Emma Stone won the Golden Globe last night for Poor Things, which could portend all kinds of interesting developments for the Oscars, but I’m not here to talk about that. It’s not that I don’t support the win – I do, and even for an accomplished and celebrated actress, Emma Stone is unusually easy to like (and not just because Sasha told me the other day that I resemble her – in expressions, I think, more than appearance).
She was wearing Louis Vuitton, and this kind of dress is usually very much not my thing – vague colour and not a lot of structure – but the deep slit and neckline make it interesting, and she clearly loves it, which elevates it in my book…
…but I’m not here to talk about that, either.
I’m here to talk about The Curse.
Have you watched it?
Did you like it?
I took a little informal poll last night on the Squawk live chat. 100% of respondents in this admittedly very, very unscientific poll said they had not been able to finish it – or, in Sarah’s case, had to cut out several episodes in the middle to make it palatable.
Even ‘palatable’ might be a stretch. The show is …difficult. (Bare plot details, if you need to know – Emma and Nathan Fielder play wannabe do-gooder gentrifiers with a reality show which proves they are in fact Not Good.) If you’ve watched anything Nathan Fielder’s been involved with before this, you might reasonably think this should not be a surprise – he’s made a career out of the uncomfortable and awkward, and I was delighted to hear Emma Stone was doing a project with him. It’s just… too bad it’s essentially unwatchable.
This immediately begs the question ‘then how did it get made’? But as soon as you ask the question, you know the answer: it got made because Emma Stone is an Oscar winner. Who would say no to an Oscar Winner on their fledgling network? Not Paramount+, that’s for sure.
As I contemplated this last night, I realized something startling. What do you get for the Best Actress winner who has everything? You get them the opportunity to play on TV, of course.
Let me be clear – this isn’t snobbery, or some idea that TV is less than film. Please! I love TV, I think it is in many ways the superior medium and you get to tell more character-driven stories that don’t need their weight in VFX. And plenty of would-be features are now produced as series instead. Which is great… except that usually involves having to stretch what might be a 90-minute story into a 6- or 8- or 10- episode season, so your Oscar Winner can show off their chops.
Look at Meryl Streep in Only Murders In The Building. It’s a very fun part and she was fantastic opposite Martin Short. Could the actual role have been about half as large? Sure, if you didn’t have an Oscar-Winning Actress to service in the role. You have to make it worth her while, right?
See also Lessons In Chemistry, starring Brie Larson. Cute story, great role for another Oscar-Winning Actress (and Executive Producer, I should point out). But it could have been four episodes, or six. It could have been – dare I say it? A movie.
Reese Witherspoon knows what I’m talking about: The Morning Show was extra bananas this year, and the Bradley Jackson plot extra inexplicable (especially when compared to the very steamy Jennifer Aniston/Jon Hamm plotline. Yes, steamy. Worth your time. Go look.) In another show, you might cut the plot altogether, but what are you gonna do? Not have your Oscar-Winning Actress (and again, Exec Producer) in the show?
The exception(s) that prove the rule? Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman in May/December – this is a cheat, of course, because that’s a feature that just happens to now be available on Netflix, but it’s the kind of small character piece that doesn’t get made as a film so much anymore. I loved it, as I’m sure you did if you saw it – but aren’t you glad it wasn’t a six or eight episode series, even if it would give you more Charles Melton? Sometimes brevity or time constraints help tell a better story. More is not always better, which reminds me that it’s time to end this piece.
PS – I don’t know that I love any of these dresses per se, but I think this might be my favourite thing Natalie Portman’s ever worn? Also, let’s all thank Meryl for the reminder that it’s always the right move to keep the shades on for the photo.