West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/3/24

This was a rough week. Hell, it’s still a rough week, but I guess it’ll be over soon. Anyway, I’ve discussed it with some folks, but 42 has truly been the age where I’ve “had enough”. Like, the day I turned 42, there was a marked change that I couldn’t really explain. Not to get all Hitchhiker’s Guide on ya, but maybe it is the meaning of everything. You see, I just don’t have patience for foolishness anymore. As some used to say, “I suffer no fools”. Everyone loves to bash old folks for hating everything, but I GET IT. Everything is sub par. There’s no customer service, everything costs too much, and no one seems to care enough to change any of that. When is every empty storefront becoming a dispensary?! We’ve lowered the bar, and this is the new status quo. I posted on social media the other day how I can’t remember the last time I left a restaurant or business, where I thought, “That was a really great experience.” At best, I could probably say, “Well, it certainly could have gone worse.” Is this LIFE? Just proudly accepting “Good Enough”? Are we putting C students up on podiums?! How did we get here?

I know this is an Andy Rooney style rant, but I guess that’s just who I am now. Take fast food drive-thru, for instance. When did they stop telling you the total after you order? Sure, some have fancy menu boards, but many don’t. I just ordered a shit ton of food, and you’re just gonna say “OK, drive to the first window”, yet the expectation is that I have my money ready when I get there? Also, McDonald’s has recently started asking if I want a receipt. Sure, smaller businesses do this all the time, but not McDonalds. Folks can claim it’s a “cost cutting measure”, but it’s more important than “saving paper”. When the McDonald’s folks mess up your order (and they will), you’re going to need that evidence, in the form of a receipt. If you have an issue with the food, the first thing that manager on duty asks for is the receipt, so they can see with their own eyes that their crew member fucked up, and it’s not that you’re trying to scam them out of an order of fries. I hate this! I never subscribed to “The Customer Is Always Right” (which is actually a truncated saying, as the full saying is “The Customer Is Always Right In Matters of Taste“), but I at least expected management to assume positive intent on the part of the customer. I gave YOU money, so why am I on trial?!

I know a lot of you won’t agree with me. I don’t always like that I feel this way. I think 42 was the age I realized I’m getting old. I don’t know how much time I’ve got left. I mean, I’m not dying, but I’ve had a lot of stuff go wrong in the past year. So, I guess with the clock ticking, I want everything I feel I have coming to me. I want justice. I don’t want to be taken advantage of. I don’t want my time wasted. At this point, I’m not sure I like who I’ve become, but I also don’t know if I like who I’ve been. Deep stuff, right? OK, let’s talk about TV or some shit.

Trailer Park

Hit Man (Netflix, June 7)

This looks kinda good. Ya know, like a romcom version of Val Kilmer in The Saint. That said, I don’t know if I like Glen Powell. I don’t know where he came from, and he’s like if you asked your kid to draw Justin Hartley from memory. I kind of feel like Hollywood is pushing him off on us. It’s just Taylor Kitsch and Joel Kinnaman and Sam Worthington all over again.

You Can’t Run Forever (Select Theaters/VOD, May 17)

Holy shit! I’m kinda glad this isn’t getting wide release, because I’m almost scared of copycats. I mean, I love JK Simmons, but I don’t know what’s going on here. This is kinda like the 80s movies we used to get with Charles Bronson, but we knew he was “The Good Guy”, and he was only killing “Bad Guys”. This guy just kills anyone. I know there’s gonna be a conversation about survival and will and all that, but I dunno… It’s almost like a Falling Down analogue, where we see what it takes to bring down a man who has all the knowledge and resources to be evil, but never had a reason to use them – until now. Some folks kill for a reason, while some folks just like killing. Hard to tell which one this character is gonna be.

Fly Me To The Moon (Theaters, July)

This looks cute. Scarlett and Channing seem to have good chemistry here. I mean, not enough for Colin Jost to get jealous about, but it works. Now, I already thought this was gonna be a paint-by-number romcom, set against a Space Race backdrop, but what really sold me was the angle where they film a fake moon landing, just in case the real one ends tragically, as they felt America wouldn’t be able to handle it. I’ve often said that I’m at the age where I believe everything and nothing. I’m not a Moon Landing Truther, but I’m willing to hear your argument. So, that being the B-story just kinda had me tickled.

Poolman (Theaters, May 10)

Apparently, this debuted last year at the Toronto Film Festival, and the reviews were not kind. This is Pine’s directorial debut, and well… I don’t know what he’s trying to do here. First off, why is he all uglied up? I hate when hot people try to be ugly for a role. You trying to win an Oscar?! The only time that worked was when Charlize Theron did Monster. Otherwise, you’re just slapping us average folks in the face with your “How do I look? Do I look like YOU now?” You’re not supposed to look like us, Chris! Also, I don’t dig the vibe here. It’s trying to be too quirky, too twee. It’s like he studied filmmaking by watching Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson films. We already have those guys, Chris. We don’t need your entry into the field!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Producer Greg Berlanti is about to “Arrowverse” Scooby-Doo, by developing a live action take on the Mystery Machine Gang.
  • For the 3 Black people who read this site, the cast of Fox’s New York Undercover made an appearance on Tamron Hall, where they announced they would be going on tour with several of the 90s musical acts who guest starred on the series, to celebrate the show’s 30th (!) anniversary.
  • Apparently the Masters of the Universe film has a new release date, of June 5th 2026. Ya know, this is getting as annoying as all those “The world is going to end next Monday” prophecies. I’d say we have a better shot of Jesus showing up on June 5th than this movie being in theaters.
  • Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group announced layoffs across the company, which is sort of odd when you remember they just made a $30 billion offer for Paramount in the last six months…
  • The Conner family narrowly avoided the fate of Roseanne, as The Conners was renewed for a 6-episode swan song during ABC’s 24-25 TV season.
  • MeTV has announced their next digital subchannel, MeTV Toons, which is scheduled to launch in June. Much like old Boomerang, the schedule will include classic animation from the Warner Bros vault, as well as shows like Betty Boop, Casper, Speed Racer, and more.
  • What If Deadpool Was a Billionaire? No, that’s not an upcoming Marvel comic, but real life, as T-Mobile has acquired the partially-owned-by-Ryan Reynolds Mint Mobile, for $1.35 billion. It is reported that Reynolds will likely walk away with around $300 million from the deal.
  • In other business news, it looks like Tesla’s circling the drain, as Musk let go the Supercharger team, which included more than 500 employees, as well as the person in charge of designing new vehicles. Next, the head of HR was let go, and today the company announced it was eliminating its college internship program, rescinding offers it had made to students – weeks before those internships were to start. One day, you Tesla owners are gonna come outside to a bricked car – ya know, if it’s not on fire…
  • I guess the May Upfronts are over as we know them, as CBS has already released their 24-25 schedule, having just canceled NCIS: Hawai’i. The biggest reveal of the schedule is that the Young Sheldon spinoff will be called Georgie and Mandy’s First Marriage. This is important because The Big Bang Theory established that Georgie and Mandy didn’t work out, which is why I found it hard to root for them as a couple. However, Young Sheldon is told as a flashback, narrated by a postThe Big Bang Theory Sheldon, so this title implies that Georgie and Mandy will eventually circle back to each other. That’s a lot of baggage for a show!

I tend to have trouble with Adult Swim shows. While I came up in the wonderful days of Sealab 2021 and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, they eventually entered an era where they leaned into the fact that their audience was clearly comprised of stoners with insomnia. So, we got things like Frisky Dingo and Xavier: Renegade Angel. Those were not shows that I enjoyed. In recent years, they’ve tried new things, but those attempts are always hit or miss. Sometimes, they have a show that I start out hating, but later learn more and become invested. Take Metalocalypse, which seemed like it was just about an antisocial metal band, but you later discover the band Dethklok is part of a religious prophecy, and are instruments of a cult determined to prevent doomsday. Another show in this vein is Royal Crackers. I didn’t love the first season. I didn’t really understand the point of the first season. But I was in for a surprise with Season 2!

When Royal Crackers starts, it’s about the dysfunctional Hornsby family, whose patriarch, Theodore Hornsby Sr, founded a saltine cracker empire. For some reason, he’s now in a coma, so there’s a power struggle as to who should run the company: older son, Theodore “Theo” Hornsby Jr., whose best days are behind him as a member of the band TainT; youngest son, Stebe Hornsby. Yes, Stebe, and not Steve. He’s an insecure wimp who’s constantly trying to prove to himself, and others, that he’s in control; Steve’s wife, Deb, who clearly runs things around there. She wants to be the best mom, wife, and Boss Bitch of Bakersfield, and their son, Matt, who starts out somewhat devoid of personality, but that would change. The first season is full of “Who will run the company” drama, with us only learning about Theodore Sr. through flashbacks. He’s clearly an unloving father, who put business ahead of his family. Simply enough, right?

In season 2, we find out that Theodore Sr. was a megalomaniac. He didn’t just want a successful cracker company. He wanted power. He discovered a strange pygmy tribe, and enslaved them to work at his Disney World-esque amusement park. He killed men and had them killed. He made his wife take the fall for a catastrophe he created. The Hornsby sons had forgotten all of this, due to a lifetime of therapy, but now the cracks were starting to show. There were demons, a massacre at the amusement park, and a strange dimension where miniature tree people control human bodies like Gundams. It’s insanity, and you never know what’s going to happen next! Last night was the second season finale, and it was clear the show is going somewhere, as opposed to just wasting time aimlessly. It answered a bunch of questions, but posed even more. This season had me on the edge of my seat, and it’s a shame nobody really talks about it. I can’t even imagine what season 3 will bring, and I almost feel bad for doubting the series in the beginning. So, with that, Royal Crackers had the West Week Ever.