Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

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Saturday

19

December 2020

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COMMENTS

The Mandalorian Season 2 Recap (Episode 8)

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What an episode! Join Ian for a recap of what she referred to as a the best chapter of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. Such a beautiful tribute to everything fans love about this franchise. If only R5-D4 had come along for the adventure from Tatooine.

Ian’s written review: https://ianthomasmalone.com/2020/12/the-mandalorian-season-2-review-chapter-16/

Programming note: we will return after Christmas with a full review of season two. Happy Life Day everyone! 

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Thursday

17

December 2020

1

COMMENTS

Happiest Season is a regressive disaster of a holiday narrative

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Coming out is an almost universally brutal aspect of the LGBTQ experience. Even under the best of circumstances, the process is bound to be full of cringe and bent-up anxiety. A byproduct of the efforts at broader LGBTQ visibility has been the de-stigmatization of being gay as a whole, painting apocalyptic reactions toward coming out with a rightful shade of taboo.

Happiest Season presents its narrative in a world where being gay is still something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Harper Caldwell (Mackenzie Davis) pushes her girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart) back into the closet for a visit to her family, after lying to Abby about having come out to them already. Not only are Harper’s parents very conservative, her father Ted (Victor Garber) is running for mayor.

This is the world that Happiest Season shapes for its spin on classic holiday tropes. Dick Cheney was elected vice president in the 2000 election on a Republican ticket while having a gay daughter. Twenty years later, the same dynamic apparently appears to be a subject of great scandal for a small-town mayoral contest. The film doesn’t really explicitly state its location, but it’s hard to imagine where, or frankly when, this mess is supposed to take place.

Harper’s parents’ issues aren’t simply limited to homophobia either. Her sister Jane (Mary Holland) is treated like a pariah, a subject of immense, open disdain and mockery from the rest of her family. Harper’s mother Tipper (Mary Steenburgen) is comically rude, abusing Abby for being an orphan right as they walk through the door. As if that wasn’t enough, Sloane (Allison Brie) makes her introduction late in the first act, a formerly successful lawyer in the middle of a crumbling marriage.

The Caldwell family are horrible people with seemingly no redeeming qualities. Director Clea DuVall, who also co-wrote the screenplay, throws them out there like we’re supposed to laugh along with these truly loathsome individuals. The dialogue is often pretty terrible. The cast, which also includes Dan Levy and Aubrey Plaza, is way overqualified for this disaster, unable to make much out of the sloppy writing.

The real rot at the core of Happiest Season lies with Harper. We’re never really given a solid reason for why she feels it’s okay to push the love of her life back into the closet, an immensely inappropriate proposition in the modern era. Not only does the film push an unhealthy dynamic on gay people, it never really tries to justify itself. Davis gives a pretty wooden performance, unable to elevate her character beyond the laughably stale tropes.

DuVall does try and grapple with this dynamic late in the third act, but by then it’s well past the point of redemption. There are too many feints toward subplots that don’t really go anywhere, squandering time that could have been spent salvaging the Caldwell family. Family is complicated, but this family is so deplorable beyond their homophobia that it’s hard to care much about resolution. These aren’t the kinds of issues that can be solved in a single holiday.

LGBTQ people don’t have a ton of holiday staples to call our own. In some ways, Happiest Season doesn’t really fit this category either. It features gay people in lead roles, but this film caters almost exclusively to the guilt that heterosexual families might feel for their past behavior toward gay children. Everyone can take solace in the fact that they aren’t as mean as the Caldwell’s, but that’s not a very good message to send regarding inclusivity.

Happiest Season is a sloppy, regressive mess full of one-note characters. This films sends all the wrong messages about tolerance in the year 2020. A lot of talent were involved in the making of this film. What a shame.

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Thursday

17

December 2020

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COMMENTS

St. Elsewhere’s Transgender Storyline

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We are doing a deep dive into LGBTQ TV lore by exploring one of the all-time greats in the medium, St Elsewhere, which aired a transgender storyline all the way back in 1983. We are joined by Jessica Halem, former director of LGBTQ Outreach & Engagement for Harvard Medical School and tireless advocate for inclusivity in medicine, to help understand evolution of the medical community toward gay & transgender patients over the past few decades. Jessica shares so many great insights from her career, helping put these episodes into context.

We’ll be talking about the episodes 12-13, “Release” & “Family History,” from St. Elsewhere’s first season. Both episodes can be watched on Hulu. Ian highly recommends the series as a whole, which features Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel, Ed Begley Jr., and William Daniels (Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World) in starring roles.

You can learn more about Jessica on her website https://www.jessicahalem.com/ and on Twitter @jessicahalem

Jessica’s partner Jen Manion appeared on an earlier episode of EI promoting their book Female Husbands.  

St. Elsewhere title card courtesy of 20th Television

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Tuesday

15

December 2020

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Star Trek: The Pon Farr

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The Pon Farr is one of the weirder aspects of Star Trek lore, making it a natural topic for Estradiol Illusions to explore! Join host Ian Thomas Malone and specials guests Johnny Kolasinksi and Dr. Jackson Vane from Hi Everybody – a Bad Medicine Podcast, as well as Dr. Courtney Nicholas and Dr. Greg Winter for a wide-ranging discussion all about everyone’s favorite Vulcan mating ritual. What would happen is a transgender Vulcan underwent the Pon Farr?  Why don’t any Vulcans ever want to talk about this totally normal biological function? All of that and much more ahead!

This episode covers the following Star Trek episodes, as well as parts of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

TOS: “Amok Time”

VOY: “Blood Fever,” parts of “Blood & Soul”

ENT: “Bounty”

 

For more of Hi Everybody, check out their website https://hieverybody.libsyn.com/ (available on all major podcast platforms). 

You can also follow Hi Everybody on Twitter, @hieverybodymd and Johnny, @cycloptiko, and Jackson, @JacksonVane

 

Star Trek logo courtesy of ViacomCBS

 

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Saturday

12

December 2020

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COMMENTS

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review: Chapter 15

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This season of The Mandalorian has done a superb job with its big moments. Ahsoka Tano, Boba Fett, and Bo-Katan all shined in their debut episodes. As a medium, television rarely relied so heavily on the giant splashes before the streaming era. The quieter moments need to count too.

The Mandalorian is not very good at stopping to take a breath in order to process its events. Mando has assembled an impressive team of Fett, Fennec, and Cara Dune to help him rescue Grogu, but as an episode, “The Believer” cares very little for any of these people. Chapter 15 belonged to Migs Mayfeld.

For a show starring a puppet and a bounty hunter who never removes his helmet, The Mandalorian has done a fairly decent job building up its supporting bench. Bill Burr shined in last season’s sixth episode as the backstabbing former Imperial sharpshooter. Now imprisoned, Mando needs his services to figure out the location of Moff Gideon, whose imprisonment of Grogu apparently prevented him from making an appearance this episode.

The whole Morak quest was a fairly paint-by-numbers undercover mission. The Mandalorian often leans heavily into Western tropes, but here it was borrowing heavily from the spy/adventure shows that once populated the network TV landscape. It’s fun without being particularly inventive or ambitious.

Most jarring in the episode was the sequence after the undercover Mando and Mayfeld fought off a raiding party, only to be greeted with a chorus of applause from Stormtroopers. We rarely see Stormtroopers winning anything, let alone actually hitting a single target. If anything else, it was entertaining to watch.

Burr did a great job with fairly mundane material. His commentary on the geopolitics of Morak was a clear substitute for American interventionism abroad in places like Vietnam and Iraq, fairly out of place in the Star Wars universe. As the audience, we can follow along with his broad points as they relate to our reality, but that isn’t a dynamic Star Wars has ever really shown to us. The Empire and the New Republic are not really two sides of the same coin.

The dramatic tension in this episode mostly stemmed from Mando being forced to remove his beskar helmet. As soon as the Stormtrooper helmet went on, it became clear that we’d probably get an appearance from Pedro Pascal, mustache and all. Bo-Katan’s statements on Mando’s sect of Mandalorian being extremists set this all up quite well.

Pascal handled the dynamic well, constantly looking like a fish out of water without his security blanket. It’s not a super compelling conflict, since I imagine most of the audience would rather see Pascal on a regular basis rather than stare at Mando’s expressionless helmet. Like Mayfeld’s pontifications on relativism, much of this drama felt like going through the motions.

Mayfeld gets redemption as a character through his ill-advised rant to his former commanding officer Valin Hess (Richard Brake, who’s familiar to Game of Thrones fans as the first Night King). The whole sequence was obviously made to set up his release at the end of the episode, while maybe also serving to show him as not a bad guy. It’s entertaining while also being just a tad too predictable.

The action was mostly good, even if the sight of numerous Imperial officers running to their immediate deaths in the mess room hallway seemed a tad ridiculous. Cara and Fennec had some moments, but Fett was left with not enough to do. I guess we can blame that on some stage fright that some Imperials might recognize his face after his father served as the template for the entire Clone army.

This season has largely been about Mando coming into his own as a father. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the show wanted to have Mando send a threatening message to Gideon. It did feel rather out of place for him as a character though, needlessly showing his cards.

While a bit lazy in its execution, Chapter 15 served as an effective set-up for the season finale. Burr got his moments to shine, but with a 38-minute runtime, it’s hard to make the case for why no one else could have had a moment as well. Fett superfans were bound to be disappointed by the sidelining of the original helmeted bounty hunter. The Mandalorian needs to do a better job with simply taking a breath every once in a while.

For more Mandalorian coverage, check out Estradiol Illusions’ weekly recaps 

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Saturday

12

December 2020

0

COMMENTS

The Mandalorian Season 2 Recap (Episode 7)

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Why does Mando wear a mustache? Join Ian as she spends most of the episode pondering the show’s existential questions (mostly kidding!), like why Boba Fett spent much of Chapter 15 hiding. Mayfeld returns, bringing American interventionism into the equation, territory that Star Wars hasn’t quite presented as something its audience should worry about with regard to the New Republic. 

No Grogu this week, but never fear. A sighting of Pedro Pescal’s beautiful face can go a long way toward forgetting about that adorable little fella.

Ian’s written review: https://ianthomasmalone.com/2020/12/the-mandalorian-season-2-review-chapter-15/

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Thursday

10

December 2020

0

COMMENTS

The Year Without a Santa Claus

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Hop aboard your reindeer and be sure to watch out for the Miser brothers, because we are taking a journey down to Southtown. Join Ian and very special guest Barbara “Bibble” Malone as they break down the seminal holiday favorite The Year Without a Santa Claus. Santa may have wanted a year off, but a certain pink-bowed girl had other plans. We’d have a blue Christmas without this holiday classic! 

Be sure to check out all our holiday coverage! 

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Wednesday

9

December 2020

0

COMMENTS

Rudolph: A Transgender Perspective

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Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight? Such is the question Santa posed, after committing acts of intolerable cruelty against the poor young reindeer merely because he was born different.

Transgender people have heard this story before.

The TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer reinforces casual bigotry. Its Santa is a giant asshole. Santa & Coach Comet can go straight to hell. No reindeer games, no presents, just a steaming pile of coal and permanent place on the naughty list. Never allow your oppressors to gaslight you into pulling their sleigh.

 

Ian’s original article from 2017: https://ianthomasmalone.com/2017/12/a-transgender-perspective-on-rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer/

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Tuesday

8

December 2020

0

COMMENTS

TTTE & Chill: Thomas’ Snowy Surprise

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Holiday themed TTTE & Chill! Join Ian & Tarabelle for a trip to the Island of Sodor for a bunch of snowy shenanigans. Percy’s driver abandons him on a siding to be covered in ice, while Skarloey’s crew roughs it out inside the igloo. Why didn’t Terence get to come to Mrs. Kyndly’s Christmas party? How is he supposed to watch over her house? All of that and more!

This tape covers the following episodes: 

 

  • It’s Only Snow
  • Jack Frost
  • Toby Had a Little Lamb
  • Snow
  • Thomas’ Christmas Party
  • Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree
  • Winter Wonderland (Music Video)

**Note** We chose this tape over earlier Christmas’ features as this one does not contain duplicate episodes that TTTE & Chill has already covered or is about to cover.

VHS image courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

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Saturday

5

December 2020

0

COMMENTS

The Mandalorian Season 2 Recap (Episode 6)

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Grab your jetpack and your Sarlacc pit, Boba Fett is back! The long-awaited return of everyone’s favorite tertiary bounty hunter lived up to the hype. Temuera Morrison was absolutely superb.

Ian provides some context for Boba Fett’s popularity, including his debut in the beloved Star Wars Holiday Special. Mando might not be very good at watching his son, but at least Grogu has darksaber to keep himself occupied.  

Ian’s written review!

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