Ian Thomas Malone

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May 2022



Ricky Gervais recycles tired grievance nonsense in the odious bore SuperNature

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There is a belief that free speech is under attack in comedy. Subjects such as transgender rights are apparently so taboo to talk about that many of the world’s highest-paid comedians spend most of their new specials saying things they’re forbidden to talk about. Ricky Gervais wants you to believe he’s been canceled for SuperNature, his new show that Netflix paid him millions of dollars to perform.

What did Netflix receive for their money and inevitable PR headache? Early in the special, Gervais returns to the subject of transgender women being rapists in public bathrooms, a topic that had started to lose its edge in 2016. For a man who talks about how comedy evolves, Gervais seems oddly stuck in the past regarding a cultural subject that even the Republican Party has lost interest in fighting, instead turning its attention to targeting mainstream medical care for trans children.

Gervais jokes that the 1%, namely his millionaire buddies are the new Rosa Parks. A thin layer of sarcasm can’t really hide the idea that he fundamentally believes this notion, that comedians are the real marginalized group. He dedicates extended riffs to the “cancellation” of renowned masturbator Louis C.K., who is so canceled that he recently won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album earlier this year, and Kevin Hart, the A-list martyr who stepped aside from hosting the Oscars in 2018 after refusing to reiterate regret for old homophobic Tweets.

It’s not particularly complicated to see why Gervais is so fascinated by trans people and social media criticism directed at anti-LGBTQ comedians. He doesn’t really have anything else to talk about. SuperNature touches on the differences between cats and dogs, AIDS, abortion, and religion, delivering observations that aren’t particularly original even by 1990s standards. Gervais’ brand of grievance politics exists as a shallow cover-up for the staleness of his material, a Trump rally masquerading as a comedy special.

Gervais loves to frame intersectionality as an “us vs. them” equation, suggesting that LGBTQ people want to ban anti-transgender jokes as a way to drag people like him down to build themselves up. He’s right on the objective, but intellectually dishonest with regard to the motives, denying the real-world harm of a society where it’s socially acceptable to write off an entire group of people as rapists, in the complete absence of any evidence to the contrary. Gervais’ logic only works if your brain is warped enough to believe that stereotypes have never actually affected anyone.

The bitterness of Gervais’ shrill delivery obfuscates a broader truth. Gervais has no moral obligation to be a nice guy. He’s built most of his career off of being the exact opposite. Comedy can be mean-spirited. No one is asking him to stand up on stage and be anything less than the person we expect from Ricky Gervais.

There’s something fundamentally sad about a man with nothing to strive for beyond a cheap cash grab. Far from the first mainstream comedian to dedicate chunks of his act to defending C.K. or Hart, Gervais’ dull blade simply lacks the edge he thinks it wields as he stands up on stage laughing at his own jokes. For a staunch atheist, he’s pretty solely tapping into the spiritual nature of right-wing grievance with his riffs on trans people that don’t bring anything new to the table. He’s not so much trying to entertain his audience as to get them to see him as a general on the front lines, an hour-long gratification of replacement theory nonsense. With millions in the bank, Gervais might get the last laugh, but the whole ordeal is a sad sight to behold.



October 2021



Preoccupied With Chappelle’s LGBTQ Grievances, The Closer Sacrifices Humor at the Altar of Cancel Culture

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The world has changed quite a lot since Dave Chappelle released his first Netflix special in 2017, further solidifying his status as one of the greatest comedians of all time. The concept known as “cancel culture” rode the wave of Trump’s perpetual victimhood, an attempt to preserve the communal status quo from efforts toward a more inclusive society. The free market, the same system that rewarded Chappelle’s ample talent with a $20 million-per-special price tag, now takes a more critical approach toward actions and language increasingly belonging to a bygone generation.

Dave Chappelle is the most successful comedian alive. That notion might be lost on a viewer of his latest special The Closer, an hour that largely abandons the pretext of comedy in favor of a litany of grievances, many toward the LGBTQ community more broadly, with a special emphasis on his seemingly favorite punching bag, the transgender community, or “transgenders” as he puts it.

Much of The Closer focuses on Chappelle grappling with the concept of empathy. He has plenty for disgruntled rapper DaBaby, widely condemned for homophobic remarks on stage in August 2021, which led to booking cancellations. Chappelle makes an interesting point that DaBaby’s career faced no hurdles after the rapper shot a man in Walmart, implying that homophobic jokes are a bigger offense than murder. The media’s selective sense of outrage isn’t really his target though.

Instead, Chappelle spends much of The Closer building an outlandish case that LGBTQ people possess a set of special privileges that people like DaBaby, J.K. Rowling, Kevin Hart, and himself do not. He suggests a kind of cozy relationship between the police and white gays, putting aside the well-documented history of homophobia within law enforcement. He laughs as he says he’s jealous of the gay community, reinforcing bits from Sticks & Stones, spending an entire special complaining that he can’t make jokes about gays as he makes jokes about gays.

Chappelle presents a similar case against Hollywood’s role in the #MeToo movement, highlighting events of performative allyship such as the all-black attire for the 2018 Golden Globes. He’s not wrong to suggest that the women who donned black dresses could have made bigger impacts by dismantling the industry’s power structure, but his conclusions bend over backward to toss the baby out with the bathwater. It’s a convenient manufactured either/or scenario, one beneath a man of Chappelle’s ample wit.

It’s hard to look past the intellectual dishonesty of Chappelle repeatedly insisting he’s not transphobic, even as he compares trans women to blackface, defends TERFs, and misrepresents Rowling’s long history of anti-trans sentiments. He puts the entirety of the blame for his perceived transphobia on an article from a gay publication from fifteen years ago, claiming that every criticism leveled against him stems from secondhand accounts of his work. Not, you know, the constant transphobia found in Sticks and Stones, or the current special he’s on stage performing.

There’s a certain benign quality in Chappelle’s regurgitation of old trans jokes, often too dated to truly offend, but The Closer takes a truly disgusting turn when he talks about a transgender friend of his who took her own life in 2019, days after the release of Sticks & Stones. Chappelle essentially blames the trans community for Daphne Dorman’s death, suggesting that she was bullied into suicide for defending him. The extended bit is a jaw-droppingly oblivious accusation to level against a community that faces grossly disproportionate levels of online abuse. His own jokes have supplied ample fodder for rampant online abuse of LGBTQ people.

A trust fund Chappelle started for Dorman’s daughter is flaunted as evidence of his allyship, using charity as a shield as he continues making transphobic jokes. He’s seemingly incapable of processing criticism through anything other than the prism of “us vs. them,” using that false binary to paint a portrait of people simply becoming trans to win the oppression Olympics, a tired trope completely detached from the realities of the trans experience.

Chappelle’s rampant transphobia doesn’t need to be a problem as long as the jokes land, but his obsession with grievances supersedes any pretense of crafting actual humor. He doesn’t look like he’s having any fun on stage, an audience that seems to pick up on this reality halfway through the special. He’s weirdly paranoid for a man being paid twenty million dollars for an hour of his time, afraid of a community with no foothold in the world he dominates.

There are fragments of a conciliatory message echoed in The Closer, often at odds with the rest of the special. Chappelle suggests he’d like a world where LGBTQ people felt included in his comedy rather than as the butt of the joke. That’s a hard proposition to consider when so much of his work these days isn’t really about comedy, but “cancel culture” and the perceived censorship by some of the world’s loudest voices. If Chappelle is sincere in his desire to make inroads with the trans community, he might want to start by crafting some more original material. Chappelle’s Netflix tenure started with a bang. With The Closer, the world’s greatest living comedian ends this chapter of his career with a resounding whimper.



May 2021



Jupiter’s Legacy w/ co-DP Nicole Hirsch Whitaker

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We are delighted to welcome Nicole Hirsch Whitaker to the show to talk about her work as co-director of photography for the new Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy. Nicole shares plenty of insights from behind the scenes and the way she worked to shape the show’s unique aesthetic in the crowded superhero landscape. Ian & Nicole also talk about the challenges of framing a series with a giant spoiler that fans of the comic book will know all too well.




Jupiter’s Legacy is currently streaming on Netflix.


Headshot courtesy of Nicole Hirsch Whitaker. Series poster courtesy of Netflix.




May 2021



Jupiter’s Legacy doesn’t know where to focus its narrative

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We’re in a bit of a transitional era for television. Shows that used to aspire for a six or seven season run are now lucky to get three or four. The longer-running scripted series can be found almost exclusively on network television. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, giving creators a clearer picture of the trajectory of their material.

This shift does put a stricter burden on shows to get going right off the bat. In hindsight, spending a full season of Daredevil waiting for Matt Murdock to put on the costume or waiting until the first season finale to have the Runaways run away falls a bit flat, with both shows only running for three seasons. There’s setting up a story and then there’s dragging one’s feet. Unfortunately, Jupiter’s Legacy more often than not fits the latter bill.

Adapted from Mark Millar’s hit Image Comics series of the same name, the show follows an older guard of superheroes as they start to pass the torch to the younger generation. Sheldon Sampson, The Utopian (Josh Duhamel), has spent decades keeping the world safe, and his fellow heroes out of politics, but his team, The Union, faces an existential identity crisis for what its future might look like. Sheldon struggles to relinquish control, not trusting his son, Brandon (Andrew Horton), with the responsibility of protecting the planet, at times also at odds with his brother, Walter (Ben Daniels), and wife, Grace (Leslie Bibb).

Like its title character, Jupiter’s Legacy as a show struggles to let go of the past. At least half of the show’s first season is spent on flashbacks showing the original 1930s expedition that gave The Union their powers. This heavy screen time allotment marks a significant departure from the comics, which only tended to give a couple of pages an issue to the origin narrative.

A great strength of Millar’s source material was the way he communicated a sense of awe and wonder with regard to the island that Sheldon is drawn toward in his dreams. As a series, Jupiter’s Legacy dedicates far too much time to mundane flashbacks, drowning out the far more interesting present day narrative. The period sets are well-constructed, but the story is so lifeless that it makes you wonder why the resources weren’t dedicated elsewhere. The superhero sequences are few and far between.

The heavy emphasis on flashbacks also creates an awkward dynamic for the series’ leads to play characters at drastically different ages. The makeup used to make Daniels look like an old man is absolutely comical, stripping his character of any level of seriousness. Duhamel and Bibb don’t fare much better, hardly adequate for a series attempting to depict heroes looking to retire.

The series starts off on a great note. The first episode hones in on the aspect of the comics that’s aged best since its 2013 debut. The Union struggles internally with how involved they want to be in politics, noting the endless Washington gridlock that only gets worse with each passing year. There’s a great moral dilemma to explore with regard to the military-industrial complex, but the show seems weirdly averse to anything that might sound too political.

There’s also the issue of simply not having enough time to dedicate to its storylines set in the present. The first season is comprised of eight episodes, two of which barely run over half an hour. The broader supporting cast has to play second fiddle to storylines for the leads split across two separate timelines. The dynamic is confusing, thinly plotted, and simply not very good.

Fans of the comic are certainly aware of a certain massive spoiler heading into the series. The show barely touches the conflict that sets up this whole situation, clearly intending to save the bulk of that conflict for a future season. That’s not necessarily the worst strategy in the world, but the result creates a narrative vacuum that the show tries to fill with excessive time spent in the past.

An early triumph for the season is the way that Jupiter’s Legacy crafts an aesthetic that feels unique amidst the crowded superhero genre. That unfortunately doesn’t really extend to the worldbuilding, which never firmly establishes what exactly is going on in the present. There are too many characters, but not enough for them to do.

Too often, Jupiter’s Legacy feels like its top concern is to set up future seasons, while not giving its audience enough to care about. The current trajectory of television suggests this time allotment won’t be well-served, an uneven ratio of buildup to execution. A season spent in service to future seasons doesn’t work that well when the season itself doesn’t have much to enjoy.




June 2020



Sam Feder, Director of Disclosure

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Pride coverage continues! Today we are joined by Sam Feder, director of the documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, which Ian had the pleasure of seeing at Sundance. Sam talks about the importance of visibility, the challenges of presenting a history in real time, and the responsibility of filmmakers to depict trans people accurately. 

Disclosure premieres on Netflix on June 19th.

You can follow Sam on Twitter @SamFederfilm and Disclosure @Disclosure_Doc

Be sure to check out Ian’s review of Disclosure for FanSided: https://fansided.com/2020/01/28/disclosure-trans-lives-on-screen-sundance-review/

Photo credit: Alex Schmider





April 2020



Circus of Books is a Loving Tribute to a LA Institution

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The mountains of progress that have been made in the fight for LGBTQ equality in recent years can make it easy to forget just how hard it was for gay people to connect just a few years ago. Before the age of Grindr and Tinder, places like Circus of Books served as meeting places for gay people to meet each other in relative safety. The Internet drastically reshaped the American economy, particularly the porn industry, leaving plenty of mom and pop establishments struggling to make ends meet.

The documentary Circus of Books follows the final days of the beloved establishment, as well as the couple who ran it. Karen and Barry Mason hardly look like the kind of people who would become major distributors of hardcore gay porn, but the two created a successful business out of an industry that was almost completely decimated by the Reagan administration. Directed by their daughter Rachel, the film presents an intimate look at how Circus of Books operated in its heyday.

Mason does a deep dive into her parents’ life work, from the early days acquiring the store, to their role as producers of gay porn starring icons like Jeff Stryker, all the way to the last days of the business. Interviews from former staff as well as Hustler founder Larry Flynt help give context into the world of gay porn distribution and the Mason’s important role in the supply chain.

As a documentary, Circus of Books mostly splits its attention between the bookstore and the Mason’s complicated home life, particularly toward Karen’s handling of the coming out of their son, Josh. Rachel thoroughly explores the seemingly contradictory mindset of her mother’s reluctance to accept her own son’s homosexuality while running an establishment that caters to the gay community. The whole sequence is a little uncomfortable to watch, like seeing a family air out its dirty laundry, but the resolution serves as a good reminder that allies are as complex and diverse as the broader LGBTQ community itself.

There is a point where Karen expresses to her daughter that maybe the documentary should have been about some of the actual gay pioneers during a visit to USC’s archives, a sentiment that’s perhaps included in the film with an inflated sense of confidence. Rachel Mason crafts an interesting and well-paced narrative, albeit one that often struggles to shake the aura of a vanity project. The sense that the Mason family is only participating because their daughter is the director remains particularly present in the third act.

Circus of Books was an important LGBTQ cultural spot in Los Angeles. Mason lovingly pays tribute to her parents’ business while giving her audience plenty of reasons to care about this piece of gay history. The modern age doesn’t have the same need for physical media, but stores like Circus of Books served a broader purpose in giving a marginalized community a place for connection. It will be missed not necessarily for its back room or “Vaseline alley,” but for the sense of belonging that its presence helped foster.



April 2020



Tiger King Proves Sometimes Reality Is Better Than the Dream

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America finds itself in a period desperate for distractions to take our minds off the collective sense of anxiety many of us feel toward the present state of affairs. Cooped up at home, a narrative like Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness scratches this itch perfectly, the kind of train wreck you can’t look away from even as every fiber of your being feels dirty for having spent time with its subjects. The best true crime stories are the ones that are too absurd to work as pieces of fiction, with twist after twist designed to completely overload the senses.

At the heart of Tiger King is its titular subject, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, a man of poor taste in just about every sense of the word. For years, Joe Exotic reigned over the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, a small zoo in Oklahoma. Joe Exotic owned hundreds of tigers, earning the wrath of animal rights activist Carole Baskin, who operates the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Florida. Exotic’s efforts to wage war against Baskin left him financially ruined, leading to him attempting to hire a hit man to murder her. A 2018 arrest for those efforts, among other charges, lead to twenty-two-year sentence, which he is currently serving.

Tiger King uses extensive footage filmed over several years, allowing the filmmakers to capture Joe Exotic and all of his antics before he found himself behind bars. Exotic is a natural entertainer of the Trumpian variety, a man perpetually capable of stooping to new lows with his asinine behavior and lust for the spotlight. Much like his zoo, Exotic appeals in the same way as toilet humor, a juvenility perfect for Netflix, where the audience can laugh along without feeling ashamed for their enjoyment.

The seven-part series covers a wide range of topics beyond the Exotic/Baskin feud, itself full of subplots. Fellow tiger enthusiast Bhagavan “Doc” Antle receives an extended profile, a similarly vile character who runs a preserve/harem in South Carolina. Tiger King strikes at the heart of the types of people who engage in the shady business of exotic animals, an expensive endeavor that leads to plenty of abuse, both of the animals and the employees lured to the premises.

A Shakespearian tragedy fitting for this dystopian modern era, Tiger King finds a sense of mesmerizing beauty in its perpetual race down the gutter. Joe Exotic is a truly terrible human being, selfish and vindictive, hardly a suitable protagonist or anti-hero. Likewise, he’s not wholly a villain either, having a kind of weird charm that tugs at the heartstrings, if only for a moment. In Baskin, the show finds a suitable foil, herself an odd character who walks under a perpetual cloud of suspicion after her husband mysteriously vanished in 1997. There are no heroes in Tiger King.

The great triumph of the series lies with its utter lack of moral message. Owning exotic animals is bad, yes, but that’s also something already well-apparent to many viewers in the year 2020. Tiger King isn’t all that concerned with stating the obvious. Instead, the series mostly just focuses on the absurd nature of its narrative. Each episode contains more plot twists than most movies could get away with. It is magnificent entertainment.

To call it a guilty-pleasure almost doesn’t feel right considering all that’s going on in the country. Pleasure is in short supply. Joe Exotic is a seemingly-endless supply of amusement. Tiger King isn’t just must-watch. It’s the perfect narrative for our times.



January 2020



Sundance Review: Miss Americana

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The big challenge for films like Miss Americana is to present its stars in a way that doesn’t feel like one big infomercial. Taylor Swift is one of the most famous people in the world. She doesn’t need to give access to anyone. Director Lana Wilson covers a wide range of Taylor’s life while building a narrative that strikes at the nature of her relentless drive.

From a timeline perspective, Miss Americana includes practically the entirety of Swift’s life, aided by footage numerous home videos. The film spends the bulk of its time on the past few years, namely the production of Reputation and Lover. Swift allows cameras in the studio for the first time in her career, capturing intimate moments where her music comes alive.

Swift has kept up an impressive workload for an artist who has little left to prove. Unsurprisingly in that regard, she often conducts herself as a person still trying to climb the mountain well after she’s reached the top. Success at an early age appears to have instilled a deep longing for the public’s approval, often to her own detriment.

Wilson wields Swift’s own words to tell a story that hints at the artist’s shortcomings without ever feeling like it’s being outwardly critical. Miss Americana breaks new ground while thoroughly remaining on Taylor’s side. It’s a singular kind of music documentary, one with the artist’s full participation that manages to be thought-provoking, even if it’s clear that punches are being pulled. Wilson doesn’t need to be Mike Wallace to dive deeper into her subject.

Sometimes she earns an eye roll for complaining about things that can be safely filed into first world problems, but that also reflects a person who has barely had any privacy for over a decade. Strangers break into her house to sleep in her bed. That’s not normal by any definition of the word.

Miss Americana works best when it focuses on Taylor’s rise in the resistance after a decade of silence on the political front. For a performer with roots in the country music world, the Dixie Chicks serve as a cautionary tale for what happens when you bash a Republican president. Taylor’s embrace of feminism and LGBTQ rights created an untenable situation for staying on the sidelines.

To her credit, she admits mistakes on this front. She has one of the most powerful microphones in the world. Though her management, including her father, protests, she wades into the 2018 senatorial race in Tenessee, knowing full well that attacks from the Tweeter-in-chief are bound to follow. Plenty of people and big corporations talk a big game on inclusion, but Swift feels genuine in her desire to grow as an ally. The sexual assault case that she recently won had a profound impact on her approach to activism. That kind of sincerity is sadly too often missing from this political climate.

The film does leave a couple strands of her career undeveloped. Early on, the film walks up to the idea that Reputation had made some mistakes, but never really follows through on this idea. The Taylor Swift that once sang about how “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now” is nowhere to be found. That Taylor appears to not only be dead, but forgotten also.

For a film with a ninety-minute runtime, it’s understandable how stuff like her feud with Katy Perry wouldn’t make the cut. Taylor Swift has had a very long and storied career, all before the age of thirty. Also absent is Scooter Braun, though the ongoing nature of that dispute makes it difficult to include in a narrative like Miss Americana.

It is somewhat disappointing to not see the thought process behind songs like “Bad Blood” or “Look What You Made Me Do” explained, or even examined. Miss Americana frequently highlights the fact that Swift writes all her own songs, making it all the more jarring that Reputation’s lead track borrowed the melody from Right Side Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” a truly horrendous one-hit wonder.

Miss Americana succeeds at its primary objective, to take a global superstar and present her in a relatable fashion. She’s one of the most successful musicians in history, but also a human being. Society may not want those two versions of Taylor to co-exist, but people need growth to sustain themselves. Taylor Swift may have it all, but the film proves just how hungry she is for more.



January 2020



Sundance Review: Cuties

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The desire to rebel is a natural instinct for many children. To be told what not to do tends to fuel an inherent urge to push back against authority. Set in France, Maïmouna Doucouré’s Cuties demonstrates the universality of these themes, transcending language and culture.

Amy (Fathia Youssouf) is a fairly rebellious eleven-year-old, discontent with the strict rules in her household. The circumstances make it hard to blame her. Her mother Miriam (Maïmouna Gueye) is a hard-working parent struggling to raise three children while her husband pursues a second marriage in Senegal. Miriam is a compassionate woman who played by the rules of tradition, with seemingly little to show for it.

A group of girls who dub themselves the “cuties” attract Amy’s interest with their elaborate dance routines. Eager to join their clique, Amy starts to deviate from the guidelines set before her. A stolen cellphone provides Amy with valuable cultural capital, as well as a glimpse of the broader world she’d been sheltered from.

Doucouré is quite skilled at conveying emotion, capturing the highs and lows of adolescence in a way that speaks to the universality of growing up. Cuties is often hilarious. The young talent are superb at drawing laughs from subtle moments that are easy to relate to.

Though many have not had to experience the idea of having a second wife move into one’s already-cramped apartment, Cuties touches on themes that are quite popular in American cinema. Amy’s father is not shown to be a great guy, and the adults in her life struggle to help Amy copes with this harsh reality. Earlier eras put up with that stuff in a way that simply isn’t appealing to a younger demographic that’s experienced a world outside the strict confines of religion.

Which isn’t to say that Amy is some misunderstood angel. Like many eleven-year-olds, she’s prone to behaving like a brat. Doucouré captures this trajectory in a powerful way largely through Amy’s relationship with her mother. American family sitcoms are filled with predictable teaching moments at the end of their episodes. Cuties follows similar arcs, but shakes things up in a refreshing manner, dealing with reality rather than a “mom knows best” outcome.

Cuties captures adolescence life in a deeply moving manner. The film is very well-crafted with a keen sense of pacing, packing quite a lot into a ninety-minute runtime. Doucouré fully understands what it’s like to be a kid and an adult, delivering a compassionate family narrative that respects both sides of the equation.



December 2019



The Witcher Is Thoroughly Mediocre

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As a genre, fantasy can be challenging to present to an audience on television. There’s a lot of world-building that needs to take place, on top of all the other obligations expected of new narratives. As with many fantasy shows, The Witcher is based off a popular long-running book series. Unfortunately, the execution of its source material largely falls flat.

The Witcher might have the least effective world-building of any fantasy show in history, a remarkably bland palette that kills any desire to pay attention. The world of “The Continent” isn’t particularly complicated to understand. There are monster hunters, sorcerers, elves, and plenty of standard fare that is easy for an audience to digest. The first few episodes throw so much at the wall that practically nothing sticks.

The season adapts the introductory stories to The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski, a series with a complicated chronology. The show dumps a lot of characters and plotlines all at once, an approach that’s quite difficult to follow along with unless you’ve read the source material. It’s not that what’s presented is particularly complex, but the delivery just lands with a thud. It is so boring that it becomes practically unwatchable.

As the titular Witcher, Henry Cavill does the show no favors. It would be a bit unfair to blame him for the show’s failures, but his lifeless performance doesn’t help. Geralt of Rivia has almost no personality and little is done to endear him to the audience. He feels more like a reactionary figure than a lead character, making it especially hard to care about his journey.

The special effects are pretty decent, though any goodwill on that front is squandered by the sets. The color palette is as bland as the writing, moody villages that reek of grey. It’s actually kind of depressing to watch, but not in a way that enhances the narrative.

The show does occasionally try for humor, mostly through the traveling bard Jaskier (Joey Batey). Jaskier crafts a song in the second episode that’s probably the most memorable aspect of the show. That sadly represents a rather poor investment in anyone’s time.

Things do pick up a bit after the first few episodes when the show starts to pump the brakes on the exposition a bit. There isn’t some drastic improvement, but likely enough to please longtime fans of either the source material or the genre itself. The cast do seem to grow more comfortable with their roles as time goes on, though it might be too little for a general audience.

The Witcher isn’t an offensively terrible show, just one that manages to do almost nothing right. Fans of fantasy may find something redeemable in a binge, especially this time of the year. Sapkowski’s excellent source material deserved much better than this underwhelming slog.