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.