TV

The Rundown: What Are We Going To Talk About After ‘Game Of Thrones’ Ends?


HBO

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 will vary, as will 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 — The upcoming Thrones vacuum

The next six weeks are going to be wild. That’s all that’s left for Game of Thrones. Six weeks, six episodes, six more rounds of recaps and breakdown and theories, and then, poof, it’s gone. One of the biggest shows in television history, in both scale and cultural impact, will cease to exist. We’re all justifiably wrapped up in the excitement of the premiere this weekend, and I do apologize for jumping straight to the end before the beginning happens, but that’s what’s floating out there, quietly undiscussed. The last of the big monoculture shows, the last of the shows that can reliably light up a Twitter feed and penetrate non-TV coverage on a regular basis, will cease to exist. And what, exactly, is that going to look like? What are… what are we going to do?

We’ve had a sneak peak of this vacuum in the long break between the end of season seven and today. Things bubble up here and there, your Killing Eve-s and Stranger Things-es, but nothing has really stuck like Thrones. Nothing has reached out into the discourse in the same way, where you can use it as a metaphor or reference while discussing something unrelated and people will still get it. The president used its imagery to announce a major policy push and, regardless of how you feel about the president or policy in question (no thanks, personally), that’s a big deal. Can you imagine, like, Ozark pulling that off? I can’t. And a lot of people watch Ozark! Allegedly!

That’s part of the problem, really. Netflix and its streaming brethren, with their binge-y strategy and individualized algorithms, have made watching television a more isolating experience. Everyone can now watch shows tailored specifically to their interests at exactly the pace they like. On paper, that’s cool. “Give me what I want right now in a big freaking bucket and then leave me alone” is an enticing option. But it takes some of the community aspects out of television, the water cooler chat. That stinks a little. It makes me sad. Because that was always the fun part of television for me.

Maybe I’m revealing myself to be a dinosaur here. I don’t know. But I do miss that part of the viewing experience, the week between episodes of shows everyone watched. (“Everyone” here meaning everyone in your particular online silo, which is another issue completely.) Mad Men never even sniffed the ratings or scale of Game of Thrones but was still a blast. The writing, the chatter, the memes, heck, even the theories, which got a little nuts at the time but now give me pangs of nostalgia. The week between those episodes was almost as fun as watching the show itself because you could count on the smartest and funniest people you knew adding to the experience. And while that’s not completely gone now, it is much more splintered. We can’t all talk about episodes of shows like we used to because we’re often all watching different things at different speeds. With Game of Thrones gone and no new episodes on the horizon, that cultural vacuum is going to be even more noticeable.

(It’s not just Game of Thrones that’s ending and creating this vacuum, either. In less than two weeks, right in the middle of the final season, Avengers: Endgame premieres and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it will come to an end, too. Our biggest television and movie franchises of the last decade or so are both ending within about a month of each other. That’s going to be… weird. And I say that as someone who has not in the past been a diehard fan of comics or fantasy. I’m more of a John Wick/Better Call Saul person. But these have both been so huge, so galactically omnipresent, that even casual fans like me have been sucked into their gravitational field. And by June, they just won’t exist anymore. Like I said, weird.)

Please don’t mistake me, these last six weeks are going to be a lot. They’re going to be too much, I imagine. You’re probably, at some point (maybe even today!), going to get annoyed by it all. That’s understandable. The amount of coverage it’s going to get could get overwhelming. You might wake up one day, four weeks from now, and want to shout “I wish everyone would just shut up about Game of Thrones!” But if you find yourself in that position, try to take a breath and consider this: Every tweet, every article, every hypothesis about Game of Thrones is one that isn’t about politics. That has to count for something.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — This is now the best tweet

Twitter

Here is a tweet by Jackée Harry, star of 227 and Sister, Sister and just a general national treasure. It is, without question, the greatest tweet I have ever seen, just nudging out the prior champion “Antonin Scalia retire bitch” by fellow national treasure Danny DeVito. The two of them should make a movie together. Or do a podcast. Or just hang out a bunch. I’ll take whatever I can get here.

In fact, the tweet is so great that I screencapped it instead of embedding it just in case Twitter vanishes tomorrow and we need visual evidence of its existence. (I will link to it, though.) It’s perfect from beginning to end, not a single word wasted or lacking. Read it out loud a few times. If you’re still on the fence, allow me to break this down piece by piece.

Eartha Kitt slapped the f%#! outta me!

Even if the tweet was just this sentence, even if this was her entire story in reply to the prompt in the tweet below it, it might be the best tweet I’ve ever seen. I would read anything, of any length, that started with “Eartha Kitt slapped the f%#! outta me!” Tweets, books, 1200-word introductions to recipes on the New York Times website, anything. You can go ahead and pop it into famous literary works for all I care. Would Moby Dick be a better book if it started with this sentence instead of “Call me Ishmael”? Maybe. Probably not. But would it be a more interesting book? I don’t think anyone can argue it wouldn’t.

It’s even better that she self-censored the cuss word, for reasons I can’t explain but believe with every fiber of my human form. We are off to a tremendous start.

She thought I was sleeping with her boyfriend..

Please note the dots after the word boyfriend. The dots are important. They imply something else is coming. And it is. Right now.

which I was

Perfect. God bless every one of us, the people who live in a time when this tweet first came into existence. We’ve been through a lot. We deserve this.

but I didn’t know he was taken.

A few notes in closing:

  • Who is this man, this scallywag, this absolute cad, who was out here stepping out on Eartha Kitt with Jackée, and why hasn’t he written a book?
  • I choose to believe this happened at some sort of fancy gala, just for the visual, just to picture the faces of the onlookers who watched Eartha Kitt “slap the f%#!” out of Jackée.
  • How many people do you think Eartha Kitt slapped in her lifetime? I’m setting the over/under at 100.

The internet is crazy, man. One day you’re posting some tweet asking people for silly stories about meeting famous people and the next you’re the conduit for the greatest piece of literature the English language has ever seen.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Where are we at with this Lion King business?

I’m of two minds about this new CGI Lion King with real-looking animals.

On one hand, it’s cool. I wanted to be cynical about it, grumbling various things about media conglomerates bleeding their intellectual property dry in the service of the almighty dollar and how no one has original ideas and so on and so forth. “Why can’t they just leave good things alone?” I probably shouted to myself. But then I thought about it and realized it’s all of that and also a potentially cool way for parents who enjoyed the original to share an experience with their similar-aged children, and sometimes it’s okay to be two things at once. Cynicism averted. Also, it has Beyoncé in it and I’m very cautious about trashing anything she’s involved in because her fans terrify me. Do not yell at me! I said it was okay!

On the other hand, though (Beyhive, don’t read this), the very lifelike talking lions creep me out, the same way a robot that is a little too lifelike creeps me out. The worst is robots that look like children and have tiny child voices. Remember the horrifying TurboTax commercial from the Super Bowl? I do! I’ll never forget it. It’s tattooed on my brain. I’m not sure I can do two hours of that, even if I want to. This is more of a me-problem than a problem with the movie, admittedly. But still.

Still!

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — A note about the Boschverse

Amazon

I was sick this week. Stay-in-bed, sleep-all-afternoon, leave-me-alone sick. I didn’t have the energy to focus on television so, instead, I listened to an audiobook from the Bosch series that the Amazon show is based on. (I am always on brand, even with a fever.) The book I listened to was titled The Crossing. I learned a few important things from it, things that you might know but I did not, that I am going to share with you anyway:

  • Bosch and The Lincoln Lawyer exist in the same universe because the books are written by the same man, Michael Connelly
  • Bosch and The Lincoln Lawyer are half brothers
  • The movie The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey, also exists in the Boschverse because it is “based on a case” the Lincoln Lawyer of the books was involved in
  • In the book, people are always asking The Lincoln Lawyer if there’s going to be a sequel to the movie and if he knows Matthew McConaughey, which is a pretty genius way for Connelly to put that idea into the world, like winkwink Hollywood

And as if this all wasn’t meta enough, the audiobook is read by Titus Welliver, who plays Bosch in the television adaptation and is not great at putting his hands in his pockets, as depicted above. This is probably one of those things that no one but me cares about but I care about a lot. I hope Matthew McConaughey pops up in the next season as himself.

I feel better now, by the way. Thanks.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — The Righteous Gemstones looks like a good show

Getty Image

The Righteous Gemstones is an upcoming HBO series that is being written and directed by Danny McBride, and will star McBride as — I promise this is true — Jesse Gemstone, the oldest son of a famous (and famously corrupt) televangelist named Eli Gemstone, who will be played by John Goodman. There are other Gemstones, too, including Kelvin Gemstone, who will be played by Adam Devine and whose name is a lot of fun to pronounce. This alone should have you pretty excited.

And now, add in this: The series has added Walton Goggins, McBride’s Vice Principals co-star and Boyd Crowder himself. And wait until you see this description of his character.

Goggins will play Baby Billy, a former child star who clogged and sang for Jesus. As an aging man, he’s fallen on hard times and comes to the Gemstones for salvation.

HE CLOGGED FOR JESUS.

Now, some of you will accuse me of choosing this story just because it has goofy names and Walton Goggins and because it gave me an excuse to use that picture up there, which I love. Well, sir or madam, I assure you I did not. I chose this story for all of those reasons and because “clogging for Jesus” also gives me an excuse to use the GIF from Justified of Boyd Crowder dancing.

FX

Bet you feel pretty stupid now.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or, like, whatever you want, shoot them to me at brian.grubb@uproxx.com and 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.

Amanda, who makes a good point about my bit from last week about how every actor is either a Batman or a Joker:

One thing you didn’t touch on is that, after the Joker trailer dropped, Oscar and Emmy winner Patricia Arquette tweeted offhand that she’d like to play the Joker someday. This is sound — a few years ago, she would have been a Batman, but now, in light of her turns on Escape at Dannemora and The Act, she is absolutely a Joker.

So I started applying your theory to other non-male actors, and it totally works:

Sandra Bullock: Batman
Cate Blanchett: Joker
Oliva Coleman: Joker
Brie Larson: Batman
Julia Roberts: Batman
Sandra Oh: Batman
Tiffany Haddish: Joker
Regina King: Batman
Sofia Vergara: Joker
Stefanie Beatriz: Batman

I did all of these in, like, a split second. Thoughts?

My thoughts, primarily, are that this is a very good email and that I should have included actresses in my theory the first time. These are all correct and now I really want to see Tiffany Haddish as the Joker.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To… the cosmos? To the cosmos!

Astronomers announced on Wednesday that at last they had captured an image of the unobservable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it.

Oh hell yes. I am very much here for the giant cosmic nothingness.

The image offered a final, ringing affirmation of an idea so disturbing that even Einstein, from whose equations black holes emerged, was loath to accept it. If too much matter is crammed into one place, the cumulative force of gravity becomes overwhelming, and the place becomes an eternal trap. Here, according to Einstein’s theory, matter, space and time come to an end and vanish like a dream.

It has long been my position that throwing something into a volcano would be the most cathartic thing possible. Just taking an objection that symbolizes a dreaded event or period of your life and heaving it straight into the bubbling lava. The only thing that I considered a close second was the scene in Waiting to Exhale where Angela Bassett lit the car on fire and marched away as it burned. And that really only works if you’re Angela Bassett, which, statistically speaking, most of us are not.

But now.

But now!

Folks.

I want to throw something into the black hole.

I know it is not possible. I know that, even if it were, getting close enough to the black hole to throw something into it would mean I’d get sucked into it, too. I don’t care. This is my dream, now. I want to take something I don’t need or want and I want to launch it into the black hole and watch it turn into nothing. God, how freeing would that be? I would do it all the time. I would get so carried away. I would throw, like, food wrappers into it. We could end pollution! (But not really.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to read my second favorite tweet of the week while blasting the most evil instrumental music I can find. Embrace the nothingness. Bathe in it. It’s freeing, in a way.

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