Technology Talk


How Does Hulu’s Release of “The Handmaid’s Tale” Compare to the Binging Experience?

When Hulu released “The Handmaid’s Tale” on April 26, it took a different approach than the one now popularized by Netflix, which typically releases all episodes of a series at once in order to encourage binging. In contrast, Hulu only released the first three episodes on April 26, and is now releasing each of the following seven episodes on a weekly basis.

In short, you’re not going to be able to watch “The Handmaid’s Tale” all at once. Watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” will be a two-month experience, not a two-day experience. There are several important implications that this strategy has – both for Hulu and for TV viewers.

#1: It turns “The Handmaid’s Tale” into a shared viewing experience

If you think about the classic binging experience, it’s one that is typically a very solo experience. You may binge-watch with someone else in your household (such as a  spouse), but chances are, you’re watching the series at a different point in time than each of your friends. That makes it much more difficult to “compare notes” while the series is running. You can’t just go to work or school on a Monday after binging on a new Netflix series over the weekend and expect to find someone to discuss the show with.

Now compare that to the Hulu experience for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Here, a new episode is coming out every Wednesday. That means you know for sure that people will be talking about the show Thursday morning. If you don’t watch the show on Wednesday night, you will be missing out. And, in today’s digital world, there’s nothing worse than the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

This is a concept that Elisabeth Moss, who plays the handmaid Offred in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” pointed out in an interview with Ad Week. According to Moss, there is definite value in being able to have the prototypical “water cooler conversation” the next day. From her perspective, that’s what helped make “Mad Men” (her previous TV series) so successful – people tuned in each week to see what was happening with Don Draper and the advertising execs of Madison Avenue, and then talked about it all throughout the week.

#2: It helps to signal what is “must-watch” TV

If you think about much of the content in Netflix’s movie and show catalog, it’s relatively old material. You’re not getting recent-release Hollywood movies and brand new TV shows. Therefore, none of it is really “must-watch TV.” While some of Netflix’s original programming – such as “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black” has established a certain reputation for quality  – nothing on Netflix is really content you have to watch TODAY or TONIGHT – you can watch whenever you want.

By changing the release schedule so that only one new episode comes out each week, Hulu is signaling to viewers that this show is must-watch TV. What makes this argument so particularly compelling for “The Handmaid’s Tale” is that the events taking place in the show – the rise of a totalitarian, post-modern United States – seems to be strangely foreshadowing or commenting on events already underway in the new post-Obama United States.

In other words, events that take place in the show each week seem to matter. They acquire a much higher importance, and are worthy of being talked about, if only from a speculative political and socio-economic perspective. The show has been such a hit for Hulu that women are now wearing red handmaid-like robes to political rallies. They are a symbol of the need for equal rights for women and a woman’s right to choice. That ties in precisely to one of the major plot lines of the Hulu show – that only a handful of fertile women exist, and they must subjugate their own freedoms and rights to the needs of society.


#3: It differentiates Hulu from Netflix by highlighting live streaming TV

In the minds of most streaming video fans, Hulu is all about TV, and Netflix is all about movies. If you want the best new TV shows, you sign up for Hulu. And if you want the best archive of films, you sign up for Netflix. Thus, it is in Hulu’s interest to make sure that every new series that it releases helps to confirm this distinction between TV and movies. Hulu needs to become the un-Netflix..

And, what makes things really interesting is how Hulu has used the unique release timing to set up a new product launch. On May 3 – the first week that “The Handmaid’s Tale” reverted to a weekly release schedule – Hulu also announced the launch of “Hulu With Live TV” for $39.99. Thus, it’s possible to think of “The Handmaid’s Tale” as a clever way to up-sell fans from the typical Hulu experience (at less than $10 per month) to a more premium “live TV” experience. And “The Handmaid’s Tale” becomes important proof of why it’s necessary to get live streaming TV.

#4: It makes it easier for fans to re-read the original book

Most people may know that “The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book of the same name. But how many people have actually read that book? That’s where the Hulu release schedule is so genius – it gives viewers enough of a flavor of the dystopian, totalitarian milieu described in the book with the first 3 episodes, and then gives viewers plenty of time to read (or re-read) the original book to really get a much more intense experience.

This, ultimately, makes it easier to hook viewers. How many times have you read a review of a Netflix original series, only to have the review say something like, “the series really only started to hit its stride in Episode 5.” But how many people are willing to give a show that much of a chance? With “The Handmaid’s Tale,” you don’t have the problem. People will be fully vested in the show.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to disagree with Elisabeth Moss when she says, “We should still make sure that there are a few shows that you can watch week by week.” And, without a question, “The Handmaid’s Tale’ is one of those shows. It’s compelling television that has an important story to tell. And that story just gets better and better with each passing week.


What to expect from Hulu + Yahoo

Netflix is currently the biggest streaming service in the market with around 83 million subscribers. That is an intimidating number and its competitors are gearing up to give Netflix a fight for its top slot: the recent partnership between Yahoo and Hulu is a step in this direction. It is clear that both Yahoo and Hulu have decided to take on Netflix together, as both of them have media behemoths backing them. While Verizon has acquired Yahoo’s core business for $4.83 billion, Hulu was started by media barons, and Time Warner has also bought a 10% stake in Hulu for $583 million recently. Now, in light of these recent events, what can a streaming service subscriber like you expect from this new team?

Yahoo and Hulu have recently floated their own free streaming service called Yahoo View. All the content that is currently available with the free Hulu subscription will now be available on Yahoo View. Yahoo View will predominantly focus on offering TV show episodes to its subscribers, but they will also be able to watch a variety of videos and content from Tumblr on this streaming service. In fact, Yahoo View is the only service at the moment that offers access to both movies as well as television shows available on Hulu.

This leads to the next obvious question – if all the content from Hulu is available on Yahoo Live, will that not make Hulu redundant? The simple answer is – Yes. And this is the reason why Hulu is pulling the plug on its free streaming service. Subscribers will soon be left with only the premium Hulu Plus services — they can either go for the $7.99 monthly plan with limited commercials or the no commercial plan of $11.99 per month. The management at Hulu thinks that the company has always tried to offer richer and more personalized content to their subscribers, and over the years, the free service has become very limited, which is not something Hulu believes in offering to its customers.


So, how will this move impact the current lot of subscribers? The ardent Hulu fans, who watch TV shows regularly on the free Hulu plan, may understandably not welcome this move for obvious reasons. But, for a casual viewer, this change of plans will not really make much of a difference. Hulu does not really offer a great variety with its free subscription. There are only a limited number of television shows like South Park, America’s Got Talent, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and a few more, available with the free version. The five latest episodes of these shows are what you can enjoy on Hulu now. These are also only available for a week after they are aired on live television. So, it’s quite apparent that taking the free Hulu service will not really have any big impact on most of the subscribers, because they weren’t enjoying any kind of exclusive programming anyway. The die-hard fans of the service should also not feel abandoned, because Yahoo View will be offering all the content that was previously available on Hulu for free as well.

Yahoo and Hulu are pushing to make Yahoo View a sort of ultimate destination for cord-cutters to come to get their TV fix. Apart from the free Hulu shows, it will also feature a lot of ad-supported popular television shows. Both the companies are trying to create a brand in the market and they want people to identify Yahoo View as the television of the internet.


It appears that Tumblr will help them get the word out. The social media platform boasts of 550 million users a month and over 280 million blogs, and it was acquired by Yahoo for a whopping $1.1 billion in 2013. Yahoo is definitely going to encourage people to share their favorite shows and other offerings on their blogs. Netflix, on the other hand, does not have such a huge social media tool in its arsenal.

So, as a cord-cutter, you should be happy that another streaming service is entering the market. The big investors behind the service will ensure that you get a lot of great content to watch, mostly for free. As for Hulu, it will now focus more on the 12 million paid subscribers that it has. You can expect it to put all of its energies on increasing that number by way of more original programming and a bigger content library. As a consumer, you will certainly be a winner.

How Orange is the New Black Continues to Revolutionize TV (Spoiler Alert)

Every season of Netflix’s most popular original series starts a buzz across the internet. This season is no different. Orange is the New Black pushes the limit like never before in Season 4, which went live on Netflix on June 17.

orange is the new black netflix

OITNB premiered on Netflix in summer 2013, and off the bat, began to address topics that weren’t typically portrayed in popular media, including race relations for women of color, humanizing prison culture, and developing LGBTQ relationships. The show first focuses on new inmate Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and her experiences entering Litchfield Penitentiary in upstate New York. The audience sees Schilling’s character develop (perhaps for the worst) and the show also begins to delve into the lives of the other inmates at Litchfield (who are by far more interesting than Piper). OTINB is based on a memoir called “Orange is the New Black: My Year In A Women’s Prison” written by Piper Kerman, but the show is insanely more popular than the book.

But why does a show about prisoners continue to receive stellar ratings and an immense following on social media? Like with any TV show, audience members are emotionally invested in these characters. Creator Jenji Kohan and show writers love pushing the bar and writing up ridiculous situations to enhance the shock value of the plot. Addressing social issues also spurs conversation topics on social media after everyone has finished binging each 13-episode season in one day. The rate of prison violence and alienation against transgender women of color is addressed through the storyline of Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox). The Black Lives Matter movement also makes an appearance in season 4, in addition to a white supremacist group of prisoners who combat the BLM supporters. Finally, the unnecessary death of the beloved inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) caused a ruckus from fans.

orange is the new black laverne cox

Besides the emotional attachment viewers have, Netflix does an excellent job of marketing OITNB. Months before each season premieres, Netflix plasters Schilling’s face in a banner on their home page. It’s impossible to avoid Piper Chapman and the other inmates when you’re just trying to binge The Office for the seventh time. Netflix includes videos and previews of the show before it premieres, and then features a countdown on its home page until the new season begins to stream. And since Netflix is practically a household appliance at this point, it’s impossible to avoid the on-site advertising. Netflix plants the OITNB trailers in other areas of the web too, and fans are eager to share the advertisements on their social media platforms with an excited message to accompany it. Even people who don’t watch the show seem to have some knowledge of it, considering the vast amount of fans who take to social media to discuss it (similar to Game of Thrones).

orange is the new black red

The bewildering success of OITNB also makes way for streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu to become successful in actually producing media content, rather than just streaming it. These competitors are giving cable networks a run for their money, especially since Netflix doesn’t have the FCC guidelines that cable networks like FX or TNT do.  They can produce more “risqué” content and have no consequences, except maybe from the fans of these shows or movies. More and more, Netflix and Hulu are releasing original entertainment and audiences are eating them up, just like OITNB, House of Cards, and Daredevil. Even comedians like Aziz Ansari and John Mulaney are collaborating with streaming services like Netflix to release their own comedy specials via that platform. What does this mean for cable television, or even premium networks like HBO and SHOWTIME? They better step their game up, because OITNB is living proof that streaming services are beginning to take over.

orange is the new black prisoners

Limitless – New CBS TV Show

Limitless is a new crime drama produced by CBS. It’s based on the movie of the same name which starred Bradley Cooper as a down on his luck writer who discovers a drug which enhances his intelligence, and also sends him on a conspiratorial quest to discover the origins of the drug. The film in turn is based on the novel “The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn.

limitless-tv-seriesThe Television show Limitless is produced by CBS, and stars Jake McDorman, Jennifer Carpenter, Hill Harper and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantantonio. Bradley Cooper also appears in a recurring role, and is an executive producer of the show. With the latest television and Internet technology from Time Warner Cable Internet Service you can watch all the previous and future episodes online or with the TWC TV service.


The protagonist of the series, Brian Finch (played by Jake McDorman) accidentally stumbles upon a drug called NZT-48, which enhances the neural capacity of the brain, allowing for enhanced learning as well as perfect memory and recall. The drug is not without severe side effects, however; it tends to kill the user within a short period of time. For reasons revealed in the show, Brian Finch is immune to the dangers of NZT-48, and for this reason the FBI chooses to work with him instead of arresting him. This is done in order to study him. In return for his co-operation, Finch is given a job at the FBI and uses the drug to solve hard-to-prove cases for the FBI in return for a steady supply of NZT-48.


limitless-tv-showLimitless has been produced by K/O Paper Products, Action This Day!, Relativity Television and CBS Television Studios. The distribution company for the network, CBS Television Distribution, distributes the show.  The executive producers for the show are Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley, Tom Forman, Heather Kadin, Marc Webb, Craig Sweeny, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

Limitless is filmed on location in New York City. The running time for each episode is between forty three and forty five minutes. After the success of the pilot and initial episodes, the show has been commissioned for a full series of twenty-two episodes. Changes to the direction have occurred throughout, as the formula for the show has been tweaked. For instance, where the pilot was a dark, crime drama styled show, throughout the ten episodes of the series so far, elements of comedy have been introduced, giving the show a lighter feel more akin to a comedy-drama than a crime drama.


Jake McDorman plays the role of Brian Finch.

Jennifer Carpenter plays the role of FBI agent Rebecca Harris.

Hill Harper plays the role of FBI agent Spelman Boyle.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio plays the role of FBI special agent Nasreen “Naz” Pouran.

Bradley Cooper plays the role of U.S. Senator Eddie Morra, the original protagonist.

Ron Rifkin plays the role of Dennis Finch, Brian’s father.

Blair Brown plays the role of Marie Finch, Brian’s mother.

Sipiwe Moyo plays the role of Morra’s nurse Sipiwe.

Tom Degnan plays the role of FBI Agent “Ike.”

Michael James Shaw plays the role of FBI Agent “Mike.”

Desmond Harrington plays the role of FBI Agent Casey Rooks.

Colin Salmon plays the role of Mr. Sands


If You Aren’t Watching Bates Motel, You are Snoozing

Earlier this year, A&E announced that they renewed their horror drama series Bates Motel for a fourth–and fifth!–season, which is projected to air in 2016 and 2017. This decision made Bates Motel the longest-running original drama to air on A&E in the history of the network. Fans of the show were not surprised by the renewal, nor were most TV fans who have kept up with the reception of Bates Motel by both audiences and critics throughout its three year run (so far).

The premise of the series is fairly simple: it is a prequel to the hit 1960 horror film, Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock; although there is one distinct difference: the film, which was based on a novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, is set in 1960 while the prequel sets events in contemporary times.

The show stars Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates. Each season explores the growing darkness in both Norman and Norma, who are anything but (excuse the pun) normal. The idea behind the series is to give viewers a glimpse of what happened before the infamous events of the Psycho film and novel: how did Norman Bates become the Norman Bates we know and fear in the Hitchcock film?

In addition to Highmore and Farmiga, who have both earned critical praise and even awards for their performances in the series, the show stars: Max Theirot as Dylan Massatt, an estranged son of Norma who does not appear in the film or the book; Olivia Cooke as Emma Decody, Norman’s best friend who suffers from an illness that ultimately makes Norman fiercely protective of her; Nicola Peltz as Bradley Martin, a classmate of Norman who has a tumultuous relationship with him; Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Alex Romero, the sheriff of the small town Norma and Norman live in; as well as Kenny Johnson as Caleb Calhoun, Norma’s older brother who knows more about Norman’s psyche than even his own mother.

Bates Motel has a lot to offer viewers, whether they are huge fans of the original Psycho film or book or are simply looking for an interesting drama with a scary spin. If you aren’t yet watching the show, you should really catch up—still need convincing? Let’s take a closer look at some of the best reasons you need to be watching Bates Motel.

Freddie Highmore gives a terrific performance

norman bates

Most people will remember Freddie Highmore in far more innocent performances: he is best known for starring as Charlie Bucket in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as his role in Finding Neverland, a film about the real-life ‘Peter Pan’ author, J.M. Barrie.

Here, Highmore’s role is far more complex—and far more sinister. Highmore gives a terrific performance as the fragile, conflicted and ultimately dangerous Norman Bates, who struggles to come to terms with his dark deeds and conflicting emotions. Highmore has been nominated for numerous awards due to his performance in the show—and each nomination is well deserved.

Vera Farmiga is fantastic as well

bates motel

If there is one actor in the show who can match Freddie Highmore’s performance, it’s Vera Farmiga, who stars as Norman’s mother, Norma. Vera Farmiga’s performance has been so critically recognized that she was even nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance as Norma Bates. Farmiga and Highmore have the perfect chemistry together—which is definitely necessary for the bizarre, inappropriate, and ultimately destructive relationship that the two share. Fans of the film will delight in seeing Vera Farmiga’s interpretation of the younger, but still quite mad, Norma Bates; who must struggle with her own demons while recognizing that her son has darker ones that she could have ever imagined.

It fits perfectly with the Hitchcock film

norma bates mom extraordinaire

Bates Motel isn’t a replacement for the Psycho film, or the book for that matter, nor are they technically considered a “canon” prequel to either version of Psycho. However, Bates Motel plays plenty of homage to the original story and the result is a prequel series that fits perfectly in with the tone, madness and sense of dread that Psycho brought (and still brings!) to the table.

If you’re a fan of the Hitchcock film, you won’t be disappointed by Bates Motel—in fact, you’ll probably get hooked!

The seasons aren’t too long

bates motel kissing

Each season of the show is 10 episodes long, which is perfect for this type of series—it doesn’t introduce a bunch of filler or pointless storylines or characters that go nowhere just to pad out 22 episodes. The ten episode format is perfect for portraying the slow decline and madness of Norma and Norman Bates. And it makes it easier to catch up if you haven’t yet started watching the show!

It’s a bit retro


Some fans were disappointed to learn that the show would not be set in the 1960s, but in the contemporary era. However, the show does maintain a somewhat retro vibe, especially when it comes to Norma and Norman. Both characters dress in a somewhat vintage style, and Norman even dabbles in retro hobbies like listening to record players.

The town is creepy on its own

bates motel norman confusion about sex

Most shows would have set Bates Motel in a quiet, charming town that becomes uprooted by the violent actions of the troubled Norman Bates. Bates Motel, however, doesn’t go with that clichéd route: instead, the seemingly small, innocent town that Norma and Norman move into has its own dark, troubled secrets. The town is in a way a metaphor for Norman’s own psyche: on the surface it appears sweet, charming and friendly, but there is something rippling underneath that façade that bubbles to the surface every so often. This unique take on a “small town” makes the show doubly interesting to watch, and helps keeps viewers on their toes, since they never know what might happen in the town next. When you sign up with Charter Cable TV you have the security of knowing you will never miss any episodes.


Let’s Pick at American Pickers: Real Or Scripted?

Since its premiere in the summer of 2010, American Pickers has become one of the most popular shows to air on the History Channel—and one of the most popular antique and collectible based shows on television. The premise of the show is fairly simple: the show’s two hosts, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, have a resale shop where they sell various antiques and collectibles that they purchase during “picks.” The “picks” are outings where the pair visit various locations—which include private homes, antique shops, garage sales, and more—and buy items in order to resell them at their shop. In addition to the two hosts, the show frequently features their friend and co-worker Danielle, who is the coordinating assistant for the shop.

American Pickers is just one of many “resale” shows to crop up in the last several years. Shows such as Storage Wars, Thrift Hunters, and of course American Pickers, all seem to follow a similar formula: depict the host or hosts finding items to sell; they occasionally find very rare and collectible pieces as well as the occasional fake or disappointing item to add some drama into the mix.


But just how much of the show is real? American Pickers is a reality show, after all, and numerous exposes on reality TV have shown that producers aren’t afraid to fake everything from drama to storylines and even personalities. Does American Pickers fall under “too good to be true” TV? Let’s take a closer look at some of the aspects of American Pickers that have some reality TV watchdogs looking for the man behind the curtain.

Danielle, Frank and Antiques Archeology

Danielle, who is the ‘smiling face’ behind the desk at the main Antique Archeology store, is a longtime friend of store owner Mike Wolfe. The show doesn’t hide their friendship, but it does muddle the details of when exactly Danielle began working at the store. Danielle did not work at the shop until after The History Channel gave Wolfe the greenlight for the show. Some skeptics have wondered if Danielle even does any work around the shop, since almost all of the footage of Danielle in the shop shows her sitting behind a desk answering or making calls on the phone.

roy williams on american pickers

Likewise, Frank was not Mike’s business partner until after the show was greenlit by The History Channel; before that, he was a fire inspector who sometimes sold antiques and hobby items on the side. They were not longtime “picker friends” who owned the shop together, as the show suggests. Instead, Frank was brought on board as part of the sales pitch, likely since having two hosts with two different personalities makes for more engaging and interesting television.

When Producers Pick

In real life, you could easily stop at an antique store or even a private home (with the owner’s permission, of course!) to “pick” items for your shop. On reality TV, this simple act is more complicated than the show would have people believe. The show depicts the “pickers” learning about interesting ‘pick’ locations from Danielle or other sources, and then going to those locations unannounced in order to look for some sellable items. But there is something that the show does not depict: the producers visiting each location first.

In order for the show to film at any location, the show’s production team must get written consent from the owner and anyone who may be filmed at the location for the show. In other words, no, Frank and Mike don’t just pop by a random location unannounced.

10 cent sodas

The producers also reserve the right to look through each location for items that may be interesting to the show’s hosts. It is unknown whether or not the producers plant items—as the producers from the A&E show Storage Wars have been accused of—but it is very probable that they make sure each location has enough items that Frank and Mike would buy on the show before deciding to include the spot on the program.

High Hopes—and Estimates

Most of the antiques and other finds that Frank and Mike purchase on the show are given an estimate which would make for a pretty valuable return, sometimes as much as more than 200% or more of what they paid! The show also makes it seem like it’s fairly easy for someone with knowledge of antiques to find items for a cheap price that they can turn around and sell for big bucks.

The reality, however, is that many of the items featured on the show simply do not have the resale value that American Pickers would have viewers believe. And, as just about anyone who does make a living selling antiques without the benefit of a TV show, it is much harder than it looks.

american pickers

For example: One of the staple purchases on the show is vintage or antique advertisement signs, usually made from tin. There is a market for these signs, but almost all of them do not have exceptional value unless they are in great condition—which means bright colors and no bends, indents, or other damage. Yet the signs purchased on the show are frequently damaged with missing paint, scratches, bent corners, and are generally in poor to fair condition. One particular sign from the show’s third season was purchased for $250, despite having very obvious damage, and was estimated to sell for $500—yet secondary market values for those types of signs in 2013 did not go above $400 for pristine signs, much less ones with such obvious damage.

The Verdict

American Pickers, like any reality TV show, has elements which are staged by the show’s creative team, producers, and the hosts themselves. The extent of scripted elements on the show is not exactly known; however, we can ascertain that Frank and Danielle’s involvement in the shop was added just for the show, producers definitely scope out locations well before the pickers arrive, and the prices of items featured on the show aren’t always realistic.

Things You Didn’t Know About The HBO Vice Series



Vice News is a documentary, television series created and hosted by Shane Smith of Vice magazine. Like the magazine, which focuses on the exploration of arts, culture and various other news topics, the documentary has a similar role in its creation. The show is executively produced by Bill Maher, Shane Smith and Eddy Moretti. The show’s consultant is CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

Using of an immersionist style of documentary filmmaking, Vice create an entirely new experience for watching documentaries. The show originally debuted in April 2015, and has since been renewed for an additional two seasons by HBO. The third season began on March 6th of this year. The fourth season is set to begin in 2016, likely in April.


The show has received a mixture of positive and negative reviews, mostly due to its unique mixture of journalism and television entertainment. Rolling Stone magazine wrote that “It feels a little like your buddy from the bar just happened to be wandering through eastern Afghanistan with a camera crew.”

During its first season, the hosts of Vice were criticized for using their knee-jerk stunts to elicit a larger fan base. Their credibility was drawn into question, as was their style and brand of journalism. Their exploitation of the North Koreans was especially criticized, as was their stunt with sending Dennis Rodman as an American ambassador overseas.

Initially, Vice brushed off these criticisms, but seemed to take them to heart if their season two premiered episodes were anything to go by, focusing more on the journalistic approach than the shock-and-awe factors from the previous season. Vice vowed to remain true to their journalistic roots and produce material of more quality substance than earlier.

Instead of season one’s collection of humorous stunts, season two opening with executive producer Shane Smith investigating the billions of taxpayer dollars that America has thrown at the reconstruction of the war-ravaged Afghanistan.  Vice has revamped their image and doubled their efforts to bring actual news to their audiences, and not just glamorous pictures and funny stories.

It was only three years ago that Vice were in a verbal confrontation with The New York Times, who called out Vice and company for being sensationalist journalists at best. David Carr had had enough when the guys from Vice—literal nobodies at the time—said their small venture into journalism was better at uncovering stories than anything anyone else had done. In that moment of arrogance, the boys from Vice were put into their places and shown what real journalism is. But since then, Vice has grown up some, becoming a more reputable crew of journalists and reporters.

With the continuous growth of the show, and the crewmembers taking on a more serious approach to journalism than before, many who initially supported Vice are questioning its credibility as hipster journalists. Despite their change towards a more serious, less prankster approach towards reporting serious topics across the globe, Vice and company have not lost the essence of what originally made them hipster journalists. In their daily professional careers, there’s still off-the-handle remarks, the occasional swear while on air, and most definitely the old and familiar brutal honesty of the hosts. Click right here to find more more home entertainment opportunities with AT&T U-verse Internet Plans.

Why Was Season 5, Episode 5 of the Walking Dead Almost Pulled From the Air?

Comic-Con Trailer: The Walking Dead: Season 5 (Screengrab)

Michael Cudlitz, the actor who plays Abraham in The Walking Dead, revealed on Twitter that the show’s fifth episode–aka the episode where viewers decided they hated Eugene–was almost pulled from the air by the FCC. This may not come as a surprise to regular viewers of the Walking Dead—even diehard fans of the show have been surprised at the amount of violence and gore that the show has been allowed to air. But fans might also notice that the episode was not nearly as violent or gory as previous installments. Why, then, was the fifth episode of season five almost pulled from the airwaves?

There are two likely culprits which may have led the censors to object to the episode. The first is a scene where Abraham beats several men to death with his own two hands—and a can of beans. His family flees after the incident and Abraham later found them lying dead in the grass. The scene showed an explicit shot of Abraham’s dead and partially eaten wife—and his two dead and, once again partially eaten, children. A shot of two dead children may not have set well with the censors, although it wouldn’t be the first time that the show depicted dead children.


The more likely culprit is something that may have fans rolling their eyes: a scene between Abraham and Rosita where the couple is obviously engaging in intercourse while Eugene watches from behind a bookshelf. The scene wasn’t particularly explicit, but considering the fact that television censors are often far more considered about nudity or implied nudity than they are gratuitous violence, it would not be surprising if the objectionable content was not violence—but an implied and relatively tame scene depicting two consenting adults together.

This particular theory is bolstered by the fact that the AMC network’s social media accounts have been contacted by numerous parents complaining about the sex scene in the current season’s fifth episode; these same parents, however, had no objections to the gratuitous violence in the show, nor did they apparently pay attention to AMC’s warnings about adult content prior to each return from a commercial break.


Unfortunately, this would not be the first time that parents—and television censors—objected to sexual content while ignoring gratuitous and extreme violence.

Thrilled that censors didn’t pull epsiode 5 from the airways? You need this hoodie in your closet.


The ‘Magic’ Origins of Darren Criss

To most people, Darren Criss is best known as one of the breakout stars from the hit TV show Glee  His character, Blaine, began his fictional life as a supporting and temporary side character meant to help the character of Kurt deal with coming out and moving to a new school. The popularity of Criss’s character, however, and his relationship with Kurt quickly led to the role becoming a full-time staple of the show. And with that, of course, came more exposure for Blaine’s actor—Darren Criss.
But Darren Criss was not always a popular television actor who snags roles on Broadway and sings with some of the most popular singers in the world. The origins of Darren Criss are, like so many other actors before him, rather humble.
Criss began performing at an early age and took violin lessons for 15 years. When he was just 10 years old, he was accepted into the American Conservatory Theater Young Conservatory Program, where he studied acting and continued to study and play musical instruments.  He composed his first song when he was only 15 years old.
After high school, Criss attended the University of Michigan and graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in theater performance and a minor in musicology and the Italian language.
It was in 2009 that Criss became a YouTube sensation. Along with various friends from the University of Michigan  Criss helped write and starred in an unofficial musical parody of Harry Potter. The show, titled A Very Potter Musical, was performed for University of Michigan Students. The show was recorded by the student-based theater company and put on YouTube for posterity. The show quickly became an internet sensation, reaching over a million hits in a matter of days, and its popularity led to the forming of “Starkid Productions,” of which Criss was at the helm. Criss, who played Harry Potter in the parody musical, quickly gained a fan base that arguably led to him being considered for the role of Blaine on Glee.


Criss went on to star in two more Harry Potter musicals from the Starkid Production company  including the fully staged A Very Potter Sequel in 2010 and the last Harry Potter musical for the company, A Very Potter Senior Year, which premiered as a staged reading due to the schedules of the actors in 2012.

The Walking Dead-Carrying the Zombie Torch

It all started in 1968, when George Romero shocked audiences and fans all around the world with the Zombie film. Night of the Living Dead, in which the word zombie is never uttered, set the standard and archetypes all other zombie films or media have copied since. I don’t say copied as a bad thing. It’s just difficult to imagine any zombie film (or show) to not take some kind of something from what Romero set down in that movie.

There have been ups and downs over the years but to be honest, it has never been a better time to be a zombie fan. There are more films around today then ever before; it seems everyone is making a zombie movie. Some are great, some less than great, there are parodies like Shaun of the Dead, video games, video game movies like Resident Evil (about to release the 6th film in the series in 2014) and all kinds of novels and even awesome board games that feature zombies.


Whew. So the success of The Walking Dead is no surprise. Zombies are cool and for me, they never get old. Not only do I own many of the films out there that feature zombies but I’ve also played many of the video games, including every single Resident Evil game, plus I own four separate board games with zombies as the focus. So believe me when I say I know my zombies.

With The Walking Dead, we have a show that is based on something written, in this case a series of comic books. This is always superior, as films based on novels at least have that going for them, even if they aren’t as good as the source material. With The Walking Dead, we get a sophisticated, adult drama that happens to have zombies in it.

It is a tough balancing act but the show never forgets what it is; a show about zombies and the human reaction to it. At its center, it is a show about people and because the characters have the comic book foundation from which to draw inspiration, they have a certain depth to them already out of the box.


The Walking Dead has taken up the mantle of the Zombie Story well and there is no telling how high the form can go.

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