Pretty Much Pop #95: “The Nevers” With a Side of Whedon

Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss the HBO Max show out Victorian-era super-powered feminine outcasts, helmed and now abandoned by the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, etc. Does this reduced-by-the-pandemic show still work? Does knowing the complaints about Joss Whedon affect our consumption?

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Pretty Much Pop #94: Psychology of Video Game Engagement w/ Jamie Madigan

Why do people play video games, and what keeps them playing? Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by the host of the Psychology of Video Games podcast to discuss player types, motivation vs. engagement, incentives and feedback, as well as the gamification of work or school environments. We touch on Donkey Kong, Dark Souls, It Takes Two, Returnal, Hades, Subnautica, Fortnite, and Age of Z.

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Pretty Much Pop #93: Made for Love (and other Silicon Villainy)

Thinking about the tech genius as villain trope in TV shows like Made for Love, Devs, Silicon Valley, and the documentary WeWork. They’re our modern mad scientists, able to unleash science to surveil, control, and possibly kill us. Mark, Erica, and Brian consider how it works in comedy vs. serious media, how it relates to real-life tech billionaires, and the feminist angle.

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Pretty Much Pop #92: Collectibles and Collecting w/ Matt Young

What drives someone to collect Star Wars figures or Transformers or LEGOs or whatever else?

Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by guest Matt Young of the Hello from the Magic Tavern and Improvised Star Trek podcasts to talk about this potentially expensive and life-eating habit.

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Pretty Much Pop #91: Pet Culture w/ Trainer Hannah Branigan

What is with the weird relationship we Americans have with our pets? Many of us treat them as our babies, yet of course they’re our captives.

Dog trainer Hannah Branigan, host of Drinking from the Toilet, joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about pets as entertainment, as hobby, and as pandemic companions. How can we make this relationship as beneficial as possible for all involved, and how can learning to be a better pet owner inform our treatment of other people?

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Pretty Much Pop #90: Godzilla vs. Kong vs. All the Kaiju!

Are giant monsters stomping on cities just stupid fun, or do they channel deep fears of helplessness? Do we care at all about the humans in these films? Are they legit sci-fi or political commentary?

Mark, Erica, and Brian reflect on the MonsterVerse films, plus the filmic histories of Godzilla and King Kong, Pacific Rim, Colossal, The Host, Cloverfield, and more.

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Pretty Much Pop #89: The Chicago 7 (and the Aaron Sorkinverse)

Brian, Erica, and Mark consider one of this year’s Oscar-nominated films, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and the film and TV career of its writer/director Aaron Sorkin. We get into The West Wing, The Social Network, Steve Jobs, The Newsroom, and more, focusing on his recurring characters, plots based on true stories, and whether his speechifying is manipulative in the ways that we enjoy or not.

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PMP#88: Indie Animation w/ Benjamin Goldman

Animation is so labor-intensive that it seems designed for corporate domination a la Disney. Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by animator Benjamin Goldman to discuss doing animation on your own.

What qualifies as “indie?” What are we as adult viewers looking from this medium? How do images relate to narration? How realistic should the animation look? You may want to watch Benjamin’s short film (currently featured by The New Yorker) “Eight Nights.”

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Pretty Much Pop #87: Female Buddy Comedies w/ Erica’s Female Buddy Micah Greene

On Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, and how inserting women into the buddy comedy format might lead to deeper exploration of friendships. Two sets of long-time friends–Erica and Micah, and Mark and Brian–look at tropes and character dynamics, touching on Booksmart, Bridesmaids, Sisters, et al. 

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Pretty Much Pop #86: What Irish Means w/ Black 47’s Larry Kirwan

St. Patrick’s Day has passed: What sort of representation of Ireland has made it to the U.S. through such celebrations? Who gets to decide what’s authentically Irish?

Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by writer and musician Larry to talk about his immigrant experience, covering history, music, humor, language, slurs, stereotypes, and his new book Rockaway Blue.

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Pretty Much Pop #85: What the WandaVision!? w/ Rolando Nieves (and Bonus Aftertalk)

The debut Disney+ Marvel series is… a tribute to classic sit-coms? Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Rolando try to figure out whether this experiment was successful, whether you have to be a die-hard to get it, and the potential for future oddball superhero outings..

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Pretty Much Pop #84: Musician Memoirs w/ Laura Davis-Chanin

Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest memoir author Laura talk about the appeal of this type of book whose production has exploded in recent years. We each read a book, covering Elvis Costello, Carrie Brownstein, Ozzy Osbourne, and Debby Harry respectively. How are these better than a film depiction or documentary biography?

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Pretty Much Pop #83: Disabled and Other-Abled Representation w/ Kayla Dryesse

Media representation of disability needs improvement, as does inclusion of disabled actors and writers. Playwright Kayla joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about hurdles, disability culture, negative stereotypes, and how disability relates to comedy and horror.

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Pretty Much Pop #81: Radio vs. Podcasting w/ Jason Bentley

Jason was music director at KRCW, the LA NPR station, is also a DJ with a lot of experienced interviewing musicians, and now hosts a new podcast, The Backstory. He joins Mark and Erica to discuss the creative and business possibilities of podcasting in comparison to radio, what their futures may hold, and his own journey between the two media.

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Pretty Much Pop #80: Reliving Groundhog Day (and Palm Springs, Russian Doll, etc.)

Happy Groundhog Day! The ’93 film has had dozens of imitators spanning various genres in recent years, but the idea goes back more than a century. Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Ken Gerber touch on popular and obscure examples examples from film and TV to explore the philosophical themes and storytelling techniques. 

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Pretty Much Pop #79: The Fargo Formula w/ Tamler Sommers (Very Bad Wizards Crossover)

On the darkly comic ’96 film and the 4-season crime show. Mark, Erica, Brian, and Tamler from VBW consider its style, “tundra western” setting, “Minnesota nice”, gender issues, stunt casting, absurdism, and more. Yes, there are spoilers, but it barely matters.

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Pretty Much Pop #77: The Big Screen Experience

What’s the post-COVID future of movie theaters? Mark, Erica, and Brian compare past moviegoing habits and reflect on the big-screen vs. small-screen decision. How would we optimize the theatrical experience? We consider films affected like Tenet, Soul, etc.

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Pretty Much Pop #76: Wonder Women (84 and Others) w/ Vi Burlew

Returning heroine Vi (now a grad student in comics history) joins Erica, Mark, and Brian to put the new film in context, bringing in the weird ideas of WW’s creator as shown in the 2017 biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Do the new film’s themes actually make sense? We talk political ideals, truth, love, feminist utopias, ’70s TV, and more.

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