Tag Archives: Netflix Animation

Reagan Ridley: How To Craft A Damaged Character (The Right Way)

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a deeper exploration into the character of Reagan Ridley from the Netflix animated series, Inside Job. She’s a very flawed character and a very damaged character, as well. A great many of those characters have come about in recent years.

However, what makes Reagan stand out is how her flaws and damage are channeled into her story. And it’s a story worth highlighting and appreciating.

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Why You Should Watch “Castlevania” On Netflix This Halloween

When it comes to certain holidays, I tend to be more proactive than most people. Talk to anyone who knows me fairly well and they’ll attest that I’m the kind of guy who has his Christmas tree up the first week of November. It’s just part of who I am. For certain holidays, I like to draw out the festivities and the spirit in my own unique way.

One of those holidays happens to be Halloween. I’ve always been fond of Halloween and its various spooky themes. While I don’t decorate my home the same way I do with Christmas, I still try to get into the spirit. A big part of that spirit involves watching a bunch of horror movies and Halloween specials.

To that end, I’ve always had my share of favorites. A good slasher movie like “Friday The 13th” and the original “Halloween” is usually a good place to start. Plenty of shows also have great Halloween special, like the many Treehouse of Horror episodes from “The Simpsons” and “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

In more recent years, I’ve grown fond of some newer entries into my Halloween themed watch-list. Movies like “Happy Death Day” and “Hubie Halloween” have quickly become personal favorites of mine. But for Halloween this year, I’d like to offer another show that has steadily worked its way into my Halloween viewing list. It’s an animated series on Netflix called “Castlevania.”

Now, this is not a new show, relatively speaking. This show actually began airing in 2017 and when it began, it only had three episodes. Even though I watched those episodes and liked what I saw, it wasn’t even that clear that it would continue beyond that.

There was a good reason for that. This show was based off a video game by the same name. If you owned a Nintendo or Super Nintendo system back in the early to mid 1990s, you probably heard of “Castlevania” the game. And it was a damn good game, as well. It was often held in high regard for its gameplay and its monster hunting themes.

But since it emerged in the early era of gaming, it wasn’t particularly known for its story. I doubt it was ever at the top of anyone’s list in terms of video game franchises that deserved an adaptation. It certainly doesn’t help that video game adaptations have a rather nasty legacy of being terrible, regardless of whether they’re animated or live action.

Despite those limitations, Netflix dared to invest in “Castlevania.” It dared to give this franchise some full-scale world-building, taking iconic characters from the game and fleshing them out in a meaningful way. And the end result was truly remarkable.

This isn’t just a series that makes for good viewing during Halloween.

This is a legitimately well-written, well-developed show on every conceivable level.

Yes, it still has the armies of monsters, goblins, and demons that made the video game so iconic. But it also has a genuinely compelling story with genuinely well-rounded characters. Trevor Belmont, Sypha, Alucard, and even Vlad Dracula himself are given distinct, multi-layered character arcs that are all distinct. They all exist in a dark, flawed, and corrupt world set in Medieval Europe. It’s not a world driven by good or pure evil. Everything exists in varying shades of both. And everyone has agendas, goals, struggles, and burdens.

It’s also a show that really hits the ground running. It’s not a slow build towards the action. Within the first few minutes of the show, an innocent gets burned at the stake and Dracula goes on a grief-fueled rampage against the whole of humanity. It gets bloody, violent, and dark very quickly, all of which feel very appropriate for Halloween. But it also has moments of heart, introspection, and melodrama.

Seriously, there are moments within the brutal violence that are genuinely heartbreaking. But those moments only make the horror themes work even better.

The early seasons were good. That, I never denied. But once the later seasons came out and really completed the story, “Castlevania” became much more than a video game adaptation that didn’t suck. To me, it became a perfectly crafted horror story that maximized the appeal of vampires, magic, goblins, ghouls, and monsters.

Seriously, what more could you want from a Halloween story?

While “Castlevania” was never marketed as a Halloween story, it definitely checks most of the necessary boxes. So, if you’re looking for something new to add to your Halloween watch list this year, give Netflix’s “Castlevania” a watch. Even if it doesn’t get you into the Halloween spirit, it’s still a damn good show.

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The Dragon Prince: Can Lord Viren Be Redeemed? (And Should He Be?)

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video ponders a simple question about “The Dragon Prince,” as it stands after season three.

Can Lord Viren be redeemed?

Moreover, should he be?

With the recent announcement that season four is coming at some point in 2022, I felt like the time was right to explore this notion. He crossed a lot of lines in the first three seasons. And by season three, he became the greatest threat to humans and elves alike.

However, there are some larger complications to his descent. I try to break those down in this video while assessing both sides. We won’t know for sure what Viren’s fate will be until season four comes along. In the meantime, I hope this video offers plenty to think about. Enjoy!

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Lessons From Bojack Horseman: The Toxic Effect Of Celebrity

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is my first deep dive into Bojack Horseman, one of my favorite shows of all time. This Netflix series was so groundbreaking in how it told the story of a washed-up sitcom star from the 90s, who just happened to be a talking horseman. It was funny, but dark at times.

Okay, it was dark most of the time. But that’s beside the point.

There this show offered so many profound themes and insights on everything from mental illness to toxic cycles. But in this video, I focus on how this show depicted the world of celebrity and celebrity culture. Because Bojack’s story can’t be told without also telling the story of a celebrity with a great many personal issue. And while his story is powerful, I also think it sheds a light on the dark side of being a celebrity and how it affects people.

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F Is For Family Season 5: A Bittersweet, But Insightful Finale

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It is my full review, reaction, and analysis of season five of “F Is For Family,” the Netflix show from Bill Burr that threatens to put us through a fucking wall. Enjoy!

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The Dragon Prince: A Case Study In Developing (Quality) Romance

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s my first video about a show I discovered on Netflix called “The Dragon Prince.” It’s very likely it won’t be the last because this show has captured my heart in all the right ways. There are many things that make it great, but one of the best happens to involve romance. Given my fondness for romance and writing romantic stories, that definitely adds to the appeal.

In this particular video, I highlight and celebrate how the show’s main romantic sub-plot involving Callum and Rayla raised he bar for love stories everywhere. Seriously, if you’re a romance fan, this show is worth watching just for that. Hopefully, this video helps make that case. Enjoy!

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Paradise PD: Obscene, Disgusting, And Hilarious

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a full review of the first three season of “Paradise PD,” a raunchy animated show on Netflix. I’ve covered this show before during previous seasons. I also don’t deny the crude, obscene humor that this show employs. However, it’s still one of those rare shows that makes the obscenity work.

This video is a more comprehensive effort to celebrate the show’s crude humor, as well as the unexpected heart it explores in the latest season. If you have a strong stomach and a good sense of humor, I highly recommend checking out this show. Hopefully, this video will convince you to give it a shot. Enjoy!

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“F Is For Family” Season 4 Teaser: Frank Murphy’s Father (And All The Yelling It Inspires)

How does a man get so angry that he regularly threatens to put his kids through fucking walls?

How does a man become so volatile and unhinged that the mere act of calling him during dinner will send him into a rage?

How does a man struggle so much to cope with such an unfair world?

These are just some of the many questions I find myself asking after watching three seasons of “F is for Family.” It’s not easy when I have to contemplate such things in between bouts of hysterical laughter, but they’re still worth contemplating. Given long wait we’ve endured for season 4, I think we’re all ready for some answers.

Recently, we finally got a tease in the form of a teaser trailer. The trailer even offers hints as to what makes Frank Murphy tick and why he’s prone to hulking out at a moment’s notice. It also offers some colorful F-bombs. It just wouldn’t be “F is for Family” without a healthy dose of F-bombs.

True to the cliffhanger we got at the end of Season 3, we’re about to meet Frank Murphy’s father. We don’t know much about him, but the trailer hints that there’s a good reason why Frank rarely mentions him. The fact he’s voided by Jonathan “Mike Ermentrout” Banks is another revealing insight.

This show has been subtle, but smart when it comes to revealing the character of Frank Murphy. I’ve noted before that he has more complexity than most TV dads. Even if he is a volatile ball of issues who often makes his problems worse with his anger, there is a context to his personality. A lot of it had to do with how his plans got derailed and how the American Dream essentially left him behind. Now, his father enters the mix.

The trailer hints that he did not have a good relationship with his father. It also hints that his father was more abrasive to him than he is to his own children. For a character who already demonstrates many issues throughout the show, it adds more intrigue that is sure to lead to many more angry rants laced with F-bombs.

At a time when everyone is on edge and inclined to put each other through a fucking wall, I think Frank Murphy is exactly what we need.

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Why “F Is For Family” Is The Perfect Satire Of The American Dream

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What would you say about a man who constantly yells, curses like a sailor on crack, and constantly threatens to put his kids through a wall? On the surface, it sounds like this guy has some serious anger issues. You would probably suspect there’s something wrong with him and that he needs help from a competent therapist.

Then, after you find out that man’s name is Frank Murphy from the animated show, “F is for Family,” you quickly realize that even the best therapist in the world couldn’t do squat for this man. His anger, cursing, and threats of intentional property damage are entirely understandable. In fact, he would need a therapist if he didn’t exhibit some level of anger.

That’s because Frank Murphy, along with every other major theme in “F is for Family,” is the personification of the disillusion of the American Dream. Take everything you think you know about what it means to work hard, get ahead, and achieve your goals in life. Then, kick it in the gut, spit on it, and throw it through a brick wall. That’s Frank Murphy’s life. That’s what “F is for Family” is all about.

I only recently discovered this show while browsing Netflix and I’m glad I did. “F is for Family” is one of those shows that takes an overdone concept, like a dysfunctional cartoon family, and injects it with some overdue nuance. This isn’t a show about a bumbling dad, a nagging mom, or mischievous kids. The issues and themes in “F is for Family” feel genuinely relevant to the current state of the world.

For a show that takes place in the 1970s, that’s quite an accomplishment. At the same time, it makes sense for this show to take place during that particular time period in America because that’s when the hopes, dreams, and optimism of the post-World War II economic boom began to falter. They just faltered a lot faster for Frank Murphy and his family.

In many respects, Frank’s short-tempered persona is a byproduct of that decline. Throughout the show, it’s clear that Frank underwent a significant transformation. He wasn’t always this rage-filled working stiff who jumps at any chance to cuss out anyone in close proximity. He was once an upbeat, optimistic man who reflected the spirit of his time and his country. This is even reflected in the show’s opening theme.

He starts off as an idealistic youth. Born in 1931, he enters adulthood just as his country returns victorious from World War II. Like others before him, he serves his country after getting drafted in the Korean War. He returns home somewhat scarred, but still optimistic about his future. In 1958, he has dreams of flying airplanes and marrying Sue, a young woman in college at the time.

By all accounts, Frank plays by the rules. He works hard and carries out his duty as well as anyone can expect. He’s not some thick-headed dope like Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin. He’s also not some misanthropic underachiever like Al Bundy. He can speak in complete sentences, form coherent thoughts, and demonstrate an average level of competence.

He is, for the most part, an appropriate representation of a working class man trying to provide for his family. The problem, and the frequent source of his anger, is that his efforts often go unrewarded and unappreciated. In some cases, he gets completely screwed over, both by forces beyond his control and by unexpected consequences from his behavior.

In the first season, he works hard and sucks up to his asshole boss, Lance Dunbarton, to get a promotion at the airport he works at as a baggage handler. He even manages to avert a strike on Christmas Eve. Rather than get rewarded for this effort, he gets fired.

In the second season, he gets a chance to return to work, but the way he confronts his former supervisor, Bob Pogo, ends up making his situation worse.

Along the way, Frank also attempts to deal with the constant dysfunction of his family, which includes a rebellious teenage son, a wimpy pre-teen son who gets bullied at every turn, and a young daughter who refuses to conform to traditional gender norms. On top of all that, his wife is dissatisfied with just being a housewife and her efforts to achieve her own dreams cause plenty of marital strife.

At every level, Frank Murphy’s life is not the at all consistent with what the American dream had promised. Instead of the white picket fence with a content wife and well-behaved kids, his life is a constantly-devolving mess. No matter how hard he works or how much he plays by the rules, nothing seems to improve. Things only ever get more frustrating. After only a few episodes, it’s easy to understand why Frank is so angry.

To some extent, Frank Murphy is a fitting personification of Murphy’s Law. That’s not to say that everything goes wrong for him all the time, but through three eventful seasons, his attempts to improve his lot in life never works out. For every step forward he takes, he suffers a major setback.

He finally gets his job back at the airport where he hopes to pursue his dream as a pilot. Then, he gets his wife pregnant and they have to put their dreams on hold again.

He tries to improve things with Sue by taking his wife out for a romantic evening on their anniversary, but ends up getting into a major fight that makes everything worse.

Even his family isn’t immune to this regressive trap. While Frank struggles to find a stable job, Sue attempts to enter the working world, only to have her dreams crushed when the company she works for steals her invention. On top of that, she works in an office where she’s constantly belittled, harassed, and demeaned by co-workers whose conduct makes Don Draper look like a hippie.

His rebellious son also has dreams of becoming a rock star, but ends up getting kicked out of his band after a breakdown involving his drug-loving neighbor’s busty girlfriend. In season 3, he tries to reinvent himself and he tries to find a sense of belonging with a new group of friends. The end result is him getting arrested and spending a night in jail.

His youngest son, Bill Murphy, learns these harsh lessons even earlier than his father. He also tries to work hard and play by the rules. He tries to stand up for himself and confront the bully who torments him. Like his father, though, he ends up making things worse. I won’t get too deep into spoilers, but I will note that there’s some heavy arson and awkward boners involved.

Even his brainy daughter, Maureen, isn’t immune from it. Being a young girl in the early 1970s, her dreams are limited. Even when she aims low, like winning a ring toss contest on kids show, it still fails and through no fault of her own. Like her parents and brothers, the world seems determined to deny her any semblance of success.

If the essence of satire is to offer scathing criticism of a particular social construct, as those who edit Wikipedia imply, then “F is for Family” is a direct attack on the ideals and assumptions we associate with the American Dream. It never gets overly-nihilistic like “Rick and Morty” or “Bojack Horseman.” With every episode and sub-plot, it chips away at the foundation on which that dream is built.

It’s established throughout the show Frank and Sue were both in a position to achieve that dream. They were on a promising path with Sue being in college and Frank wanting to become a pilot. Even when they faced a major obstacle, namely Sue getting pregnant, they tried to do the right thing. They sacrificed for each other and their family.

That’s NOT red paint.

In any other narrative, their responsible behavior would be rewarded. By the standards of the American Dream, they did the right thing. They got married and tried to provide for their family. However, despite those sacrifices, they’re repeatedly denied their dreams. At the end of the day, doing the right thing and playing by the rules just doesn’t cut it.

Frank watches as his obese, slob of a boss screws him over on Christmas Eve. Sue watches as the company that made her so miserable steals her idea and profits from it. Their kids watch as the world around them rewards and punishes those who don’t deserve it. The only ones who ever seem to benefit are those strong enough to skirt the rules or well-connected enough to bend them.

In that context, it’s fitting that “F is for Family” takes place in the 1970s. That marked the end of the post-World War II economic boom and the beginning of major economic decline from which working class people never recovered. The well-paying, blue-collar jobs that once allowed a man like Frank Murphy to support his family are long gone thanks to the rise of automation and globalization.

While the show never dives too deep into the complexities of this decline, it provides a great deal of crude tongue-in-cheek humor that reveals just how flawed the American Dream had become at that point. There are not-too-subtle jokes about women, minorities, family life, politics, and the media that highlight just how flawed the system is. Frank Murphy is just the guy who gets screwed more than most.

In the end, though, that’s what makes “F is for Family” the ultimate satire for the idealized narrative we associate with the American Dream. It shows that this notion that a hard-working, self-sacrificing working man who plays by the rules will achieve his dream is nothing more than a bad fairy tale. Frank does everything society expects a working class man to do and rewards him with jack squat.

Given everything he endures, from abandoning his dreams of becoming a pilot so he could provide for a family that rarely shows him any gratitude, I’ll rephrase the question I asked earlier. What would you say about a man like Frank Murphy, who played by the rules and bought into the American Dream, only to see it screw him over at every turn? Can you really blame him for being so angry?

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Filed under gender issues, human nature, Marriage and Relationships, men's issues, political correctness, psychology, sex in media, television