(Photo by Bob Mahoney/2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)Matt Bomer has piercing blue eyes, a chiseled jaw, and a Hollywood-approved all-American look. But on DC Universe’s Doom Patrol, his character, Larry Trainor (a.k.a. Negative Man) is covered head-to-toe with bandages thanks to an accident that has left him radioactive. The character is also possessed by a negative that occasionally leaves his body and wreaks havoc on his life (and can fly and pass through solid objects to boot).The dual nature of Negative Man is enhanced even further by the fact that he’s played in bandaged form by actor Matthew Zuk (and voiced by Bomer), and in flashback form by Bomer himself. It’s an essential character trait, Bomer explained to a small group of reporters following a screening of a recent Doom Patrol episode.“He s a guy who is this golden boy on the outside but inside has always felt like a monster. The great allegory of the role that Jeremy [Carver, showrunner] so brilliantly came up with is that ultimately through this accident, he becomes what he always felt he was inside. And so his journey over the course of the season is finding a dialogue with himself where he can learn to accept all the parts of himself that he felt were, on the whole, not acceptable in the past.”That includes Larry’s new backstory: He was an Air Force pilot (similar to the character’s introduction in the comics) and, as shown in the third episode, “Puppet Patrol,” married with two kids — but having an affair with one of his air force buddies (not in the comics).(Photo by Bob Mahoney/2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)“A big reason why I wanted to be a part of Doom Patrol is because I ve never really seen a gay male superhero,” Bomer said. “What I love most about the character is that even though it s a huge struggle internally for him, it s not the sole thing that defines who he is. It s such a multi-faceted character. If it had just been one stereotypical thing, I think I would have had more reservations about it, but the fact that he is this nuanced character who has so many places to grow and he has so much shadow and so much light that he doesn t even know, that s what appealed to me just as much as his sexuality.”But while Larry’s sexuality does not define him, the fact that he’s living a dual life is intrinsic to the character.“He really compartmentalized it. He really wanted his cake and to eat it too. It s really profoundly important for him to be able to keep his wife and family not only because of the primal love and need for them, but also because they secure his status in his place in the military,” he said. “But he also obviously really, really loves John — maybe the only true romantic connection he s ever had. So he wants it both.”Of course, that’s not a realization Larry could come to during his time — it’s something he’s realized during his 50 years with Chief (Timothy Dalton) and Rita Farr (April Bowlby) in Doom Manor, time he’s filled with new hobbies like gardening. He’s been able to conveniently ignore his underlying issues until the events that happen in Doom Patrol’s pilot really force him to deal with them.That self-exploration “just continues to grow over the course of the season,” Bomer explained, and will come to a head soon. “Episode 10 and 11 is where it all really starts to come to a head for him and he really starts to get in touch with who he is authentically.”Larry’s journey over the course of the season has included him “finding his voice and being able to come to terms with his sexuality, who he is, how he can help, what this being inside him is, what it represents, how it wants to communicate with him, why it wants to communicate with him. Does he want it to stick around? Does he want it to leave? Can he ever have any real control over it? Is the only way to have control over that is to ultimately, for the first time in his life, let go of control because he has been such a control freak? He s really face-to-face with his ego and all the fears and insecurities that that entails, and he has to let go and in order to supersede that and really find a purpose for his existence after all these years.”The season has also seen plenty of elements pulled from Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol run, Bomer noted, along with original creations from Carver. Episodes have explored what happened to Larry during the time between the accident that left him radioactive and when he arrived at Doom Manor.“It s just so wildly imaginative,” Bomer raved. “I just want people to see the show because I truly think — and I don t say this about every show I ve done — it s really special. And it s got an incredible creative team, an incredible production team. I think ultimately, as bizarre and wacko as it gets at times, it s got an incredible heart underneath it all and they ve really gone to painstaking links to make these characters really human and to have real darkness and light and struggle to get to where they are when we find them and where they re going to be by the end of the season.”New episodes of Doom Patrol are released every Friday on DC Universe.
Best-Reviewed TV Horror 2018It was a great year for horror in general, but particularly in the number and quality of horror series on TV. Netflix s viral hit The Haunting of Hill House, Hulu s Stephen King anthology Castle Rock, and the category winner, AMC s breathtaking survival horror series The Terror, all make for stellar examples of the genre.The order of the rank below reflects the Adjusted Score as of December 31, 2018. Scores might change over time.« Previous Category Next Category »
Is it possible that one of the year’s most scathing take-downs of cancel culture, inherent sexism, and generational inequality could be a Netflix comedy about the insular world of academia?Actress-writer Amanda Peet and Annie Julia Wyman created six-episode dark comedy The Chair, which stars Sandra Oh as Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, the newly-appointed chair of an English department at a fictional liberal arts university.(Photo by Eliza Morse / Netflix)Gifted with a desk placard that reads “F—cker in Charge of You F—cking F—cks,” Ji-Yoon is a single mom and the first woman to hold the position. She’s attempting to find a work-life balance while dealing with budget cuts, her colleagues’ complaints about the students, the students’ complaints about her colleagues, and a best friend reeling from the loss of his wife.Peet told Rotten Tomatoes that, as an actress who is turning 50 next year, “I m really interested in the idea of my own irrelevance.”But, as far as subject matter for a series, Peet said she was interested in the fact that “everyone s talking about the humanities are dead” as well as the “intergenerational tension” where “you have these young idealists and then you have middle-aged folks like me whose idealism has tempered a little bit.”An example: Holland Taylor plays Joan Hambling, a tenured professor being passively aggressively pushed out of her job. Unlike her fellow senior academics who are male, her office has been moved to a dingy corner of the gym with no WiFi. When she goes to make a Title IX complaint, she dresses down the woman doing the intake form for wearing revealing shorts to a job where she has to take in very serious stories of assault and harassment.(Photo by Eliza Morse / Netflix)“I very much identified with her outrage,” Taylor said of playing Joan. “And I’m at an age where I would. As far as the sexism early in her career, she would never have been aware of it as that. That’s the point, kind of. It all snuck up on her with this realization while a younger character — a colleague, who is 30 — is well aware of that.”The crossroads that the school’s English department finds itself in is particularly laid out in the relationship dynamic between Nana Mensah’s professor Yaz McKay and Bob Balaban’s professor Elliot Rentz. She’s a rising star — not just in the department, but in the profession as a whole — who teaches packed classes with titles like Sex and the Novel and encourages Hamilton-like interpretations of Moby Dick. His lectures echo through his empty auditorium to the few nearly comatose students who bother to show up for class. He’s also her tenure advisor.Mensah consulted with two friends from this world — one a working academic; another who dropped out of her PhD program — and says she learned just how “political” and “cutthroat” this world is inside its ivy-coated towers.When asked about finding the humor in a story that could be construed as an attack on ageism, Balaban said, “It is somewhat funny to be wedded to the past and not be able to see the future.“It can be a tragic situation or it can be a slightly funny, odd situation, which I think is the is the pleasure of this particular series.,” he said, adding that “it s wildly up-to-date and current with what s going on and cancel culture is not a very popular subject, even though it s everywhere to be seen … It’s not a boring idea. That is actually grounds for real excitement, because it pits so many people against each other.”(Photo by Eliza Morse / Netflix)An embodiment of so many of these things is English professor, Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass). A beloved professor at the university going through his own emotional turmoil, he makes the mistake of speaking off the cuff during a lecture and punctuating his rant with a Sieg Heil — definitely not the best move to do in a room full of kids with smartphones.“I don t want to give my interpretation, because I think that moment is up to a lot of interpretation in terms of what was running through his brain at that point in time,” Duplass said of the Nazi salute scene. “But I definitely think a certain dose of white male privilege is also involved.”What the story of The Chair is not meant to be is a conversation on tokenism, Oh said. Ji-Yoon got the job based on her own merits and worked hard to achieve all she has done in her career.“I don t think that that s what we re doing,” Oh said. “I think, if anything, we re examining the struggles to actually make change. And that is extremely relevant. And we re doing it in a comedic way, where you re just really going through the day-to-day life of someone who s trying to make that change.”There is no news of a second season of The Chair yet, but Mensah argued that there’s no shortage of material still to explore.“It s such a rich world with such crazy personalities,” she said. “We can turn the page on this particular chapter and keep going and keep exploring.”The Chair is now streaming on Netflix.