West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/5/24

This right here? This is “Growth”. Ya see, in the olden days, I didn’t post on holiday weekends because I see this enterprise as a “work distraction”. It’s something to check when you don’t feel like actually earning your paycheck. I don’t think anyone is making this a priority when they’re on their own time. That’s why I schedule it when I do. You can read it on a lunchbreak, or when you’re pooping on company time. If you’re traveling or on vacation, however, you deny me quicker than Peter denied Jesus! That said, I’ve got a bit of a streak going, and I LOVE a good streak. Also, the world is burning around us, and I’m trying to provide a distraction. Think of me as the band on the Titanic. You scramble for a lifeboat, and I’ll be over here, playing “Nearer, My God To Thee.” That’s our new dynamic. That is my offer to you, in these troubling times.

I don’t really do reality shows anymore because they’re so orchestrated that you can see the ending a mile away. I certainly don’t do competition shows anymore, because they always come down to whatever makes for “Good TV”. The pretty blonde single mother who lived in her car for a year? Yeah, the rest of y’all might as well go back to the hotel and pack up your stuff! So, if I watch anything, it’s usually real estate related or concerned with exploiting America’s obesity epidemic (You all do realize that it’s not in Dr. Now’s best interest for those 600 lb people to actually lose weight, right?). Usually, the real estate comes down to House Hunters or Love It or List It. So, I was completely unprepared when Lindsay put on Owning Manhattan.

Owning Manhattan premiered last week on Netflix, and it stars real estate mogul Ryan Serhant, who was apparently on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, which I’d never seen. This is supposed  to be Serhant’s “triumphant return” to real estate reality television, as his nine seasons on Million Dollar Listing had made him a proven “brand”. We don’t talk about this a lot around here, for reasons, but I used to work in commercial real estate. In fact, at one time, one of my markets was Long Island, as well as some of the outer boroughs of NYC. I hated those people. I hated them so much. On the lower end, you’ve got some rinky-dink investment property that’s a storefront in the Bronx, but on the higher end, there were multimillion dollar office/industrial complexes out in Suffolk County. The problem though was that *everyone* was so “New York” about everything. You know the stereotype of the brash New Yorker? The whole “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” trope? That’s real. At least, it’s what they project to outsiders. So, that soured me on those people, and it’s just reinforced on this show.

In all of my years of watching television, I have never met a cast where I wanted each and every one of them to die in a fire. Until now. Everyone here sucks. There isn’t a redeeming person in this cast. Maybe Tricia, the Black agent, is OK, but that’s only because they box her out of the good listings that would get her on their level. She’s only a decent person because of her level of success. Everyone who has surpassed her is a piece of shit, and she so desperately wishes to become a piece of shit along with them. The rest of the agents are all ex actors, models, and influencers who somehow found their way to commercial real estate. It’s not that they’re good at Business, i.e. industry predictions, inventory awareness, etc. They’re just good at networking and appearances. They know the right people to contact, and the right angles to film. It’s all smoke and mirrors. One heavily tattooed former model agent tells a client that the condo he’s showing her has great views, and that she’ll be able to see the sun as it rises in the south. She corrects him that the sun rises in the east, but she just thinks it’s cute that he’s dumb, because she so clearly wants to fuck him. Like, I’m not even exaggerating here. Even Lindsay was like “Oh, she’s thinking about him bending her over that counter.” And she probably was, because he was totally giving her the vibe that he would.

If they wanted salacious TV, though, they got it! I was plugged in, just hoping I’d get to see one of them hit by a cab or something. I don’t think Netflix was the right home for this, though. Outside of being able to say “fuck”, there are no real benefits to placement here, other than Netflix desperately needs “hot” content, and probably paid through the nose for it. As a former Real Housewives of New York fan, I know that this sort of thing needs to build and breathe, week to week, always ending on a cliffhanger. The fact that I can just binge it all in one fell swoop is somewhat to its detriment. They just don’t make TV like they used to…

Trailer Park

Hellboy: The Crooked Man (Theaters, Soon?)

So, everyone found out there’s a new Hellboy movie coming, and no one seems pleased. I guess Mignola signed a deal, but I kinda wish he’d exert some sort of quality control on these movies. I don’t think anyone liked the David Harbour reboot, while this looks like an average Asylum film, with Hellboy in it. In fact, it doesn’t even look like a “Hellboy movie”. Remember how you used to be able to mod video games and insert random characters into them? Like, playing Doom as Homer Simpson or something? This looks like that. This was a perfectly average Shudder film starring Thomas Jane, and someone decided to put Hellboy in it.

Jackpot! (Prime Video, August 15)

Um, this is the same movie as Self Reliance, which I talked about a few weeks back. I know it’s not an original concept, but the whole “You have to survive to win this prize” plot is getting tired. Streaming was the right choice for this, as I don’t think it’d do well theatrically. It has too much going against it: First off, folks seem not to love Awkwafina. I get it. I’ve discussed it. But it’s still a thing. Next, Hollywood Cena is a weird dude. It’s sort of odd to say that WWE Cena makes a lot more “sense” than Movie Cena, but it’s true. He takes on odd roles, some of which are just kind off-putting, and nobody knows what to make of it. Ricky Stanicky, Vacation Friends, the merman in Barbie. He seems almost wasted here, but I don’t know who else (besides The Rock) who does “Strong and Funny” right now. Maybe Dave Bautista? Finally, there’s Paul Feig. I love that dude, as I read his book, Superstud: Or How I Became a 24 Year Old Virgin, before I ever knew about Freaks and Geeks, Bridesmaids, etc. After Ghostbusters (2016), though, his is a name spoken only in whispers. I’ll watch it, but I don’t think many will.

Skincare (Theaters, August 16)

First things first, I saw Nathan Fillion and it immediately set this movie back 5 spaces for me. I’m sorry, but I just can’t take that dude seriously as a “film actor”. I know you Firefly people are gonna come for me, but his window at *STARDOM* has passed, and he’s not gonna really surpass The Rookie now. His fame is at David Boreanaz level, and David Boreanaz will never win an Oscar. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I love Elizabeth Banks. She’s carved an interesting path for herself, but it seems to work out for her. I won’t see this in a theater, but I’ll definitely add it to the “When It’s Streaming” list.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Richard Gere has been cast in his first TV role, as he’ll be joining Michael Fassbender and Jeffrey Wright in Showtime’s espionage series The Agency.
  • Six Flags completed an $8 billion merger with Knott’s Berry Farm to form a theme park “superpower”…which will still probably file for bankruptcy within the decade…
  • Realizing there’s no hope of escaping their spiral, Red Lobster announced the off-menu Flavor Flav’s Faves meal, to thank the rapper/reality star for his unwavering support during their financial troubles.
  • Speaking of failed restaurants, NASCAR champion Chase Elliott, along with his team Hendrick Motorsports, dropped longtime sponsor Hooters, due to the breastarant chain’s inability to meet its financial commitments.
  • America’s Patriots are upset at NBC and Macy’s due to the 4th of July Fireworks special “focusing too much on the singers, and not the fireworks”. Ya know, the same fireworks that look like every other fucking fireworks. I swear, if we only did this shit every, say, 5 years, it would be more special!
  • Joel McHale reported that the Community movie will begin filming “vaguely next year”. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of “updates” on the status of that thing. It’s like a wife who always has a headache, but promises it’ll go down tomorrow. But guess what happens tomorrow? HEADACHE!
  • Bill Belichick – the 72 year old former head coach of the New England Patriots – has traded up the tightest 60 year old around for a mid 24 year old former cheerleader. Some men just risk it all on foolishness, and all you can do is watch in horror.
  • Finally, we got a look at Anthony Mackie in the Cap suit for Captain America: Brave New World. I know the point is to show he’s THE Captain America now, but this ain’t working for me. I need him to have a variation of the suit, but not THE suit. The only constant is the shield, and even that’s not written in stone, so I would be fine if they kept the FalCap suit, as goofy as it may look. It’s a comic book movie. Embrace the goofiness!


There was a lot of controversy this week over the rates that superstar comic artist/current Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics was charging for commissions at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con. Lee, not known for doing commissions in recent years, opened up some slots, at the following prices:

(Courtesy of albertmoy.com)

As you can imagine, Internet Folk were not pleased. Here’s my thing, though: He hasn’t done commissions in FIFTEEN YEARS. This is clearly just for the high rollers, and he’s making it easy on himself because he gets to choose which ones he wants to take on. So, if it’s “I want you to recreate the gatefold cover to Batman #619” vs “How about a nice full body Batman sketch?”, he’s gonna choose the one that’s less work. This is easy money for him!

Now, given Lee’s role within DC’s corporate structure, he doesn’t even need the money. This is all “shits and giggles” to him. That opens up the discussion of “How much should art cost?” Given that he’s one of the Image founders, his X-Men redesigns are iconic, and he’s just that damn good, I think he’s worth what he’s charging. Does anyone know what Liefeld charges these days? Does Todd do commissions anymore? For reference, at Awesome Con, Mark Bagley was doing head sketches for $100. Now, I’ve discussed him before, as his Ultimate Spider-Man work was important to me. That said, Bagley is an unsung journeyman. He gets the assignment done, but heads and faces aren’t even his strong suit. So, if he can do that, I think Jim Lee can charge $1,000 for the same work. But that’s just me.

Now, I know the “common fan” is dismayed that they’re missing out, but one thing I feel isn’t really expressed in society lately is that Everything isn’t for everyone. It just isn’t. You can’t get everything you want, and, right now, it means you can’t get a Jim Lee commission at SDCC. That said, depending on how it goes, who’s to say he won’t make this a regular, more affordable thing down the line? If he has fun with it this just might be the beginning of something that will eventually benefit many. I dunno. I don’t care. I already got my Jim Lee sketch.

Anyway, you probably thought the architects of Project 2025 had a pretty good week, but I’m thinking Jim Lee had the West Week Ever.