Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

A trio of terrifying TV shows offer up some dark comfort for our times

There's an old saying that goes "May you live in interesting times", which can be seen as either a blessing or a curse. Well, it's pretty clear that we're all going to be in for some interesting times indeed, starting later this month and as always, pop culture will be reflecting those fears in hopefully entertaining ways.

A good place to look for such frighting focal points is TV and I've found at least three upcoming shows(two of which will be online) that showcase different ways to deal with a dramatic shift in the norm.

First up is Netflix's Santa Clarita Diet, due to debut in February. Drew Barrymore stars as Sheila, who has a successful real estate business with her husband Joel(Timothy Olyphant). When an untimely accident cuts Sheila's life short, she finds a way to stay one step ahead of the Grim Reaper while ridding the world of some very obnoxious people in an appetizing manner.

Yes, this appears to be a zombie comedy that's set in a more upscale locale than the CW's iZombie(which will be back with season three this spring). Humor is certainly one way to roll with the changes yet chuckling does come easier if you're not one of the entrees on the monster mash menu:

Next, the CW is ready to air Riverdale,based on the Archie comics, by January 26. However, this take on Archie and friends is more Twin Peaks than Happy Days, as a local murder puts moody reporter Jughead on the case with plenty of secrets and lies to uncover.

This version is set within the more modern landscape of the Archie comics world that has adapted to our times and included such elements as interracial dating, gun violence and gay characters(Kevin Keller will be on this series). Granted, this series does seem to be a bit of a goth Dawson's Creek, with Archie dating a teacher as well as Betty and Veronica, in some ways but at least it's willing to embrace a more nuanced approach to the traditional set characters.

It would be all too easy to draw upon the simple nostalgia of the 1950s incarnation of Archie but fortunately, the current creators of both the comic book and latest live action adaptation are smart and bold enough to allow this world to mature to the next level instead of letting it become a stale relic of the past. This show could be a good example of showing that embracing a more well rounded version of the way we live now has more to offer all audiences:

For the spring, Hulu has The Handmaid's Tale waiting in the wings. Elizabeth Moss is Offred, the reluctant leading lady of this dark futuristic story, a woman trapped in a new world order that only values females as potential breeders for the state.

This is based on Margaret Atwood's iconic novel, which was made into a full length movie back in the day, and for many of us, it's a nightmare scenario that hits close to home. However, the hallmark of this tale is the determination to survive and endure, as we see the daily horrors through the eyes of Offred,whose fate was left rather open in the novel.

No doubt, there will be some changes from the book, not to mention the previous movie version, and how things turn out for Offred may be part of that. Hopefully, this new adaptation can give us a glimmer of hope as to where she ultimately finds herself by the end of this season:

So, while the real world is going to be throwing some curve balls our way all too soon, we can take heart in seeing our fictional friends deal with their particular set of challenges along the way. True, having super powers or high tech allies might make things better but they're not always a guarantee for finding the perfect solutions.

Even Supergirl(returning on January 23) is going to have some rough times ahead yet her best weapons against the forces that want to take her down are her generous heart and good friends, both of which any of us can have and use without donning a cape and boots(although, those are pretty cool):

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