Welcome to the Wednesday edition of Internet Insider, where we tell you what you should be watching this week.
- And Just Like That… Wait, what happened?
- The Witcher season 2 improves on its first season
- The final season of The Expanse is too short
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BREAK THE INTERNET
Did we get ‘Big’-timed?
Peloton, the fitness-equipment company, has been going through it as people abandon their pandemic bikes. This week, it managed to overshadow the return of a beloved HBO franchises.
And Just Like That…, the 2021 chapter of Sex and the City, debuted last week and quickly dropped a big death on viewers. Peloton issued a statement on Friday claiming it didn’t know how the bike would be used. But on Sunday, the company debuted an ad featuring an unshaven Chris Noth getting cozy with Jess King, the Peloton instructor featured in episode 1.
A company spokesperson claims the spot was quickly filmed on Saturday and that HBO had no involvement. But Ryan Reynolds did: The ad was produced through his company Maximum Effort in collaboration with Peloton. (He also did an ad with the widely memed Peloton Wife in 2019.) The spot’s director claimed it came together in about 24 hours.
On Monday, Peloton followed up with some workout-shaming, which is enough to make you wonder: What?
Was this a big PR stunt that HBO was on board with? It’s entirely possible, though a reference to Peloton in this week’s Curb Your Enthusiasm raised eyebrows. (Neither Peloton nor HBO responded to a request for comment.) I viewed the first four episodes of And Just Like That…, and they’re unfortunately weighed down by bad writing and awkward attempts at cultural discourse—but there are some promising storylines.
The pieces kind of fit here. As someone noted on Twitter: “Mr. Big faking his death so he can leave Carrie for a Peloton instructor at the age of 65 is absolutely believable for his character.”
—Audra Schroeder, senior writer
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The Witcher season 2 is a big improvement
In 2019, I was in the rare and unpopular position of disliking The Witcher. In addition to being overcomplicated and shallowly written, season 1 was hampered by a sexist origin story for its female lead (Yennefer sacrificed her fertility in a nude torture scene to “cure” her disability) and a wooden leading man: Geralt (Henry Cavill). With the exception of Geralt’s sidekick Jaskier, I found The Witcher largely humorless and lacking in personality.
Season 2 is a big step up! Production values are higher, particularly in terms of set design and practical effects for the monsters. We also benefit from a simpler narrative structure, adapted from the Witcher novels Blood of Elves and Time of Contempt. Geralt and Ciri spend several episodes in the witcher fortress of Kaer Morhen, introducing us to Geralt’s brethren and giving Ciri a chance to mature.
Balancing grittiness with a sincere affection for the fantasy genre, this show has come into its own.
The Witcher season 2 streams on Netflix Dec. 17.
—Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, staff writer
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The Expanse season 6 offers a satisfying (but slightly rushed) conclusion
Structured more like a high-stakes soap opera than a drama with a clear thematic conclusion, The Expanse sometimes feels like it could run indefinitely. If only it could.
But with a finite number of novels to adapt, season 6 wraps things up as conclusively as possible—while still leaving us wanting more. That’s partly because the season is unusually short (just six episodes compared to the usual 10 to 13) and partly because the show’s creators are visibly angling for a spinoff.
Amazon is seemingly to blame for this truncated episode order, but The Expanse‘s production company is open to telling more stories in the same universe. This is both a welcome possibility and slightly frustrating in the context of season 6. Six episodes just isn’t enough time to wind up every storyline, and on top of this, a few minutes of each episode are dedicated to introducing a brand new setting.
Taking place on one of the new colony planets, this subplot could act as a backdoor pilot for a new show. While it’s an interesting concept, it takes time away from The Expanse‘s main cast.
Read the full review here.
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