With ‘Ball in the Family,’ Facebook Watch Finds an Unexpected Use: Counter-Programming

In one scene from the penultimate episode of Ball In The Family, parents LaVar and Tina relish in each other’s company during a family trip to Honolulu (their three sons are off cage diving with sharks). Months before, Tina suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and without the ability to communicate, but LaVar manages to turn their down time into a rehab session. “Take your hand off there,” LaVar says to her as she reaches to balance herself against the jacuzzi wall. “You need to walk forward.” He’s clear-eyed about what must be done. If Tina is to walk without the assistance of a cane, no minute should be squandered. There is only one option: forward, to a full recovery.

The pursuit of self-actualization is a baroque endeavor on Ball In The Family, the Facebook Watch show that unfurls the lives of NBA rookie Lonzo Ball, his brothers, and their incendiary father, LaVar. The fulfillment of one’s potential stands [...]  read more

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Today’s Not a Good Day to Be George Papadopoulos on Twitter

This is the story of two George Papadopouloses. The first is a former campaign advisor for President Trump, who made a plea deal Monday in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The second is a CPA with an office near a Best Buy in Novi, Michigan. One admitted to making false statements to federal officials; the other is having a helluva day on Twitter trying to explain he’s wrapped up in the latest legal and political intrigue—in fact, he’s not even in the country.

Not Trump Advisor Papadopoulos is actually in Greece, where he was having lunch with his mother when the news about the Mueller investigation broke. Within minutes, his Twitter mentions began to fill with references to the other guy. By the time he got a good Wi-Fi connection in the small town in which he’s [...]  read more

‘Stranger Things 2’: Let’s Talk About Episode 7 (Fine, and the Other Ones Too)

(Spoiler alert: This story contains major plot points and spoilers regarding the second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things.)

If you’re like us—and if you’re reading this site, you probably are—you spent every minute this weekend that you weren’t working on your Halloween costume or playing Super Mario Odyssey binge-watching the latest installment of Stranger Things. It had more monsters, more telekinesis, and even more kids. There was even a trip to Chicago! It was … well, it was pretty good.

But was it great? Not so fast—or at least not so uninamous. Some of us loved it as much as Dustin loves pollywogs. Others saw it as a rehash of the greatest tricks and treats of the first season. But regardless how we felt, we consumed it all like a pillowcase full of candy on Halloween night. And now that WIRED writers and editors Jason Parham, Brian Raftery, Peter Rubin, and Angela Watercutter are recovering from their Stranger hangover, they’ve got a few things to say.

 [...]  read more

‘The Deuce’ Isn’t About Sex, It’s About Capitalism

The Deuce is not a sexy show. The HBO series, which just concluded its first season, examines the sex trade in 1970s New York City, but does so through the eyes of professionals—sex workers and their pimps. Their jobs may be to fulfill fantasies, but the bulk of their day-to-day grind is remarkably unsexy, bound up in logistics, routine, bureaucratic rules, and going through the motions. In short, it’s a job, and that’s how it is depicted, time after time.

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The star of the show is Eileen Merrill (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a veteran Times Square sex worker who goes by the street name Candy. Unlike the women she shares the streets with, Candy has no pimp—and neither the abuse nor the protection that comes with it. “Nobody makes money off of my pussy but me,” laughs Eileen when one of the pimps, [...]  read more

President Trump’s Data Dump Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

In a week where sexual harassment allegations against powerful men continued to come to light and the situation continues to be dire in Puerto Rico, people have been turning to old traditions to keep their spirits high: Halloween, Stranger Things, and wondering what in the world is actually going with Taylor Swift right now. Well, it’s that or wondering what in the world is happening in Spain, but that’s not entirely uplifting. And those tidbits are just the beginning. Here’s everything else the internet was talking about over the last seven days.

Coming Soon, But Not That Soon

What Happened: The first rule of show business is: Never over-promise on something you can’t deliver. Last week, the president might’ve forgotten to apply the first rule of show business.

What Really Happened: Last weekend, President Trump sent out a tweet that (probably) no one saw coming.

The announcement seemed to come out of the blue, [...]  read more

Netflix’s ‘What Happened to Monday’ Squanders a Fantastic Premise

Maggie Shen King is the author of An Excess Male, a science fiction novel that explores the future consequences of China’s one-child policy. The policy was enacted in 1979 in an attempt to curb overpopulation, and even though the country started to phase it out two years ago it led to a huge shortage of potential wives due to so many parents choosing to have sons instead of daughters.

“It sounds like dystopian fiction, but in actuality China was the one nation that had the political system and the wherewithal to enforce the policy,” King says in Episode 279 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And 40 years of this is very, very scary to think about.”

Overpopulation has been a popular theme in science fiction for decades, from the movie Soylent Green, based on the Harry Harrison novel Make Room! Make Room! [...]  read more

Netflix Is Giving ‘Stranger Things’ an After-Show—But Can It Compete with Social Media?

I don’t know how it was for your timeline, but on my Twitter feed, the week of July 18, 2016 was an odd phenomenon. A strange little show had landed on Netflix the Friday before, but it was Monday that I first noticed someone talking about it. It was subtle at first: a “have you seen this?” here; a “whoa, nostalgia trip!” there. As the days passed, the volume around Stranger Things ratcheted up considerably. Everyone, it seemed, was diving into the Stephen-King-evoking, Steven-Spielberg-honoring thriller, only to surface again on social media with an exuberance they felt compelled to pass long. It was lightning in a bottle, powered by decorative bulbs strung on a living room wall.

It was also—for Netflix, for fans—the kind of collective enjoyment that can’t be planned. It just happens. The right show (i.e. one that pushes all of Gen X’s nostalgia buttons while appealing to kids and millennials) comes at the right time (i.e. the middle of summer, when [...]  read more

*Stranger Things’* Lab to Stuff Co.: Which Evil Org Is For You?

During the first season of Stranger Things—which returns to Netflix this Friday—viewers were introduced to the Hawkins National Laboratory, a mysterious high-tech lair in which scientists conduct all sorts of top-secret mucking about with the space-time continuum. Sure, it was an effectively creepy setting—but what would it be like as a workplace, especially when compared to other sci-fi/horror institutions from TV and movies past? Herewith, our survey of the best and worst scary organizations, in case you’re in the market.

Silver Shamrock Industries, Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Organizational Mission: To create and mass-produce a line of Stonehenge-powered children’s masks that, when triggered by a maniacally catchy TV commercial, fry users’ faces on Halloween night.

Pros: Thanks to its DIY manufacturing process, top-secretive staff, and remote Northern California location, Silver Shamrock retains a bespoke vibe that will delight artisans and consumers alike. And [...]  read more

‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Review: Nintendo’s Surreal, Candy-Colored Triumph

Nintendo has always had a knack for the uncanny. Look closely at most any popular Nintendo series—past the colors and the music and the charming aesthetic—and you’ll find something strange. Kirby is a game series about an insatiable, omnivorous, amorphous pink blob with lungs strong enough to suck in trees. In the Metroid franchise, the most frightening, dangerous creatures in the entire galaxy are floating jellyfish who are allergic to the cold. And Mario, of course, is a series about an Italian plumber rampaging boots-first through a technicolor nightmare of Alice in Wonderland mushrooms and murderous turtles on the way to steal your girl.

Super Mario Odyssey, like many of Nintendo’s best games, succeeds by virtue of layering on even more of that uncanny sensibility until the whole proceeding feels like a giggling  [...]  read more

Little Simz, “Good For What”: The UK Rapper Embraces Me-First Globalization

The anatomy of a Little Simz song doesn’t offer itself up easily. On the recent “Good For What,” a whir of tough North London bristle, the rapper born Simbiatu Ajikawo contemplates early successes. “Look at young Simbi in Vogue/Look at young Simbi in Forbes,” she says in the video, merrily skating through the streets of Los Angeles. “Well someone’s gotta do it right/Someone’s gotta open doors.” As British rap has found more footing in US markets over the last handful of years, taking a bigger share in the international mainstream—partially owed to a greater cross-cultural exchange among artists themselves—Simz has come to represent how music can best travel among divergent cultures in our increasingly globalized world.

One argument, familiar to anyone privy to the nativism of Donald Trump and his ilk, contends that globalization actually dilutes local cultures. In popularizing the customs of a given community, the thinking goes, these things in [...]  read more