I mean, it is sort of perfect for said TV failings, i.e. it's a single 13-ep season and I did it in what amounts to a patchwork week. And—fun fact—it's the first show in a long time that didn't come to me with recs or caveats or, like, anything. Nobody told me to watch Wonderfalls, I just remembered at some point a few weeks back that Lee Pace had been in another Bryan Fuller show and was like, oh, yeah, I should watch that, shouldn't I?
YEAH, OKAY, THAT WORKED OUT GREAT. I mean, it did! But! A kind of greatness that comes with being weird and lachrymose! And now I have nobody to blame, which is v. unsatisfying, like: WHO DID THE THING???—oh, hang on, it was me, I did the thing to myself.
WHAT A THING.
It's super short but I can't even be bitter about it in hindsight because I think it works really well within the parameters of its thirteen eps—it's plot-episodic/long-term character-honest in a great, well, Fuller-y way (PD was like that, able to let their characters grow without thaaaat much long-term plot-arc structure); also some of their projected long-term plans sound disastrous—but watching it with the THIS IS GONNA GET GUILLOTINED mentality did weird things to me, weird "have you never seen a TV show before, Isabel, ever, in your life?" things. I was worried, okay! The obvious ship ran into narratively-fair-but-OBSTACLE-Y obstacles, and I was like, fuck, what if this hasn't got time for resolution! It all worked out okay, but I was weird, and fragile, and unspoiled, and I came over all surprisingly vulnerable about it.
So, things about Wonderfalls!:
Thing one: Jaye Tyler. Played by Caroline Dhavernas, who has a GREAAAAAAAAT FACE. And who is great, prickly and lazy and selfish and a Generation Icon in a way where even though the show's a little dated à la music choices and junk she stands up. And it's a show about her, in her myriad imperfections and secretly giant sea-anemone heart and her learning the fine arts of forward motion and emotional honesty via BEING A BEAUTIFUL BITCHASS PROPHET-GIRL. She's both glorious in her pettiness (mean to children! maneater! grumpy retail clerk!) and in her immensity (universal mission!), like, all the time/at the same time: "I'm not nice, I'm just very susceptible to guilt." (Unspoken: especially when inanimate objects with faces are yelling at me. Who can blame?) And CAROLINE DHAVERNAS'S FACE, which is all pointy bones and Silly Putty mouth and heightened expressiveness and shiny eyes and I love herrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I'm going to watch Fuller's Hannibal show for her. And others, it's a good goddamn cast, but: HER.
(I love her so much, I am so invested in her happiness, we'll expand on that soon~)
Thing two: Aaron Tyler, or Lee Pace, or HELLO AGAIN, LEE PACE, or WHO TOLD YOU IT WAS OKAY TO MAKE LEE PACE A THEOLOGY STUDENT, or IF THE SHOW HAD GONE ON HE WOULD HAVE WORSHIPED HIS SISTER AS A RELIGIOUS FIGURE, WHICH, I AM NOT RLY REGRETFUL OF CANCELLATION AS STATED, BUT I DO REGRET THAT. Lee Pace as perpetual grad student thinking atheistically about God and then REALLY MAD when he ends up in a crisis of belief thanks to his sister/inanimate objects, Lee Pace in glorious perpetual dishabille because that costume department was like "this guy doesn't give a damn about dressing himself, so let's just have him...not dress himself", Lee Pace getting asked to do postcoital-voice i.e. the greatest Sebastian gift ever, Lee Pace who is going to make me get trashed and drag Maddi to the last Twilight film when I get back in NYC in something much, much nicer than that.
Thing three: Fullerverse, Fullerverse, brightly-couloured and pattery and weird and sublime and occasionally painful but ultimately kind. I've missed youuuuuuuuu. (I'm sort of ??? about how the Hannibal show's gonna go down. That seems like it's going to necessitate a darker colour palate, if nothing else; and: headtilt? How's it going to look?) Oh god and it's super SUPER smart; rewatching is hitting all these specific thematic/script buttons that are foregrounded way early and pay off later to the syllable. It's a really well-structured thirteen episodes. It's season good as well as episode-good.
Thing four: Mahandra McGinty, Jaye's best friend, who is Tracie Thoms, who is always good to have around, and the two of them, loving each other and being affectionately mean to each other and knowing each other really well and being utterly, utterly easy together—drinking and sniping and chiding and being present. (I'm rewatching the pilot now and grinning my face off at their first scene. "Don't drop your jaw at me!") And the fact that they pretty much live in that bar—yknow, speaks to me direct'n'easy. It's great, they've known each other for a long damn time and it shows and it's beautiful and the pair of them wear it wonderfully and easily. Also she (this!) factors seriously into the next point, the serious contender for Point of Points:
Thing five (very important thing): MAKEOUTS.
I am very, very invested in Thing Five. So much so that you get two sections:
5a. Aaron/Mahandra, comes out of nowhere, is a present in and of itself—where Tracie Thoms gets to knock Lee Pace up against a bar shelf and kiss the motherfucking SHIT out of him, where Lee Pace DOES THAT VOICE THING and generally makes excellent lovingly lascivious faces and wrap his arm around her bare waist and kiss her neck all subsumed-smitten-like while she freaks out all capable-of-having-at-least-two-thoughts-a
5b. I love Jaye Tyler SO MUCH and Eric the bartender both loves Jaye Tyler like I love Jaye Tyler and exists as a foil for her in beautiful ways—I have thought about this ship more than this ship needs to be thought about, because it is straightforward from the start in a borderline "are we even obliged to care?" way, only the answer is YES, GOD, I CARE SO MUCH? SO MUCH. Straightforward, yeah, but their chemistry is something batshit, and from episode one I was both aware that they were going to make out and REALLY, REALLY IMPATIENT FOR THEM TO MAKE OUT. So many moments in which they don't make out! Daggers to my heart, all! (That one moment in the hotel, when they get the almost-kiss—to reiterate, in a hotel? Fucking stop. Desist.) I freaked out and shed exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed 3am tears when she had to bear witness to him and Heidi at the cathedral (I still sort of am mad at her God for that, for the specific nature of the sacrifices she has to make, namely God telling her to shut up and dial back when the whole thing is about pushing her forward, and into motion that's loud and destructive but also founded on never being able to sit still—but it ends up okay, so I forgive; oh my days, that finale is built to make me forgive a LOT) and then for a split second in the finale (NO I'M TRYING NOT TO GO ON TOO LONG ABOUT THE FINALE BECAUSE EVEN ASIDE THE SHIP THE FINALE IS ACTUAL TELEVISION MATRYOSHKA GENIUS but omg pull it together, Isabel) I thought they were going to, like, have an affair moment? Because of the way he sounded on the phone? Because that dude is really good at sounding like he has a debilitating boner, and in that moment, I swear, I was into it. That specific boner, that is, the one dedicated to SHADY SHADOW SHIT, POSSIBLY BACK IN THE HOTEL; I am always into boner inflections as a performance choice. The moment she tells him she told Heidi she was servicing him sexually and his reply comes out in something like a squeak? Reader, I wept. And she walks away (that smug Jaye cat-grin, the way she turns her head, I looooooove herrrrrrr) and there are fireworks in his eyes, because there are pretty much always fireworks and/or hearts in his eyes when he looks at her—reciprocated; she looks at him with a face made of LIGHT (her smile in the ep that ends with them making out, in the first scene when she and Mahandra are objectifying him, is a contender for the most beautiful any human face has ever been)—but in that moment the fireworks are literal.
Me too, man. MEEEEEEEEEEE TOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Also—relatedly—I love Heidi Socket Gotts? Pretty much every tenet of her existence just gives me casual delight: that she's a trashy femme fatale scrapper played by Jewel Staite of all people, that she poisons her problems in an episode framed like a noir even though she's the red herring, that she's vicious and doesn't like Jaye and Jaye doesn't like her but neither of them are necessarily condemned for their dislike and she's not condemned for her meanness, that Jaye and the bartender is infrastructural-level OTP noise but that all the stuff about her holding onto the marriage holds threads of objective rightness. She's a person. I find it exciting. Would read backstory fic. Like that Eric-bartender is textually into women who are way, way more dynamic than he is, and that those women discuss the well-meaning pressure-idealism he puts on them. (Was upset for a whole shitbank of reasons in my 3am cry, but one of those reasons, weirdly, narratively-nobly—though also very good lord are you NEW TO TV???—was, like, but we just talked about how she thinks he puts her on a pedestal earlier this ep, DON'T? DO THAT? DON'T REBUILD THE PEDESTAL? NOBODY WANTS???) That is the thing about Jaye: she's already on the universe's pedestal; she is an ideal all on her own time and is no less herself for it. She's an ideal that can crack his ideals, is my point, that can make room for the far more interesting reality of her. And he's there to be, well, human. To be an island in the prophecy noise. To be smaller than that—in a good way, a by-choice way. Which is why I had qualms with the prophecy dictating them, but the show ends on my side, on that count. She tells the lion to shut up! Last word! And the show ends with her staring into the camera and giggling in giddy, overwhelmed delight and it's maybe my favorite finale I've ever seen. It's a great last kiss but it's an incandescent last shot, as tiny-tremendous human-TV triumphs go.
Like, I put the song that plays in that moment on my iPod, even though the crescendo is such bad 90s-hangover sound mixing. And I listen to it. There is no perspective to my love anymore.
(The song's in waltz time. It's a fucking problem.)
So now I'm following up Wonderfalls by rewatching Wonderfalls. Will probably do this for the next six months; what's a balanced TV diet. But I did stay caught up with The Hour and my god, can we talk about what a level up that season was, collectively? Acting-wise, everyone BROUGHT it, Romola and Ben in their scenes together (was fine with that ship last season, was obSESSED this season just because the two of them would get 10x better the minute they shared a scene—and oh my, that finale was good to them, her lit-up face and the way she put her fingers to her lips), Marnie Madden as a real character at laaaaast and the Maddens on equal footing and relearning each other and being wonderful married icons, ANNA CHANCELLOR KILLING IT WITH EVERY DAMN BREATH. And Kiki Delaine, who was like a gift to me personally. I had sophomore-season performance anxiety issues for that show because s1 was so solid and self-contained: I hoped s2 would be good, but didn't know what they were going to do, exactly, to open it up. So: hoped for good, was not prepared for it to be that good. What a motherfucking season of TV.
Also I saw Skyfall twice, it was amazing, I love the goddamn Bond franchise in a forever way.
Life post later. Home (as in Massachusetts) tomorrow. In the meantime, come talk to me about shows.