The Ten Biggest Pop Culture Disappointments of 2011


With the end of the year approaching, it’s time to look back on the the things that 2011 brought us. I’ll be doing some “best of” posts later, but before we can unwrap our presents under the tree, we have to count the lumps of coal in our stockings.

I’ll remember 2011 for lots of great things: the stellar third season of Parks and Recreation; the hilariously vulgar Bridesmaids; the best album of Matthew Good’s solo career, Lights of Endangered Species; the phrase “Trent Reznor, Academy Award winner” becoming unironic. But unfortunately, I’m also going to remember it for the ways in which it disappointed me. We’ll take a look at the ten biggest pop culture disappointments of 2011 after the jump. More

The Aftermath of The Killing Season Finale: Lessons We Can Learn


*steps up onto soapbox*

There are many moments when I wish I could turn back time and erase a past action. If I could, I’d go back a decade or so and refuse to buy that pair of green jeans that I thought looked stylish.1 More recently, I wish that I’d never penned this unfunny, poorly-written satirical piece about The Killing. It was written the day after the season finale had aired, and I had gotten caught up in the angry mob of pitchfork-and-torch-wielding fans who were out for blood. I’d delete the entry, but I’m honest about my mistakes, and I see no sense in covering them up. With that in mind, I’d like to apologize to my (admittedly small) readership. I wasn’t thinking clearly when I wrote that piece. Sorry.

After having a week for reflection, I suspect that there are a lot of other people who have regrets related to The Killing: AMC executives who realized that their marketing campaign was possibly misleading; TV critics who wrote reviews that focused too much on the lack of resolution in the finale and not enough on its other many missteps; and angry fans who unleashed invective-filled, misogynistic tirades about showrunner Veena Sud on comments sections all over the Web. From the vitriolic tenor of the online discussions, one would think that someone had crapped in the Internet’s collective bowl of Cheerios on Monday morning.

As for me, I haven’t spent the past week doing much reflection about The Killing. I’ve been reading, exercising, watching movies, and generally doing things that are unrelated to the heavily-criticized AMC show. But now I’m far enough removed from the drama surrounding the season finale that I can sift through the mess of press releases, interviews, reviews, editorials, and message board threads to glean some lessons that we can learn. I’ll make no attempt to synthesize them into a coherent thesis, but I hope they’re valuable nonetheless. More

The Killing Is Brilliant

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The season finale of AMC’s The Killing aired last night, and the reviews are in: critics are angry, and so are fans, based on the reactions I’ve seen in the Twitterverse. And they have every right to be. The show started out promisingly, but soon degraded into utter nonsense, like a live-action installment of Scooby Doo stretched out over 13 episodes. The show confused constant downpours with atmosphere, grief porn with characterization, and pointless red herrings with plot, all the while showing contempt for its audience’s intelligence. And if that weren’t enough, the shocking twist at the end of last night’s season finale essentially shat all over everything audiences loved about the talented Joel Kinnaman’s Detective Stephen Holder. Audiences should be angry…

…because they’re supposed to be angry. Therein lies the brilliance of The Killing. We’re supposed to be frustrated with the detectives’ incompetence. We’re supposed to hate all the characters. We’re supposed to want to smash our heads against brick walls for having watched this steaming pile of crap. Because that’s what this show was supposed to be. It was supposed to be a giant “fuck you” to its audience. By taking a bunch of brilliant actors and dropping them in the shittiest possible show, it made a bold, brilliant statement: critical response doesn’t matter; AMC’s pedigree doesn’t matter; all that matters is the fact that 2 million suckers tune in every week to get jerked around. It’s a fierce satire, attacking not only the entertainment industry for green-lighting a concept without looking at the details, but also the viewing public for being so easily manipulated into following an increasingly maddening season of television to the bitter end. Thus, when examined on a meta level, The Killing has been nothing short of brilliant.1 More

Everyone on The Killing Is Incompetent

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There are lots of legitimate complaints that could be made about AMC’s The Killing. Its characters are two-dimensional, it overuses the rain machine, it treats topics such as racial discrimination heavy-handedly, and it’s so relentlessly gloomy that it feels oppressive to watch. But its biggest sin is this: everyone on the show is a fucking moron. Television Without Pity has a new gallery showcasing the characters’ incompetence. Holder is terrible at his job. Richmond is a terrible politician. Mitch and Stan are awful parents. And Linden isn’t a good detective, mother, or fiancée. Man, these characters could really use a few life coaches. Maybe this guy can help:

Dr. Phil

Come to think of it, he’d probably just make things worse. And the last thing we need is for him to do something stupid like encouraging Stan to beat the shit out of an innocent man.

Oh, wait…

The Killing Bingo

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Have you become as frustrated with AMC’s The Killing as I have? Are you tired of the repetitiveness, the glacial pace, and the poor plotting? Then you can spice up your viewing of tonight’s episode with’s The Killing Bingo! Squares include “moody silence” and “child neglect.” Feel free to post a comment if you manage to get a BINGO with tonight’s episode. Also feel free to use the comments to voice your frustrations with this once promising but now nearly unwatchable show. (But please, no spoilers if you’ve seen the Danish version, Forbrydelsen.)

The 2010-2011 Refrigerator Rants End-of-Season Awards

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With the 2010-2011 television season more or less over and summer TV about to begin or recently having begun, it’s time to take a look back at the best that the past year brought us.

Before we dive in, I have to make one thing clear: I don’t watch most television shows, and I barely watch any cable television. I do watch a lot of television on the whole, but not nearly enough to make a fair assessment of what was truly the “best.” For that reason, the awards will be skewed towards the shows that I watch. So don’t go crying about my failure to include The Good Wife, Mad Men, or Friday Night Lights. I don’t watch those shows. With that mind, let’s get started! More

Episode Review: The Killing, S1E05, Super 8

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Bad shows that don’t do anything right are easy to dismiss. Good shows that are held back from greatness by doing a number of things poorly are harder to dismiss. Right now, The Killing belongs to the latter category, and it’s turning out to be a frustrating viewing experience. More

Episode Review: The Killing, S1E04, A Soundless Echo

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“A Soundless Echo” was a bit of a surprise. It finally put to rest a few of the problems that have been plaguing The Killing since day one, but it also exacerbated other problems that could prove to be even more irritating than the ones it solved. More

Episode Review: The Killing, S1E03, El Diablo

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There are elements of The Killing that I like, and there are elements of The Killing that I don’t like. After this episode, it became clear that those elements are likely to stay for the remainder of the season, so my enjoyment of each episode will be contingent on the balance of elements I like versus those I don’t like. “El Diablo” tipped the balance in favour of the elements I like. More

Episode Review: The Killing, S1E01, Pilot & S1E02, The Cage

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The Killing is a good show. It’s not stellar, brilliant, gripping, or groundbreaking. It’s just a good show. I’m not saying this to provide a counterpoint to the near-universal critical acclaim that this show has received. The Killing has the potential to be great, but it also has the potential to spiral into mediocrity, and Sunday’s premiere left me feeling unsure about the direction in which the series was heading, although I’m tilting towards the former. More