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My Top 10 TV Shows of 2016

Because it’s never too late for needless list-making, my Top 10 TV Shows of 2016!



First of all, yes, I know: it’s almost the end of February 2017. We’re already two months into 2017, so it’s pretty damn late to do an “end-of-the-year wrap-up” list. And, to that, I say…you are completely right, reader. But look, I’ll be entirely honest: I don’t do these lists for you. I do them for myself, so that years from now, I have a “record” of sorts about what the year in pop culture really was for me. So yeah, maybe this isn’t exactly timely. But I feel obliged to do it anyway and, if you’re reading this, I hope you get some type of value out of this very untimely list. And, c’mon, cut me some slack here — I still beat the Oscars to the punch, so doesn’t that count for something?

And it wasn’t like I spent the last few months just twiddling my thumbs — the reason I didn’t write out my Top 10’s of the year sooner was because I had so much stuff I had to catch up on first. The way I do Top 10’s isn’t “the best things I saw in the last 365 days” — if it was, most of the best things in 2016 would make my 2017 list. Every year I spend my January going through the quality things I missed out on in the year, all in an effort to make it as through a list as I can.

Which of course is still an impossibility: I’m sure I’ll end up seeing something months from now that I think was good enough to retroactively make my list. But hey, two months into the new year is already late enough: I couldn’t wait until June now, could I? In any case, here it finally is: my Top 10’s of 2016, beginning with my favorite TV shows of 2016. Kicking off the list at number 10 is…

10. Baskets

Though he’s gained international fame from his breakout role in The Hangover, Zack Galifanakis never seemed destined to become a “mainstream” comedy star. His sensibilities in his early years was always little oft-kilter, and it quickly became clear that he couldn’t completely shed off that persona while still making worthwhile entertainment (see: Due Date. Except, no, you shouldn’t.) But, thankfully, Galifanakis didn’t have to with Baskets, his FX tragicomedy created by him, Louis C.K., and Jonathan Krisel.

No, Baskets is Galifanakis at his best, a mismatch of awkward comedy and head-scratching surrealism, with a healthy dose of slapstick thrown on top. But what truly made Baskets one of the most delightful shows of 2016 was how much Galifanakis (and I imagine Louis C.K.) committed to the tragedy of the whole thing — to put it bluntly, Baskets is sad. REALLY fucking sad. It’s a depressing ode to the futility of dreaming, and the utter disappointment of a life unfulfilled. The fact that it’s also REALLY damn funny (and through the lens of primary director Krisel, fucking beautiful) is what makes Baskets unlike anything else on television. It truly lets Galifankis’ freak flag fly, and thank god for that. We don’t need more Keeping Up With The Jones’ from him.

9. Orange is the New Black

I’ll be honest: when a show starts to make a down-slide mid-way through its run, I’m quick to kind of shrug it off. I’ll keep watching, sure, but my expectations become substantially lower, and the series goes from “must-watch” territory to “catch it whenever you have nothing else to do.” And that’s what happened with Orange is the New Black Season 3, a still solid season of TV, but lacking the momentum and power that made the first two seasons so great. When that season came to a close, I figured the shows “glory days” were done.

But then Season 4 came, and I take it all back — Orange is the New Black is truly better than ever. Replacing the aimlessness of Season 3, Season 4 kicked the show into high gear, focusing heavily on the privatization and corruption of the prison system that puts all over our beloved characters in such dire straights. Season 4 of Orange is the New Black is fucking ANGRY, enraged at the system and the monsters that it ends up creating. The penultimate episode in particular, “The Animals,” is a masterwork of TV drama, both emotionally stirring and completely devastating, with one of the most heartbreaking and tragic endings of a TV episode ever (props go to Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner here, who delivered a real tour de force of direction.)

To touch upon what made the season so stellar would require a lot of spoilers, but rest assured: the way that Orange is the New Black explores some of the most troubling aspects of modern society is completely captivating, absolutely relevant, and emotionally stirring. Enraged Orange is the New Black seems to be the best Orange is the New Black, which makes it such a shame that there’s nothing in 2017 that the show could possibly be angry about to fuel future storylines.

…That was sarcasm. Season 5 is going to be interesting, all right.

8. Westworld

In the interest of time, I’m going to keep my thoughts on Westworld pretty brief. After all, I’ve spent a good enough amount of time talking about the show in the past so, if you want more details, you can simply read one of these pieces:

But suffice to say, I am completely on team Westworld. Flaws and all, I found it to be completely captivating as both smart, thoughtful sci-fi and a fun, addicting puzzle box. Season 2 can’t come fast enough and, unfortunately, it won’t — it’s going to be a long wait until the next season arrives in 2018 but, if Season 1 is any indication, it will very much be worth the wait.

7. Better Call Saul

Poor Better Call Saul — the show is consistently one of the best things on television, but airs so early in the year that it’s really easy to forget about how good it is come list-making time. Thankfully the revving up to the next season is already in full effect (this list is REALLY late you guys), so my memory of how freaking great Season 2 was is starting to come back in full force.

Somehow the show managed to improve itself over its already great first season, and continues to cement itself as a very different show than Breaking Bad. Plots in Better Call Saul lack the same sense of danger that they did in the latter show, but somehow still feel just as pressing and important. But more than anything, Better Call Saul is a testament to the wonder of great writing, mixed with captivating performances. It’s not the type of show that will generate a bunch of fan theories or a lot of online engagement, but that in no way means its anything less than drama at its finest. Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, and everyone else involved deserve a massive pat on the back for another fine accomplishment in the world of television.

6. Atlanta

Describing what makes Donald Glover’s new show work is a surprisingly complex task, but here goes it: Atlanta is yet another surreal comedy-drama on FX, one that could easily share some of the same DNA with Baskets on paper. But one look at this series, and it’s easy to see that the two show’s respective approach to comedy/drama couldn’t be any different, with Atlanta setting out on a path that is entirely its own. It’s funny, yes, and well written, yes. But it’s also completely unique in the drama/comedy field, with no other show out there even vaguely similar to it. I know I’ve already said it once (and will say it at least one more time before this list is through,) but Atlanta truly is unlike anything else on the TV spectrum, and for more than any other reason, that’s why I love it so much.

Also: Lakeith Stanfield’s Darius is one of the best comedy characters of the year, and absurdly funny every time he is utilized. That is all.

5. Bojack Horseman

How is the show about the talking horse featuring about 2,000 cheesy animal puns one of the five best shows of 2016? I ask myself this constantly, because I will never not be in awe at what Raphael Bob Waksberg managed to accomplish with this crazy, crazy show. Bojack Horseman is hilarious, and as a comedy alone, I would have probably found a spot for it on this list. But it didn’t take long for this show to prove itself to be more than just a silly comedy.

Which, yes, is a weird thorough-line with a lot of the entries on this list: we are in a golden age of TV dramedies, and Bojack Horseman fits in quite well with Atlanta and Baskets in this regard. But while those two shows are still in their first season and “working things out” (so to speak), Bojack Horseman was in its third season in 2016, and has pretty much mastered its own unique blend of gut busting humor and heartbreaking drama. It’s themes have never been more clear, nor has its confidence been more strong. Season 3 of Bojack Horseman is a show at the top of its game, and what it manages to achieve emotionally is insane. When it comes to Netflix’s best original show, the answer is pretty damn clear: Bojack Horseman all the way.

4 & 3. American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson and O.J.:Made in America

Look, if you told me that two of my ten favorite TV shows of 2016 would be centered around the public figure that was (is?) O.J. Simpson, I would have called you absolutely crazy. Though I was somewhat aware of the huge scope that the O.J. trial had, I am a bit of a young-un, and thus did not live through the era itself. So, trust me, seeing it laid out in almost 20 hours of real and fictionalized footage is quite the eye opening experience.

But the subject matter of both The People vs. O.J. Simpson and O.J.: Made in America is one thing — it’s the execution that makes both shows so overwhelmingly excellent. O.J.:Made in America in particular is a documentary masterpiece, managing to perfectly tell the entire story of not just O.J.’s rise and fall, but Los Angeles in the post Civil Rights era. I have never seen a documentary so perfectly explore its subject matter, and there were literally dozens of times watching Made in America in which I felt absolutely floored at what I was witnessing. And yes, there’s a whole debate about if Made in America really even is a TV show, but I could honestly care less…because it’s totally a TV show. And you’re wrong if you think otherwise.

But though O.J.: Made in America is a masterpiece, that is no insult to The People vs. O.J. Simpson, which is just as excellent in a very, very different way. In fact, it’s a crazy bit of serendipity that the two launched so close together, because they complement each other very well. Though both focus on the same topic, I never felt like I was learning the same information twice, or felt like the feeling of watching either quite encapsulated me in the same way. But, rest assured, both O.J. Simpson projects in 2016 were some of the very best television around. Because 2016 was just weird like that, I guess.

2. The Americans

I’m starting to feel pretty bad for The Americans at this point: for the third year in a row, it just missed out on being my favorite show of the year. That is its fate for me, I guess — always the Best of TV bridesmaid, never the Best of TV bride.

But just because The Americans once again missed out on the top spot, doesn’t mean the show is anything less than stupendous. It doesn’t even mean the show is getting worse over the years — hell, I would argue it’s getting better, which is kind of insane when you consider the crazy good quality the series has always maintained. But what can I say? There’s no show on television right now that is as constantly engaging, as consistently nail biting, and as overall just as well executed as The Americans. The acting is near-perfect, the writing is near-perfect, the production design is near-perfect: everything about this damn show is just off-the-walls fantastic.

And yet…it always ends up getting kicked out of first place by something not just incredible, but all-time great. A masterpiece of the television form, if you would. And my number one pick this year is no different.

1. Horace and Pete

Because, I’m going to say it again, and this time I really do mean it: Horace and Pete is unlike anything else released in 2016. Hell, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever watched IN MY LIFETIME. A strange amalgamation of comedy and a top-tier melodrama play, Horace and Pete fits no category. It’s really funny, it’s really insightful, it’s really emotionally devastating — it’s really everything, in a way that only the best pieces of pop culture can be.

And make no mistake, Horace and Pete truly fits that category. Not an episode went by where I wasn’t completely awe-struck about what was unfolding in front of me, or stunned at what Louis C.K. managed to create almost entirely on his own. Both directing AND writing something of this magnitude is something only a creative genius could accomplish, and Louis C.K. completely proves himself to indeed be one of those with Horace and Pete.

Which is of course not to say he didn’t have a ton of help by a whole heap of gifted people working on this project. How C.K. was able to get Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange, and Laurie Metcalf in a room together to create this thing defies belief, because their collective actor powers should have enough force to shatter the entire universe. Instead it just creates some of the most powerful pieces of film I have ever said, wrapped up in a package that is far more emotionally complex and thematically rich than you would expect from the guy who wrote Pootie Tang.

But even more so than with Louie, what Louis C.K. was able to create with Horace and Pete is truly a revelation. I sincerely believe that the man is now one of our most talented storytellers, and has a knack for filmmaking that puts most others to shame. Because Horace and Pete isn’t just the best TV comedy I saw in 2016. Nor was it the best TV drama or, hell, the best TV show. No, Horace and Pete is hands down the best piece of pop culture I had the pleasure to bare witness to in a very, very long time.

So there you have it, my Top 10 TV Shows of 2016. Once again, sorry for the lateness but, hey, better late than never…right? Yeah, that’s what I keep telling myself. Anyways, also check out my list of the Top 10 Films of 2016, while you’re still here.

Also published on Medium.

Matthew Legarreta is the Editor and Owner of Freshly Popped Culture. A big ol' ball of movie, TV, and video game loving flesh, Matthew has been writing about pop culture for nearly a decade. Matthew also loves writing about himself in the third person, because it makes him feel important (or something.)

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You Won’t Believe This, But That Live-Action Halo TV Series Is Facing Development Troubles!

The series has lost director Rupert Wyatt, and reports of budget concerns put the adaption’s future in jeopardy. But what else is new?



I’ve been following film and TV news for the better part of a decade and a half, and writing about it for nearly as long. And, in that time, you start to become numb to the cycle of development — creatives are always leaving, executives are always balking, and yada yada yada. Let’s just say there’s a reason why most of the movies in development hell stay there — once a project begins circling the drain, it’s hard to really pull it back out. So after years of this painful back and forth — this developmental ballet — I start to lose faith entirely. For pop culture that has been developing for years, my optimism for it actually get made morphs into the fun category of “I’ll believe it when I fucking see it.” Which, for the record, is why I still don’t believe Kingdom Hearts III is coming out next month. I don’t care that it has a release date, I don’t care that it has gone gold — until the damn thing is in my hands, it’s just vaporware. And you know what else is just vaporware? That goddamn Halo TV series.

Or should I say live-action Halo movie. Really, it’s all the same tale — Hollywood has been trying to monetize the Halo brand since shortly after the first game was released, and became one of the defining video game titles of this millennium. Creating a movie just seemed like the next logical step, and Hollywood recruited Alex Garland to do just that. And Peter Jackson to do just that. And Neil Blomkamp to do just that.  And D.B. Weiss to do just that. And so on and so on. Eventually, that entire project stalled and Microsoft, with the live-action rights back in their hands, decided to shift the game’s adaptation to the world of television, and partnered with a pretty big name to do it: producer Steven Spielberg.

That was five years ago. Just to show how much the world of TV has changed since then, Microsoft initially planned to release the series independently, through the Xbox TV brand. That brand no longer exists which, to these outside eyes, would seem to indicate the TV series was no longer happening. But, nope! After years of silence, Microsoft returned and announced that the TV series was still happening (sure), and that it would be released on Showtime (sure.) A little more time passed. I assumed the concept of a Showtime produced Halo TV series was just some weird fever dream I had. And then, boom! the Halo TV series was off towards the races, with Showtime hiring on showrunner Kyle Killen, a bunch of writers, a big name director — everything! The plan was set for filming to commence at the tail end of 2018, for a late 2019 launch.

And I never believed that shit for a goddamn second. This is a Halo live-action project we are talking about. It’s doomed to fail. And if news from today is any indication, the process has begun in earnest.

As reported by Variety, the “big-name” director hired to helm many episodes of the project, Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), has departed the series. On the surface, it seems like an innocent enough departure: standard scheduling issues. Wyatt even released this statement corroborating the reported reason:

“It’s with great disappointment that changes to the production schedule of Halo prevent me from continuing in my role as a director on the series. My time on Halo has been a creatively rich and rewarding experience with a phenomenal team of people. I now join the legion of fans out there, excited to see the finished series and wishing everyone involved the very best.”

So yeah: “changes to the production schedule” is the culprit. But the question must be asked: why did the production schedule change in the first place?

Well, thankfully, /Film looked into just that, and found that production on the series is not going as smooth as it might have sounded like it was a few months ago. The budget “has spiraled out of control” according to the website’s sources, and the people in charge are none to happy about what the series is becoming. Well the first few scripts were in line with what Showtime was looking for, latter scripts saw “the entire series balloon in size and cost, leading to some cold feet.” Well it’s possible the series might work through these issues (Game of Thrones, which Showtime is clearly hoping to ape here, ended up doing so), history is not on this franchise’s side as it paves its way to the live-action realm.

And, in my mind, that makes absolute sense. Putting aside the curse an old Hollywood witch doctor performed upon this franchise some time ago, I always thought that TV was a weird fit for the Halo brand. The games are massive, large scale explorations of intergalactic war. They are big war movies, essentially. Unlike Game of Thrones (which peppered its big fantasy moments with plenty of scenes involving political intrigue, dramatic exchanges, and other TV budget friendly concepts), there’s not a whole lot more to Halo than the big action sequences and massive, universe spanning lore. Which is fine and dandy for a big blockbuster movie to tackle. But a TV series? I literally did not see how this could happen. And if these troubles just continue to get worse and worse, that may indeed be the case. Will yet another live action Halo project fall apart right before it reaches the starting line?

…Probably, yeah.

Also published on Medium.

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Geek Binge

The 100 Best Episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants

In tribute to recently deceased Spongebob creator Stephen Hillenburg, let’s take another look at the 100 finest moments of his all-time classic series.



NOTE: This post was previously written for the website Geek Binge back in the summer of 2014. With the unfortunate news of creator Stephen Hillenburg’s passing earlier today, we thought it would be appropriate to repost it its 25,000 word entirety here. The man leaves behind a legacy of some of the best pieces of animated comedy to ever exist. He will be missed. 

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the official list of the best episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants! In this article, we’ll dive into the rich history of the show and give you a definitive list of the greatest episodes. Ten episodes will drop here every single day for the next two weeks, culminating in the final spots near the 15th anniversary of the show’s premiere. So read around, comment, bask in the nostalgia, and enjoy all the funny images, memes, videos, and memories from the last fifteen years in one of the greatest TV shows of all time.  We here at Geek Binge love SpongeBob, and we hope you do too.

You may notice the interchangeable nature of the word “episode” in this list. Really, an episode of SpongeBob is two segments put together with commercials, and so technically this is a list of the 100 greatest segments. But some episodes are only one long segment, and sometimes there are three in one, since this show doesn’t like being pinned down to one structure. So just know that you are not crazy, and that I am purposefully being weird about the jargon. Ignore it and you’ll be fine, trust me.

100. “Help Wanted” (May 1st, 1999)

What better place to start on this list than the first episode of SpongeBob? The pilot for the show is the only episode in history to have three segments instead of the usual two, and “Help Wanted” is the second best of the bunch (another is further down the list). It helped establish SpongeBob’s enthusiasm for The Krusty Krab, Squidward’s apathy towards The Krusty Krab, and the tone for the series, all within a brisk eight minutes. It’s an ambitious premiere for a kid’s show, and has a diverse range of humor and animation styles. It’s hard to think what the world would be like without the yellow sponge, and it’s a good thing this initial pitch episode not only did well enough to land it into a full series, but is good enough to still enjoy fifteen years later.

You may remember this particular segment from:

99. “The Great Patty Caper” (November 11th, 2010)

From the oldest entry on the list, we now get to the newest one. The TV special known as “Mystery with a Twistery” is actually a thinly veiled adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express but I use the word adaptation very very loosely. For a full length episode (22 minutes instead of the typical 11) it has a lot of references and call-backs, and has a lot of time to successfully pull off an entire mystery story. It features a terrific new character and straight man in Orin J. Ruffy (The Butler) who counteracts the goofiness of Spongebob and Patrick, only to be later exposed as the real bandit. It’s one of the better special episodes, and is surprisingly funny and clever for being such a recent episode. If you watch modern SpongeBob you know it isn’t up to snuff, but I’m glad there is still the capacity for this show to knock one out of the ballpark every once in a while.

You may remember this particular segment from:

98. “Opposite Day” (September 11th, 1999)

A nefarious plan by Squidward to make sure Spongebob doesn’t get in the way of selling his house, “Opposite Day” challenges the preconceived notions of who Spongebob and Patrick are by forcing them to be someone they aren’t. The characters do the opposite of what they normally do, and at the end straight up pretend to be Squidward. It’s sort of dark if you think about it; a lot of insults are thrown around without sarcasm and the only reason they aren’t taken seriously is because they’re taken as compliments thanks to the holiday. It can be pretty mean in parts, but doesn’t come off as being written that way, just that the characters have the potential to be so. Squidward impersonations aren’t uncommon, but having a climax consist of two Mr. Tentacles is genius.

You may remember this particular segment from:

97. “Jellyfish Jam” (August 28th, 1999)

A relatively straightforward episode (Jellyfish enter Spongebob’s house, he makes them leave, the end), “Jellyfish Jam” focuses not on its plot, but on its sight gags, its catchy music, and commitment to being as silly as it possibly can. There’s a lot of animation on display here: various insert shots of dolphins playing in the ocean, live action underwater footage of sea critters, flashy colors and multiple jellyfish dancing about in fun creative ways. Not every Spongebob story has to be witty, or make you burst into tears with laughter; sometimes you can simply be entertained with what’s going on. “Jellyfish Jam” certainly falls into that category, and suffice it to say, that techno song is still stuck in my head. Not the first time this show has done that though, there’s a lot of fantastic music that’s bound to pop up further down this list.

You may remember this particular segment from:

96. “Scardey Pants” (October 28th, 1999)

This is the first Halloween episode of the show and it premiered just in time for the 31st. The SpongeBob writers have a propensity towards the spooky, scary, and the occult, but at the end of “Scardey Pants” it goes straight Cronenberg with its creepiness. But, it makes the list for reasons non-gore related, including a classic first appearance by The Flying Dutchman, and a lot of really good jokes and an attention to detail that remains an intricate part of the show (Halloween decorations, music cues, ambient sounds, Mr. Krabs writing ‘souls’ on that bag, Squidward not knowing what a goldfish is doing in a bowl of water). There are funnier episodes that deal with fear, and better Halloween themed shows, but this is certainly a good first step.

95. “Tea at the Treedome” (May 1st, 1999)

It’s hard to imagine SpongeBob Squarepants without Sandy Cheeks, the show’s only above-water animal to venture into the depths of the ocean. A lot is established within this segment: the Treedome, Sandy’s love of karate, and the water helmets that Patrick and SpongeBob use for the rest of the series. But this doesn’t get on the list for being a stepping stone, it actually holds up on its own merits. The main running gag of the episode is “putting on airs”, which no child would ever understand, and it leads to a nicely paced and tension filled storyline where SpongeBob dries up and could potentially die. On paper that sounds rather hardcore, but it’s not so harsh when you put whimsical comedy around it. We all remember “pinky out” and “I’m a quitter”, and episode also gave us some delightful live action jokes and a bit of karate.

You may remember this particular segment from:

94. “Texas” (March 22nd, 2000)

If you can stomach all the stereotypes, “Texas” has a big heart underneath all the snark. It’s a bit on the heavy side at times, and speaks to something we can all relate to: feeling home sick in a place we just aren’t familiar to. But thankfully, a lot of endearingly stupid and goofy moments bring enough levity to balance out how sad Sandy is most of the time. I mean, that song about missing Texas, it’s so good. And, if you hate Texas, that’s certainly a plus I guess. I don’t know how much people from Texas actually use quotes from this episode, but I imagine it’s more than you think. Unless Texans don’t have TVs or electricity there yet, or can’t understand cartoons. I’m kidding, of course, relax, readers from Texas.

You may remember this particular segment from:

93. “Culture Shock” (September 18, 1999)

In typical SpongeBob style, some things do not make sense, no matter how much you break it down. Why do people go wild for someone mopping rotten tomatoes? And only when SpongeBob does it? Who cares. “Culture Shock” doesn’t have much going for it, other than the sheer lunacy of the jokes and the absurd number of non-sequiturs (‘Mouth Full of Clams Day’, Squidward’s interpretive dance, “free socks with every meal”, Gary’s incomprehensible poetry). But somehow it all clicks, and the end sequence at the talent show cements “Culture Shock” onto the list and into the classic repertoire of signature moments for the show. For a good while, there is absolutely no dialogue, which is hard enough to pull off, and you might not even realize it. That’s good writing. Plus, there’s a reference to Allen Ginsburg. How cool is that?

You may remember this particular segment from:

92. “Krusty Love” (September 6th, 2002)

Falling in love can be an incredibly complicated and often taxing thing to do. I mean, how can we impress the person we are dating when Spongebob keeps spending all of our hard earned cash? The premise of “Krusty Love” doesn’t sound all that funny on paper, but it’s all in the execution. Despite the story ending very abruptly, it’s always interesting to watch a character like Mr. Krabs have to struggle to keep two things he loves in his life simultaneously: Mrs. Puff, and money. Throw in some terrific jokes, like the ‘imported music’, seeing what Mr. Puff looks like, and ‘renovations’ in the Krusty Krab being gigantic bandages, and I think “Krusty Love” turns out to be an underrated and under appreciated episode.

91. “Skill Crane” (May 20th, 2005)

I love episodes where Squidward is obsessed with something he shouldn’t be (like Krabby Patties). And with “Skill Crane”, the central joke is how easy it is for SpongeBob to win at a crane vending game, and how Squidward can just never seem to win. A lot of well-timed audio cues (the sounds the machine makes when someone wins or losses), strong editing, and the manipulative behavior of Mr. Krabs makes watching Squidward’s misery all the funnier. What’s most impressive about this episode is how a good portion of the story takes place in one corner of the Krusty Krab, which might categorize this as a bottle episode. Not once do you notice how much of it takes place in front of that skill crane, and for that I tip my hat to this episode.

Click the next page on the handy dandy slider to read picks number 90-81!

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10 Other Members of The Americans Cast Who Should Be Put In A Star War (And The Roles That They Could Play)

Keri Russell should just be the start of alum from FX’s hit spy drama joining the Star Wars universe.



The talk of the fanboy town this weekend was Keri Russell, a frequent J.J. Abrams cohort, joining the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX (or whatever it might end up being titled.) The think pieces came fast and furious from nearly the moment the casting was first announced, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: when any new detail drops about one of these Star Wars films, people will inevitably spend way too much time theorizing about what is to come, for better or (mostly) worse. But when it comes to my initial reaction to the casting, I only had two thoughts: 1) oh my god what is J.J. Abrams going to do to Keri Russell’s hair this time and 2) it’s so damn great to see The Americans cast get work.

Coming off of five years of being perhaps the best dramatic ensemble on television, I truly would be happy to see all of the cast members of The Americans land roles in huge films following the conclusion of the show. And not just huge films, mind you — I’m talking Star Wars huge films. Truly The Americans cast is versatile enough to land any role they could want in the galaxy far, far away, and with Russell’s casting, all I could think about (aside from how amazing she’s going to end up being in the movie, of course) was what her fellow cast members could also bring to the extended franchise.

And I’m a silly person who happens to have a blog so, sorry, you have to be present for my ramblings on such niche, unasked subjects! So here are 10 other members of The Americans cast who deserve a shot at a Star Wars gig and, for the hell of it, the character archetypes they would be great for in the universe. Thank me later, Kathleen Kennedy!

Matthew Rhys (Philip Jennings):

I’ll let my first post-Keri Russell casting tweet speak for itself here:

Holly Taylor (Paige Jennings):

Rey’s previously unmentioned bestie/roommate back home on Jakku. They stay up all night chowing down on dehydrated bread and talking about desert problems, as you do.

Noah Emmerich (Stan Beeman):

Maybe it’s recency bias, but I can’t help but imagine Emmerich playing a tough bounty hunter character. That being said, it will be pretty tragic when he realizes his co-pilot and best friend was his target the whole time. What a dramatic scene they will end up having in the Star Wars equivalent of a parking garage, though.

Brandon J. Dirden (Dennis Aderholt):

Brandon J. Dirden holds himself up with such calm and levelheaded prestige as an actor…making him a perfect choice to play a hapless senator trying to do the right thing, but missing the fact that OOPS an electric wizard is in control now. Bummer!

Costa Ronin (Oleg Burov):

I can definitely see Costa Ronin playing the cool, confident gangster type. He’ll also have a robot arm, for some reason. And he should keep his Season 6 beard, because DAMN does he rock the hell out of it.

Alison Wright (Martha):

Padme in a set of prequel remakes. Because if anyone could sell the anguish of being betrayed by someone they deeply loved for years, only for them to end up being a completely different person than who they thought they were, it would be her. Poor Martha…

Margo Martindale (Claudia):

It’s Character Actress Margot Martindale! Let her be whatever she wants! A Jedi master, a Sith Lord, a crime boss, a droid, a wookie, a gungan — she can do it all, dang it!

Frank Langella (Gabriel):

Let him be the kindest Jedi master ever. OR the most evil Sith Lord to ever exist. Frank Langella is somehow capable of channeling both.

Mail Robot (Mail Robot):

The new official droid mascot of Star Wars, duh! NEXT.

Keidrich Sellati (Henry Jennings):

…He can also be present.

Also published on Medium.

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