TV

The Rundown: ‘The Resort,’ The Peacock Series That Stars All Your Favorite People, Is Getting Really Good

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE – Hey look, a good show

Hey, are you guys watching The Resort on Peacock? I hope so. I hope so for a bunch of reasons, too. One is that it stars just about all of your favorite people. William Jackson Harper, Chidi from The Good Place, is in the show. Cristin Milioti, who has been in everything but most notably Palm Springs, is also in the show. So is Skyler Gisondo from The Righteous Gemstones and Nick Offerman from tons of cool stuff. That’s a really solid start.

It’s also got a killer pedigree. The show comes from Andy Siara, who wrote the aforementioned Palm Springs — a super weird and fun movie that is on Hulu and should be rewatched yearly, at minimum — and was a writer on my beloved but short-lived series, Lodge 49. If you watched both of those things and enjoyed them to any degree, first of all, I suspect we would be friends, but second of all, I suspect you will dig The Resort. One of the executive producers is Sam Esmail, creator of Mr. Robot. There’s a lot of stuff happening here.

Also, it’s pretty good! It sucked me in right away in part because of all those things I listed in the first couple of paragraphs, but now, around the midpoint of its season, things are really getting interesting. Completely bonkers and sometimes very silly and sometimes very real, but mostly just interesting.

The summary goes like this: A couple (Harper and Milioti) go on vacation to a fancy resort in Mexico to try to force a jolt into a marriage that’s going stale, for reasons that are revealed via steady drip. One day, while out riding four-wheelers through the jungle, Milioti’s character wipes out and comes to in the dirt with an old busted flip phone in her face under some leaves. She gets curious, does some investigating, and discovers the phone belonged to a young man who was staying at the same resort with his girlfriend in 2007. The twist: that kid and his girlfriend both went missing on their trip and were never seen again.

So, blammo, intrigue. But also, jokes. Lots of dumb jokes littered throughout, in delightful little ways. Like, for example, this one, where the two of them are on a trip to look at Mayan ruins but also still investigating and Milioti’s character needs to think up a fake name to use on the phone on short notice.

MAYA
PEACOCK

Yup, nailed it.

The mystery has gotten a little wilder each week, and a little more mystical, which should not surprise those of you who already watched Palm Springs and Lodge 49. There are eccentric millionaires and paintings that were completed in 2007 but feature people/things from the present day and a powerful Mexican family of tailors and fashion tycoons who use a yellow snake as their logo and may be involved somehow. One member of this family has been working on this mystery for a while and has now teamed up with Harper and Milioti to see if they can all figure it out together. The other week he said this, which, I promise, makes a lot of sense in context and is a legitimate theory in their amateur sleuthing.

RESORT
PEACOCK
RESORT
PEACOCK

It’s good. All of it. And it’s one of those things that I’m just glad exists. We have 400 streaming services and all of them are trying to hammer our eyeballs with content every day. A depressing amount of it is becoming just, like, paint-by-numbers stuff to leave on in the background while you’re sweeping the living room. It’s cool to me that there are still people out there taking wild swings on ambitious stuff like this. I felt the same way about The Afterparty when that dropped on Apple earlier this year. That had a lot of the same stuff going for it: a loaded cast filled with people you like from shows you like; a solid pedigree behind the camera; a weird premise that embraced the freedom of the form. I loved that show. I might watch it again. I might do it this weekend. There’s very little you can do to stop me.

I have no clue if The Resort will or even can stick the landing right now. There is just an insane amount of stuff happening and a lot of it is weird and kind of unexplainable. It’s a little messy in places. I… don’t think I care, though. I’m here for the ride, which is made better for me by the weekly release model. I’m having fun watching it and thinking about it and then watching it and thinking about it again. I like that everyone involved is doing it. I support weirdo ambitious stuff like this. I have no clue if you’ll like it as much as I do. Maybe you won’t. That’s okay!

The point is that it’s cool when cool people make cool stuff, and I’m glad that we’re all finding ways to make that happen. This is maybe not the most eloquent thing anyone has ever said in a piece of television criticism, but still. I think it’s worth saying.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – Important dumpster business

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AMC

Better Call Saul aired its series finale this week, which, I assume, based only on the fact that you’re reading this column, you watched or were at least aware of. It was good. It was a good ending to a good show. One of the best, probably. Maybe one that was better than its predecessor, which is a crazy difficult thing to pull off, in part being some people just full-on will not accept that kind of claim and in part because Breaking Bad was also a really good show. But this is not the place for a full discussion of all of that. The place for that was here. This is the place to talk about dumpsters.

Quick context, free of heavy spoilers: In the series finale, for reasons, Jimmy aka Gene aka Saul jumped into a dumpster to hide from a group of people who were tracking him down. That’s a GIF of it up there. It’s a good GIF. It’s funny if you know the whys and how’s of the actual scene, but it’s also funny in a “post in on social media or send it as a text with a message attached like ‘me back on my bullshit,’” which is also important in a different way.

Anyway, the point here, to whatever extent there is one: That happened in the last episode of the final season, after this happened in the first episode of the final season.

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AMC

Do… do we have a case of dumpster foreshadowing here? Or does he just live the kind of life where he and cardboard-based representations of himself periodically end up flailing into a dumpster? It’s a good question, a kind of chicken/egg situation that is complicated further by the thing where he was in a dumpster at least one other time in the series, way back in season one when he was searching for various Sandpiper documents. Was that also dumpster foreshadowing? Were both of these dumpster callbacks? Or does that dude just end up in dumpsters every few months in the course of doing business? And wouldn’t “Dumpster Callback” be a great name for a legendary blues musician who died under mysterious circumstances in 1951? All equally important questions.

I suspect this is another one of those things where two things can be true at the same time. The creators of this show, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, can be so good at their jobs that they parceled out dumpster-related imagery on purpose to lead up to this moment, and Saul Goodman can be the kind of guy who knows his way around a dumpster, just generally. I will be thinking about this one a lot. I will also be missing Better Call Saul a lot. What a great show. I still can’t believe it worked as well as it did. It’s basically magic.

In a loosely related matter, it turns out, as I discovered while putting this section together, that these are not the only GIFs I’ve made of a person or cardboard person going into a dumpster. I also have this one from Lodge 49.

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AMC

The takeaways here are as follows:

  • A surprising amount of good shows that aired on AMC featured dumpster-related business
  • I have a lot of dumpster GIFs
  • I have somehow mentioned Lodge 49 — a little-watched show that lasted two seasons and ended multiple years ago — twice already this week

A lot to process.

ITEM NUMBER THREE – This HBO Max thing is weird to me

bane-hell.jpg
HBO MAX

HBO and HBO Max are currently in this weird limbo/flux situation due to various mergers and conglomerates and new leadership. I would never — never — bore you with the details of this kind of thing, so let’s just leave it there for now. You can go look it up elsewhere, although I strongly suggest you do not, especially on a Friday. I have to know these things because it’s my job. You have choices. Make them wisely. Do not let my burden become yours.

Here it is in its most basic form: In an attempt to streamline some things and cut some costs, they are going to start nuking some things off of their various platforms. The statement about it all went something like this, via Variety:

“As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and discovery+,” HBO Max’s statement reads. “That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.”

Taking off the titles from streaming would also help Warner Bros. Discovery cut costs by removing lesser-watched programs to save money on residuals. An exact date or time when the titles will be taken off has not been announced.

And, by way of specifics, it works out like this.

Although HBO Max has removed several titles in the past weeks, including several Warner Bros. films and HBO TV shows such as “Camping,” “Vinyl,” “Mrs. Fletcher” and “Run,” the latest announcement represents the largest quantity of titles to be taken off the service. In addition, 20 original HBO Max shows will be taken off the platform, including teen drama “Generation,” animated anthology series “Infinity Train,” holiday-themed reality dating show “12 Dates of Christmas” and “Sesame Street” spinoff “The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo.” It is currently unclear whether they will be made available on DVD or rental services, or if their removal will result in them becoming completely inaccessible.

The first thing I need to tell you about this is that the Variety article used a picture of Elmo as the big splashy image at the top and it made it kind of look like Elmo was the one making these cuts. Like Elmo had become the CEO of the whole company. Which is absolutely a show I would watch on HBO Max, if they are looking for new ways to grow the business by at least one viewer who is already subscribed to their service. Something to think about.

The other thing is that this is… weird. It’s just super weird. Not that everything is supposed to last forever or anything. It’s good that things end and go away sometimes. It helps keep things fresh and moving and prevents us from getting stuck in the past forever. But also, if you make a show for a streaming service, and it never gets released in a physical form, what happens if the streaming service just decides to delete it from existence one day? That’s weird, right? I’ve been having trouble wrapping my head around it all day. Like, I can go on Amazon and buy DVDs of the television show Royal Pains (15 discs, $31, in my living room by Monday if I want it), but the very good Harley Quinn cartoon — depicted above, which kind of just turned the Joker into “if Bernie Sanders was also a stepdad” in its current season, which is cool — might just not exist anymore, anywhere. I don’t think I like that. There’s an impermanence to it that makes me uncomfortable.

That said, you could make a physical work of art — a painting, a sculpture, etc. — and then trip on the way out of the kitchen and spill chocolate ice cream all over it and knock it on the floor and then someone else could slip on the spilled ice cream and fall on both you and your art and bang your whole elbow through it, so I guess nothing is really made to last forever.

This just got too deep for a Friday column that just posted three dumpster GIFs. Let’s move on.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – I’m sorry but this is really funny

This is a commercial for some sort of financial something called Truist. I don’t know. I don’t really care, either. I’m only showing it to you here, now, because it came on my television during a break in a Phillies game recently (go Phillies) and I bolted upright — or at least as upright as I get — and went black in the eyes and shouted: “THAT’S THE TOKYO DRIFT SONG.” Which it is. It’s a song called “Tokyo Drift” from the 2006 movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The third one in the franchise. The one that had none of the major stars — save a brief Vin Diesel cameo at the end — and featured Bow Wow as a character named Twinkie and introduced us to a character named Han who was so likable that the franchise twisted its entire chronology into a pretzel to bring him back for a few more movies. It says a lot about me and what I’m about that I typed this entire paragraph from memory.

This is the full song, if you didn’t believe me or just want to listen to what I can only assume is the biggest hit to date by a group called the Teriyaki Boyz.

Perfect. No notes. Well, one note, maybe. This one. From an article in Time Magazine, about a TikTok craze that bubbled up a few years ago.

A new viral trend calls for participants to film themselves or others sliding across the floor or around a corner, set the video to the Teriyaki Boyz song “Tokyo Drift” and post it online. The fad was inspired by a video that was recently shared on TikTok by user @samanthajohnson262 showing a van drifting sideways around other cars on a snow-covered Vancouver highway as “Tokyo Drift” bumps in the background.

The term “Tokyo drift” was popularized by the third movie in the Fast & Furious franchise and is a reference to the Japanese car racing technique of drifting.

To recap:

  • The Teriyaki Boyz made a song called “Tokyo Drift” for a movie called Tokyo Drift
  • I saw this movie in the theater in 2006
  • You’re not better than me
  • It found its way into the world of memes a decade or so later
  • Because of this last thing (probably) it ended up in a commercial for some sort of financial product
  • I saw it on television and shouted a little
  • I’m writing about it now
  • I’m going to put the song on my Driving Around playlist and get excited when it pops up on shuffle next

What a journey.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – Meanwhile, on What We Do in the Shadows

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FX

Real quick…

What we have here, from the most recent episode of What We Do in the Shadows, is The Jersey Devil, an assumed-fictional beast with massive genitalia and a taste for human flesh, singing and dancing along to “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, because it turns out that is the only way to lull it into enough of a trance for our courageous/bumbling vampire heroes to defeat it. Because it is from New Jersey. The whole thing went on for kind of a while. Here, look.

DEVIL
FX

I really cannot stress this next part to you in strong enough terms: This was maybe the funniest thing I’ve seen on television all year. It was remarkable. Just the pure chaotic energy of spending whatever amount of money it took to make this possible, from the CGI to the costuming to the licensing of a Bon Jovi song from multiple decades ago. I could not possibly be happier about any of it.

There’s something beautiful to me about landing a spot on a prestigious basic cable network and just doing the dumbest and silliest things you can think of on a weekly basis. Yes, sure, shows like Dopesick and The Wire shine a light on important societal issues and help make complex things more digestible for viewers at home. That’s good, too. But sometimes you just want to see a beast with a comically large scrotum tear away on an air guitar to a song about two young lovers named Tommy and Gina.

There’s room for all of this. It’s one of the nice things about the future.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From Matthew:

I put on this random movie on Amazon Prime on to have some background noise while i was doing some cooking. I look over, and it’s Jamie Lannister (with an american accent!) opposite Mrs. McMurray from Letterkenny. He had a long rifle, and honestly, it was so weird to see Jamie Lannister with a firearm. And then i started thinking about a buddy cop picture with Jamie and Brienne and they’re both carrying 9mms and just lighting dudes up.

Still in the armor though, because, reasons.

And i haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for 3 hours.

Hope you’re having a good day.

I don’t really have a lot to add here. Mostly, I just like that Matthew thought to send this one in. I like what it says about me and the vibes I put out that he had that objectively goofy thought and was like “I should email this to Brian.” That’s cool. It’s honestly just, like, really cool. It’s more satisfying to me than all the web traffic or retweets in the world. Please feel free to send me stuff like this. Don’t feel like you have to force it. But if it’s there… yeah. Fire away. I feel great about it.

You and I are doing great, Matthew.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To San Antonio!

A single pink dildo and socks were among the few items that were left when thieves broke into the Sexology Institute in the King William neighborhood last month, stealing $58,000 worth of sex toys, lingerie, the cash register and “the world’s most extravagant vibrator.”

Easily one of the best sentences I’ve ever seen. It was already trending that way before we got to “the world’s most extravagant vibrator,” but that shot us rocketing into a new tier. Imagine the cops as this police report was getting filed. I like to think they sent some pencil-necked rookie in there as a goof, just for the blushing.

Better yet, imagine famous fictional detectives working this case. Columbo, Daniel Craig’s character from Knives Out, anyone from Law & Order, Rene Russo’s character from Thomas Crown Affair, the bumbling squad from Only Murders in the Building. If it’s starting to sound like I’ve been thinking about this for days, hours at a time with 10-minute breaks to think about a sandwich I might eat or once ate, there’s a good reason for that: I have.

Early on June 30, three men pried open the lock of the adult entertainment store on St. Mary’s Street. The thieves, who have yet to be caught, returned on three separate occasions to fill trash bags full of merchandise into a black pickup truck. Hundreds of items were taken, including antique sex toys.

THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS

Whenever we catch these people, whoever they are, I need the trial covered by multiple networks, and simulcast with different analysts, including one where the day’s testimony and motions are broken down by Danny McBride and Edi Patterson. I will pay anything for this.

“Oddly enough, they left the books,” said Jasper St. James, the store’s boutique manager. “I guess they didn’t want to invest in that kind of reading. It was right after Pride, so they left all of the Pride stuff.”

St. James added: “So they’re a little bit homophobic and a little bit illiterate.”

This is honestly incredible. Make this the next season of Fargo. Let Ilana Glazer play Jasper St. James. These are good ideas.

“We came into empty racks,” St. James said. “They took the world’s most extravagant vibrator and they were done.”

That’s the large, fully functioning vibrator encrusted with Swarovski crystals, a favorite of customers who visit the store and often take photos of it. The biggest losses were the lingerie pieces, some of which were exclusive to the Sexology Institute, St. James said.

I need these people to get caught. Not so much for the justice of it all, although I suppose that’s important, too. No, I just need to know… like… everything about this. I need to know why and how they settled on this place to rob, I need to know how exactly they planned to move a crystal-encrusted vibrator on the black market, I need to know and preferably meet the middleman they used for that last thing, I need to know all of it. As soon as possible.

This will destroy my productivity for weeks.

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