Binge Theory 101: After Life, Dead To Me, Warrior Nun

I’ve been cooped up like the new rooster and chickens my neighbor has in his backyard now. I’m fortunate though because this neighbor isn’t close to me. I only realized he had these fowl-feathered friends because I walk my dog early in the morning. The stench is sometimes too much to bear and I can’t imagine how his next-door neighbors feel about it. Is it even sanitary? I get that I live out in the suburbs but it’s a bit ridiculous at times. Luckily, I’m able to avoid spending too much time whiffing it all in, furloughed here, waiting for “the new normal” to end at some point. In the meantime, I do have my television, although I do miss the movie theater.

AFTER LIFE (Netflix)

Being a fan of Ricky Gervais doesn’t come without its own issues. His Twitter feed usually has something there that’ll raise eyebrows. His direct approach when hosting award shows is sometimes offensive, but for all the right reasons. His show After Life is now on its second season and has been confirmed for a third. Now, while I didn’t focus on the show for its first season, that’s not to say I wasn’t astounded or moved. The concept surrounding Gervais’ main character Tony Johnson is brilliant. He was married to the perfect woman, Lisa (Kerry Godliman), who later succumbed to cancer. He pretty much grabs life by the cojones and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what he thinks. We all that that little voice in our heads that tells us, “Maybe I shouldn’t respond that way,” but Tony shuts it down and lets his thoughts fly. It’s comedic and clever but his character is tortured and on the brink of suicide without Lisa. Within that first season, Tony has thoughts of ending his life, only to be reeled back in by his dog who worries and watches over him. His realization that there’s so much more to life ends the season beautifully and left me speechless. Could Gervais, who wrote and created this show, top that first season? Well…

The characters surrounding Tony are still ever-present, as is his less-than romantic relationship with his father’s caregiver Emma (Ashley Jensen). She wants more, he wants company, and they can never seem to find a middle ground. There are a number of sub-plots throughout the season which leaves me fascinated and Tony’s slow spiral downward, back into an oblivion of suicide once again leaves me intrigued. While not as powerful as its first season, the inappropriate comedy is funny AF with supporting characters having less impact and leaving me clamoring for more of Gervais himself. There’s a bit more humanity offered in his character where we all see Tony leaving himself much more open. After the death of his father Ray (David Bradley), we can all feel for Tony. He has friends though, like Daphne (Roisin Conaty), the prostitute he’s built a close platonic relationship with, who always question how he’s feeling. The love and understanding here feel genuine. The season takes a bit of a turn BUT, it leaves me wanting more. Yes, this show is well worth our time.

WARROR NUN (Netflix)

I think like most, I was intrigued by Warrior Nun, the new adaptation of the comic book Warrior Nun Areala. Would it hold up to the comic offering which depicts a much more nun-meets-stripper demon-huntress vibe? I wasn’t certain but I was willing to give it a shot. Then again, I shouldn’t really go in with any preconceived notions or show much enthusiasm for something that could go horribly wrong.

The heroine of this series is Ava Silva, portrayed by Alba Baptista, a young quadriplegic spending her time bed-ridden needing the assistance of the nuns that are her caretakers. Ava mysteriously commits “suicide” and her body is stored to a basement chamber. At that moment, a group of militarized nuns enter the sanctuary after a fierce battle, one of them fatally injured. She is apparently the one with special gifts derived from a halo attached to her body that was offered by an angel to a warrior, which was passed down from generation to generation to someone worthy of it. It obviously differs from the comic but ok, I’ll bite.

On the show, the military order fights demons, their main purpose to thwart the forces of darkness and sending them back to hell. Of course, there’s always someone that wants that power and attempt to usurp it at just about any cost. It’s a good storyline that even pits the order against the Catholic Church because let’s be honest, they’re never on the up-and-up. The storyline has Ava, who acquires the halo as a last-ditch effort to keep it in the right hands, brought back to life with the ability to use her entire body and a newfound purpose. It takes her a while before she finally sees it through, but she becomes a part of the fighting force of nuns. I know it may sound silly but yes, that’s what they are. Some of the martial arts scenes are choreographed well but the series ending may leave everyone annoyed. Taking a page out of John Carpenter’s book of cliff hangers, leaving everyone expecting a follow-up as the group of nuns are surrounded and preparing for a final battle. Carpenter would have worked it out much better than that.

DEAD TO ME (Netflix)

So maybe there is a trend here because all of the shows are on Netflix. Nothing to do with it actually, it’s just happenstance. But Dead To Me is Christina Applegate’s show she co-stars with Linda Cardellina. Quick synopsis: Jen (Applegate) has husband that jogs, said jogger dies in a hit-and-run incident involving Judy (Cardellina), who befriends Jen and attempts to atone for the accident without her knowing. Jen finds out and the two have a fallout after she finds out the truth though. This one here is a dark comedy for the masses. Jen deals with a lot of grief and Applegate does an amazing job at allowing all her emotions to surface. The best thing about Jen’s character is how she relaxes: listening to death metal. After Jen kills Judy’s husband in a moment of passion, the women once again become bonded at the hip.

If Dead To Me had any other actor as the lead, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. I for one know that Applegate has a great range and can be fueled by cynicism and sarcasm. This role was meant for her. Season 2 starts off where Season 1 left off, but now the police are attempting to locate Judy’s missing husband Steve, played by James Marsden ( Sonic The Hedgehog, X-Men 2000-2014) who also portrays his own twin brother Ben. There are a number of twists here and the characters seem to develop naturally. The supporting cast adds a lot of great touches throughout the show as the police always seems to draw in closer to arresting someone but never do. Both Jen and Judy are both forgiving of one another and the friendship, which is odd because they’re both polar opposites to one another, is believable. Obviously, I’m looking forward to the next season while I social distance from everyone, but no date has been offered yet.