Congratulations on recently being named of the 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture. Between running Drunk TED Talks and writing for everywhere from The A.V. Club to The Guardian, how do you manage to juggle all of your various projects?
The sad answer to this is that I have spent a lot of time transforming my body into a machine that works. I've gotten myself in the unfortunate routine of making a very long to-do list every morning and I get really agitated and frustrated with myself if I haven't done at least two-thirds of the things on it (pitching, writing, editing, doing stuff for Drunk TED Talks) by the middle of the afternoon. The slightly happier answer is that I have a pretty good emotional support system, have been writing and doing Drunk TED long enough to develop decent habits and instincts surrounding both of them, and genuinely enjoy most of my work, which makes it feel a lot less stressful than I suppose it seems. (It helps that I am, increasingly, willing to spend a lot of time alone.)
I loved your piece about the "Burning Bridges" episode of Broad City. You made a great point about how it's nice when shows are allowed to take on subjects and moods that might seem out of their wheelhouse. Are there other recent shows that have stretched in similar ways?
I think this tends to happen most frequently with comedies becoming dramatic, of which there are a few good recent examples (Archer is one I've written about a bunch, though you could also include Black-ish, which manages a very thin balance between Norman Lear-style social commentary and standard family sitcom stuff). Many of the best shows on TV are dramas that can do full-on comedy, or veer into surreality when it suits them (the best examples of this at the moment are probably Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Better Call Saul, which warp the bounds of the mundane in very different but often equally sad ways). And the iZombie season finale turned into a full-on zombie movie, which is, weirdly enough, something the show had strenuously avoided.
I keep trying to get into Brooklyn Nine-Nine based on all of your great writing around the show. To be honest, I enjoy your writing about the show more than the actual show. Are there a few key episodes that could break me in?
Hard to say! I adore the Brooklyn Nine-Nine pilot and think it's one of the best sitcom pilots of the last ten years or so, so if it didn't really do it for you, the show just might not be your bag. Having said that, I think the Halloween episodes are really good ins to the dynamic of the precinct (specifically the weird familial competitiveness between Jake and Captain Holt), and give all of the other characters good material to work with. Brooklyn Nine-Nine also divides relatively cleanly into a few categories, which I've given good samples for--solid police episodes ("Pontiac Bandit"), character-focused stories ("Full Boyle"), and just general goofiness ("The Jimmy Jab Games").
What can people expect from your reading?
Based on my mental state right now, probably unearned reflections on Elena Ferrante and largely unexamined, earnest male homosociality. But also maybe a list of ways you could engage in plausible affect theory-driven readings of Ben Affleck movies.