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Just Rankin’ Sh!t

One foot in reality, the other foot jammed deep in your saddened soul

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Endemol Shine UK via Netflix

Creating A.I. out of someone’s social media posts and writings is possible. Putting that A.I. into a convincingly humanlike body that isn’t just an uncanny valley disaster? Much less likely.

This surprisingly optimistic take on online dating depicts would-be lovers put through seemingly infinite sets of circumstances to determine their compatibility. But let’s be real — humans are just fine with smartphone-swiping their way into someone’s heart or bed.

Recording memories to video is an actual thing likely to happen in our lifetimes, but considering the storage and bandwidth currently required to do it at all — let alone record…


Stanley Nelson’s Netflix documentary opened my eyes to how much Black and Hispanic women were preyed on by the American government

A warrant search and raid in Washington, D.C. Photo: Shepard Sherbell/CORBIS SABA/Corbis/Getty Images

If you haven’t seen Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy on Netflix, you’re missing out on the most powerful documentary of this new year. Stanley Nelson’s film does a masterful job of contextualizing the crack era of the ’80s by highlighting both its roots and branches — from the White House to inner-city street corners. Much of the information Nelson doles out isn’t new. It’s widely known that the crack-cocaine epidemic was the brainchild of then-President Ronald Reagan to keep alive some ego-driven loyalty to Nicaraguan drug dealers. I knew it was supported by both Republicans and Democrats. …


Stanley Nelson tells a story that still lives in all of us

“Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy.” Photo: Netflix

My family is full of storytellers.

Many of us come from families where the yarn of our existence isn’t noted down in some book somewhere. It’s messier. It slips off the tongues of those closest to us, vague in the way of memory. The stories of people we may have never met become real to us.

My aunt Cookie used to tell the story about the night her car died in Williamsburg’s industrial district; it’s one of my favorites. The walk, just a handful of blocks to her apartment on Wyckoff Avenue, became an interminable journey. The neighborhood wasn’t the…


Netflix’s newest bingeable heist series plays with race, but insists on doing so in a lily-white version of Paris.

Photos: Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix

In Lupin, Netflix’s new French heist series, the first score takes place below the Louvre. Having joined the building’s janitorial crew weeks before, Assane Diop (Omar Sy) ascends into the opulent showrooms of the historic museum, transforming with the scenery from musty custodian to self-made tuxedoed playboy. The seamlessness of his metamorphosis nods at Assane’s Blackness — singular among the snowflake elite in the Louvre, nondescript among members of the working class in its bowels.

We’ve seen this fish-out-of-water juxtaposition before: Think Sammy Davis Jr. in Ocean’s 11. But in Lupin, as viewers get to know Assane Diop, it becomes…


John David Washington and Zendaya reflect on the do’s and absolute don’ts of arguing with your lover, both on- and off-screen

Photo: Netflix

The Covid-19 lockdown might have ended some Hollywood productions, but it gave rise to others — and we have Zendaya to thank for one of the first. While so many of us were baking bread and watching comfort-food television, the actress hit up Sam Levinson, the creator of her Emmy-winning series Euphoria. “I knew I wasn’t leaving the house,” she says. “I also knew I had to work.”

The result, Malcolm & Marie, co-starring John David Washington and shot at the famed Caterpillar House in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, over the course of two weeks last summer, isn’t just one of Netflix’s…


In “America Taught Dave Chappelle That Millionaires Can Sharecrop Too,” Bonsu Thompson unpacks Chappelle’s most recent standup routine, in which the comic related his struggles with Comedy Central licensing Chappelle’s Show for streaming without giving him a cut of the revenue. “Whether the gap is money, notoriety, physical strength or civil rights,” Thompson writes, “in the United States especially, the lesser someone has the greater chance that they become prey.”


He convinced Netflix to pull his old sketch show from streaming by saying it made him feel bad. Funny how that works.

Dave Chappelle. Photo: NBC/Getty Images

In a vacuum, the story of Netflix pulling Chappelle’s Show from the platform at the request of its star and creator is a feel-good story. Of course it is. Dave Chappelle left Comedy Central when he felt he was creatively compromised. After a period of relative exile, he’s now making as much money with Netflix as he left on the table before and wields enough power and respect for the multibillion-dollar company to honor his wishes.

It’s a story of perseverance, betting on yourself, and leveraging your gifts to write your own legacy. Again, in a vacuum. But Chappelle, one…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

With the last of the franchise hitting Netflix, might as well prioritize your viewing

Photo: Lionsgate

When your franchise loses its two leads — Anna Faris and all-time queen Regina Hall — you know you’re scraping bottom. Not even Snoop and Mac Miller could save this one.

Peak rap cameo here, folks: Bubba Sparxx, Bonecrusher, Fab, Chingy, Lil Jon, and Shaquille O’Neal. What, you don’t fuck with Shaq-Fu? It’s the hooper hyper protected by Viper!

Notice a pattern here? The Wayans were gone and so were any hopes of transcending warmed-over parody. At least a healthy delegation from our 40 Over 40 list showed up to take on the aliens. …


The filmmakers behind the new Netflix documentary Mucho Mucho Amor believe the astrologer’s message of love will resonate with a new generation

Walter Mercado in Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado. Photos: Netflix

At the height of his decades-long career on Spanish-language television, Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado reached about 120 million people with his inspirational Zodiac sign readings. Now, eight months after his death, Mercado is poised to reach millions more; Mucho Mucho Amor, a documentary about the famed mystic’s life, debuts on Netflix this week.

Co-directors Kareem Tabsch and Cristina Costantini and producer Alex Fumero began working on the film after Mercado’s moving-out-of-Miami estate sale in 2017 attracted a surprising number of young people and got the three filmmakers talking about the Puerto Rican icon’s legacy. Mercado began as a dancer…


Let’s get past idealism and find the comedy in our own flaws

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Since #blackAF premiered on Netflix, Kenya Barris’ name has been under the internet’s microscope.

With his $100 million Netflix development deal, I assumed Barris would push the envelope and create content that didn’t need network approval, and I anticipated he’d be able to do whatever the hell he wanted. With #blackAF, he’s done just that — and made a lot of Black folks #madAF in the process.

#BlackAF puts the spotlight on a famous comedy writer living in L.A. with his wife and six children. Like Barris’ mega-successful sitcom Black-ish, #blackAF depicts a family based on Barris’ own — just…

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