everything is okay
When It’s Not – Everything Is Okay
Other than the 2017 consummation of my love affair with Dem Thrones, I’ve been limiting my TV consumption this week to quick hits—small bites of programming, nothing longer than an episode of Rick and Morty. Part of me thinks this is related to my attention span, but the wiser part of me knows that it’s smart to stick to shorter programs when the president might turn off the Internet at any moment to strengthen his negotiating position to make that whole wall thing happen.
So I was excited to come across a new web series called Everything Is Okay that dropped last month on Vimeo and on Topic. Cirocco Dunlap, the writer of the series, stars in each of the five loosely related episodes. Some critics are calling the show a mash-up of Broad City and Black Mirror, but other than Dunlap sharing some basic physical traits in common with Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer, I don’t see that much Broad City in her show. To me, it feels more like the technological paranoia of Black Mirror creeping into the absurdist cityscapes of Man Seeking Woman, a hilarious FXX network comedy that Dunlap wrote for this year.
In the first episode, Alice (Dunlap) purchases a robot version of herself. When Robot Alice arrives on her doorstep, Alice sends her/it out to fulfill all the social obligations she wants to skip. And as Alice blissfully binges episodes of VampWolves (the recurring show-within-the-show that various characters obsess over), Robot Alice becomes increasingly popular with Alice’s friends.
This episode is just over seven minutes long. And the whole series is 26 minutes. But the writing is so good, and the jokes so well-performed, it’ll feel like 25.
Lady Taylor of House Swift
Is it me or is Taylor Swift’s new single, “Look What You Made Me Do” a musical reimagining of several principal characters from Game of Thrones?
Humor me for a second.
First, there’s all the royal and courtly imagery, tinged with blood reds and clean white diamonds and dirt.
And then this lyric: “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time” is kind of the Stark anthem nowadays, isn’t it? Especially for Sansa who, in the season 7 finale, says to Littlefinger before finally giving him his much-deserved comeuppance, “I’m a slow learner, it’s true. But I do learn.” Ditto Arya, Bran, and Jon, who each took seasons’ worth of hard lumps and loss (and were told repeatedly that they know nothing) before finally leveling up and taking some control of their destinies.
Then, the next line in the song: “Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time.” Like, are you kidding me? How big of a George R. R. Martin fangirl is T-Swift? She might as well have shown a close-up of a badly-healing scar, arcing meaningfully over her often-wounded heart.
OK, next line. This is literally the very next line and it comes right before the chorus: “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined.”
Get out of my damn face. Your girl is going full Arya.
In the second verse she also refers to being locked out of a feast, which sounds like another nod to Arya’s position relative to House Frey during the Red Wedding. It’s just too on the nose.
I hope that these theories, which some Twitter users have been sharing over the past week, do make their way to Lady Taylor—via raven or some other means. It would be cathartic to see her either admit that she wrote it as a bit of cheeky service to the Game of Thrones fans in her squad, or admit that she’s just the kind of person who sees herself as the put-upon heroine in her own courtly political drama, surrounded by enemies, and embracing the no-quarter-and-no-fucks-will-be-given side of herself in order to survive.
If that latter position sounds familiar, it’s because Swift has become an icon of the alt-right, and according to Mark Harris at Vulture, her song is “the first pure piece of Trump-Era pop art.” To the extent that the song is an exercise in weaponizing dubious victimhood and turning feuds—real and imagined—into profits, I agree with the premise. But as of this writing, we don’t know Swift’s politics. We don’t know how she feels about the commodification that she didn’t choose, the one that is turning her into an imagined Aryan goddess. My own hunch is that she’s about as weird and sensitive as anyone else who becomes incredibly famous at a young age, and she vacillates wildly between having a good sense of humor about herself, and having none at all. My second hunch is that she was in one of those non-humor moods when she wrote “Look What You Made Me Do,” and then found some of her joy and levity during the making of its music video.
But it’s a shame that she’s in a position to act as a kind of Trump totem. Maybe not for her. But certainly for me. Because we have a long way to go before the final season of Game of Thrones, and hearing the characters of that story brought back to life in C+ pop songs is exactly the kind of snack we need to tide us over.
header image: still from "Everything Is Okay"