s history that is a real incident with few
changes for the dramatic effect. It was a mesmerizing shot to end one of the episodes and give the real incident its due respect to define the best moments of the Gilded Age.

The Gilded Age is a spectacular portrayal of elite American history. Those who are enthusiastic about period dramas will surely love watching this. I am believing that The Gilded Age is definitely increasing its fanbase, especially amongst the Downton Abbey loyalists. The story has a lot of potential to stretch the drama to at least five seasons.

Film Review: Spider-Man No Way Home (2021)

After Peter‘s identity is revealed and is framed for the drone attack and Mysterio‘s death, Peter struggles to escape from the backlashes and overcome the damage of his being the main reason behind terrorizing the city. When he seeks help from Strange, he casts a spell for good. But the spell is corrupted due to Peter’s repeated interference that leads to opening doors for people from other universes.

I think it was a fantastic plot and the continuity of the never-ending ever-growing universe has met strong parallels. The concept of multiverses will go further wide that is certain to happen in Doctor Strange’s upcoming sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But my reason for the plot being really impressive has to do with the characterization of New York’s friendly neighbor. Whatever happened to New York in this film was because Peter couldn’t tolerate the revelation of his identity. The consequences were strong. But Peter made the mess by corrupting Strange’s spell. After all, Peter is a boy, he is not mature. If you notice, he has always needed support from the others in this universe, majorly from Tony Stark. He was Peter’s godfather and after all the support Peter got, Tony died and re-orphaned him. Peter also got the support of Nick Fury and took Mysterio as a crime-fighting partner. In this film, Murdock saved his ass from the charges.

If Peter was mature, he would have faced the consequences after the revelation. He would have never come to Sanctum Sanctorium. Strange further squeezed Peter’s childishness when he couldn’t believe that he didn’t even ‘convince them’ and reached for his help without making an effort. It was a very funny scene and I hit my palm on my forehead but simultaneously that is what Peter Parker in a human was best picturized all this time. After this film, there is no argument about who the best spidey is. Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man is the most ideal portrayal of all time.

At the same time, I was also met with surprises for the wrong reasons. One critical angle that is downplayed is Doctor Strange. Being the new leader of this universe and literally the one who holds the fate of the world by sorcery, how can he ever think of brainwashing the entire world just to make people forget that Peter is Spidey? How come Strange didn’t believe in the critical consequences of what he was attempting? I know it was too funny that he was wandering in the Grand Canyon for half a day. But why? How come he doesn’t have the power to open a portal and return? I don’t have knowledge if that ancient relic was the only support Strange had.

Peter escaping from charges at the start had zero potential to give a dark outcome and face trials and wait for the answers of his non-committed crimes. Director Jon Watts could have given us a gripping segment of his worst phase with all doors closing to his heroism. But all those moments were skipped with Murdock’s one call and Peter all of a sudden goes clean. Murdock’s character would have made more rounds instead of a cameo if we had that difficult phase for at least thirty minutes. All the hype that was built in the end credits of Spidey’s previous chapter met hardly ten minutes.

It was exciting to see all those major villains of the previous Spidey films but their characters and villainous elements were toned down. They looked humble and generous to respond to Spidey and agree for help. Those bad guys were all together and could have easily invaded the city. But Peter taking them to his home looked extremely flat and non-sensical. How can Peter be that dumb and not understand that believing your enemies to help you is straight foolishness? He believed his instincts so much that he decided to snatch the relic from Strange and help the villains?

With the arrival of both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as the Spideys of the other universes, the entertainment doubled and also gave us the chance to see them together. I liked the onscreen chemistry that was built between the three. The screenwriting on them was wonderful and heart-touching. It was absolutely fun to watch them trying to understand each other. What an exciting moment that was when Garfield’s Spider-Man saves MJ.

No Way Home has plot issues but also has one of the best continuities of the universe. The film carries too much forced-comedy that tears the thick lines of the writing in the first half but the film also gave us the moments that were essential to make a superhero film genuine like Peter’s character development that I wrote in length above, the chemistry of three Spideys, Aunt May‘s death, Peter-MJ final moments at Liberty and then in the shop.

What is Tom’s Peter’s future in MCU now? There is every possibility that Tom’s Peter will return in the future. If Tobey at 46 and Garfield at 38 can return with an idea, so can Tom who is just 25. Kevin Feige should put a brake on this Peter for some years and introduce Miles Morales. Miles will be heavily inspired by Peter’s heroics and become like him just like Clint‘s inspiration on Kate in Hawkeye. I will ask for Miles’ introduction in a separate Disney+ show where Tom can appear for a minor supporting role.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is a superb entertainer and has moved in the right direction.

Ratings: 8.3/10

Film Review: Passing (2021)

I swear I never knew the word ‘Passing‘ has a racial meaning and that is unsurprisingly connected to American history. Passing is a term that is used for light-skinned Black Americans who can assimilate into the White majority or in other words, they are accepted or perceived as ‘White’.

This film is based on Nella Larsen‘s 1929 novel ‘Passing‘ about two light-skinned Black American friends who meet each other after a long time in the Harlem neighborhood of New York in the 1920s. Irene (Tessa Thompson) is married to a Black doctor while her friend Clare (Ruth Negga) has passed as ‘White’ and is married to a wealthy white man John (Alexander Skarsgård) who ranks and regards Black people low. Clare rediscovers the truthfulness of life in Irene and tries to gather more with her friend until she ‘pass’ out.

The film is slow-burn but the emotional application is more burning on Clare’s side. The revelation and denial are shocking as it looks disturbing when Clare agrees with John that she is white. Although it is dramatic, the story is executed in the right direction so that the audience gets to feel how difficult it was for a Black to be accepted in a society most of the Whites more than a hundred years ago.

Passing is a technical brilliance with a delicate sense of crafting of the screenplay and direction. The subject was given its piece of thoughtful tribute to that generation who were divided in color concentration. Thompson and Negga were brilliant, especially the latter made us feel heartbroken with her remarkable body language. I am surprised Passing got not a single Oscar nomination. At least Negga deserved the nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Ratings: 7.5/10

TV Review: All In The Family

Promotional still shows the cast from the American television show ‘All in the Family,’ Los Angeles, California, early 1970s. They stand in the doorway of their television address, 704 Hauser Street, Astoria, Queens, New York, and are, from left, American actors Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Carroll O’Connor (1924 – 2001), and Sally Struthers. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

All In The Family is about Bunker’s family situated in Queens, NYC where the patriarch Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) is the only source for bread and butter. With that source comes Archie’s heinous bigotry which let down many verbal backlashes and neverending arguments at home. Wife Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton) is a sweet woman, a hardworking housewife, and a typical example of a faithful wife. Daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) is recently married to her jobless husband Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner). And they all live together.

Archie being a proud ‘white’ American, pro-Nixon, intolerant towards the blacks, Porto Ricans, and Jews, and his unacceptance to multiculturalism leads to many racial backfiring and hate consisting many dozens and dozens of episodes showing a reality about the society hesitant to change in the politically troubling decade of the late 60s.

But the best part is that this family of four is an example of tackling many sensitive issues in the most humorous writings ever. A tv show from 1971 speaking about racism, homosexuality, Vietnam War, women empowerment and liberty, atheism, rape, and so many sensitive subjects, it was way ahead of its time. Not only the writing of the show but the direction and performances of all the four leading casts made this sitcom and overall an American tv show of any genre one of the greatest shows of all time.

Not only was All In The Family culturally and politically significant in the US but was also successful in building its own universe where the supporting characters of the show got their own sitcoms as spin-offs and became popular sitcoms ‘Maude‘ and ‘The Jeffersons‘. Maude was Edith’s cousin and The Jeffersons were Bunker’s neighbors.

LOS ANGELES – JANUARY 1: ALL IN THE FAMILY featuring (clockwise from top left) Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers, Carroll O’Connor, (baby as Joey Stivic) and Jean Stapleton. Image dated January 1976. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

All In The Family won 22 Emmys from 55 nominations and is the first of the only four sitcoms in which all the leading cast won the Primetime Emmy Awards for their respective categories (Best Leading Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Actress).

All In The Family was also the beginning of the legendary writer and producer, Norman Lear on television who convinced CBS to run this show after two failed pilots.

America’s groundbreaking sitcom of television history is easily the greatest sitcom of the 70s and one of the greatest American shows of all time. Both TV Guide and Writers Guild of America has ranked the show 4th in their ‘greatest’ category.

There is a lot to write about this show as my fondness stretched to infinity episode by episode. I just loved Archie’s bigotry, Edith’s innocence, Gloria’s emotional fluctuations, and Mike’s scuffle with Archie. On a personal note, All In The Family is now convincingly one of my favorite sitcoms (either American or British).