Come for 'The Rehearsal,' stay for 'The Bear,' and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Come for 'The Rehearsal,' stay for 'The Bear,' and more weekend recs

Our recommendations for your weekend.

Image: FX; BlueTwelve Studio; Rolling Stone

This week we’re herding cats, stressing out over “The Rehearsal” and “The Bear,” and getting the backstory on #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.

‘The Rehearsal’ isn’t for the faint of heart

Nothing can quite prepare you for “The Rehearsal,” comedian Nathan Fielder’s follow-up to his Comedy Central series “Nathan For You.” While it follows the same broad strokes of what Fielder fans have taken to calling reality comedy in the vein of Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Rehearsal” reaches unprecedented, profound heights by asking difficult questions about social anxiety and the lengths to which humans will go to avoid feeling emotional pain. It is equal parts deranged dark comedy and alarmingly cathartic reality TV, with a dash of Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York.”

The show, which aired its pilot last week, is not for everybody; like his past work, cringe-sensitive viewers may find themselves literally sick to their stomachs by Fielder’s willingness to push situations to the extreme. But “The Rehearsal” is worth the discomfort for the sheer range of emotions it will yank out of you before you’ve even recognized the magic trick it’s pulling off before your eyes.

And neither is ‘The Bear’

In case “The Rehearsal” wasn’t stressful enough, Christopher Storer’s drama “The Bear” will shave a year or two off your life. The dramedy about a struggling sandwich shop in Chicago newly helmed by a former professional chef can be so intense in its camera work, lightning-fast dialogue and realistic portrayal of toxic restaurant work environments that real-life chefs have admitted to not making it through a single episode because of how close it hits to home. But the eight-part series, now renewed for a second season, is so fresh, raw and well-acted that it is impossible not to recommend — it’s no wonder “The Bear” currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Just prepare your heart rate in advance.

Here, kitty kitty

There’s not much you really need to say about Stray, a new adventure game from French developer BlueTwelve Studio and Annapurna Interactive. The main character is a cat, and anyone who's seen the trailers should know why that makes it an instant must-play for pretty much everyone. Also, it does an excellent job of moving past its premise to tell a touching and adorable narrative about resilience and survival while also featuring some beautiful environments and clever puzzles.

Stray keeps itself interesting through its non-human robot characters, telling the story of a ruined world while also centering its emotional journey on the “Homeward Bound”-like adventure of its titular feline. The game is available for the time being as part of Sony’s PlayStation Plus Extra/Premium subscriptions this month if you don’t feel like purchasing it outright.

A game for people who don’t play games

British studio Supermassive Games’ latest release is a fantastic entry in the complicated and often messy market for games that are more like interactive movies. Like its past title Until Dawn and many of the Hollywood-aspiring releases from developers like Quantic Dream, The Quarry’s interactivity mostly centers on making pivotal choices about the fate of its characters.

But the freedom it gives you and its schlocky B-movie horror influences make it a perfect game for people who don’t play a lot of games, with plenty to love if you’re a fan of slasher flicks and monster movies. With its twisting narrative and strong replayability to unlock different endings and uncover more secrets, The Quarry succeeds as arguably the best version yet of this particular take on video game narrative.

Fake accounts fueled the ‘Snyder Cut’ online army

Remember #ReleaseTheSnyderCut? The social media movement that led Warner Bros. to release a second “Justice League” version on HBO Max was unprecedented — and likely driven by bots tied to a now-defunct Los Angeles ad agency, according to an internal investigation conducted by the studio that Rolling Stone recently got its hands on. Some of Zack Snyder’s real fans took things even further, harassing studio executives and journalists alike. The craziest part of the story, however, is Snyder’s own role in all of this, which allegedly involved taking hard drives from the studio lot and reshooting scenes in his own backyard.

A version of this story also appeared in today’s Entertainment newsletter; subscribe here.


Google TV will gain fitness tracker support, wireless audio features

A closer integration with fitness trackers is part of the company’s goal to make TVs a key pillar of the Android ecosystem.

Making TVs more capable comes with increasing hardware and software requirements, leading Google to advise its partners to build more-capable devices.

Photo: Google

Google wants TV viewers to get off the couch: The company is working on plans to closely integrate its Android TV platform with fitness trackers, which will allow developers to build interactive workout services for the living room.

Google representatives shared those plans at a closed-door partner event last month, where they painted them as part of the company’s “Better Together” efforts to build an ecosystem of closely integrated Android devices. As part of those efforts, Google is also looking to improve the way Android TV and Google TV devices work with third-party audio hardware. (Google launched Android TV as an Android-based smart TV platform in 2014; in 2020, it introduced Google TV as a more content-centric smart TV experience based on Android TV.)

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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What the fate of 9 small tokens means for the crypto industry

The SEC says nine tokens in the Coinbase insider trading case are securities, but they are similar to many other tokens that are already trading on exchanges.

While a number of pieces of crypto legislation have been introduced in Congress, the SEC’s moves in court could become precedent until any legislation is passed or broader executive actions are made.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

When the SEC accused a former Coinbase employee of insider trading last month, it specifically named nine cryptocurrencies as securities, potentially opening the door to regulation for the rest of the industry.

If a judge agrees with the SEC’s argument, many other similar tokens could be deemed securities — and the companies that trade them could be forced to be regulated as securities exchanges. When Ripple was sued by the SEC in late 2020, for example, Coinbase chose to suspend trading the token rather than risk drawing scrutiny from federal regulators. In this case, however, Coinbase says the nine tokens – seven of which trade on Coinbase — aren’t securities.

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Werner Vogels: Enterprises are more daring than you might think

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"We knew that if cloud would really be effective, development would change radically."

Photo: Amazon

When AWS unveiled Lambda in 2014, Werner Vogels thought the serverless compute service would be the domain of young, more tech-savvy businesses.

But it was enterprises that flocked to serverless first, Amazon’s longtime chief technology officer told Protocol in an interview last week.

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Donna Goodison

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Dark money is trying to kill the Inflation Reduction Act from the left

A new campaign is using social media to target voters in progressive districts to ask their representatives to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act. But it appears to be linked to GOP operatives.

United for Clean Power's campaign is a symptom of how quickly and easily social media allows interest groups to reach a targeted audience.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The social media feeds of progressive voters have been bombarded by a series of ads this past week telling them to urge their Democratic representatives to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act.

The ads aren’t from the Sunrise Movement or other progressive climate stalwarts, though. Instead, they’re being pushed by United for Clean Power, a murky dark money operation that appears to have connections with Republican operatives.

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