HBO’s slate of shows were amongst some of the biggest winners at the 74rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Most of these shows are available to stream in South Africa through Showmax, which gives you the opportunity to delve into them right away.
Amongst our favourites is I May Destroy You, Micheala Cole’s critically acclaimed British drama about a millennial writer who must connect fragments of a personal tragic incident, and Mare of Easttown with Kate Winslet delaying the deep grief of her son who committed suicide, by throwing herself into the investigation of murder mysteries in the small town.
They are all so good. Here’s what you can add onto your must-watch list:
MARE OF EASTTOWN
4 Emmys from 16 nominations: Outstanding Lead Actress: Limited Series (Kate Winslet), Supporting Actor (Evan Peters), Supporting Actress (Julianne Nicholson) and Production Design
HBO’s Mare of Easttown dominated the Limited Series acting categories, after being nominated for 16 awards, including Best Limited Series. Oscar winner Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic), who already had an Emmy for Mildred Pierce, picked up a second as small-town detective Mare Sheehan, who must investigate a murder while trying to keep her life from falling apart.
Evan Peters (American Horror Story, and X-Men’s Quicksilver) and Julianne Nicholson (The Outsider, I, Tonya, August: Osage County) took home the Supporting Actor and Actress categories as her colleague and friend respectively. Jean Smart (Watchmen, Fargo) had also been nominated for her role as Mare’s mother, but instead won for Outstanding Lead Actress: Comedy for her role in Hacks.
Mare of Easttown holds a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says Winslet is at her “career-best.” The Guardian hailed the series as “a stunning, harrowing success… a murder mystery that kept us guessing right to the profoundly moving end.”
Available on Showmax from 1 November 2021
3 Emmys from 15 nominations: Outstanding Actress: Comedy for Jean Smart, Writing & Directing
The #1 show on Rotten Tomatoes’ Best TV of 2021 (So Far), Hacks centres on legendary Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance, who takes on an entitled, down-on-her-luck Gen Z comedy writer in a bid to find fresh material and remain relevant as her performance dates start to dwindle.
Hacks was up for 15 Emmys this year, including Outstanding Comedy Series, with Jean Smart (Watchmen, Mare of Easttown) taking home her fourth Emmy as Deborah and co-creator Luca Aniello winning Outstanding Director and sharing the Writing Emmy with Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky. This was just the fifth time a woman had won the Comedy: Directing category at the Emmys.
Already renewed for a second season, Hacks has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “A prickling debut that pulls few punches, Hacks deftly balances its sharp critiques of the comedy world with more intimate moments, all the while giving the incomparable Jean Smart a role worthy of her talents – and an excellent partner in Hannah Einbinder.”
2 Emmys from 2 nominations: Outstanding Animated Program, Individual Achievement In Animation (storyboard artist David Krentz)
The first half of Adult Swim’s Primal won three Outstanding Achievement In Animation Awards at the 2020 Emmys, for storyboard artist Genndy Tartakovsky, art director Scott Wills, and character designer Stephen DeStefano. At the 2021 Emmys, the second half did even better, beating the likes of Big Mouth, Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons and South Park to be named Outstanding Animated Program, for Plague of Madness. Storyboard artist David Krentz also received the show’s fourth Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation Emmy.
From Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Hotel Transylvania), Primal follows a caveman at the dawn of evolution and a dinosaur on the brink of extinction. The two creatures, one on the way out and one on the way in, become each other’s only hope of survival in a treacherous world.
The two 2021 Emmys are just the latest in a string of accolades for the show, including Best General Audience Animated Production and Best Directing at the 2021 Annie Awards. Primal has an 8.7/10 score on IMDb and a 100% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus is, “Epic in every sense, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal is a stunning feat of visual storytelling.”
I MAY DESTROY YOU
2 Emmys from 9 nominations: Outstanding Writing: Limited Series, Music Supervision
Completely snubbing I May Destroy You may have been the final nail in The Golden Globes’ coffin: the Emmy’s more diverse voters didn’t make the same mistake, giving it two awards from its nine nominations, including Outstanding Writing for creator Michaela Coel, who was also nominated for Lead Actress, Directing and Outstanding Limited Series for the show. Coel became the first Black woman to win the Limited Series: Outstanding Writing award.
I May Destroy You centres on Arabella (Coel), a carefree, self-assured Londoner with a group of great friends, a boyfriend in Italy, and a burgeoning writing career. But when her drink is spiked with a date-rape drug, she must question and rebuild every element of her life.
I May Destroy You was named the show of the year in 2020 by Time and has a 97% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “I May Destroy You is at once brave and delicate, untangling the trauma of sexual assault with dark humour and moments of deep discomfort, all held together on the strength of Michaela Coel’s undeniable talent.”
In their five star review, The Guardian raved, “Michaela Coel’s exploration of consent, race and millennial life… works on every level… An extraordinary, breath-taking achievement without a false note in it, shot through with humour and with ideas, talent and character to burn at every perfectly plotted turn.”
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY S1
2 Emmys from 18 nominations: Guest Actor (Courtney B. Vance), Sound Editing
No, the dearly missed Michael Kenneth Williams (The Night Of, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) still hasn’t won an Emmy, and now never will. But his Lovecraft Country co-star Courtney B. Vance did, for Guest Actor as Uncle George, and used the opportunity to sing the legend’s praises.
Vance credited Lovecraft Country creator Misha Green by saying she said it best but, “Michael did everything with his full heart open, with his infinite spirit and with way too much style. May he rest in power and let us all honour his immense legacy by being a little more love-forward, a little more endless in thought, a little bit more swaggy in act.”
In the 1950s, Atticus, a young African-American, sets out on a road trip with his friend and uncle to find his missing father. This catapults the three into a struggle for survival against the dual terrors of Jim Crow-era America and terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a paperback written by pulpy horror author HP Lovecraft.
Lovecraft Country has an 88% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, their best-reviewed sci-fi/fantasy series of 2020. As Newsday put it, “To call Lovecraft Country ‘wildly original’ seems almost a quaint understatement. But it is wild. And original. Little doubt about that.”
A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW S2
1 Emmy from 5 nominations: Editing for Variety Programming
A Black Lady Sketch Show made history at the 2021 Emmys, when Daysha Broadway, Stephanie Filo, and Jess Hernández became the first all women of colour editing team to be nominated for an Emmy, and then the first to win too.
This is just the latest in a string of wins for A Black Lady Sketch Show, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Actress (Robin Thede) and Supporting Actress (Gabrielle Dennis) at the 2021 Black Reel Awards.
In May, HBO announced that A Black Lady Sketch Show has been renewed for a third season. “Making A Black Lady Sketch Show is a dream come true,” says Thede, who is also the show’s creator. “I see this show as a budding comedy institution, where Black women can play fully realised, non-stereotypical characters, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue to create that space for today’s premiere comedians.”
THE GOOD LORD BIRD |
1 Emmy from 1 nomination: Outstanding Title Design
One of this year’s worst Emmy snubs was for four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke (Before Sunrise, Boyhood), who stars in The Good Lord Bird as militant slavery abolitionist John Brown, who is credited with instigating the American Civil War. The Guardian says Hawke is “astonishing as Brown, putting in what may be a career-best performance,” but Emmy voters didn’t agree: the only love the show received was its nomination and win for Outstanding Title Design.
The seven-part series is told from the point of view of Henry “Onion” Shackleford, an enslaved boy who joins Brown’s family of abolitionist soldiers. Onion is played by rising star Joshua Caleb Johnson, who co-stars along with Grammy winner Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting, Hamilton), Critics’ Choice winner Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), and Emmy winner Keith David (Community). The seven-part series is executive produced by Hawke, triple Oscar nominee Jason Blum (BlacKkKlansman, Get Out) and James McBride, who penned the National Book Award-winning novel it’s based on.
The Good Lord Bird has a 98% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As Salon says, “The series takes a brutish time in hist
Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed
We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.
When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.
A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.
The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.
This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.
Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.
Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.
After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.
Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.
In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.
After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.
Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.
Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.
Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.
In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?
Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.
We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.
What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.
We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.
Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.
First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’
Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.
First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe, the world ready to let old baggage go.
The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.
Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it
‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.
The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.
While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.
When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.
With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.
It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.
We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.