“Girls” Season 6 Episode 6 Recap: Full Disclosure

Despite the surprising maturity that Hannah found in the first half of “Girls’” final season, episode six proves trying in familiar ways. Hannah gets a ridiculous idea in her head: that she has no obligation to tell Paul-Louie she is bearing his child.

Kudos to the even-handedness of the writers for including characters that think this is an extremely unfair and unreasonable decision on Hannah’s part. Thankfully, towards the end of the episode, she starts to come around and she even tries to contact him. Hopefully she follows through.



“Girls” Season 6 Episodes 4 & 5 Recap: On Hannah’s Pregnancy

So much happened in episodes 4 and 5 that it’s hard to know where to start. I resort to a list:

  • Hannah interviews a female writer that tells her “childlessness in the natural state of the female author.”
  • Hannah finds out (via an embarrassing encounter with a previous love interest/doctor) that she is pregnant from her rendezvous with the surf camp instructor in episode one.
  • Hannah decides to keep the baby even though she has a mounting list of reasons why she probably isn’t ready.
  • Jessa and Adam decide to make a movie together about their past with Hannah. Jessa doesn’t like Adam’s representation of his previous relationship.
  • Marnie is still seeing Desi, but in therapy. And her narcissism is at peak Marnie. She declares that she has bruises all over her body from the two-hour massages that she needs in order to deal with the stress of Desi’s addiction.
  • Ray realizes that Marnie is cheating on him and he eventually breaks up with her.
  • Ray’s friend Hermie dies suddenly, leaving Ray to reevaluate his own life.
  • Elijah does not take the news of Hannah’s pregnancy very well because he’s feeling particularly left behind compared to the life achievements of his friends. He tells Hannah that she’ll be a terrible mother.
  • Hannah’s mother, Loraine, also doesn’t like the news of the pregnancy and she tells Hannah, “Every time I look at your baby, I’m going to see my own death.”



“Girls” Season 6 Episode 3 Recap: American B***h

Continuing the “bottle episode” theme, this segment shows only Hannah in the apartment of a literary idol, Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys). Hannah wrote a piece for a feminist blog about Chuck’s alleged probably-not-consensual sexual encounters with college-age girls on his book tour. Seeing the article, he invites her over to his apartment so he can prove her wrong.

Where “Girls” characters sometimes amount to cartoonish impressions instead of believable humans, this episode defies expectation. We expect Chuck to be portrayed as some obviously bad person that forced himself on an innocent girl. But we quickly see, through Rhys’ charming performance, all the difficult intricacies that surround issues of consent. He is portrayed more wholistically than we might expect: a man with a deep fatherly love for his daughter, a complicated history, and what seems like the capacity for vested interest and affection in women he likes.



“Girls” Season 6 Episode 2 Recap: Hostage Situation

As I was watching the latest episode of “Girls” I couldn’t help but assume viewers all across the country were engaged in a collective slow clap. For the first time in five years, the characters start to say what the audience is thinking. The two most poignant examples are a paramount “GROW UP!” from Jessa to Shosh, and Hannah says to Marnie, “It can be pretty hard to have observations about other people when you’re only thinking about yourself. I would know.”

The creators made a fun and effective exploration into a genre-style episode that mirrored a horror film. Hannah follows Marnie and Desi on a trip to Poughkeepsie because the ex-spouses are sleeping together but they don’t want Marnie’s steady boyfriend, Ray, to find out. Hannah tags along so Ray won’t be suspicious. Super romantic.



“Girls” Season 6 Episode 1 Recap: All I Ever Wanted

The sixth premiere of “Girls” started off its final season on Sunday with a special 40 minute episode and guest appearance from Riz Ahmed. The episode reaffirms exactly what we’ve known for the past five seasons: that these characters are, well, girls. This first episode focuses mostly on Hannah’s story, and a little on Marnie’s—a continuation of a stylistic change we saw last season in which the friends spend most of their time away from each other.

Hannah starts off the episode with relative professional success, a Modern Love column resulting in a paid writing assignment from a magazine. She is expected to write about a surf camp in Montauk but she Hannahs the opportunity in about half a day by immediately hating the entire experience and functionally abandoning the project to hook up with the camp counselor and “find herself.” Again.



The Scene from HBO’s Silicon Valley that Everyone Should be Talking about

Silicon Valley’s (the place, not the show) not-so dirty little secret got its moment under the Hollywood spotlight on this past Sunday’s penultimate episode of Silicon Valley’s (the show, not the place) third season.

Silicon Valley, created by Mike Judge, is perhaps the most honest portrayal of what work and life is like in California’s digital gold mining community.  And if the antics of Richard and team’s Pied Piper start-up company  seem sometimes a little far fetched, the final scene of this episode, titled “Daily Active Users,” represents an all too honest peak behind the curtain.  Audiences are finally brought face to face with human beings in a third world country (think Bangladesh or India) who wake up each day and go to work in a large office filled with dozens if not hundreds of others who do nothing all day but click on ads, download apps, log into sites, and various other tasks that real everyday users of the internet engage in purposefully.

Here is that final scene…


However, these people do it simply to get paid on average, the equivalent of $1 a day. Their “work” can be worth millions to their employers and sometimes billions to the tech companies of Silicon Valley like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, What’s App, etc..  Really, any company that bases its value to investors and potential buy-out suiters on a high DAU count. That’s Daily Active Users to us laymen.  In contrast, a company like Uber may not utilize these click farms because they are providing an actual real world service – connecting people with cars and nowhere to be, to people with no cars and somewhere to be.  So it’s kind of hard to fake actual people getting rides in actual cars.  Although I do admit to a possible future where people, or AI robots, could be paid to book Uber rides around town just to boost their DAU count.

Facebook, for instance, now claims that it has a DAU count of over 1 billion. That’s one billion people everyday, logging into Facebook and engaging.  How many of them are actually using it for its intended purpose of connecting with friends and family, sharing stories, photos and life events? Well considering that over 1 billion of Facebook’s total 1.59 billion user accounts exist outside of Europe and North America, I imagine it is fair to say that a plethora of those accounts are are bogus.  Read this account published by Business Insider three years ago which details some of the fakery behind all those likes, views, and followers that social media giants rely on for their billion dollar evaluations.  Emphasis mine.


The Game of Thrones Break

Due to the holiday weekend and the premiere of the HBO “original” movie The Normal Heart, fans of Game of Thrones were forced to take the week off without a new episode. This allows us time for reflection. While the headlines all feature Tyrion Lannister’s trial and fate, as someone who has not read the books and is enjoying watching the events of Westeros unfold, allow me to offer speculation on where three other lost characters are headed.




Arya: She’s been on the run since the first season and a crowd favorite ever since. Under the Hounds tutelage she’s becoming ruthless. And who can blame her? I am convinced by the end of this season we will be emotionally torn as this loyal lost sprite becomes a cold-hearted killer and ends up knocking off another beloved loyal character over a tragic miscommunication. Brienne anyone?

Jon Snow
Jon Snow

Jon Snow: Sent to the Wall with all other lost outcasts, it’s getting a lot harder to care about his storyline anymore. He swore his oath, but now that we know the whole order of the Night’s Watch only chooses to enforce it’s oath’s and laws when it’s convenient makes it harder to trust their purpose. (Hmm, reminds me of something else…) He needs to stage a mutiny of some sort and turn the Watch into something interesting again.


Theon Greyjoy
Theon Greyjoy

Theon Greyjoy/Reek: Held in captivity and brainwashed to be a slave by another name. Theon is a great character who began as a friend, became ruthless, and has begun to garner sympathy for his current situation. His character arc is one of the reasons why I have thoroughly enjoyed the series. The ability to capture the nuances of human nature and deliver them unfiltered is great storytelling. I suspect a merciful death at the hands of his sister.


I gleefully await the return of the series next week. Please, share below which characters and their fate have garnered your interest. Oh, and can we all be honest and agree that we’ve missed the little tyrant Prince Joffrey since his wedding day? We need someone to love-to-hate again.


Lights, Camera, Liberty, the Series: Part III

Part three of our multi-part series (see here and here) comes from The Seasteading Institute. The San Francisco-based, Peter Thiel co-founded organization is doing exciting work in developing alternative, watery ways of living on earth. Seasteading has become an increasingly popular topic of intellectual discussion in recent years, and for those of you keeping up with HBO’s Silicon Valley, it has acquired a particular cultural je ne sais quoi.

In their words…

Seasteading is such a wide and deep subject it’s very difficult to sum up for people. The creation of this video is a lesson in how many complex technologies can be summed up by focusing on shared goals.

Joe Quirk, Director of Communications, on how the project came together:

Seasteaders gathered from all over the world at our Seasteading Conference in San Francisco in 2012. Even though I was a committed seasteader, I was astounded by the number of ideas from different industries for how to create floating civilizations on the seas. Nathan Green, who was charged with creating a video to capture the essence of seasteading, couldn’t see how he was going to make a video capturing two days of presentations on technical aspects of ocean law, ocean farming, maritime engineering, algal fuel, “bluegreen technologies,” and environmental cleanup. Then I gave a speech summing up what everybody was doing, and, Nathan said, “The video should be based on that speech.”

Then a truly collaborative process began among everybody at the Institute, as we worked to feature a dozen key speakers and their goals in less than three minutes. Working together, we created something that was more concise and elegant than 25 presentations by 25 experts.  We managed to sum up an effort we thought was impossible to [to do].

What do Matt Damon and the Liberty Lab have in common?

Battle of Shaker Heights

It’s really simple, actually.  Matt Damon was one of the producers of HBO’s reality show, Project Greenlight.  The winning screenwriter of season two was Erica Beeney, whose script The Battle of Shaker Heights was made into a movie that also served as the first starring vehicle for actor Shia LaBeouf.

After winning HBO’s Project Greenlight contest, Erica wrote and developed numerous projects including an updated version of the classic teen surf movie Gidget for Sony and the comedy New Sensation for New Line.  She wrote Love & Other 4-Letter Words, a romantic comedy, for producer Chris Moore.  With husband Rupert Wyatt (director of Rise of the Planet of the Apes) she wrote a feature film Ice Road Truckers based on the popular TV series.

Erica has also worked extensively in television, including writing a TV movie for USA Network, a TV pilot for Viacom, and a one-hour drama pilot for Lifetime Television.  She’s currently writing a pilot for Media Rights Capital (producers of the House of Cards series) called True Believers.  Erica researched and developed It Might Get Loud, a documentary on the electric guitar, for Davis Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning director of Waiting for Superman.   She is currently working on Devil’s Canyon, an original screenplay she is slated to direct for Paramount Pictures.

And Erica will serve as a mentor to one fortunate team of filmmakers who are accepted into the Liberty for Film program.  Applications are free until midnight PT, April 25, and just $25 during the week after that.

What do Dracula and the Liberty Lab have in common?

imagesDaniel Knauf is an executive producer and writer for NBC show Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Myers.  It’s not a surprise that Daniel was tapped to work on Dracula,  considering the projects he’s worked on before (and is currently developing).  They include the eerie, Emmy-winning series Carnivale, which he created for HBO.

And if you meet Daniel, you will soon discover that, aside from being a gentleman (in all senses of the word), he is a gifted storyteller.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Daniel at several Taliesin Nexus-sponsored workshops, where he holds students spellbound with his colorful anecdotes, salty humor and hard-won sagacity.

And yes, if you are an aspiring filmmaker and you apply for and are chosen for this summer’s Liberty Lab for Film, you will get a chance to meet the man in the flesh, as he is slated to serve as one of the mentors for the program.  A lucky pair of creative initiates will be paired with Daniel (how I envy you!), who will provide canny advice and push you to make a sensational short film.

But don’t worry; he won’t try to extract any blood.  (Or so he promised.)