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Everything coming to Netflix in May 2019

Oh, Netflix. You've done it again.
Image: Brian Douglas / FX / THE CW

We love Netflix year round, but daaaang is their May lineup fan-tas-tic! 

On the TV front, you can catch the latest Serpent shenanigans in Riverdale: Season 3, weep uncontrollably at the phenomenal first season of FX’s Pose, indulge on six new episode of Nailed It!, and get political with Hasan Minhaj in the third volume of his show, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.

If you’re looking for movies to stream, start with Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a Ted Bundy biopic starring Zac Efron like you’ve never seen him before. Mashable’s ace film critic Angie Han wasn’t a huge fan of the film when she saw it at Sundance, but you can bet everyone will be talking about it when it hits Netflix, for good or for bad.

Check out everything coming to and going from Netflix in May 2019 below.

Top Pick: Easy, Season 3

Hilarious, poignant, and unique, Easy is coming to an end after debuting a third and final season this May — and while we’re sad to see it go, we can’t wait for those last episodes to arrive.

If you’re unfamiliar with Easy, as too many are, it’s an emotional anthology series that follows various characters through pivotal (and often painful) moments in their lives. You can jump in at any point, although a few Season 1 characters do return in Season 2. 

Easy is the kind of show that will make your heart hurt in all the best ways. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll consider buying a sexy construction worker costume. Enjoy!

Easy: Season 3 begins streaming on Netflix 5/10.


A Pesar De Todo (5/3)
Alles ist gut
Always Be My Maybe
Angels & Demons
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Bathtubs Over Broadway
Chasing Liberty
Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion Part 1 & 2
Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat
Dry Martina
Dumb and Dumber
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Gente que viene y bah
Good Sam
Gosford Park
(1988) (5/1)
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Her Only Choice
Jo Pil-ho: The Dawning Rage
John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky
Just Friends
Knock Down The House
Like Arrows
Morir para contar
Mr. Mom
Munafik 2
My Week with Marilyn
Olympus Has Fallen
Revolutionary Road
Rim of the World
See You Yesterday
Svaha: The Sixth Finger
Take Me Home Tonight
Taking Lives
The Blackcoat’s Daughter
The Da Vinci Code
The Dark Crystal
(1982) (5/1)
The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution
The Last Summer
The Matrix
The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
The One I Love
The Perfection
To Rome With Love
Wedding Crashers
Weed the People
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Wine Country


1994: Limited Series (5/17)
A Tale of Two Kitchens
After Maria
All In My Family
Alta Mar
: Season 7 (5/21)
Bad Blood
: Season 2 (5/31)
Black Spot
: Season 2 (5/31)
(2018): Season 1 (TBD)
Chip & Potato
: Season 3 (5/2)
Cupcake & Dino – General Services
: Season 2 (5/3)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
: Season 4 (TBD)
Dead to Me
Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed!
: Season 3 (5/10)
Harvey Girls Forever!
: Season 2 (5/10)
Historical Roasts
How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)
Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer
: Season 2 (5/1)
It’s Bruno
Killer Ratings
Lucifer: Season 4 (5/8)
Malibu Rescue (5/13)
Nailed It!
: Season 3 (5/17)
One Night in Spring
: Seasons 1-2 (5/27)
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
: Volume 3 (5/12)
: Season 1 (5/10)
Prince of Peoria: Part 2
Queen of the South: Season 3
ReMastered: The Lion’s Share
: Season 3 (5/23)
Rosario Tijeras (Mexico Version)
: Season 2 (5/20)
Roswell, New Mexico
: Season 1 (5/1)
She’s Gotta Have It
: Season 2 (5/24)
Slasher: Solstice
Still LAUGH-IN: The Stars Celebrate
: Season 4 (TBD)
: Season 14 (5/3)
The Flash
: Season 5
The Mechanism
: Season 2 (TBD)
The Rain
: Season 2 (5/17)
The Society
True and the Rainbow Kingdom: Mushroom Town
Tuca & Bertie
Wanda Sykes: Not Normal
Well Intended Love
When They See Us
White Gold
: Season 2 (5/17)


8 Mile (5/1)
Bill Nye, the Science Guy
: Collection 1 (5/15)
Cold Justice
: Collection 3(5/1)
Dances with Wolves
Disney High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Disney’s Bridge to Terabithia
Dr. No
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
For Your Eyes Only
From Dusk Till Dawn
From Russia with Love
I Know What You Did Last Summer (5/31)
Jaws 2
Jaws 3
Jaws: The Revenge
Licence to Kill
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Sixteen Candles
Sliding Doors
Somm: Into the Bottle
Switched at Birth
: Seasons 1-5(5/11)
The Birdcage
The Boss Baby
The Dirty Dozen
The English Patient
The Lovely Bones
The Notebook
The Other Boleyn Girl
Tomorrow Never Dies
West Side Story
(1961) (5/31)

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The Real Reason You Use Closed Captions for Everything Now

In this moment, there is only one thing I wish to know, and those are the words coming out of Sylvester Stallone’s mouth—if indeed they are words. I’m watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Incomprehensibly, Stallone has a small part in it, speaking, as he often does, incomprehensibly. But, gosh, he looks very important. Therefore he must be saying something important. Probably the whole of this film depends on it.

So I rewind Netflix, one of life’s more torturous little rituals. Then I squeeze my eyes shut—the better, I believe, to open my ears. Don’t anyone move, I mind-command the empty room. When Stallone speaks again, I’m prepared, my breath held tight. This is what I hear: “In Santo which is warmer but I ain’t got married and I said let me oh I know the girl.”


Stallone’s a special kind of mumbler, obviously. But this is not some rando-Rambo exception. I find myself rewinding constantly in the modern era, straining to hear. Auditory breakdowns repeat, loop, divide. Movies and TV are, it seems, simply harder to hear in general these days.

Part of it is relative: When you watch more TV, you miss more TV. This very second, in living rooms nationwide, innumerable couch-bound bingers are failing to synthesize a piece of dialog emanating from their new-age sound bars, and it pains them. Whether it’s Bernard in Westworld or Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, the lines are not cohering into meaningful English. “What did he say?”—already the most uttered (and annoying) question in the history of talking pictures—is by now a nightly interrogation, yanny/laurel times a million.

Some of it might be the happy result of ever-globalizing TV options. As the world shrinks, more people of every background are losing themselves, via the hottest new escapisms, in foreign dialects and cultures. Chewing Gum, the British comedy set on a council estate in East London, sparkles with slang that blows right past most Americans. Without the right context, we don’t hear it.

But that’s an issue of comprehension, of understanding. My concern here is more the failure of literal, physical hearing. (Bernard speaks very slowly in Westworld, yet I hear very little.) You sense it, don’t you? More “Huh?” in conversation, more “Say again?” and “Beg pardon?” What’s so frustrating at home, in front of the TV, is that actors won’t repeat themselves. The problem is more acute.

Maybe the problem is our ears. Maybe, jabbed and stuffed as they are with so much sleek contemporary accessory, they’re simply overburdened. Except mine, I dare say, are not. I protect them from the oontz-oontz of so-called music, along with any other unwelcome invasions; earbuds have been pressed into their softness maybe three times. (So pristine is my hearing, in fact, that I can count among my favorite sensory experiences the sound a semi-sautéed mushroom makes after it slips out of a French skillet and falls, by gravity’s good grace, to the kitchen floor. If the linoleum is just right and the room sensibly hushed, you’ll perceive a wet, perky slap—bpuhk!—as though some tiny winged creature with tinier hands has popped an interdimensional bubble. Hearing something so small enlarges your soul.)

Even aurally gifted as all that, however, I still find myself constantly asking of the television set: “Eh?”

Here’s what Stallone really says in Guardians 2: “After going around in circles with this woman I end up marrying. I said, ‘Aleta, I love you, girl.’” Of course, I only know that because I cheated. Clicked Menu, clicked Subtitles, clicked English CC. When I turn on those words, my body untenses. Not even the most inconsequential bit of throwaway dialog is safe from the rigorous, trustworthy pen of closed captioning. At last, I can hear everything.

Subtitles have been around since the early ’70s. (Julia Child was one of the first beneficiaries, her joyful warble rendered in sentences her audience of “servantless American cooks” could follow, both linguistically and culinarily, with ease.) Essential for deaf people and English language learners, and scientifically shown to promote reading comprehension and retention, subtitles have only recently become essential for many TV watchers, period. A smattering of online encomia tell you it’s the only way to watch. One Redditor asks in r/movies, “I like having subtitles with everything I watch. Anything wrong with this?” Almost everyone responds supportively, including this person: “I cannot fully enjoy any video without subtitles. At all.”

Many people I know IRL can relate, from bankers and meditators to jocks, UX designers, and writers. My anecdata turns up no gender preferences. Couples seem overrepresented, presumably because one influences the other. “Well, they insist on watching everything with subtitles,” one says of their partner. “But now I like doing it too.” Great, fine! But uh, why bother making excuses?

Because—there’s still something not quite right with the idea, is there? It doesn’t sit well, watching everything this way. Last year, Refinery29 ran a piece, “Get Over Your Fear Of Subtitles, Please,” in which the writer extols the benefits: you can appreciate the script, you know whose off-screen voice you're hearing, you can chuckle at the poetic attempts by caption writers to convey background noises (“[bestial squall]”). To those others have added: you can watch at low volume, you can clean or eat or otherwise make general ruckus while watching. Inside the screen, diegetic minutiae—passerby conversations, a snippet of a TV news story—takes on new clarity, giving shape to the world of a story. The fuzziness solidifies, control overlaying chaos.

Thus the modern condition asserts itself. If there is something we can know, we do everything in our power to know it, regardless of our actual level of investment. When someone at the dinner table idly wonders, say, what Memorial Day memorializes, it’s a game of fastest Google-finger. Uncertainty causes gas; search is Tums. Now we can keep eating.

Except these are quick fixes. They provide only momentary relief. They also upset natural rhythms. The same is true of captions. They ruin anything dependent on timing, like jokes or moments of tension. (Imagine reading “Luke, I am your father” a half-second before hearing it.) We end up staring more at actors’ torsos than at their faces. As in life, we make less and less eye contact. Small bursts of text are how we comprehend the world now. We must see the printed words in order to believe them. Look, can you believe he said that? Yes, it’s right there!

Just as quickly, though, the words are gone, comprehensively forgotten. “After going around in circles with this woman I end up marrying. I said, ‘Aleta, I love you, girl.” What even is that? None of that filler matters to the Guardians 2 plot (such as it is). Half of those words are spoken off-camera. In a very real way we were not meant to know them, merely to register their hum. But like Google, closed captions are there, eminently accessible, ready to clarify the unclarities, and so, desperately, we, the paranoids and obsessive-compulsives and postmodern completists, click.

No, subtitles are not the solution. They flatten our perception. Sounds are more muted these days because there are too many of them, every utterance equally weighted and demanding of us total comprehension. Look at the words themselves. All too often they are meaningless. Yet we painstakingly rewind Netflix anyway, backward, backward, backward, stuck in a garbled loop. Bpuhk, pop—get me out.

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Did the Owl Do It? Behind The Staircase‘s Wildest Theory

As true-crime obsessives already know, last Friday Netflix dropped The Staircase, a docu-series chronicling the 2001 death of Kathleen Peterson and the subsequent murder trial of her husband, Michael. While the project followed a long and circuitous route to the streaming giant—it originally premiered in the US on the Sundance Channel in 2005, then received a two-hour follow-up in 2013, all before Netflix packaged it together and added some new footage—it immediately became a word-of-mouth sensation.

If you’ve binge-watched all 628 minutes, you might be tempted to think that the big question is: Did Michael Peterson kill his wife, or did Kathleen Peterson fall down the stairs? But whenever there's fervent interest in a murder case, there are often alternative theories—and one very popular hypothesis that you didn’t see in Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s series posits that there was a third party involved in Kathleen’s death: an owl.

Preposterous? It depends on who you ask.

The Raptor Motion

"The first time I heard about the Owl Theory I said to myself, 'That's totally stupid!'" says de Lestrade, who has spent the past 16 years following Michael Peterson’s life both in and outside of prison. "But later, Larry Pollard explained to me in a very effective way what he thought could have happened.”

"Larry," also known as T. Lawrence Pollard, is a lawyer and former Peterson neighbor, and the primary architect of the Owl Theory. In 2009, Pollard filed a motion requesting that Peterson’s conviction be set aside and all charges dismissed or that he be granted a new trial based on the discovery of "new and compelling evidence" that the real culprit in Mrs. Peterson's death was a raptor, or bird of prey. Included in his 40-point motion, Pollard stated:

  1. The "Owl Theory" was advanced to the Defendant’s lawyers and the Prosecution at the conclusion of the trial, namely, that Mrs. Peterson may have been the victim of an attack by a wild bird outside her house, an attack which caused puncture wounds to her elbows, injuries on her face and around her eyes, and lacerations to her scalp. The theory was dismissed at the time on the basis that owls do not attack human beings and that the theory lacked credibility.

Among the physical evidence Pollard believed backed his claim was "the presence of blood droplets on the brick walkway and the slate landing outside the home" as well as "the existence of feathers attached to Mrs. Peterson's hair and found by the medical examiner clutched in her left hand with fresh blood."

In a Netflix bonus feature (see below), Peterson’s attorney David Rudolf makes clear that he believed there was enough evidence to warrant further investigation into whether an owl could’ve done it. "The only real difference, if you will, between our theory at trial and the Owl Theory is the initial infliction of the wounds," he says.

Testing the Theory

According to Rudolf, the first time he was presented with the theory "was a day or two before the closing, [so] I couldn’t do anything with it." Had the case been retried, Rudolf says he absolutely would have delved further into its plausibility.

"I consulted with Dr. Carla Dove, the chief ornithologist from the Smithsonian Institution in DC, who agreed to do DNA testing on the feathers," Rudolf says. Larry Pollard also consulted others, including a neurosurgeon, a professor of veterinary medicine, and Kate P. Davis, executive director of Raptors of the Rockies. ("All three agreed that the wounds on Kathleen’s scalp were consistent with an owl attack," Rudolf says. All three also provided Pollard with affidavits.)

In Davis' mind, there’s no question that a raptor was involved. Within just a few minutes of getting a call from Sophie Brunet, editor of The Staircase—who became romantically involved with Peterson during the course of production—Davis conducted a simple experiment. She grabbed a metal salad bowl from her kitchen, covered it with and eighth of an inch of clay, went out to where her own barred owl, Graham, lived, then “picked her up over my head and dropped her on that salad bowl.” She took pictures of the resulting talon marks and sent them to Sophie, who confirmed that they matched Kathleen’s injuries.

When Davis, who has had plenty of personal experience with talon marks on her own body, saw the photos of Kathleen’s injuries, she agreed that they were a match. "I bet my bottom dollar that Kathleen, after the partying and all that, went outside to move some Christmas decorations, the owl hit her in the back of the head, she pulled it off with her hands—[which is how she] got the feathers and poke holes in the side of her face—and dropped it, and that’s why there’s blood outside,” Davis says.

But Davis also maintains that the owl wasn't the direct cause of death. "She was compromised to begin with, she’s walking up these steep stairs, she’s feeling woozy," she says of Kathleen Peterson. "She fell in the staircase twice."

Yet Daniel George, a now-retired crime scene technician with the Durham City Police Department who was the first technician on the scene in 2001, doesn’t believe that there was any fall at all—partly because of where the blood was and where the body was. "There was nothing up on the steps themselves," says George, who recently recounted the experience for An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase, Investigation Discovery's own special on the Peterson trial. "There’s 19 steps, but no blood any further than five feet up the steps."

"The amount of blood is really troubling, yes, but how do you explain the type of cuts and lacerations she [had]?" asks de Lestrade. "I don’t know what happened the night Kathleen Peterson died, but I have hard time believing that’s a murder. It is very difficult to explain Kathleen Peterson's injuries if it is a murder. That's why, today, I believe the Owl Theory may be the best theory to explain what happened to Kathleen."

Not So Fast

Though owls have been known to swoop and injure people (earlier this year, there were at least three incidents in Atlanta), hearing of the Peterson case was the first time the idea of a "killer" owl occurred to ornithologist Dove. "It’s not something I would even think about," she says. "But then somebody showed me a video of an owl attacking this big man. I have no idea one way or the other. I’m not saying I’ve ever heard of it happening—I certainly haven’t. I don’t really know."

Though Dove consulted with both Peterson’s legal team and the filmmakers of The Staircase, she never had a chance to examine the actual evidence in the case—only photos. And that's not enough. "When we do the identification work, we do it from fragments of feathers," Dove says. "We need the fluffy, downy part, which is the fuzzy part at the base."

The pictures she saw of the feather samples, though, were inconclusive, and couldn't even point her to a particular taxonomic order of birds, let alone a narrower group or family. "We offered to go down there and go through the evidence to see if we could find more feather fragments," she says, "but it never materialized."

As for whether there could have been an owl present, George admits that while investigating the staircase itself, they did find “one item in particular that was maybe a sixteenth of an inch long—it was a curved shape and it looked almost like a mini-talon. We didn’t know what it was."

Yet the item, which was shipped off to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to be tested, didn't have any blood on it. "It could have been a piece of a fingernail, it could have been a dog’s toenail, it could have been anything," George says. "It could have been a piece of wood that was on the steps."

While many owl theorists have pointed to the fact that the injuries to Kathleen’s head were deep but did not leave her with any deeper skull or brain damage—which would be expected with the blunt force trauma Michael was accused of inflicting on his wife—George says they were still "down to the skull … it certainly didn’t look like anything an owl could have done. It almost looked like it was cut. But the medical examiner determined that those lacerations were caused by a brutal beating of blunt force trauma to the skull."

Still, Dove and her team saw enough reasonable evidence in the photo to agree to examine the evidence more thoroughly. "We’re professionals and we’ll examine anything that’s reasonable," she says. (Except maybe the time they received a request to examine some angel feathers; "that was a little bit far-fetched for me," she admits.)

In early March 2017—less than a week after Michael Peterson entered an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter—North Carolina’s reported that Rudolf had filed a motion to obtain the feather fragments from evidence so that they could be sent on to Dove for further testing. But the money dried up. "Once the case was concluded," he says, "there was no funding to test the feathers."

Given all the uncertainty, the biggest question surrounding The Staircase might actually be: In more than 10 hours, why did the series not mention such an insane-sounding, but still plausible, theory? De Lestrade’s answer is simple: "I decided to keep it out of the film because it was never presented in court. I wanted to stick to Michael Peterson's judicial journey. I just wanted to present how the legal system will treat the case.”

Could there be another feather left in his documentary cap? Hoo knows.

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Barnes & Noble teeters in a post-text world

Barnes & Noble, that once proud anchor to many a suburban mall, is waning. It is not failing all at once, dropping like the savaged corpse of Toys “R” Us, but it also clear that its cultural moment has passed and only drastic measures can save it from joining Waldenbooks and Borders in the great, paper-smelling ark of our book-buying memory. I’m thinking about this because David Leonhardt at The New York Times calls for B&N to be saved. I doubt it can be.

First, there is the sheer weight of real estate and the inexorable slide away from print. B&N is no longer a place to buy books. It is a toy store with a bathroom and a cafe (and now a restaurant?), a spot where you’re more likely to find Han Solo bobbleheads than a Star Wars novel. The old joy of visiting a bookstore and finding a few magical books to drag home is fast being replicated by smaller bookstores where curation and provenance are still important while B&N pulls more and more titles. To wit:

But does all of this matter? Will the written word — what you’re reading right now — survive the next century? Is there any value in a book when VR and AR and other interfaces can recreate what amounts to the implicit value of writing? Why save B&N if writing is doomed?

Indulge me for a moment and then argue in comments. I’m positing that B&N’s failure is indicative of a move towards a post-text society, that AI and new media will redefine how we consume the world and the fact that we see more videos than text on our Facebook feed – ostensibly the world’s social nervous system – is indicative of this change.

First, some thoughts on writing versus film. In his book of essays, Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson writes about the complexity and education and experience needed to consume various forms of media:

The book has been largely unchanged for centuries. Working in language expressed as a system of marks on a surface, I can induce extremely complex experiences, but only in an audience elaborately educated to experience this. This platform still possesses certain inherent advantages. I can, for instance, render interiority of character with an ease and specificity denied to a screenwriter.

But my audience must be literate, must know what prose fiction is and understand how one accesses it. This requires a complexly cultural education, and a certain socioeconomic basis. Not everyone is afforded the luxury of such an education.

But I remember being taken to my first film, either a Disney animation or a Disney nature documentary (I can’t recall which I saw first), and being overwhelmed by the steep yet almost instantaneous learning curve: In that hour, I learned to watch film.

This is a deeply important idea. First, we must appreciate that writing and film offer various value adds beyond linear storytelling. In the book, the writer can explore the inner space of the character, giving you an imagined world in which people are thinking, not just acting. Film — also a linear medium — offers a visual representation of a story and thoughts are inferred by dint of their humanity. We know a character’s inner life thanks to the emotion we infer from their face and body.

This is why, to a degree, the CGI human was so hard to make. Thanks to books, comics, and film we, as humans, were used to giving animals and enchanted things agency. Steamboat Willie mostly thought like us, we imagined, even though he was a mouse with big round ears. Fast-forward to the dawn of CGI humans — think Sid from Toy Story and his grotesque face — and then fly even further into the future Leia looking out over a space battle and mumbling “Hope” and you see the scope of achievement in CGI humans as well as the deep problems with representing humans digitally. A CGI car named Lightning McQueen acts and thinks like us while a CGI Leia looks slightly off. We cannot associate agency with fake humans, and that’s a problem.

Thus we needed books to give us that inner look, that frisson of discovery that we are missing in real life.

But soon — and we can argue that films like Infinity War prove this — there will be no uncanny valley. We will be unable to tell if a human on screen or in VR is real or fake and this allows for an interesting set of possibilities.

First, with VR and other tricks, we could see through a character’s eyes and even hear her thoughts. This interiority, as Gibson writes, is no longer found in the realm of text and is instead an added attraction to an already rich medium. Imagine hopping from character to character, the reactions and thoughts coming hot and heavy as they move through the action. Maybe the story isn’t linear. Maybe we make it up as we go along. Imagine the remix, the rebuild, the restructuring.

Gibson again:

This spreading, melting, flowing together of what once were distinct and separate media, that’s where I imagine we’re headed. Any linear narrative film, for instance, can serve as the armature for what we would think of as a virtual reality, but which Johnny X, eight-year-old end-point consumer, up the line, thinks of as how he looks at stuff. If he discovers, say, Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, he might idly pause to allow his avatar a freestyle Hong Kong kick-fest with the German guards in the prison camp. Just because he can. Because he’s always been able to. He doesn’t think about these things. He probably doesn’t fully understand that that hasn’t always been possible.

In this case B&N and the bookstore don’t need to exist at all. We get the depth of books with the vitality of film melded with the immersion of gaming. What about artisanal book lovers, you argue, they’ll keep things alive because they love the feel of books.

When that feel — the scent, the heft, the old book smell — can be simulated do we need to visit a bookstore? When Amazon and Netflix spend millions to explore new media and are sure to branch out into more immersive forms do you need to immerse yourself in To The Lighthouse? Do we really need the education we once had to gain in order to read a book?

We know that Amazon doesn’t care about books. They used books as a starting point to taking over e-commerce and, while the Kindle is the best system for e-books in existence, it is an afterthought compared to the rest of the business. In short, the champions of text barely support it.

Ultimately what I posit here depends on a number of changes coming all at once. We must all agree to fall headfirst into some share hallucination the replaces all other media. We must feel that that world is real enough for us to abandon our books.

It’s up to book lovers, then, to decide what they want. They have to support and pay for novels, non-fiction, and news. They have to visit small booksellers and keep demand for books alive. And they have to make it possible to exist as a writer. “Publishers are focusing on big-name writers. The number of professional authors has declined. The disappearance of Borders deprived dozens of communities of their only physical bookstore and led to a drop in book sales that looks permanent,” writes Leonhardt and he’s right. There is no upside for text slingers.

In the end perhaps we can’t save B&N. Maybe we let it collapse into a heap like so many before it. Or maybe we fight for a medium that is quickly losing cachet. Maybe we fight for books and ensure that just because the big guys on the block can’t make a bookstore work the rest of us don’t care. Maybe we tell the world that we just want to read.

I shudder to think what will happen if we don’t.

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Marvels The Punisher Offers a Damning Critique of Americas Gun Fetish

Is Marvels The Punisher, featuring Frank Castlea gun-toting, revenge-happy antiheroa necessary series right now as gun debates rage on and mass shootings increase in America? Turns out it just might be, but not without some much-needed rewriting of Franks history.

In the comics, Castle is a near-deranged war vet who mows down criminals like Paul Kersey in Death Wish, only with an Army-grade arsenal. The Punisher smartly places Frank at the center of a government conspiracy: his unit was unwittingly forced into committing war crimes, and now he wants to kill everyone responsible.

The Punisher is an extremely violent seriesmuch like Marvels other Netflix series. There have been meditations on whether or not the violence is justified from series to series: Daredevil and Jessica Jones are pretty nonchalant about it, Luke Cage uses it with reservation, and Iron Fist has its titular character dead set against killing people until he joins the others in The Defenders. This show, however, treats violence much more viscerally. You see blood splattering from gunshots; you see an arrow being pulled from a wound. The violence is abundant and the gore quotient tops any previous Marvel series.

It comes as no surprise that showrunner Steve Lightfoot previously worked on Hannibal, because the violence is slow and methodical. It focuses on brutality in a way that sticks with you; that makes you feel like youre actually experiencing it not simply because its cool, but because The Punisher is very invested in how violence affects us as humans.

Frank is plagued by PTSD from his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and frequently has dreams about his murdered family. Jon Bernthal is great at conveying the emotions of a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and much the same way Hannibal focused on the mind of Will Graham and how violence changes him, The Punisher focuses on how Franks worldview is perverted by the actions of a government that was entrusted to protect him.

Further making the series an indictment of the U.S. government are the scenes with a veteran support group. It illustrates how our country treats the men and women of our military once they come home and have to return to normal lives. We see attempts to protest the government, mental triggers that leave one soldier digging a foxhole in his yard, and the effect of one soldier being manipulated by a man who resembles the hate-mongering Make America Great Again crowd.

Since the series is chock-full of guns, it may seem as though it must support the Second Amendment crowd and the right to bear arms. But, even though Frank uses guns to exact his revenge, the show is decidedly anti-gun, depicting how these deadly weapons cripple us emotionally, and also physically.

Mostly, the series feels far more grounded than previous Netflix series, even with its pulpy revenge and conspiracy-theory elements. The series before it have attempted to be grounded, but they also strike an odd balance in mixing superheroes with a gritty, realistic setting that often pretends like aliens dont regularly land on Earth and have knock-down, drag-out fights with other aliens.

The Punisher mostly does away with this as it strips superheroism from its premise, along with the requisite winks and nods at other Marvel series. Aside from a couple of cameos and the appearance of Karen Page as a supporting character, The Punisher truly feels like a stand-alone series in a way that none of the other Marvel Netflix series have accomplished.

Its slow-building but moves with a purpose, whereas many of Marvels other Netflix series drag toward the finish line. The Punisher manages to focus primarily on the struggles of men and women who are damaged in ways that are fresh for television. Theres Frank and his computer hacker-friend Micro, both dealing with faking their own deaths (though Micro actually has a family hes abandoned), but theres also Dinah Madani, who is perhaps one of televisions most interesting characters.

The show feels a bit like Homeland with its dizzying conspiracies but its also the anti-Homeland. Amber Rose Revah portrays a Persian-American woman working for Homeland Security whos great at her job, despite being distrusted by colleagues. Its a three-dimensional character replete with a mother she can have tough conversations with, a sex life, and a ferocious personality at work. It shows that The Punisher is about more than adapting comic book charactersits about fleshing out humans.

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Giant ‘Netflix is a joke’ billboards pop up in Los Angeles and New York

If you can’t laugh at yourself, maybe everyone else… can?

Giant black and white billboards have popped up over New York and Los Angeles this week, emblazoned with one sentence: “Netflix is a joke.”

The whole thing appears to be a Netflix-led marketing campaign to promote a string of new comedies coming to the platform, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter, citing confirmation from anonymous sources. 

It makes sense, seeing as Netflix has become the go-to streaming platform for stand-up comedy, with the likes of Dave Chapelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Louis C.K. securing Netflix specials this year. Chris Rock‘s specials saw Netflix reportedly outbid HBO by dishing out a casual $40 million. 

Varietyalso points out that Netflix launched a new Instagram account, with posts promoting Seinfeld’s special Jerry Before Seinfeld, Sept. 19 launching.

Honestly, it seems like a self-aware marketing campaign gone awkward, especially when Netflix’s reaction was to retweet ‘mysteriously’ with question marks:

Expect plenty more billboards where these came from as the campaign rolls out. You can’t really vandalize them, hey?

Mashable has reached out to Netflix for comment.

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Marvel’s ‘The Defenders’ premiere episode went over really, really well at Comic-Con

Someone please explain to Daredevil that wrapping a cloth around your eyes actually makes you MORE conspicuous.
Image: Netflix

The world at large will have to wait til August 18 to check out Marvel’s The Defenders.

But a few thousand lucky fans got an early peek at Comic-Con’s Hall H on Friday.

Netflix played the entire first episode of The Defenders to an enthusiastic crowd including your faithful movies reporter from Mashable. Here’s everything you need to know.

1. The first Defender you’ll see in The Defenders is … Iron Fist.

I know, guys, I’m upset too.

Image: Netflix

Womp womp.

And he still doesn’t know how to onscreen-fight worth a damn, at least based on his first scene a fight sequence set in a series of wet, dark tunnels that conveniently make it real difficult to make out what’s going on.

In defense of Finn Jones, he’s also saddled with the worst dialogue. Like: “My name is Danny. I’m hunting members of the Hand.” Groan.

2. The first episode feels like four different shows.

Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all had their own distinct tones and visual flourishes, which makes us curious to see how they’ll all meld in The Defenders. But in the first episode, the answer is that they don’t, really.

The Defenders feels a bit like four different shows, each with their own color-coding, stitched together through clever editing. In fact, make that five. Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra has her own color, and it’s white.

Oh, hey, and speaking of Sigourney Weaver …

3. Alexandra’s such a badass bitch that she intimidates Madame Gao.

Be afraid, Defenders fans.

4. Luke Cage and Claire Temple are still going strong.

I swear to God if anything happens to Claire Temple I’m going to throw my computer out the window.

Image: Netflix

The first thing Luke does when he’s let out of prison is speak briefly with his attorney, one Franklin Nelson. (“Actually, people call me Foggy.” “And you let them?”) The second thing he does is head straight into Claire’s arms, and then back to her apartment for some makeup sex. Aww.

5. Matt Murdock’s out there pretending he doesn’t miss Daredevil-ing.

Matt’s trying real hard to just be a regular lawyer, and not a lawyer who moonlights as a vigilante. It’s not going well. His interactions with Karen are painfully awkward, and he doesn’t sound halfway convincing when he claims he doesn’t miss his old life.

6. Jessica Jones still gets all the best lines.

Trish might just have to take this whole “superhero” thing into her own hands.

Image: Netflix

Or maybe it’s just the way Krysten Ritter delivers them. Anyway, I won’t ruin them for you. Just watch the show.

7. Colleen Wing definitely deserves better.

Here’s what actress Jessica Henwick had to say about Colleen at the Comic-Con panel beforehand:

Colleen’s really had her whole life ripped away from her at the end of Iron Fist her father, her religion, her family, even her dojo. When we catch up with her and Danny, she really hasn’t come to terms with what’s happened emotionally and mentally.

Here’s what Colleen does in the first episode of The Defenders: Be really concerned about Danny and his guilt over abandoning K’un-Lun. Dude, maybe stop wallowing in your own angst for a second and see what you can do to help your girlfriend? Maybe that’s coming in episode two.

8. Misty, Malcolm, and Trish are still around.

The Defenders premiere makes pains to check in with basically every major returning player from the four shows. Turns out Misty’s been assigned to a citywide task force, so she’s not just covering Harlem now. Something tells me she’ll end up spending a lot of time in Hell’s Kitchen.

Meanwhile, Malcolm is looking much, much better than he did in Jessica Jones season 1. Trish looks the same. Both are trying to convince Jessica that she is, in Trish’s words, “a full-blown superh”

“Do not say the h-word,” Jessica interjects.

(I know I told you I’d let you discover Jessica’s best lines for yourself, but I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

9. Brace yourself for lots of talk about “the city.”

That, my friends, is the face of a woman who’s about to launch into a whole spiel about “the city.”

Image: Netflix

At the Hall H panel, Sigourney Weaver described New York City as “the fifth Defender.” Sure enough, there’s lots and lots of talk about “the city” whether it’s a better place without Daredevil, what it mean to Colleen and Danny, how much the Dutch paid for the island of Manhattan, what it’s like to watch it fall apart.

10. It might be a while before all these crazy kids come together.

As of the end of the first episode of The Defenders, none of the Defenders are hanging out yet. Strap in, guys, this might be kind of a long ride.

The Defenders hits Netflix August 18.

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