It’s a quick one this time. One crime show, one documentary, two articles and a podcast. Should keep you busy for a couple of weeks.
If you’ve got anything you think I should see or read, please send it my way on the Twitter https://twitter.com/NasriAtallah
Vox recently referred to this show on Sundance TV as “one of TV’s best-kept secrets” and I agree. It is woefully underrated, and I’m happy I came across it by chance while flicking through Amazon Prime’s video offering. The show is based on a series of crime novels written by Joe Lansdale, set in late 1980s East Texas. Each season adapts a new novel in which best buds Hap (James Purefoy, who you might know from Rome or Altered Carbon) and Leonard (Michael K. Williams, who you definitely know from The Wire) unpack the darker side of America: seedy deals gone wrong, Vietnam War hangovers, and racial tension. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but the chemistry between the leads is enough to keep you going, and the swampy mysticism of East Texas is just perfect. The third season is a couple of episodes in.
Watching the state of American policing from abroad is a bit bewildering, and it can be hard to understand just how the system got so broken. That’s why this 8-part Netflix Original following the officers who police the city of Flint, Michigan (pop. 100,000) makes for fascinating viewing. It follows individuals in one of the most understaffed (just 98 cops for the whole city) and underpaid departments in the US, on their beats and in their homes. It provides intimate portraits of cops, and some insights into their political views as individuals, and digs into the structural problems around race, as well as funding and militarization.
The antics of the Internet Research Agency are now common knowledge and feature in panicked accounts of the shifting theatre of global warfare all over the media. But the manipulation and weaponization of social media was spearheaded by a different group altogether, ISIS. This short piece in Wired gives a great insight into ‘media hacking’.
I’m a sucker for a pop culture podcast, and recently almost had a heart attack when someone on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour took a dig at someone from Slate’s Culture Gabfest. I realize that getting palpitations when your favourite podcasts collide is a particularly sad form of pop culture nerdom, but anyway what I’m saying is, I love these things. And Unpopped from the BBC (which seems to be a standalone podcast and part of a new strategy by the Beeb to move away from The Archers) is welcome addition to my podcast diet. It takes an in-depth panel-driven look into a pop culture phenomenon (so far: drag queen culture, David Lynch, the Spice Girls and Tomb Raider) which is essentially the opposite of every half-baked Twitter hot-take you’ve ever read. Host Hayley Campbell is excellent (she’s also an excellent writer and a hilarious Twiterrer)
It’s been 10 years since the last episode of The Wire aired, and since one dose of Michael K. Williams wasn’t enough for this Bullet List, here’s an excellent oral history of how one of the most iconic characters in TV history came about. Omar comin’!