PODCAST! – Streaming Originals and Around the Water Cooler: “Arrested Development,” Season 5; The Development Arrested Series, Episode 3 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Arrested Development,” a cult sitcom that originally aired on the Fox network from 2003 to 2006 until streaming giant Netflix commissioned new episodes, which begin airing in 2013.

What: “Arrested Development” follows the Bluth family, a formerly wealthy, dysfunctional family. It is presented in a serialized format, incorporating handheld camera work, voice-over narration, archival photos, and historical footage. The show also maintains numerous running gags and catchphrases. Ron Howard serves as both an executive producer and the omniscient narrator; in later seasons, he appears in the show portraying a fictionalized version of himself

SYNOPSIS

Arrested Development revolves around the members of the formerly wealthy Bluth family, who continue to lead extravagant lifestyles despite their changed circumstances and who often find themselves drawn into interactions with incestuous undertones. At the center of the show is Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the show’s straight man, who strives to do the right thing. His son, George Michael (Michael Cera), has the same qualities of decency but feels a constant pressure to live up to his father’s expectations and is often reluctant to follow his father’s plans.

Michael’s father, George Bluth, Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), is the patriarch of the family and a corrupt real estate developer. George goes to considerable lengths to manipulate and to control his family. His wife, and Michael’s mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), is ruthlessly manipulative, materialistic, and hypercritical of every member of her family, despite the fact that she, herself, perpetually drinks alcohol. Her grip is tightest on her youngest son, Byron “Buster” Bluth (Tony Hale), an over-educated (yet still under-educated) mother’s boy who has dependency issues and is prone to panic attacks.

Michael’s older brother is George Oscar Bluth II (Will Arnett), known by the acronym “GOB,” an unsuccessful professional magician whose business and personal schemes usually fail or become tiresome and are quickly abandoned. Michael’s twin sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) is spoiled and materialistic, continually seeking the center of attention and leaping on various social causes for the sake of vanity. She is married to Tobias Fünke (David Cross), a discredited psychiatrist-turned-aspiring actor. Tobias is a self-diagnosed “never-nude,” whose language and behavior have heavily homosexual overtones, to which he seems completely oblivious and which are the center of much tongue-in-cheek comedy throughout the series. Their daughter is Mae or “Maeby” (Alia Shawkat), a rebellious twenty-something, in Season 5, with an opportunistic streak, who seeks to defy her parents for the sake of attention and who otherwise pursues male attention and power.

When: Season 5 was released to the Netflix streaming library in two parts: eight episodes on on May 29, 2018, and eight episodes on March 15, 2019.

Where: The show is set primarily in Newport Beach, California.

Why: Listen to the initial podcast episode in this series, linked below, for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Arrested Development.  So far, no one’s taken any forget-me-nows…but then, would we really know if we did?

How – as in How Much Do We Love (Forgive?) this Show?!

This is Part Three of our “Development Arrested” miniseries reviewing the available seasons of Arrested Development.  You can listen to Parts One and Two here and at our audio feeds (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play):

Development Arrested, Part One: Seasons 1-3

Development Arrested, Part Two: Season 4, Original Cut and Remix

As you might recall, by popular request – in fact, this show proves to be one of CPU!’s most popularly requested panels of all time – Arrested Development became a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler this year!  Thus, our wacky group of loose seals and mother-boys, which experienced a bit of a changeover since our last episode – Nick, Sarah, Amy, Christian, and a panelist new to the panel but not to the podcast – reconvened “Around the Water Cooler” to recap and review the decidedly problematic Season 5, though the panel considered this most recent season less problematic than the fourth, of “Arrested.” In so doing, we ruminate in-depth upon the success of the season in general, and we reflect upon the fact that the show’s producers and writers tried, again somewhat unsuccessfully, to regain the series’ former glory after the wobbly experiment that was Season 4, but, as the panel discusses in this latest episode, even this earnest attempt at rekindling the old magic did not quite work as successfully as eager viewers might have hoped in the end.

In tonight’s episode, then, our panel discusses Season 5 of the eternal quirky cult comedy in the third and final (for now?) of our three-part series, during which we are reviewing all available seasons of Arrested, the Fox years as well as the Netflix seasons. In this third episode of CPU!’s “Development Arrested” series, we discuss our favorite and least favorite situations, quotes, and characters, as well as our general impressions, of the success of the show’s decidedly middling fifth season.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, schedule permitting, our DCTU Series panel again returns to the Water Cooler to process the fourth season, just slightly, almost, not quite in time for the season premiere of Supergirl! Stay tuned!

Lingering Questions

1) Why did Buster (Hale – SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) kill Lucille Austero, if he was, in fact, telling the truth in the final moments of the season finale? Was it really because he was merely hopped up on juice, as panelist Nick posits? Or, did Lucille Bluth (Walter) order Buster to murder Lucille 2 as she ordered Buster, directly or indirectly, when Buster pushed Lucille’s mother down the stairs as a child? If not those eventualities, what other potential motive could Buster have for doing this?

2) If Lindsay (de Rossi) is really Lucille’s biological sister, how would this affect the family dynamic going forward? The panel already recognizes that at least George-Michael (Cera) and Maeby (Shawkat) are a bit more distantly related, if a lesser degree of incest can inspire any relief.

3) Who is Tobias’ (Cross) son, Murphy Brown’s (guest: Kyle Mooney), biological mother, if Murphy Brown is actually Tobias’ biological son?

4) Where are Michael (Bateman) and George-Michael going now?

5) Where did Oscar (Tambor) go?

PARTING SHOTS

Arrested Development Season 5 is, once more, not generally highly regarded and, therefore, not generally recommended by our panel unless a potential viewer is already a fan of the original three seasons/original run of the show and/or if that viewer “has nothing better to do.” As we discuss in the podcast episode, just as we did when discussing the controversial Season 4, the original three seasons of this program broke ground for so many other sitcoms to come through the use of serialized jokes, callbacks, sight gags, and more than a little tongue-in-cheek thematic comedy around incest. Yet, the struggle to cobble together the cast for the Netflix season released in 2013; the passage of time between the third and fourth seasons and even between the fourth and fifth seasons; and the effort to boldly undertake a high concept for the fourth season, only to attempt to atone for the critically and popularly panned execution of that concept by trying to return to the show’s core essence and basics in the uneven and disjointed fifth season, left most of our panelists (possibly other than Nick and Chief CP Kylie) with something of a poor aftertaste, though they found Season 5 to be less confusing than the original cut of Season 4 and less sloppy than the remix. To that end, our panel cautions that if you are a member of the “Arrested” cult and are not caught up on the Netflix seasons, keep expectations low. If you are not an officiate of said cult, the panel strongly recommends viewing the original run of three seasons and, thereafter, deciding how you feel about those before embarking upon the somewhat confusing, somewhat tedious fifth season.

LOOKING AHEAD

Netflix has not yet announced whether the streaming giant has renewed or canceled Arrested Development, though the prospects of a sixth season are not looking good. Between the cast members’ busy schedules, the prior controversy surrounding Jeffrey Tambor, and the retirement of Portia de Rossi from acting in general, the possibility of further Arrested Development seasons seems very much like a non-starter more than “Anustart.” If the unlikely occurs, and Netflix renews the series, CPU! will reconvene our “Development Arrested Series” panel to offer our always spirited and spicy opinions, whatever the show might look like in this hypothetical future season, as all panelists would be interested in continuing to watch additional seasons, despite the uneven overall quality of the Netflix era.  In the meantime, like, follow, and/or subscribe to the website, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of any Arrested Development scoop as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels! And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review. Thank you!

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: “Grace and Frankie” – The Season 5 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grace and Frankie” is a comedy-drama web television and Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Grace and Frankie,” created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the title roles of Grace and Frankie, two unlikely friends who are brought together after their husbands announce that they are in love and plan to get married. Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry, June Diane Raphael, and Baron Vaughn co-star in supporting roles.

SYNOPSIS

The series follows Grace (Fonda), a retired cosmetics mogul, and Frankie (Tomlin), a hippie art teacher, whose husbands, Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterston), are successful divorce lawyers in San Diego.  Grace and Frankie’s lives are turned upside down when Robert and Sol announce that they are in love with each other and are leaving their wives. Now, the women, who have never particularly liked each other, are forced to live together and must learn to unite and to cope with difficulties in their new lives as 70-something divorcees.

When: Season 5 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on January 18, 2019, with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in San Diego, California, and surrounding communities.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the Season 1 and 2 podcast episode via the link below!

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Last year, CPU! caught up on this septuagenarian (or, perhaps, secretly octogenarian) sitcom in a two-part miniseries. To listen to that miniseries, in which each part covers two seasons of Grace and Frankie, click on either of the links embedded below:

Seasons 1 and 2

Seasons 3 and 4

Previously by popular request, though notably by frequent CPU! panelists and viewers unlikely to be in the intended target audience for this quirky comedy-drama, Grace and Frankie became a new show panel at the CPU! Water Cooler last year. Ultimately, those requesting CPU! faithful continue to regard Grace and Frankie as a charming comedy about growing old gracefully – but also about growing up gracefully – in these, our modern times. 

To that end, in this episode, our panelists – Kristen, Krista, Amie, and Samantha – reflect on and recap the fifth season of Grace and Frankie, reacting to the growing cadre of quirky characters and the seemingly impossible situations in which they find themselves.  From new loves to new heartaches, from death to birth, from squats to yurts to alternate realities, our panel reacts to it all.

This episode was recorded in July 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points, jokes, and sight gags of the fifth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, a new, one-time panel convenes at the CPU! Water Cooler to Look Back at a CW drama that ended in 2017, which fictionalized and romanticized the life and journeys of Mary, Queen of Scots. The drama is Reign, which CPU! began covering on the blog in the year the website launched. We are royally excited to return to it too!  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Did Nick (guest: Peter Gallagher) buy the beach house?  If he did not buy the beach house, who did?

ANSWER: Nick did not buy the beach house. A pop star known as Karina G (guest: Nicole Ritchie) bought the beach house to escape fallout from a social media disaster propagated by the vapid songstress. It was she who came equipped with a sassy assistant played by RuPaul. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

2) Will Grace and Frankie get the beach house back?

ANSWER: Yes. Grace and Frankie aim to squat and squat they do in the empty beach house prior to Karina G’s move-in. When Karina is ready to eject the gal pals, they successfully turn on their charms; Frankie convinces Karina that New Mexico is a much better place to hide from paparazzi.

3) What will the fallout be with the kids, since they all conspired against the women, their mothers?  What was Robert and Sol’s reaction – or what will it be – when they found/find out?

ANSWER: Bud (Vaughn) insists that the women hire a home health aide to look after them, since they refuse to return to the retirement village from whence they sprung; the other three kids are more mortified that their mothers engaged in the dignified act of squatting to get their house back. The women have their revenge, however, when Frankie ultimately hires retired secretary Joan-Margaret, who can barely walk, to be their caregiver. In the meantime, though Robert and Sol are aware of their ex-wives’ antics, they betray little surprise or care regarding fleeing retirement villages or subsequent squatting, beyond bemused hoping that they remain safe. In fact, the husbands seem to be placated by the idea that Grace and Frankie successfully return from their lives as fugitives and are looked after by the kids.

4) Where did Nick go?  Does he know that Grace checked into a retirement community?

ANSWER: Nick tried to move on with his life, considering that it was Grace that gave him the old heave-ho. He eventually reunites with Grace when she realizes that she loves and misses him and engages in an awkward gambit to win him back, so she probably filled him in on the whole old folks’ village sitch off-screen.

5) Will Brianna (Raphael) save Say Grace and gain some of her mother’s approval, as panelist Krista predicts?

ANSWER: Brianna actually humbles herself long enough to ask Grace to help her, as the company begins to fail. This partnership predictably deteriorates rapidly (listen to the podcast episode for details), though Grace does realize, in the end, that Brianna has a good head for business, and Brianna concedes that Grace is not as out of touch as Brianna otherwise keeps attempting to argue. Saying that Brianna officially gained her mother’s approval in the end, however, seems like a stretch measurement for their status quo as of the season finale. You tell us, gentle listener. What do you think?

6) Will Jacob (former guest: Ernie Hudson) return to Frankie somehow, as many of the panelists hope?

ANSWER: No. Jacob has not returned as of Season 5.

7) Why does Mallory (Decker) continue to allow Coyote (Embry) to park his tiny home in front of her house?  Will Mallory and Coyote couple up?  Will the show offer up more back story for this troubled pair other than Coyote’s drunken blackout night?

ANSWER: Still a question. An educated guess estimates that pity/friendship/secret feelings still motivate Mallory, but she and Coyote have not acted upon any feelings that either or both of them might still be nursing for the other. The show, also, has not offered additional back story on their awkward relationship.

8) What will RuPaul’s new character, who panelist Kristen describes in the episode, mean to the story next season?

ANSWER: Very little, as it turns out. It seems that RuPaul was a mere stunt cast, meant to fuel preseason speculation and, probably, to gain viewership, but he (outside of his drag persona) appeared in only two episodes, and the panel concluded that this appearance was underwhelming and only modestly funny at best. Yet, RuPaul still has her Drag Race. May the sass be with her.

New Questions

1) Will Brianna and Mallory self-actualize, countering their mother’s high standards and judgment, for once? Will Brianna find the confidence to run Say Grace and to make it successful without her mother’s help? Will Mallory advocate for herself and for her wants and needs (like a paycheck from her sister) rather than wallowing in belabored self-pity following her divorce?

2) Will there be more episodes with all members of both families combined in the next season? The panel votes yes.

3) Since Dolly Parton recently acquired a Netflix deal for her own series, will she appear, in a 9 to 5 reunion type way and with the “all in the family” approach of the streaming giant, on Grace and Frankie? The panel votes yes.

4) How will Grace and Nick’s elopement affect Grace’s friendship with Frankie and/or her living arrangement with Frankie? Why was Frankie so upset that she sank to the ground upon learning of the elopement in the Season 5 finale?

5) The panel further votes that Robert should partake of more marijuana, since he’s so “good” on it. The “Robert/Frankie on edibles” scene was voted the panel’s most popular scene of Season 5. Will Robert and Sol endeavor to enjoy this recreation together? Will Grace ever go the cannabis route?

6) How long will Mallory date her daughter’s principal? Will Coyote’s employment at the school affect that dynamic, even if Mallory and Coyote never couple up?

7) Will Frankie assume sole proprietorship over Vybrant, since she’s running it so well, if uniquely in her way?

8) If Nick moves in to the beach house, what will become of Joan-Margaret?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Grace and Frankie panel continues to recommend this groundbreaking situation comedy to fans of the actors in the cast, particularly of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston, and to people who sincerely like to laugh.  Some of the panel cautions, however, that with frank discussion about drugs and sex – and occasionally rock ‘n’ roll – as well as some salty language coming from these septuagenarians (and secret octogenarians), not every potential viewer might find the show funny or be copacetic with the vernacular utilized therein.   Also, the panel continues to generally praise the comedic performances of the four main actors, and the writing, while agreeing that there are better episodes than others; in fact, the panelists still voice a variety of reactions to the supporting characters, namely the four actors playing the grown up children of the couples in question.  The panel further expressed highly mixed feelings toward the device used in the Season 5 finale, with some panelists arguing that the episode achieved the apparently intended, if distasteful, effect of rendering the viewer unsettled by the end of the season. At the same time, the remaining panelists asserted that the “alternate reality” trope employed in that episode seemed decidedly misplaced in the season finale; felt too forced for the ensuing and somewhat anticlimactic character epiphany; and, therefore, failed to achieve any measure of emotional satisfaction with that epiphany in the end.  In any event, our panelists, the Season 5 finale aside, universally experience great fun while watching this series, despite any perceived warts or blemishes, and believe that most with an open sense of humor will have fun watching it too.

LOOKING AHEAD

Netflix has renewed the show for a sixth season, though no tentative release date has yet been announced by the streaming giant.  Most pundits expect the show to return in 2020, in keeping with its traditional once per year release pattern, which is when our CPU! Grace and Frankie panel will also, most likely, return to the Water Cooler for the purpose of chatting about Season 6.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the website, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes regarding Grace and Frankie as well as new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review.  Thank you! 🙂

PARODY/HOMAGE!

We are not the only big fans of Grace and Frankie. Apparently, Pete Davidson of Saturday Night Live, DJ Khaled, and Paul Rudd are too! Our panelists recommend peeping this sketch, yo:

THE PANELISTS ALSO RECOMMEND!

Panelist Samantha recommends that you and all the rest of CPU! check out the Grace and Frankie cast appearance at this year’s Paley Fest:

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Fuller House” – Season 4, the Full/er House Series Panel’s Review and Recap; the Full/er House Series, Episode Five (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for fuller house title

Moderator: Kristen

THE SPECS:

Who: “Fuller House,” an American family situation comedy and sequel to Full House, which airs on the Netflix streaming service as an original series, which means, for the record, that it is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What: The series centers around DJ Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure), a veterinarian and widowed mother of three sons, whose sister and best friend—the mother to a teenage daughter—provide support in her sons’ upbringings by moving in with her and into DJ and her sister’s childhood home.

SYNOPSIS

After the sudden death of DJ Tanner-Fuller’s (Bure) husband, Tommy, who was fulfilling his hazardous duties as a firefighter, DJ accepts the help of her sister, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and her best friend, Kimmy (Andrea Barber), as they move in to take part in raising DJ’s three sons: 13-year-old Jackson (Michael Campion), 7-year-old Max (Elias Harger), and baby Tommy Jr. (Dashiell and Fox Messitt). Kimmy’s teenage daughter, Ramona (Soni Nicole Bringas), also moves in with DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy, and DJ’s children. Most of the Full House ensemble cast reprise their roles on Fuller House, either as regular cast members or in guest appearances, with the exception of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who alternated in the role of Michelle Tanner on Full House.

When: Netflix released Season 4 on December 14, 2018, with total of 13 episodes.

Where: The show is set in San Francisco, California.

Why: Listen to the podcast series, via the embedded links below, for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Fuller House.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

So many CPU! regulars, including frequent CPU! contributor and panelist Kristen, love Full House and were particular excited, at least initially, by the Netflix revival of this long dormant sitcom, creating a brand new chapter for the series, which the streaming channel calls Fuller House. In fact, Kristen saw an opportunity for a new CPU! podcast series, in which CPU! panelists look back at the program that started it all while looking forward “around the water cooler” as new seasons of the reboot are released. Thus, herein we offer the fifth episode of said CPU! series covering the various versions of this sitcom, which we at CPU! are calling our “Full/er House Series.”  Listen to our previous episodes in this series, in which we Look Back at Full House and review and recap previous seasons of Fuller House, via embedded links below:

Episode One: Looking Back at “Full House”

Episode Two: “Fuller House,” Season 1

Episode Three: “Fuller House,” Season 2

Episode Four: “Fuller House,” Season 3

In addition, lacking the ability to fully appreciate Full House (and Fuller House) age-wise by a few years, the Chief CP steps aside from the moderating microphone once again, so that Kristen may serve as main moderator with the kind of enthusiasm this juggernaut of nostalgia deserves. Kristen is, in turn, rejoined by her fellow series panelists, Andrew and Leslie, who proved game to return for this fifth episode of our “Full/er House” series. They are, in turn, newly and more fully joined by one panelist new to the panel but not to the podcast, namely Samantha (currently involved in the Grace and Frankie and The Crown panels, among others), and by a brand new panelist, embarking upon his CPU! journey for the first time – Jared!

In this latest CPU! Fuller House episode, the panel discusses their favorite and least favorite moments from the fourth, and now officially penultimate, season of the reboot.  In sum, the panel’s reactions to Season 4 prove more widely mixed and, in essence, more difficult to pinpoint, in terms of an average rating, compared to previous seasons. Some of our panelists struggled through the nuanced changes in the show following the involuntary departure of creator and Executive Producer Jeff Franklin, including the evolving tonal quality of the show following the move to Netflix (and given the time period that has elapsed since the original series ended), while other panelists continued to enjoy what they have always enjoyed about the series, the heart and soul of the Full House banner, and to take that entertainment value for what it’s worth.  Listen to this latest podcast episode in our Series, if you have watched through Season 4, and gauge whether you agree or disagree with the plethora of opinions offered herein.

This podcast was recorded in June 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points and comedic situations portrayed in the fourth season of Fuller House. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!   Except not next week…because next Wednesday, CPU! will be publishing a rerun, as it’s the day before the day of American Independence, and we deserve a holiday too! We should really try to get outside and enjoy the summer weather instead of being glued to our TV screens all the time, or so they tell us, anyway. Plus, it’s super hard to concentrate on sound editing with all of those darn fireworks going off! To that end, new episodes resume anew on July 10, 2019, when an exciting new panel will be launched, one that will boldly go where CPU! has never gone before! Our “Star Trek 50+ Series” will meet at the Water Cooler for the first time in July to launch the largest multi-part, multi-episode Retrospective series ever initiated at Couch Potatoes Unite!, covering every single season of every single series of the Star Trek franchise (and the films too)! On July 10, the panel discusses Season 1 of Star Trek, the Original Series. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Michelle, aka Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, ever return to the show? (And why are they so snooty about it…it launched their careers, and the ability they had to start their alleged fashion empire?)

TWEAKED ANSWER: Still a question, likely with a “no” answer, even as our panelists remain twelve percent hopeful. Unfortunately, our panelists report that the show resumed the off-putting jokes addressed to a broken fourth wall to call out the twins’ (and Michelle’s) absence.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will we see any of Michelle’s friends?

REPEAT ANSWER: Still a question, but without Michelle, why would anyone care about her friends?

3) Will Stephanie (Sweetin) and Jimmy (Adam Hagenbuch) get engaged?

ANSWER: Yes! In the Season 4 finale, after Kimmy (Barber) delivers Stephanie and Jimmy’s new baby via surrogacy, Jimmy proposes to Stephanie, and she answers, “Yes!”

4) Will everyone REALLY be moving back into the house – Danny (Bob Saget), Jesse (John Stamos), Becky (Lori Loughlin), Joey (Dave Coulier), and all of their various offspring included?  Will everyone REALLY be shuffled back into their old quarters in this San Francisco house that seems to become more like a TARDIS as time passes (it’s bigger on the inside)?

ANSWER: No. Only Danny moves in with his daughters, Kimmy, and their children temporarily while he explores the possibilities and potentialities related to retirement, but he moves out again once he finds his new post-retirement purpose with the help of Aunt Becky, specifically his old job at Wake Up, San Francisco. The other uncles and aunt simply make their usual visits.

5) Will DJ and Steve (Scott Weinger) finally stick?

ANSWER: They are officially official in Season 4 and so far, so good.

6) Why are the Gibblers so weird?

ANSWER: Some questions can only be answered thus: “TV Magic.”

7) Since there were three viable embryos from Stephanie’s surrogacy journey, will Kimmy be bearing multiple children for her?

ANSWER: Kimmy, as a surrogate, gives birth to one baby girl for Stephanie.

8) Will the show get better? 

ANSWER: New panelist Jared feels that the show has remained consistent and “good;” panelist Leslie feels that the show improved upon Season 3 in the fourth season; panelist Andrew thinks that the show improved in Season 4 but is still worse than Seasons 1 and 2; moderator Kristen and new panelist Samantha regard the whole kit and caboodle as all downhill from here.

New Questions

1) Will DJ and Steve get married – finally?

2) What will Stephanie and Jimmy’s baby girl be named?

3) Will there be a double wedding, with DJ/Steve and Stephanie/Jimmy, or even a triple wedding, with Kimmy/Fernando?

4) But seriously, will Michelle return? Or, will Stephanie and Jimmy name their daughter “Michelle” as an homage to the never-seen youngest Tanner sister, off doing her fashion thing?

5) Will we see Joey’s kids again (the panel votes “no”)?

6) How will the show handle the departure of Lori Loughlin, who was caught up in the college admissions scandal of earlier this year and who is expected to go to trial related to charges for bribery, and others, after attempting to fix college admissions with financial incentives at prestigious schools on behalf of her daughter? Or, will Loughlin actually be allowed to make an appearance in this final season?

7) Will Kimmy and Fernando finally remarry, whether in the previously theorized triple wedding or not? What’s going on with them?

8) Will there be a happy ending? It’s Full(er) House, right? Will the show be able to make up for the lack of a satisfying ending, denied to the flagship series upon its abrupt 1995 cancellation?

9) Will the begrudging CPU! “Full/er House Series” panelists come around in the end?

10) How many panelists will there be at the last? Our panels are full at six or seven, and this panel has experienced quite the roller coaster in panel composition!

PARTING SHOTS

Our new panelists bring with them an offset cache of balanced fresh opinions. Panelist Jared enjoys and is entertained by the whole show, from start to finish, while panelist Samantha struggles along with some of her veteran compatriots on this panel. Some of the panelists readily recommend this reboot series to others who might enjoy the admittedly “cheesy” humor, while other panelists cannot imagine a world of people who might enjoy this show enough to warrant such a recommendation. To the extent that the panelists recommend the show, they do so mainly for the nostalgic appeal and “turn your brain off” level of entertainment resulting from the perennially saccharine premise of this well-loved cast and the tongue-in-cheek presentation of its “aw, shucks” humor. Most of the panelists would hesitate to recommend the show to anyone who has not seen the original Full House series, though the panelists also believe that the core audience of Fuller House has been established and will likely not grow, given the show’s specific oeuvre and vastly uneven quality. 

The panelists’ reactions to the fourth season, as above, proved to be vastly diverse, with some exhibiting effervescent enthusiasm for it while others claimed to be downright unable to finish watching it, either in light of or in spite of the change in show runners resulting from the involuntary departure/discharge of original creator (of both Full House and Fuller House) Jeff Franklin.  Still, our panelists hope for a happy ending at the end of what was announced to be the fifth and final season and still, at times begrudgingly, admit that this sequel series and its ham and cheese on rye quality of humor remains easily binged and easily digested, with minimal heartburn or regret, even given its less well-received moments. As such, our panelists hope for a Season 5 that ends with the proverbial bang and not the (mostly) expected whimper, even as but a segment of the panel continues to champion the series, while the rest of the panel sees fit only to round out the investment of time that they have devoted to this series, out of loyalty to CPU!, if nothing else (aw?). For the discerning viewer seeking direction on whether or not to pick up this series, then, one can obviously glean from the above that the general reaction “is what it is” and will be what it will be, which is probably not helpful in the end. In other words: watch it, and form your own judgment, because our panel is literally all over the very fuller map.

LOOKING AHEAD

Netflix renewed Fuller House for a fifth and final season of eighteen episodes, which is expected to release later this year, though no release date has yet been announced by the streaming service giant.  CPU!’s next Full/er House episode, which will focus on this fifth and final seasonwill likely record and publish some time after the fifth season drops. Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the blog, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes in the Full/er House podcast series as well as of new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review (give us stars – many of them!). Thank you!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: The CPU! Goodbye to “A Series of Unfortunate Events” – The Season 3 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-3 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Nick

THE SPECS:

Who: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is an American black comedy-drama television series developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld, which is based upon the children’s novel series of the same name authored by Lemony Snicket and which is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” adapts the books of Lemony Snicket’s series of novels. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, and Presley Smith.

SYNOPSIS

When a mysterious fire kills their parents, the Baudelaire children are placed into the care of their distant relative Count Olaf (Harris), an actor who is determined to claim the family fortune for himself. Following Olaf’s initial failed attempt to do so, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and to uncover the mystery behind a secret society from their parents’ past.

When: Season 3 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on January 1, 2019, with a total of 7 episodes.

Where: The action takes place in various fictional locales, not always specifically named.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode covering Season 1 via the link below.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Couch Potatoes Unite! has been reviewing and recapping this series from the beginning! If you need to catch up with us, listen to the prior episodes of this series via the embedded links below:

Season 1

Season 2

Frequent contributor and panelist Nick abounds in passion and, therefore, perseveres in his moderation duties while discussing the latest (and final) season of Netflix Streaming Original A Series of Unfortunate Events, in this latest chapter of CPU!’s podcast episodes about this #Unfortunate series. In this final season’s recap and review, yours truly, the Chief CP, again participates as a regular old panelist to remark upon the unfortunate-ness of the whole affair. Nick and I are, in turn, joined by returning CPU! and ASOUE panelists Kristen, Kelsey, Selene, and Jenn for this final probing, passionate, and, at times, pithy discussion about the Baudelaires and their trials and tribulations.

This podcast was recorded in May 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the third and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our regularly scheduled review episodes will return to a brief hiatus (as spring moves into summer), so CPU! will continue the “On the Couch With…” feature with Associate Producer of Marketing and frequent panelist Krista interviewing Associate Producer of Special Projects and frequent panelist Selene.  Stay tuned until next week for more casual one-on-one, get-to-know hilarity!

Lingering Questions

1) Will the Baudelaire children survive their trials and tribulations? Will they get a happy ending? Will they reunite with the caring Justice Strauss (Joan Cusack) from Season 1? Will they find a happy home anywhere? Or, will they be marginally miserable but, at least, always together?

ANSWERS: (SPOILERS!!!) The Baudelaires survive and become quite self-sufficient in the end, needing no guardian, which might be the happiest ending that they could have expected or for which we, the viewers, could have hoped. They also reunite, briefly, with Justice Strauss, who the viewer learns has been searching for them for the length of the entire series, ever since the children were separated from the kind judge in the first season. Unfortunately, Justice Strauss is forced to preside over a trial during which the Baudelaires must answer for questionable, entirely inadvertent crime(s). The Baudelaires, as a result of a rigged system overseen by nefarious High Court adjudicators that Justice Strauss naively trusts, choose to run from the trial, particularly given some arson-related circumstances affecting the trial’s location, and find themselves on the ocean and sailing toward a mysterious island, surprisingly with Count Olaf and without Justice Strauss. After these wily children deal with Count Olaf on this removed island oasis, they make a temporary home for themselves in an abode, the interior of an apple tree, previously occupied by their parents; the island itself provides a very specific tidal window through which to sail that can only be accessed once per year. The Baudelaires, then, after a year of waiting for the turn in the tide, return to the mainland, together, where they presumably live out the rest of their days. Listen to the podcast episode for further details.

2) Will Count Olaf get his well-deserved comeuppance?

ANSWER: Well…Count Olaf does find himself on the receiving end of a poisonous fungus and a harpoon, which (SPOILER!!!) ultimately cause his death. Whether that ending feels satisfying as a proverbial “comeuppance” is debatable. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) What is the SUGAR BOWL? Why should we care about the sugar bowl? Is it Beatrice’s sugar bowl? Why does Esme Squalor (Lucy Punch) want it so badly?

ANSWER: The SUGAR BOWL is just a sugar bowl, as it turns out, though it becomes an important vessel for the VFD’s secret formula for a weaponized poisonous fungus called the Medusoid Mycelium, as well as the sugar-like form of the antidote to said poisonous fungus. Esme wants the bowl so badly because the SUGAR BOWL was originally her sugar bowl, part of a tea set that was very “in” for her when it was whole. Listen to the podcast episode for further analysis.

4) Who is Beatrice? Is she dead? If not, where is she?

ANSWER: The podcast panel believes that Beatrice, i.e. the subject of Lemony Snicket’s (Warburton) notes at the top of each pair of episodes, is the Baudelaires’ mother, played by Morena Baccarin, who is confirmed to be dead. Yet, Beatrice could also refer to Lemony’s niece, Beatrice Baudelaire II, who the Baudelaire siblings care for following the death of Beatrice II’s mom, and Lemony’s sister, Kit Snicket. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

5) Are the Baudelaires’ parents really dead? If not, will we see them again?

ANSWER: Yes. The Baudelaires’ parents are really dead, though we are treated to a glimpse of them in a series finale flashback.

6) If Lemony Snicket is telling the story, does he know the end?

ANSWER: No. Lemony does not know the end, and he makes a point of saying that readers/viewers are not meant to know all the answers to all the questions, either. In fact, the series finish is rather open-ended. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

7) Are the Quagmires’ (Avi Lake and Dylan Kingwell) parents officially dead?

ANSWER: Yes. The Quagmires’ parents are officially dead.

8) Who is Jacqueline (Sara Canning) – what is her goal?

ANSWER: Unknown. Jacqueline apparently leaves to be the new Duchess of Winnipeg, according to Mr. Poe (Freeman). We presume Jacqueline fulfilled her VFD duties in ensuring, sloppily, the protection of the Baudelaire children, but her disappearance ultimately feels forced and unsatisfying. Of course, maybe we are not supposed to care about whether or not Jacqueline has goals, since we are also not sure if they have been fulfilled. Anyway, we’ll never know the answer, unless Lemony Snicket writes more books focused on any of the other characters besides the Baudelaire siblings. Of course, panelist Jenn reveals in this episode, after some cursory research, that Jacqueline is not a character in the books. In conclusion, none of the panelists appear to be too broken up about the lack of Jacqueline information. Let us know what you think.

9) Will the Quagmire triplets return?

ANSWER: We do not see the original two triplets, at least not until the last episode, but we do learn that Quigley, the third, presumably dead, triplet is actually alive. Listen to the podcast episodes for details.

10) What is the VFD already? And why did Count Olaf “look away” from them at the start? Why do they have standard disguise kits?

ANSWER: The VFD is a super-secret spy organization established to put out the world’s fires, both literal and proverbial. We learn in this season that Count Olaf is wooed away from the stability and safety of the VFD because, first, Beatrice I inadvertently kills Olaf’s beloved father via a freak opera-house accident, and because, second, two nefarious characters with absolutely no back story – the Man with a Beard and No Hair and the Woman with Hair and No Beard – see fit to cause the oft-mentioned VFD schism by preying upon the easily manipulated but grieving Olaf. The disguises, we presume, are part of spying. Except where Olaf is concerned, when disguises and costumes are either part of ACTING or NEFARIOUS SCHEMES TO STEAL CHILDREN’S FORTUNES. Anyway, the panel believes that the VFD might be officially defunct as of the end of ASOUE, unless there are other VFD agents out in the world that we have not yet met. We’re not betting our opiate-laced coconut milk on it, though.

New Questions Without Answers

1) Who are the Man With a Beard and No Hair and the Woman with Hair and No Beard, and why do they have such beef with the VFD? Why were they introduced so late in the series?

2) How could the Baudelaire children remain on the mainland without an official guardian, and why isn’t the viewer at least somewhat entitled to know the minimum information about the world in which the Baudelaires reside vis-a-vis wards of the state?

3) What exactly is the nature of the relationship between Count Olaf and Kit Snicket, and why does the show not take more time to develop it?

4) Are all three of the triplets at the Hotel Denouement, as played by Max Greenfield, truly good and/or truly evil? Why would Kit Snicket align herself with the allegedly evil one if she was really good? For that matter, is Count Olaf truly evil or simply greedy and nefarious?

5) Why don’t the Baudelaires seek Lemony Snicket out sooner than the series finale, when Beatrice II seems to be preteen adjacent?

6) Whatever happened to Fernald and Fiona Widdershins? Whatever happened to their stepfather?

7) Did Ishmael (Peter MacNicol) create the mysterious series-ending island? Why is the island shaped like the VFD insignia tattooed on all of its agents?

8) Why didn’t Nathan Fillion appear in the flashback scene with Morena Baccarin or, earlier in Season 2, with Neil Patrick Harris in what could have been fourth-wall shattering actor reunions between Joss Whedon series alumni?

9) Whatever happened to the pirates?

10) Whatever happened to the orphans on Count Olaf’s submarine?

PARTING SHOTS

The ASOUE panel’s review of Season 3 is decidedly mixed among the various panelists. Some panelists, particularly the Chief CP and Jenn, expressed experiencing a mingled sense of apathy, frustration, and boredom about where the series ended, as they regard the repetition off-putting even as the ending felt rushed; other panelists, like Kelsey and Kristen, find themselves relieved that the ending was, ultimately, a bit more fortunate for the unfortunate Baudelaires. Remaining panelists Nick and Selene report possession of an overall sense of enthusiasm about the series, now that all is said and done, but acknowledge the obvious narrative flaws, which they discuss in this episode.

Yet, the panelists continue to unanimously praise the visual presentation and technical aspects of the show, even as they offer wide-ranging reactions to the overall direction and story flow. To that end, all panelists find reason to enjoy the show’s overall pastiche, with the script’s whimsical wordplay, the over the top characters, and the absurdly unfortunate situations guiding the overarching plot. The panelists also laud the use of tongue-in-cheek breakage of the fourth wall and some sly references to popular culture, though such references may or may not date this story over time. Ultimately, however, many of the panelists struggle with the scattered and somewhat tonally flat final season’s end, feeling that the show does not so much earn its sprint across its artificially constructed fictional finish line, despite all of its ham-fisted attempts to subvert typical fantasy tropes and in light of the anticlimactic and somewhat unsatisfying story conclusion. Still, all panelists, even the skeptics like the Chief CP, find enough good to say about A Series of Unfortunate Events to recommend it in the end, which is kind of fortunate, if you think about it. Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it – you can always “look away.”

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Ended! A Series of Unfortunate Events ended with this third and final season after ultimately adapting all of the Lemony Snicket novels in the original book series via the three available seasons of this Netflix original program. All ASOUE seasons are, therefore, available to stream on Netflix, as that is the network that produced it. 

At the last, despite the fluctuations of panelist opinions between the first two seasons and between those seasons and the third, A Series of Unfortunate Events continues to be recommended by all of our panelists, especially to fans of the original book series; of the 2004 film adaptation of same; of Neil Patrick Harris and of Patrick Warburton, who portray Count Olaf and Mr. Snicket, respectively, and who do so with flourish and aplomb; to fans of the type of dark, sardonic humor offered by the likes of Tim Burton or Barry Sonnenfeld, the latter of whom is credited as a creator and an executive producer of this series; and to fans of generally wicked wordplay.  Panelists Kelsey and Selene recommend this program for family viewing along with younger children, though they expressed more concern about the uptick in darkness and death prevalent in the second and third seasons and about how their seven-year-old daughter might react to this new intensity. Chief CP Kylie, the only true member of Gen X on this panel, continues to caution that the series may be more palatable to Millennials and to younger generations, who had a chance to grow up with the original series of children’s books and who might relate to the program more easily, despite the fact that the erstwhile Doogie Howser MD plays a lead character.  Yet, in the end, no panelist regards the viewing of this delightfully original if adapted series to be a waste of one’s time, which might not chalk up to be a fortunately ringing endorsement but can be construed as a CPU! Official Endorsement ™, nevertheless.

In addition, while our ASOUE coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time. In the meantime, from our Unfortunate panel of Cake-Sniffers to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing reviews of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which now officially come to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!

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Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton, right) meets Beatrice II over root beer floats in “The End” of ASOUE, Season 3
Who can tell what’s more Unfortunate? The Series of Unfortunate Events or our panel, having to say goodbye to you all (unfortunately).
Our ASOUE panel: Nick (left, moderator); Kelsey (top); Selene (right); Kristen (center); Jenn (on the laptop, being technical, and featuring her vocal cat, Duke)

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: “13 Reasons Why” – The Season 2 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “13 Reasons Why” is a drama-mystery web television series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “13 Reasons Why,” adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix, revolves around a high school student, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), and his friend, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who committed suicide after suffering a series of demoralizing circumstances, brought on by select individuals at her school. A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before her suicide details thirteen reasons why she ended her life.

SYNOPSIS

Clay Jensen (Minnette) returns home from school to find a mysterious box lying on his porch. Inside, he discovers seven double-sided cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Langford), his classmate and unrequited love, who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. The series explores the fallout from the revelations on Hannah’s tapes.

When: Season 2 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on May 18, 2018, with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action takes place in an unnamed, presumably Californian town (the series was shot in California) at fictional Liberty High School.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

CPU! has covered 13 Reasons Why since the series’ beginning. To listen to our Season 1 review, listen via the embedded link below or via our audio feed at Apple/iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play:

When 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix, so many CPU! core panelists advocated for a 13 Reasons Why panel, the Chief CP had to oblige and to subsequently draw lots, since we had more volunteers than actual room on the panel. Since that time, at least one panelist – Jenn – has jumped the shark after watching only a few episodes of the second season, though the rest of the panel, CPU! regulars Kristen, Andrew, Amie, Emily, and Jeremy, all returned to attempt to process Season 2 via what could only be described as a mixed bag of reactions.  In this episode, our remaining conscientious five, along with yours truly, the main moderator, parse through the thirteen new courtroom-based testimonies and three Polaroids of Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why and also delve into the continuing, ensuing controversies that this unflinching and graphic portrayal of social issues confronting today’s teens have wrought.

In the episode linked below, this panel spends considerable time with and meditates upon each of the deeply flawed characters motivating the story within 13 Reasons Why.  The panel also reacts to the continued debates and controversies arising from critical and popular reception of the series: is the show responsible social commentary or irresponsible revenge fantasy? Does the show glorify suicide, or does it provide a stark and necessary depiction of it in order to provoke needed conversation around signs and triggers?  Does the streaming network provide enough trigger warnings? Does the series attempt to tackle too many social issues at once, but only at a surface level, giving none of them a true exploration of said issues due to the sheer number of them, or is the show daring to tread roads where other series fear to go? Our eager and vocal panel participants may not have all the answers, but as with the world at large, some continued strong reactions are voiced during this longer-than-usual discussion.

For those who find it difficult to listen to discussion about sexual assault (rape), suicide, and the other heady topics bridged by this program, please note that we do discuss much of it directly and, in some instances, quite personally. Listener discretion is advised.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, our A Series of Unfortunate Events panel returns – for the last time – to the Water Cooler to discuss the final season of the quirky Netflix dark comedy (allegedly) made for children, i.e. Season 3. In our upcoming episode, we will also Look Back at the entirety of this popular adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s novels, which we have covered on the podcast since the show’s beginning, and we will examine its relative success (or lack thereof) as an overall series as well as say goodbye, both to the series and to each other (for now). Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) We presume that Tyler Down (Devin Druid) will be the focal subject of Season 3, given the ending scene of Season 2, in which Tyler (SPOILER) brings a gun to school with the intention of unloading it during the Spring Fling dance and following Monty’s brutal act toward Tyler in the Season 2 finale. How appropriate is it for the show to switch gears from a narrative largely about Hannah and sexual assault/mental health issues/suicide to Tyler and the theme of school shootings/violence? Will the show be able to handle this transition sensitively and to broach this issue with care and responsibility? Should the show even be going down this road?

2) Given Chloe’s Season 2 finale admission to Jessica (Alisha Boe) that she is pregnant, a result of non-consensual sex with Bryce (Justin Prentice), the panelists fear that the show might additionally try to tackle the subject of abortion at a time when such a fraught topic might be timely from a sociological and political perspective, even as the vehicle, 13 Reasons Why the series, might not be an appropriate vessel for such a divisive subject. Our panel is especially concerned, as the show originally, again, focused on Hannah as the central character, and as the series has not handled the topics originally depicted by the source novel as sensitively as it could have in these socially aware times. Will the show broach the subject of abortion? Should it?

3) The show seeded a narrative/theme for a supporting character, the Class President Marcus, an African-American male, in Season 2, in which he was blackmailed by Tyler and his new friend Cyrus into labeling Bryce a “rapist” at a public event. The audience is given a glimpse into Marcus’ home life, in which his father praises his hard work and intelligence, particularly in light of the fact that he and his family expect to experience hardship due to race; yet, the show explored this issue, in the panel’s estimation, rather superficially in Season 2. Will the show revisit this theme in Season 3, since we saw Marcus experience no consequences for his actions against Hannah, his on-the-stand perjury (or obfuscation of the whole truth) during the trial, and his wavering sense of morality in light of his behavior and choices?

4) The panel strongly reacted to the show’s handling of Clay’s individual mental health issues, given his profound grief over Hannah’s death, his full-fledged conversations with her “ghost,” and his coping mechanisms related to his pursuit of his private investigation of the revelations around Hannah discussed during the trial, to his reactions and relationship to Skye, and to his dynamic as well as his care and support of Justin (Brandon Flynn) during Justin’s rounds of heroin detox. Will the show more meaningfully revisit Clay’s own mental health journey? Will we be given a better explanation for the Hannah manifestation? Or, were Clay’s reactions and apparent state of mind only dependent upon his obsession with Hannah, in life and in death, and will they be forgotten now that Hannah and, therefore, Clay has “moved on?”

5) Will the show explain or explore how the school district’s defense attorney came to know so many personal details about the various witnesses called to testify in the trial? We can assume or presume that Bryce provided some information, but where did much of the intimate information come from, and how was it vetted, if at all? The trial felt like the consummate courtroom melodrama and, in some ways, represented some of the sloppiest storytelling of Season 2, as far as our panel is concerned.

6) How will Clay’s parents’ decision to adopt Justin play out in Season 3? Will they be as oblivious to Justin’s ongoing addiction as they are to their son’s mental health state?

7) Is there more of a history between Tyler and Monty than what we have already seen, and, if so, what is it? Will we learn more in Season 3?

8) Will the show use another “device” to tell the story, like the cassettes or the Polaroids, in Season 3? What will it be?

9) With Chloe’s pronouncement to Jessica that she is pregnant, and with Bryce’s announcement to Zach (Ross Butler) that he is transferring to a different school, will Bryce be forced to cancel those plans? Will he remain at Liberty? Or, will his parents try to pay Chloe off or otherwise keep her quiet?

10) Will our panel fully return to discuss Season 3? Much doubt was expressed about the idea of extending this series even further beyond its source material than previously accomplished via the second season, and the panelists, mostly, feel trepidation about the idea of the coming third season. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

PARTING SHOTS

Universally, the CPU! 13 Reasons Why panelists feel that Season 2 of this controversial series is not as well executed as the first season. Without the reliable support of the source material, as the first season wholly adapted the one novel on which the series is based, the series’ second season struck our panelists as “forced,” “contrived,” superficial in its revisit of the issues that rendered the show such a water cooler TV topic in 2017, scattered in its attempt to tackle even more social issues than those originally addressed without being able to deeply or genuinely delve into them, “manipulative,” and, in some ways, more sensationalized in its depiction of sensitive issues, considering the strong negative response to the perceived sensationalism of the show’s first season. The panelists struggled most with the writing and narrative structure of Season 2, finding many of the plot choices and revelations about Hannah to be contradictory to what was learned in Season 1, which was based on the actual book, and in a way that did not add to her story. Panelists also panned some performances, particularly by some of the actors and actresses playing the parents, with the notable exceptions of the fabulous Kate Walsh and Brian d’Arcy James as Olivia and Andy Baker, Hannah’s parents, respectively. To that end, some of the episode direction suffered as a result, with choppy pacing and framing that felt as manipulative as the story being peddled in the series’ sophomore season, at least in our panel’s particular regard.

As a result, the panel no longer universally recommends 13 Reasons Why, at least beyond Season 1, as what many of the panelists enjoyed and lauded about the first season, especially the program’s ability to push the conversation about teen suicide, sexual assault, bullying, and other serious issues affecting today’s youth to the forefront, seemed watered down and worryingly “surface-level” in the second season.  In addition, the risky decision to renew an already shaky story structure for a third season leaves the panel with uneasy feelings, particularly as the show moves away from Hannah as a main focus and attempts to re-position the drama around problematic character Tyler and, presumably, the subject of school shootings as well as, quite possibly, teen pregnancy (and related issues), given Chloe’s circumstances. Thus, for anyone who has not watched this series, particularly Season 2, and is considering it, take this mixed-message recommendation for what it is: watch, and judge for yourself, but watch with caution all the same.

LOOKING AHEAD

13 Reasons Why was renewed for a third season, which is expected to drop later in 2019, though a tentative release date has not yet been announced by Netflix as of the date of this publication. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of all 13 Reasons Why coverage, and this panel will, as such, hopefully return some time after the release of Season 3 to recap the new season. Until then!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: The CPU! Goodbye to “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – The Season 4 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-4 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

Who:  “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix, as it is Netflix-produced original content.

What: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a situation comedy about a woman who, along with three other women, is rescued from an underground bunker in rural Indiana after being kidnapped or otherwise stuck inside for fifteen years as a member of a doomsday cult, the leader of which convinced them that the world had ended, and that the apocalypse had come.  Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, The Office) decides to start her life over in New York City, out of time and out of place.  Hilarity ensues.

SYNOPSIS

The heroine of the title, Kimmy Schmidt, is one of five women to emerge from an underground bunker in Indiana, having been, in some respects, unwitting members of a doomsday cult.  The five women were trapped in this bunker, with their religious leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, for fifteen years; Kimmy and her bunker-mates emerge into the twenty-first century while still stuck in the twentieth.  Brimming with endless optimism and a healthy dose of girl power, Kimmy decides to start her brand new life away from small town Indiana by setting up in New York City.  She luckily finds a rent controlled, in a manner of speaking, apartment with a fabulous new roommate named Titus Andromedon (D’Fwan from 30 Rock, Tituss Burgess) and an aging hippie landlord named Lillian, played by character actress Carol Kane.  Kimmy secures a job as a nanny with a ridiculously rich Park Avenue family, the Voorhees, the matriarch of which is boss from hell and new best friend Jacqueline (now White as of Season 2, Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock/Ally McBeal)Mostly, Kimmy finds herself full of optimism but is otherwise a struggling fish out of water and out of time, as she attempts to create an adult life for herself, having lost such a significant part of her childhood to the spartan and strange life of the bunker.

When: The fourth season of the series was released by Netflix in two parts: six episodes were released on May 30, 2018, and the subsequent final six episodes dropped on January 25, 2019.

Where: The action is set in and around New York City, New York, though there are occasional flashbacks to the bunker, which is in Indiana.

Why: The show was created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the producer/creative team responsible for giving us 30 Rock, of which the panelists are generally huge fans. Many of us also enjoyed Ellie Kemper quite a bit in The Office and in the movie Bridesmaids, as she’s got great comedic timing.  This show was on CPU!’s list of pilots to watch for the 2014-2015 season and was originally slated to air on NBC, but when Netflix picked it up instead, it was an easy choice to switch over.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

CPU! started covering “Kimmy” from the beginning.  If you haven’t heard our previous Kimmy podcast episodes, listen/watch via the embedded links below:

Season 1

Season 2 – LIVE

Season 3 – LIVE (Sort Of)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt blew up the internet when it was first released, which is not surprising, because it begins with an extremely funny premise and a unique sensibility that catch the viewer off guard, along with its wacky humor, witty dialogue (no doubt spearheaded by Fey), stunt casting, and generally zany but positive tone.  In some ways, however, these elements begin to falter in big ways in the fourth season, or so says our UBK panel – original panelists Kristen, Nick, Sarah, Krista, and Andrew – in this latest discussion about the final season, Season 4. Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on the fourth season?  Our thoughts about the entire series? Let us know if there is anything that you think we missed!

This podcast was recorded in April 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we also Look Back at and contemplate all four seasons of the show. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our regularly scheduled review episodes will take a brief hiatus (May is always a busy month for our panelists), so we are launching a new interview feature whereby you, the listener, will hear, in a bit more in-depth type fashion, profiles of the CPU! core panelists. In the first episode of “On the Couch With…,” frequent panelist Sarah interviews…yours truly, Chief Couch Potato Kylie (as if you haven’t heard enough of my voice!).  Stay tuned until next week for some casual one-on-one, get-to-know hilarity!

Lingering Questions

1)  REPEAT QUESTION: Will we see Kimmy’s mom, Lori Ann (guest: Lisa Kudrow), again?  Is she still married to Kimmy’s stepdad, played by Tim Blake Nelson?

NEW ANSWER: Lisa Kudrow returns this season for the series finale in a lovely way (listen to the podcast episode for details). Her marriage status vis-a-vis Kimmy’s stepdad is never clarified in any season of the show, though we surmise that we do not really care anymore.

2)  Will we see any more representatives from 30 Rock, since Season 3 was lousy with 30 Rock cameos?

ANSWER: No. No additional 30 Rock actors appear in Season 4. Tina Fey does not even return.

3)  Will there be a larger plot involving the Reverend, since he and Kimmy are still married?

ANSWER: Sort of. Though the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne is currently housed in federal prison, we see him reconnect, first, with his number one fan, DJ Fingablast aka Doug, in DJ Fingablast’s documentary/mockumentary “Party Monster: Scratching the Surface,” otherwise known as UBK Episode 3. Fingablast reveals that he knew the Reverend way back when he was a (my word) hackneyed wedding DJ, which inspired Jacqueline’s one-time youthful paramour to take up the disc jockey trade. Because Fingablast is so loyal to the Reverend, the DJ also teams up with men’s rights activist Fran Dodd (guest: Bobby Moynihan); they both regard the Reverend as a champion for waning men’s rights, particularly in light of how others sympathize with the Mole Women while Fingablast’s number-one idol rots in jail. This story line becomes largely anticlimactic in the end, however, as Fingablast finds his truth in love, and Fran finds someone to love him back, as being rejected by the fairer sex is ultimately what drives him to take up the plight of the allegedly beleaguered straight, white man in the first place. The panelists additionally feel that the writers tried for satire with this comedic situation, but that said attempt rings hollow for most of us. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

4) Will Tina Fey always play AHN-drea/Andrea?

ANSWER: No. As above, Tina Fey does not appear in Season 4 and plays a Marcia Clark-like attorney in Season 1.

5) Will Titus and Mikey get back together?

ANSWER: Yes! By the end of the series, Mikey comes to his senses and realizes that he knows Titus’ brand – and still loves him for it. In the epilogue, we learn that they marry and adopt beautiful ethnic babies.

6) Will Lillian and Artie reunite?

ANSWER: No. In a confounding decision that confused our panel to the point of apathy, Artie dies off-screen in the transition between seasons – yet appears as a largely unhelpful ghost-figure, available to advise Lillian as she administers the trust fund of Artie’s very rich, very spoiled, huge train wreck of a daughter Sheba (guest: Busy Phillips). This situation stumbles for our panelists, particularly since the actor playing Artie made himself available to play a ghost. In other words, the joke does not work, son.

7) Will Jenna, I mean, Jackie Lynn, I mean, Jacqueline, be funnier as an agent?

ANSWER: No. In fact, Jane Krakowski’s performance in this final season also rings flat and feels tonally off, in every episode of Season 4, for all of our panelists – which means she actually becomes less funny as the head of “White Talent” (who represents Titus) as opposed to more. This joke is, like, of the quality of the sketches of Saturday Night Live in the 2000s. Our panel loves Tina Fey, but this might not be a coincidence.

8) Will Kimmy find her raison d’etre?

ANSWER: Yes. She becomes a children’s book author who endeavors to empower girls with a positive attitude and a healthy dose of imagination. Her first book, The Legends of Greemulax, becomes a Harry Potter-like treatise of female empowerment and unexpectedly touches and inspires Xanthippe, much to Xan’s chagrin, particularly when she learns of the author’s real name behind the nom de plume otherwise listed on the book’s cover.

9) Will Lisa Kudrow come back?  She was well received by our panel.

ANSWER: Yes. As above, Lisa Kudrow returns in the series finale. And there is much rejoicing.

PARTING SHOTS

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is now done, and the CPU! UBK panel universally agrees that the final season of the quirky sitcom is the least fresh and least successfully executed, if successfully executed at all, of all the show’s seasons. In fact, the panel opines that though the first season was fresh and funny and surprising in all the best ways, the show’s quality has steadily declined since then, if examining the series as a whole, even as the offbeat comedy contains shining moments of amusement in every season. Though all panelists found reason to laugh when inspired by the show’s over the top characters and absurdist situations, many of the panelists struggled with the scattered and somewhat tonally flat fourth season’s continued reach for gimmicks, like the tone deaf #metoo satire, as well as the generally disjointed story lines, such as Jacqueline’s ongoing journey of alleged personal growth, culminating in her partnership with guest Zachary Quinto’s Eli. Yet, the panelists cannot deny that other characters’ various exploits, like Titus’ discovery of the secret of Cats, the musical, spark smiles, if not sustained ones. Still, the panelists further regard the show as a non-formulaic sitcom with some solid joke-telling, particularly in the first two seasons, less so in the latter two, as well as some easy laughs throughout – that is, when the humor sticks the landing, which the panel has determined is not always the case in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Ended!  Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ended as of January 2019, by mutual agreement of Netflix and the show’s producers, after four seasons.  All four seasons are available to stream on Netflix, as that is the network that produced it. 

The panel, however, does not universally recommend Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt now that the series has ended. Panelist Kristen would recommend it only to individuals with similar senses of humor. Panelists Chief CP Kylie, Nick, and Krista would recommend the show only if the potential viewer has watched 30 Rock and liked that series, while panelist Krista feels that only the first two seasons are truly recommendable, given the series’ perceived decline in its latter half. Panelists Sarah and Andrew would not recommend the comedy to others, as they feel that there are other, better shows in similar genres with similar oeuvres, including The Office, Friends, and Schitt’s Creek.  All in all, these responses and impressions leave the panel with some anticlimactic feelings, as this comedy, which once felt new and fresh, seemed to devolve into some level of disjointed, abstract, “spaghetti at the wall” mediocrity, despite the winning cast performances.  On the other hand, the panelists are ultimately glad that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt exists – they alive, dammit! It’s a miracle! – in light of its unique premise and strong core cast, and they might even miss the show, in the end, but no one plans to rush to re-watch it anytime soon.  Take that, gentle viewer and listener, for what it’s worth.

In addition, while our UBK coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time. In the meantime, from our Unbreakable panel of Cats-haters to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt series, which now officially comes to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!

UPDATE!

Apparently, our panel is not quite done. Have you heard the late-breaking news? A final interactive special of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will appear on Netflix in 2020.

It’s official. This podcast has psychic powers.

Image result for unbreakable kimmy schmidt final scene
Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper, left); Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski, center);
and Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess, right) settle in for a weekend of binge TV and girl talk
in Season 4, Episode Two: “Kimmy Has a Weekend!”
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt panel of Couch Potatoes Unite! gets silly.
Andrew’s in the center.
You probably guessed that, didn’t you?
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt panel, from left to right:
Andrew, Krista, Kristen, Nick, and Sarah

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Orange is the New Black,” the Season 6 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Orange is the New Black” is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What: “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy drama about a Manhattan woman whose past catches up to her and for which she must serve time in federal prison.

SYNOPSIS

Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, a seemingly run-of-the-mill woman and maker of homemade soaps. Unfortunately, Piper learns that she must serve a short sentence in federal prison after she is implicated in the bust of an international drug cartel, of which her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), was a member and who Piper aided and abetted. What’s more, Piper finds, at first, that she is wholly unequipped for prison. Though some, like unabashed, self-proclaimed “lesbian junkie” Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), are kind and helpful to her, others show her no mercy. In addition, the guards, all men, are mostly drunk on their own power, the prison counselors play favorites and are easily offended, and the prison population is divided by race, unofficially but automatically, which offends Piper’s liberal sensibilities.  If all that weren’t complicated enough, Piper’s ex Alex is sent to the same prison, and Piper’s emotions are deeply conflicted, as she reasons that only Alex could have pointed the finger to get her in trouble in the first place, while at the same time, the old attractions between the two women remain undeniably present.

When: Netflix released Season 6 to its streaming library on July 27, 2018, with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The show is set in upstate New York, though flashbacks for each of the prisoners who comprise the cast of characters sometimes venture away from New York.

Why: Many panelists saw the teaser trailers for the series while watching other programming on Netflix and also on network TV.  Listen to prior podcast episodes to discover how individual panelists found this show.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

CPU! has been covering Orange is the New Black since its debut on Netflix’s ever growing streaming service.  You can read about the first season here and listen to podcast episodes about Seasons 2-5 below:

Season 2

Season 3, Part One

Season 3, Part Two

Season 4

Season 5

Our OITNB-oriented Couch Potatoes and enthusiasts – namely moderator and Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Krista, Nick, Amanda, and Andrew – triumphantly, if belatedly, return to the CPU! Water Cooler to talk all things Season 6 of the wildly popular (and Orange) Netflix drama for this latest podcast episode.  We engaged in our usual heady and heavy discussion about some of the plot lines that we saw emerge – “to the max” – in the sixth season. What do you think?  Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your hopes, fears, expectations, speculations, or predictions for the resolution of the sixth season’s cliffhangers going into Season 7, which Netflix announced would be the show’s final season in fall 2018?

This particular CPU! episode was recorded in April 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of OITNB Season 6. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday – AT LONG LAST! – and after nearly two years of advertising it, a new retrospective panel of tough-to-schedule members arrives triumphantly, with an Armageddon-inspired walk down the long hallway of our podcasting lives, and sits squarely and victoriously around the Water Cooler. There, they engage in the first of a three-part discussion Looking Back at all time mega-hit 90s sitcom (cue trumpets and the Rembrandts): Friends!  Yes, folks, CPU! will finally be there for you. We always keep our promises and our Central Perks. Eventually. Stay tuned!

Questions, Predictions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the OITNB producers planning to end the show at the end of Piper’s sentence? (That will be a question for awhile).

NEW ANSWER: Piper is released from prison at the end of this season after a guard, Hopper, decides to manipulate the system to protect his role in smuggling drugs into the prison, which he does along with Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who he is seeing sexually and who begins living with him and his “Nana” this season. Also, officially, the show has one season left. So, unless Piper gets herself re-arrested, contrary to the trajectory of the real-life inspiration behind the Piper character, we believe we can remove this question from the list. The question we have now centers on how and if Piper will maintain relationships with those she left behind at the maximum security prison, her now wife Alex included.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Are we to assume that Suzanne’s (Uzo Aduba) flashback in Season 4 provided the back story related to the reason for her imprisonment: involuntary manslaughter of a child? Because her flashback episode was situated within the last three jam-packed episodes of the season, the panel assumed this to be the case but was not certain.

REPEAT ANSWER: Unclear.  OITNB does not revisit Suzanne’s back story at any point this season.

3) REPEAT QUESTION: Where is the story in terms of Piper’s overall sentence, and how much longer does she have in prison?

NEW ANSWER: She has zero time left in prison as of the Season 6 finale. In one of the final moments of the season, Piper is leaving prison as a kickball game, that she helped to bring to life, plays on without her.

4) REPEAT QUESTION: Will we see Healy (Michael Harney) again?  Panelists Kristen and Kylie predict that we will, since he seems to have voluntarily checked himself into an institution (rather than being involuntarily committed).

NEW ANSWER: Healy makes a brief appearance this season when Caputo (Nick Sandow) attempts to seek help, information, and a reckoning following the Season 5 riot. In their conversation, Healy shares that he left the mental institution, and that he gained calm and a sense of spirituality, and he advises Caputo to “move on” from his dogged pursuits of truth and justice related to the riot. This conversation, as it was, seems rather final as a tie-off for Healy’s character, so we’ll leave this question off the list next time.

5) REPEAT QUESTION: Will we see Lolly (Lori Petty) again now that she has been transferred to the psych ward?

NEW ANSWER: Lolly, apparently, is transferred to Max and placed in the psych block there, i.e. Cell-block B, “Florida.” There, she finds some old friends like Suzanne and Frieda (Dale Soules); listen to the podcast episode for details.

6) Where and when will Season 6 begin?  Will there be a time jump? Will the Litchfield inmates be in various other prisons?  Will they return to a rebuilt prison?  Will we see all of the inmates we saw at the end of Season 5?  Will the inmates hiding by the old swimming pool, including Piper, Alex, Red, Frieda, Blanca, and others, be subjected to more stringent punishment?  Will they all survive?  Will they be captured?

ANSWER: Season 6 immediately begins in Litchfield’s neighboring maximum security prison, with little time having passed between the events of the finale of Season 5 and the opening moments of Season 6. Many of the beloved (and less beloved) Litchfield Penitentiary inmates have been shipped off to other prisons, but most of the ladies we have been following and/or have grown to love (or to hate) have come to stay at “Max.” The swimming pool inmates are all shipped to Max and begin the season in solitary, Cell Block A, only to be transferred when they are able to provide statements as to their guilt or innocence and/or helpful, relatively speaking, testimony related to the cause of and/or influence on the events of the Season 5 riot. All of the inmates from Season 5 appear to survive, and all of the swimming pool inmates are captured by the SWAT team that invades Litchfield Minimum at the end of the fifth season; in the case of Black Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) and Suzanne, they are captured later than the others because Cindy and Suzanne hide for a time until they are discovered in their hiding place by the armed guards.

7) What will happen to the guards originally left in the prison and captured by the prisoners?  What fallout, if anything, will they receive?

ANSWER: The guards receive no fallout. Though Piscatella dies as a result of “friendly fire” by the SWAT team assigned to quell the prison riot, the corporation, MCC, later re-branded by Linda The Worst as “PolyCon,” endeavors to cover up as much of the riot as it can and does so by scapegoating the prisoners, particularly Taystee (Danielle Brooks), who is positioned to be the “face” of the riot. When she is criminally charged for her role in the previous season’s melee, the prison attracts grassroots attention from the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and Taystee is provided a legal defense by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). On an individual level, however, Corrections Officer (CO) McCullough, the female guard who was particularly tortured by Maria (Jessica Pimentel) during the Season 5 riot, suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the riot (coupled with being a veteran), while each of the remaining guards that make the transfer from Litchfield Minimum to Max deal with post-riot processing in their own way.

8) Will Piper and Alex marry in prison, and will this proposed marriage make Piper a more likable character?  Is that even possible?

ANSWER: Yes, Piper and Alex arrange a good old-fashioned prison wedding, with witnesses Nicky and Lorna (Yael Stone) along with Cindy and Flaca (Jackie Cruz) present to celebrate. Whether this wedding and ensuing marriage will make Piper more likable in the end will depend upon her behavior as a free woman while Alex is left to rot in prison in Season 7. Since Piper achieves modest likability improvement in Season 6 via her efforts to act like a human and to organize a kickball game, and relative to B-villain Badison, who is the most annoying new character of the season, anything is possible.

9) Is this the end of Litchfield?

ANSWER: The minimum security penitentiary does not appear, except in flashbacks, in Season 6. One would assume that the corporation would need to time to rebuild after prison riots and meth-head perpetrated arson.

10) What will the fallout of the Litchfield riots be related to the company, the state, and the figureheads?  Will the company be assessed any consequences for its incompetent management of Litchfield?

ANSWER: The Litchfield riot becomes political fodder in Season 6, as MCC aka PolyCon must defend its actions before congressional hearings and the New York state governor. Unfortunately, the company makes the mistake of putting flunky Linda (The. Worst.) in charge as a settlement after losing her among the rioting prisoners in Season 5, when her position, in the end of season headcount, is not questioned in due diligence, since Pennsatuckey (Taryn Manning) escapes both the prison and the headcount in the Season 5 finale. Fortunately, Caputo is on the case and has made it his quest to ensure that the corporation faces consequences, and/or that Taystee is given a fair shake in her trial. Unfortunately, both fronts of that battle are decidedly uphill.

11) Will there be additional crossovers with other original Netflix series – or additional crossovers with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?  Some of the panelists support this idea; some are less enthused with both this concept and with the crossover that occurred in Season 5.

ANSWER: There are no further crossovers of any type in Season 6, and the panelists did not seem to miss them, judging by the current discussion.

12) Are there any prisoners, especially prisoners that the viewer has known since the beginning, for which we have not seen flashback stories?  What flashback stories will see next season?

ANSWER: We see flashbacks covering the following circumstances: Cindy and Suzanne during the SWAT incursion at Litchfield Minimum; Cindy’s path to unplanned, teenage pregnancy; young Frieda’s rivalry with season villains Barb (Mackenzie Phillips) and Carol; Nicky’s bat mitzvah; a new Max inmate, a lesbian named Daddy, who takes a shine to Daya (Dascha Polanco) and who gets involved in pimping escorts and distributing drugs pre-prison; Badison, another Max inmate, and her origin story; Taystee’s life working fast food with her friend Tamika, who is a CO at Max; Barb and Carol’s back story, part one; and Barb and Carol’s back story, part two. If there are any inmates who have not been given flashback treatment, none of us know or can recall who they are. Plus, several of the inmates that we have known since the beginning were shipped to different prisons.

13) What was Frieda’s crime that landed her in Litchfield/prison?

ANSWER: The official answer is still, as yet, unknown, though Frieda admits to killing many people throughout the series.

14) Will the company or anyone else discover Linda, the company woman playing prisoner who is also The Worst, among the prisoners?

ANSWER: Linda is discovered in solitary as an unlisted prisoner and creates holy high hell when the mistake is unearthed, resulting in her ability to extort from the corporation a sizable financial settlement, a hefty raise, and a huge promotion that puts her in charge of Interim Warden Fig, who, so far other than Caputo, is the only official at the company who realizes that Linda is, simply, The Worst. Of course, Linda is now in charge of things, and that never bodes well, as we have learned from her flashback and general way of being.

Incidentally, Tuckey uses the same technique on Linda, blackmailing her with the information about her tryst with Big Boo in Season 5 to score a spot in Cell-Block B, the psych block (“Florida”). So, some karma is delivered in a satisfying way to Linda The Worst. Still, the Chief CP is personally voting for the tarring and feathering of Linda at some point. She is my least favorite character by far!

15) Will Flaritza, i.e. Flaca and Maritza, be reunited?  Will Nicky and Morello?

ANSWER: Flaritza are not reunited; Maritza is shipped to a different prison, theoretically giving her more time to appear on Jane the Virgin and other high profile projects. Fortunately for a very pregnant Morello, Nicky and Lorna are reunited in Cell-Block D, Barb’s block, though that positions them squarely against Red (Kate Mulgrew), who lands in C-Block and aligns with Carol to survive, as Barb and Carol are sibling rivals who choose to agree only when it comes to their enmity against Frieda. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

16) Will Daya ever get to see her baby again?

ANSWER: Since Daya enters a guilty plea for second degree murder this season, in order to avoid the death penalty for her role in the riot and in former CO Humps’ murder, earning a life prison sentence instead, chances are very slim. Daya even calls Pornstache’s mother to tell her how to find Daya’s baby, so that the little tyke will have a good life and proper care. Daya subsequently proceeds to, essentially, give in to Daddy’s advances and to give up mentally by developing an oxy addiction, particularly after the other women on her block beat her regularly following her guilty plea. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

New Questions

1) Will Piper maintain relationships with her prison friends? How will she conduct married life when she’s out of jail, and Alex remains in prison?

2) Will we see any of the inmates who were shipped to other prisons again in the final season? I think the panelists particularly missed Big Boo, Soso, and Maritza.

3) Who will fill the vacuum created in Barb and Carol’s absence? Will Alex take on the power role in place of Carol? Will Red? Will Gloria (Selenis Levya) step up in Barb’s absence? Will Daddy?

4) What is wrong with Lorna at season’s end? Will her baby survive?

5) Will the show check in with Blanca (Laura Gomez) next season after she is turned over to INS in the sixth season finale?

6) Will PolyCon get into some sort of significant trouble for incompetent management? Will Jason Biggs return with a triumphant story of investigative journalism exposing the mismanagement and corruption of the corporation?

7) Will we see Judy King or Yoga Jones again?

8) Will the show focus on the core group of prisoners, or will it introduce even more new prisoners in the show’s final season?

9) Will there be a time jump?

10) Will Frieda’s fate be death in prison?

11) Will Taystee be sentenced to death? How will she confront Cindy’s betrayal? How will Cindy atone for that betrayal?

12) Will Gloria or Red survive their transfer to solitary confinement, particularly since Gloria was put in solitary roughly by “fantasy inmate” kingpin, CO Alvarez? Will they be allowed to move back to Gen Pop next season?

PARTING SHOTS

Our Orange is the New Black panel proved much more tepid about the sixth season than about some of the seasons preceding it.  Most panelists felt that the transition to “Max” was an engaging new backdrop for the inmates in which we have invested six seasons’ worth of viewing time, though the backdrop did not necessarily entice or sustain on all story fronts when all was said and done, particularly in lieu of the volume of new characters introduced this season, which also monopolized some of the flashback storytelling and not always successfully.  Though some of the panelists found themselves reluctant to start this most recent season, all panelists also noted that once they began watching Season 6, the story, including the bevy of new characters, managed to engage them once again.  The panel further warmed to Piper, believing that she continues to learn lessons that her real-life counterpart never had to learn because Piper Chapman makes less intelligent choices than Piper Kerman.  

All in all, though, the panel reached a repeat consensus of opinion: the story trajectory remained mostly compelling but for some jarring origin stories for the season’s new villains, namely Badison, Barb, and Carol. At the same time, with the release of several inmates, including Piper, by season’s end; the transfer of several inmates to prisons unseen; and the lack of a tense cliffhanger in the finale, the panelists also all agree that calling Season 7 the final season is a smart move, which will, hopefully, allow the show to go out on a strong note.  The entire panel plans to continue to watch the show and Season 7 to find out what happens at the last, particularly given the increasing separation of the main characters and the uncertain fates of vulnerable individuals, such as Blanca. The panel additionally hopes that viewers will be given glimpses of character fates, if not fateful reunions of separated characters in the remaining episodes.  Of course, the panel acknowledges that the writing remains dynamic and top-notch and maintains high hopes and expectations that Season 7 will continue the overarching, excellent quality of storytelling that has characterized Orange is the New Black since its premiere. The panelists, finally, ultimately, hope that the series finale will finish as powerfully as the series has generally played for the whole of its Netflix run.

LOOKING AHEAD

Orange is the New Black had already been renewed for a seventh season as of 2017, though Netflix announced in fall 2018 that Season 7 would be the show’s last. Season 7 is tentatively slated to premiere in summer 2019, after which our panel of #orangepeels (wait…that’s not a thing?) will reconvene a final time with a two-part goodbye miniseries in which we recap the final season and Look Back at the unlikely comedy-drama as a whole. Until then!