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Television in the age of excess
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Television in the age of excess

A few weeks back I recommended Inventing Anna, the Netflix series based on the notorious grifter Anna Sorokin (a.k.a. Anna Delvey), who bilked elite New Yorkers out of thousands while masquerading as a German heiress.

Eight episodes later (with one still to go!), I’m rethinking my recommendation. It’s not that the show isn’t compelling — Julia Garner (Ozark) is excellent as always, nailing Sorokin’s bizarre accent and sense of entitlement — but it’s a story that could have been told in four hour-long instalments. The source material, after all, was a magazine article.

Julia Garner in ’Inventing Anna.’ (Aaron Epstein/Netflix/TNS)

But doesn’t it feel like everything is too long lately? I’m only one episode into The Dropout, Disney+’s biographical series starring Amanda Seyfried as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes (oddly, another blond actress emulating a real person’s unusual vocal mannerisms) and I can already tell it’s going to drag over the course of seven eps.

But I’ll watch them all. I’m an irredeemable completist, incapable of stopping even when something has clearly jumped the shark. (OK, I gave up on Grey’s Anatomy what feels like decades ago, but I watched Scandal all the way to its preposterous conclusion.)

Until a couple of years ago, I never left a book unfinished, even those I wanted to throw across the room after reading the last page (I’m looking at you, Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full). There are shows on my PVR that make me audibly sigh when I see them sitting there accusingly; watching them is like taking a dose of medicine, but I dutifully swallow it.

I’m not alone in this feeling, which has certainly been exacerbated by the churn effect of streaming services

But then for every stretched-thin premise and plots that have run their course, there’s a show you want to go on forever, where the characters feel like family.

What’s a series that should have been a movie? Or your comfort show, one you could happily watch like Coronation Street, every day for 50 years? Let me know at jill.wilson@winnipegfreepress.com.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson

What’s up this week

Saturday night’s Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra lineup has been tweaked to honour the people of Ukraine. Conductor Daniel Raiskin — who is currently in Bratislava with his Ukrainian wife and her mother after they fled to Poland following the Russian invasion — has added acclaimed Ukrainian composers Valentin Sylvestrov's Hymn 2001 to the lineup.

Associate conductor Julian Pellicano is standing in for Raiskin and will lead renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman through a performance of Tchaikovsky’s infamously difficult Violin Concerto in D. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade rounds out the concert. The show is March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Centennial Concert Hall. Tickets start at $25 and are available at 204-949-3999 or by visiting wso.ca.

A livestream of the concert is also available for purchase at My WSO TV at mywso.tv.

Comedian Tim Gray is joined by a stellar lineup of locals at the Park Theatre on Friday for Tim Gray and Frehns. The “frehns” in question: Paul Rabliauskas, Danielle Kayahara, Mike Green, Dana Smith, Benji Rothman, Sarah London and Rajat Kashyap. Tickets are $15, show is at 9 p.m. The Park requires attendees to show proof of double vaccination.

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The Good Will Social Club hosts Méli-Mélo Round Up in-the-round, a powerhouse collection of folky women including Madeleine Roger, Jess Rae, ChristyT, Keri Latimer, Fontaine, Hera, Dana Waldie and Andrea Dicks, on Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Recommended

Dirtbag TV on Disney+: Pam and Tommy isn’t the only weirdly anti-Magic Kingdom offering on Disney’s streaming service. In among the Pixar films and animated princesses is a slew of sitcoms featuring funny, feckless, frankly reprehensible people dropping F-bombs.

If that’s your cup of tea (I somewhat shame-facedly admit it’s mine), you’ve got ample options, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League among them.

I’m powering through the five seasons of You’re the Worst, starring Aya Cash and Chris Geere as a couple of charming reprobates who deserve each other and, unlike Inventing Anna, I never want it to end.

Articles: It’s not all smutty TV over here, you know. Putin’s Getting Sanctioned but Russia’s Getting Canceled from New York Times columnist Spencer Bokat-Lindell is a thoughtful look at the effects of the “mass cultural boycott” of Russia, everything from removing Russian vodka from shelves to banning the country from competing in sporting events.

“Are these informal sanctions of Russian culture and business justified, and can they alter the course of the war? Or are these histrionic gestures that risk stigmatizing an entire population for the crimes of one autocrat?

And what does the invocation of “cancel culture” — as both a rhetorical cliché and a material phenomenon — reveal about the way the war is being metabolized through social media?”

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