I didn’t expect to be so giddy. I thought the return of Bill Nye would get an “oh, cool” out of me, like if Zoom came back to TV. But holy chemtrails! Bill is back, and he’s back like a… uh… I can’t even think of an appropriately ecstatic science reference, and that’s because I suck at science, but doesn’t most of America? We need science more than ever. But since scientists aren’t usually the most eager to speak out about politics, the planet needs some leaders (who believe in facts). To remedy this, Netflix has elected Bill Nye, basically the Britney Spears of science, to imbue “Netflix and chill” with a touch of activism. And it rocks! (That counts as a basic geology joke, right?)
Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Y’know, the Science Guy? The nerd daddy whose original show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, was created by KCTS Seattle and then picked up by Disney? (BTW, for clueless newbs, Nye used to appear on Almost Live! and you can watch him speed walk around the Kingdome in some short shorts in this vid.) Well, it's 20 years later and HE’S BACK and (spoiler) HIS NEW SHOW IS FANTASTIC. Now coming through “the electric internet machine,” as Nye describes it, Bill Nye Saves the World is streaming via Netflix and it’s the show 2017 needs. Armed with a team of smart models, scientists, and celebrities, Bill Nye Saves the World is a passionate, refreshing take on science programming that reminds us that Bill Nye is an American treasure.
I’m a millennial, so I didn’t grow up with Watch Mr. Wizard like you boomers did. (I’m not sure if any boomers are reading this, but I’m trying to make my references cross-generational because I care about the elderly.) Bill Nye the Science Guy helped me realize that science is rad, and although I only took ecology in high school (because all I had to do was identify bird calls), Nye shaped the way I think and advocate for science and our planet. But while shows like Watch Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye the Science Guy were aimed at educating children, Bill Nye Saves the World is actually targeting adult viewers, because the fate of the world literally depends on adults voting for politicians who believe in basic science. If you have even a remote sentimental connection to Bill Nye the Science Guy, then Bill Nye Saves the World will make you happy cry and, at least in my case, snap at the TV while whining, “Yas, Bill. Yasssss.”
Bill’s here to remind us that it’s not magic. It’s not fiction. It’s SCIENCE. And if you think Bill’s already talked about everything basic science has to offer, then gurrrl watch out because Bill’s here to complain about chemtrails! Episodes cover everything from anti-vaxxers to gender dysphoria, and his episode on sex is a real standout of the season. Hearing Bill Nye say “gender is like sex, it’s on a spectrum” gets me hyped, but then he explores gender expression in K-Pop! And then he discusses fetishes and sexuality through a cute video of an ice cream orgy! Really! And then Rachel Bloom from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend comes onstage and sings a song about her vagina! Really! She says “power bottom” and “give someone new a handy” and “who enjoys a fleshlight in the moonlight.” I… I just… Bill Nye… he has my heart, and my attention. Grab a beer, grab a buddy, and watch Bill Nye Saves the World.
Three years ago, Silicon Valley premiered with Kid Rock performing at a tech party. Yes, this Kid Rock. But no one pays attention to the Trump-loving Michigander because the party includes a grab bag of industry celebs, like a fictitious Elon Musk. Rock, pissed off by the lack of support, closes his set muttering, “Fuck these people.” The redneck nationalist, probably performing for west coast tech elite as a joke, sneers his way through the rest of the party. If you rewatch it during Trump’s America, like I did, the scene has an eerie forebodingness. It’s these perceptive moments that have made Silicon Valley a hit over the past few years. Often referred to as a drama by those involved in the tech industry (it’s a comedy), Silicon Valley has sustained a funny, endearing critique of the American tech bourgeoisie into its fourth season, which premiered on HBO this past Sunday.
The tech industry has obvious fodder for a comedy. From $400 custom juicers that squeeze already hand-squeezable juice packets to incomprehensible EnergyPod Napping Chairs (pictured above), techies seem to have a fetish with pointless gadgetry. I mean, take a quick walk around contemporary Seattle and you'll see live examples of said gadget fetishes. (Are those robot solo wheel thingies bros ride around sidewalks cool or trashy? I’m gonna go with trashy.) But even though the show sometimes mercilessly teases the upper echelons of Silicon Valley, the show sports quick cameos from tech elite. Even famous technology journalist Kara Swisher, a.k.a. Sherlock Homo, makes an appearance on the show. And while Silicon Valley can sometimes get a bit cute and twee, it’s a show that deserves your attention. Season four starts off with a kidnapping and ends with an ambitious idea that breaks up the group. You can catch all the ongoing action through HBO Now.
Minimal TV premieres this week, but it’s all good because two highly anticipated adaptations are dropping. First, Justin Simien adapts his 2014 movie, Dear White People, into a series of the same name on Netflix. Next, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, based on his fantasy novel, has its series premiere on Starz, with episodes available on the Starz App and for download from Amazon Prime. Beyond those two, check out Maria Bamford: Old Baby, a new comedy special from our Lady Dynamite, and My Cat from Hell, which somehow has its EIGHTH (!?!?!?) season premiere this week. IDK if My Cat from Hell is any good, but satanic cats get me excited.
- Dear White People (Netflix, Fri, April 28)
- Catastrophe (Amazon, Fri, April 28)
- My Cat from Hell (Animal Planet, Sat, April 29)
- American Gods (Starz, Sun, April 30)
- Maria Bamford: Old Baby (Tue, May 2)