#TayTakesTaiwan: MTV Welcome to My Crib (The Philippines)

#TayTakesTaiwan: MTV Welcome to My Crib (The Philippines)

GREETINGS FRIENDS!


As the year slowly comes to a close, we all grow more and more impatient to break free from 2am Carrier study sessions and into the vast magical wonderland of adequate sleep and sunburns– summer. Here in Taiwan, the finish line isn’t really in sight yet since we don’t finish until June 22nd, but the craving for summer is still all too prominent. That being said, I decided to make the tough choice to travel and break the alliteration of my hashtag, truly a 21st century tragedy. So, without further ado, here’s a few pro tips from #TaytakesPhilippines.


Background: I traveled with a friend from class to the island of Palawan, in the southwest of the Philippines, and I now highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for an adventure. If you’re trying to form an image in your head, imagine heaven and then add an ice cream cone in your hand and that’s basically the beauty of Palawan.
First and foremost, weigh your luggage! Unfortunately, we did not think to do this and ended up wearing 75% of the contents of our luggage on our person on the way home to avoid paying overweight fees. Always an adventure folks! At least we left with our digni…..oh wait.
The main mode of transportation is Tuk-Tuk (also called Trikes, basically just a motorbike with a big cart strapped on the side) or motorbike. Both are pretty cheap, but if you do decide to go the motorbike route and drive yourself make sure the bike works! Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, when you rent a bike during the day, you might not think to check the headlights. However, checking headlights right away? Perfect plan. Checking headlights when you leave a remote beach at sunset? Not so much, unless you enjoy the thrill of riding into the abyss with potholes three feet deep. What a rush! Thankfully, we had nifty friends who rode on all sides of us to share their headlights. I guess you could say there was never a dull moment (pun definitely intended).


The food is one of my favorite parts of any place I get to visit, and the Philippines definitely did not disappoint. The area most people stay in when visiting Palawan, El Nido, has plenty of food options, my favorite of which was pineapple chicken *cue dream sequence.* BUT if you’re looking to try some classic Filipino food, the most recommended is always Halo-Halo & Balut. But do brace yourselves, balut is a fertilized duck egg that has been boiled/steamed before it got the chance to finish developing. That being said, I didn’t quite have the stomach for it this time around, but a friend who did try it reports: “tastes like chicken soup. Good!’ However, I DID try halo halo and let me just tell you, it was a religious experience. It’s a dessert featuring shaved ice, jelly, various gummies, beans, milk, and even more depending on where you get it. Basically, picture snow cone meets strawberry milk meets Scooby Doo gummies. 10/10 would recommend.


My next pro tip would have to be that if you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to simultaneously scream and watch your hopes for prosperity shrivel and die while on vacation, buy an “I don’t want to talk about politics” shirt! You probably won’t encounter this, but I didn’t think I would either, so better safe than sorry! Never did I think I’d come half way across the world to be on a boat trip with a fellow American who tries to give me a 15-minute lecture on why women’s rights are silly because women are “asking to be raped.” But it happened! Fun times! T-shirt probably available on amazon and can be recycled for family reunions.
After twenty years of having skin comparable to red velvet cake whenever in the sun for more than 30 minutes, you’d think I would’ve picked up on this tip by now, but surprise! I still didn’t think to use sunscreen! Now I have gotten burnt quickly before, but nowhere close to the speed of my sunburn in the Philippines. Thankfully I managed to burn a different part of my body each day so that by the end of the week I was evened out.
Overall, Palawan was stunning and really made me appreciate the opportunity to meet people and experience cultures from all over. And good news! You don’t have to go to the opposite side of the world to experience how nifty people are! Go talk to someone new today. Humans are neat.

 

 

About the Author

Taylor Herndon

Taylor Herndon

Writer & Editor

Taylor is a sophomore theatre and SMAD: digital video cinema double major who is STOKED to be working with Reduced Pulp. She overuses to word “nifty,” and is a firm believer that Kevin was the superior Jonas Brother.
When not doing theatre/SMAD things, she can likely be found studying Chinese, taking pictures, stalking the quad cats, or thinking of a witty tweet. In the future, she hopes to act, travel, and break the world record for the most coffee dates in one week. She is so excited to share her love of the arts with JMU & you can follow along with her on twitter at @freckleface_tay.

#TaytakesTaiwan: The good, the bad, and the “should my food be moving?”

#TaytakesTaiwan: The good, the bad, and the “should my food be moving?”

GREETINGS FROM THE FUTURE! Well, the future, in my case, means living in a time zone 13 hours ahead of those at my beloved second home, James Madison University. Hey there, friends! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Taylor Herndon, a sophomore theatre/SMAD double major and editor of Reduced Pulp. This semester I’m participating in a JMU exchange program right outside of Taipei, Taiwan and I’m here to share what I can of the adventure with YOU. Taiwan has such a rich and lively culture, so I thought it’d be best to kick things off with a few tips that I’ve learned since arriving:

  1. 7-11 is the backbone of society.
    Now when I say the backbone of society, I mean THE backbone of society. Bus pass, SIM card, dinner, the place to pay student fees, wedding venue.  Get you a convenience store that has it all.
  2. Pictures can and will be taken for every occasion.
    I am ALL about this. I tend to feel bad for wanting to take so many pictures back home. Usually someone’s waiting on me, the background may not be anything special, etc. But here? Going to a tourist attraction? Take pictures. Make a new friend? Take a picture with them. See an exchange student? Definitely take their picture. Be sure to bring flags or fun props that people in the picture can use too.
  1. You’ll collect awkward hugs like souvenirs.
    If you’re a hugger like me, Taiwan will bring you a whole new world of awkward interactions. Even when you think you’ve read all the signs right, you’ll still be faced with the painfully ungraceful side-hug, single back pat situation. Whoops.
  2. The garbage trucks…have a song?
    That’s right folks. Hear that obnoxious little jingle blasting all over town? That’s not an ice cream truck, no no no. It’s the opposite: a trash truck. And, when you have a serious phobia of garbage trucks like me (bad experience, long story) that cheerful little ditty will haunt your nightmares.
  3. Back of the line, kid.
    The culture of Taiwan is very respectful overall. You always pay when you get off the bus, you give up your seat to the elderly, and you always wait in line. In the subways, they actually have lines painted on the floor to direct lines. And even if you could run in front of everyone, you just don’t. The other day, a man accidentally skipped me in the bubble tea line, then apologized for a whole five minutes when he realized he’d committed such a sin.
  4. Green eggs and…Kit Kats?
    I could write 500 blog posts on Taiwanese food itself, but the Kit Kats were specifically intriguing to me. I had heard rumors of the ominous green candy, but never had the pleasure of gracing my taste buds with it until now. They’re made out of matcha tea, which is essentially just green tea ground up, and they actually taste heavenly. I have now even committed myself to trying all of the green pastries I can find…. we’ll see how that one goes though.
  5. If kindness could kill, there would be a genocide.
    Okay that sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s needed to emphasize my point that Taiwanese people are SO. KIND. I already touched on the fact that it’s a respectful culture in general, but they really deserve more credit because these people are like JMU’s best door holders on steroids. The one time I gave up on chopsticks and tried to use a fork (my first mistake), I ended up slinging my fish across my plate, and thus also slinging the dark red fish sauce ALL over the sweet girl next to me, but was she even upset? Nope. Was she just a precious angel who laughed it off and said not to worry? You bet. A friend of mine literally ran into old man with his bike and the old man apologized to him! Two days ago, a girl who I had never met sprinted to share her umbrella with me when she saw that I didn’t have one. Even the Starbucks employees give me extra chocolate syrup. God bless Taiwan.
  6. Cold water…isn’t the norm???
    Maybe I was just raised in a household that was too traditional, maybe it’s the influence of my wild peers, maybe it’s just because it’s convenient, but I like ice in my water. There, I said it. I’ve lived this way all my life, but when it’s cold in Taiwan you definitely don’t drink cold water. Because the water dispensers have hot water and anything else would just make you more cold, right? People have stopped me every time, assuming I’m choosing cold on accident, to question if I know how to work the water dispenser.  Basically my whole life is a lie.
  7. Stinky tofu. Self explanatory.
    Stinky tofu is one of the first things that the locals will ask you about because they know it’s a hot topic of conversation. It’s made throughout Taiwan and “stinky” is an understatement. This tofu taints the air with the smell of dead dreams and discolored rainbows. I actually cannot breath when I walk by it and have to hold a scarf over my nose. Just in case I don’t have a scarf handy, I have now calculated all the stinky tofu stands in my vicinity and how long I can hold my breath to get past the range of its stench.
  8. Taiwan is home to the cutest dogs ever. EVER.

            

    This is hard to even put into words, but all of the dogs are 1000% fluffier with huge eyes that just melt your heart. Also, people are all about mobilizing their pets, so dogs (and even cats) will just sit in the tiny floor of a moped and drive along with their owners. They also have accessories like you’ve never seen before. I identify as a cat person, but I would be a dog person for Taiwan’s dogs.
  9. As for the English products…well they’re trying.
    Finding clothes/bags/other various merchandise with English phrases that just make zero sense has become a new hobby of mine. The other day I saw a girl wearing a shirt that read, “MILK. COOKIES. BREAD.” In large letters and couldn’t help but wonder…. what is the bread being used for in that situation? Also a popular marketing slogan for gyms here is just, “We want your body!” written on large signs. Good.
  10. Get out of your comfort zone!
    If Taiwan has taught me anything thus far, it’s that the world begins outside of your comfort zone. Do something that scares you. Take leaps of faith. There’s a big world out there waiting on you. (Also, #GoDukes).

About the Author

Taylor Herndon

Taylor Herndon

Writer & Editor

Taylor is a sophomore theatre and SMAD: digital video cinema double major who is STOKED to be working with Reduced Pulp. She overuses to word “nifty,” and is a firm believer that Kevin was the superior Jonas Brother.
When not doing theatre/SMAD things, she can likely be found studying Chinese, taking pictures, stalking the quad cats, or thinking of a witty tweet. In the future, she hopes to act, travel, and break the world record for the most coffee dates in one week. She is so excited to share her love of the arts with JMU & you can follow along with her on twitter at @freckleface_tay.

The Slam of Silence

The Slam of Silence

The Slam of Silence

Buckle up kiddo, it’s time to talk Denny’s. If you scoffed you might as well stop reading now, do yourself a favor, and throw your hate-spreading computer, tablet, or digital device out the window of your wretched abode. If you refuse to accept the divine intervention that is America’s Diner, than I have no words beyond this point that will guide you to salty-sweet salvation. Your journey is your own, but from this point onward I will speak as though I speak to fellow acolytes of the 2am oasis.

The Grand-Slamwich. Unmatched. Unparalleled. Unbeaten. Our beloved fathers list this ambrosial concoction as such: two scrambled eggs, crumbled sausage, bacon, shaved ham and American cheese on potato bread grilled with a maple spice spread. Served with hash browns. 1,390 calories of pure existential ecstasy. For a mere 11.50, you can transport your taste buds to another plane of decadence and indulgence.

Perhaps we grew greedy. Perhaps we grew selfish. Perhaps we have tasted forbidden fruit. Whatever the case may be, we have indeed been cast from Eden. The Grand-Slamwich, as we know it, is not more. For the sake of sanity, all persons in the following narrative shall remain nameless, but believe a fellow acolyte when I tell you that everything I regale to you is true.

It is midnight. We are hungry. Naturally, we make our pilgrimage. As we enter the Denny’s, we only speak of the dish. The experience. The Slamwich. Eagerly we open our menus, dejectedly we look at our wallets. None of us can afford the aliment. We order cheaper options, yet can only speak of the toasted felicity of the ‘wich. Taking pity upon us pious wayfarers, the waiter makes a decision. In an act of selfless benevolence, he presents us with the dish itself, shining in the moonlight, free of charge.

A meal to share. A bestowal rare. We say a prayer. We take a square. We prepare.

Despair.

This is not the comestible of our forefathers.  This is not what we have sacrificed so much for. This is not Grand-Slamwich. This can barely even be called a Slamwich. Denny Above, this isn’t even a SANDWICH. Tears. Anger. Hate. We turn to the waiter, searching his eyes for the motive of such betrayal. He has nothing to say for himself. With the strength of ten ordinary men, my compatriot begins to tear through carnage of sausage, ham, and cheese. Realization dawns in his burning eyes.

“Where’s the maple spread.”

We turn again to the waiter for some sort of explanation in this hopeless world. He proceeds to dictate the harsh truth of our time: the maple spread has been removed from the recipe. Though some locations still carry the nectarous butter, tragedy has befallen the chain. Apparently, heretics have claimed that the maple spread is “too sweet” and “clashes with the rest of the sandwich.” Excuse me? EXCUSE ME?! WHO ARE YOU TO QUESTION AMERICA’S DINER? You know nothing you pathetic excuses for patrons. Because of you, the pious are denied entrance into the Valhalla known as the Slamwich. You can rot in IHOP for all I care.

I present this information to you not for indifference nor impotence, but as a call to contemplation. The future is dark and the world is cold, we must take it upon ourselves to forge the future we wish to see. Though the maple spread may never touch our yearning tongues again in this lifetime, we can and must carry its spirit in our hearts in everything we do for its efforts to not be in vain. Though it spent but little time with us here on earth, it is up to us to keep its message resounding throughout the oncoming night. We had our time in the sun, and it is now time to bring our own light to the darkness. Perhaps, indeed, the real maple spread is the friends we make along the way.

About the Author

Rob Condas

Rob Condas

Writer & Editor

Rob Condas is a sophomore at James Madison University, and is currently pursuing a B.A. in theatre. His fashion sense has been described of that of a “hipster Mr. Rogers,” which he begrudgingly does not dispute.
He hopes to someday run a creepy old book shop that disappears the day after you buy one of its mysterious items. His position at Reduced Pulp is that of editor
and writer.

“Green Light” Gets A Yellow Light

“Green Light” Gets A Yellow Light

On March 3rd, 2017, Lorde released “Green Light” – her first single since 2014. And my brain ex-PLODED.

I have been a Lorde superfan for the past four years. Some experts place the number of times I have heard her first full-length album, Pure Heroine, at upwards of 10,000 times. Others place it at 20,000. I’m not messing around when it comes to my deep, intense, and spiritual love for Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor – aka, Lorde.

Being just one year older than me, I feel that Lorde’s music has matured alongside me. Now, she has announced the release of her sophomore album, Melodrama, and I am in my sophomore year of college. (((Basically, we are BFFs.))) The release of “Green Light” felt like a promise directly from My Queen herself: we would be transitioning into young adulthood together.

Then I listened to the new song, and I became conflicted.

“Green Light” starts like Lorde’s usual dream-pop ballads. Lorde is solo on the piano while slow, romantic lyrics begin. Her vocals are deep and scratchy, expressing emotion. It is bittersweet.

The song is pretty clearly about heartbreak. She says in the refrain:

 “Thought you said that you would always be in love. But you’re not in love no more,”

(((For those not in the know, Lorde and her boyfriend of five years – photographer James Lowe – broke up in January 2016. The album Melodrama will chart her journey and growth over the past year.)))

Then – halfway through the first chorus – Lorde drops a beat. A delicious 80’s-style synthesizer beat. While her vocals stay the same, the background of the song speeds up, pushing the song forward.

“Did it frighten you? How we kissed when we danced on the light up floor?”

Now, normally, the 80’s and Lorde would sound like the perfect combination, but something about Lorde’s swift transition from dark ballads to dance pop seems false.

I worry that the influence of the music industry has changed Lorde’s style permanently. The song – written and produced by Lorde and Jack Antonoff – is clearly more within the world of pop hit-makers like The Chainsmokers and Jason Derulo than the unique voices of Lorde’s known influences, such as Grimes and Sleigh Bells. I’m scared my gal is going to get swallowed up by big-bad Hollywood.

But, only time will tell. Maybe “Green Light” is the dance pop first single, but the rest of Melodrama will return to the moody, slow world of Pure Heroine. Or, maybe Lorde’s music will have changed just as she and I have. Maybe, for Lorde, growing up means a sick vintage dance beat behind sad lyrics.

And – in the tradition of great superfans of the past – I will stick with Lorde through any of it. Whether she becomes a pop princess or sticks to the emo darling aesthetic, I will be here defending Lorde until she is on her 4th comeback tour.

About the Author

Sky Wilson

Sky Wilson

Writer & Editor

Sky is a sophomore theatre and SCOM double major. She is excited to be an editor and writer at
Reduced Pulp! When not writing, Sky is an active member of the JMU Honors College and the Media Manager of Stratford Players. She hopes to one day open her own theatre and/or be twitter famous. In her spare time, Sky can be found looking at pictures of pandas on the Internet or rewatching Parks and Recreation for the 8th time. You can find her sarcastic jokes and feminist rants on her Twitter: @hskywilson

“Love” Isn’t Perfect

“Love” Isn’t Perfect

If you enjoy watching disasters play out before your eyes, you’ll love season two of the Netflix original series Love.

The twelve-episode season is like one very long train wreck, and by the end, you’re thoroughly engulfed in flames. That isn’t to say that it’s poorly written; Love’s writing is witty, youthful, and unique. However, the story follows two characters (Mickey and Gus) in a relationship and rarely strays to explore any minor characters or subplots. This is a compelling format, but it’s a recipe for disaster because Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) are truly terrible people.

The two characters go back and forth in the race toward “Worst Person on Earth”, but I think Mickey takes the crown in the end. She’s at a clear disadvantage because she’s never been in a functioning relationship and only knows how to self-sabotage, especially with overbearing Gus. In her defense, she is a recovering alcohol/drug/sex/love addict, (and she can pull off a leather skirt/oversized sweater combo like it’s nothing.) Plus, Gus pushed her into a relationship after she admitted to being a sex and love addict. Was that bad? Yeah, it was super bad; they’re bad people. Through most of the season, however, Gus works to support Mickey and improve things in the relationship while Mickey works to make them infinitely worse.

The true shining star of the show is Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty), Mickey’s roommate, who is hilarious, honest, and a much better person than the two leads. No matter what Mickey does to Gus, the meanness she shows Bertie is much more heartbreaking.

Is the show worth watching? Season one was lovable and fresh. Season two is a lot less so, but take that with a grain of salt considering I devoured the twelve episodes in a few days. In the end, love isn’t perfect, and Love is really not perfect. Watch it if you’re interested in seeing the two worst people in your friend group try to stumble their way through a relationship.

About the Author

Julia Lewis

Julia Lewis

Writer & Editor

Julia is a junior Media Arts and Design major with a concentration in Digital Video and Cinema
pursuing minors in sociology and creative writing. When she isn’t writing dance-heavy sketch comedy and managing the PR for Maddy Night Live, she’s adding commas to other people’s writing as a copy-editor for HerCampus JMU. Though her current career goal is to write for television, her varied interests (including poetry, layout design, and creative essay-writing) keep her in a fun state of uncertainty about the future.
She has been the recipient of the Blanche Garrett Memorial Endowment and the Madison Screenwriting Scholarship, both within the School of Media Arts and Design. Julia is a writer and editor for Pulp

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season One: Netflix’s Very Good Try

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season One: Netflix’s Very Good Try

 

If you are interested in reviews with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other review. In this, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.

Much like the series itself, the history of Lemony Snicket’s work is long and complicated. The series, stretching 13 novels, details the miserable misadventures of the Baudelaire orphans and their repeated escapes from the clutches of the villainous Count Olaf as he attempts to steal their parents’ fortune. The books are penned by Daniel Handler under the penname Lemony Snicket, who describes the tonal style of the series as “suburban gothic,” satirizing Victorian gothic literature. The books indeed deal with themes far darker than the average children’s series, including child abuse, murder, and suicide. While some criticized Snicket’s material as too intense for its intended audience, the series was a whopping success, collectively selling over 65 million copies and being translated into 41 different languages.  In 2004, the series was adapted into a film by Paramount Pictures starring Jim Carrey. While the film broke even, it had a tepid reception from both the fan base and general movie going public.

And now here we are. It 2017, and on Friday the 13th of Janurary, Netflix has released their version of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” starring Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and Presley Smith as the Baudelaire orphans and Neil Patrick Harris as the nefarious Count Olaf. While a large improvement over the 2004 film, the series remains a bit of a mixed bag. Apparently there is something about this material that requires it to be seriously altered before making its way to the screen, even when you have the original author writing your teleplay.

Let’s start with the good stuff, because there is certainly plenty here to be admired. First off all, the casting is on point. While the Baudelaire orphans detached performances are slightly off-putting in the first episode, they end up providing a wonderful foil for the crazy world they inhabit. This world is brimming with a wide array of highly entertaining, if highly incompetent, adults who are either out to protect or to murder our protagonists. Highlights of these colorful characters include K. Todd Freeman as the bumbling lawyer, Mr. Poe, and Aasif Mandvi as the charismatic herpetologist (a word which here means: someone who studies reptiles), Montgomery Montgomery. Count Olaf’s theatre troupe is also far better realized than the 2004 film, and every second they’re on screen steals the show. This brings us to the elephant in the room: Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf. Harris is… fine. He does a good job. He’s fine. However… he’s just not Count Olaf. Much in the same vein as Jim Carrey (who was a bit of a better fit, but not by much), he is simply too likable to play this character as he was portrayed in the books. Like the Baudelaires, you should dread every time he rears his ugly head in each new situation, when in fact here he’s the most likable character in the show. I suppose these castings are a reflection of the fact that it’s a kid’s show and portraying the character as-written may be a little too dark for the screen (remember, he straight-up murders people), and as I said, it’s fine. He’s perfectly serviceable and fun to watch, but he’s not Count Olaf. Surprisingly, the real standout performance of the show is Patrick Warburton as the sullen narrator, Lemony Snicket. Warburton, known largely for his broad comedic roles, actually gives a very restrained performance here. Much like the books, for the darkly comedic material to be pulled off correctly, it has to be taken completely seriously. It cannot be comedic to the characters or else it’s not dramatic or funny to us. Warburton does just this, gloomily striding, unnoticed by all but the audience, through the world he weaves with his words.

The visual interpretation of Snicket’s world is delightfully odd. Instead of going for the grandiose skew of the 2004 film, Netflix’s adaptation is a little more quirky. Most of the sets are built on a soundstage, combining cgi and stylized sets for an offputtingly heightened world. None of the locations look entirely real, but neither do they look entirely fake. The Baudelaires, dressed in colorful pastels, stand starkly against the gloomy greys and browns of their unfortunate reality. The directorial style, somewhat reminiscent of Wes Anderson, involves meticulously centered shots and carefully planned angles, yet again serving to heighten the world into an almost doll-like composition.

What’s interesting here is how the material is presented in contrast with the previous adaptation. As stated earlier, the 2004 film decided to tell the story the story with a little more bombast, using sweeping visuals and arcing scores to create a sense epicness and importance. Here in Netflix’s adaptation, the world surrounding the children is inherently much more docile, making a clear choice to appear less realistic. This may make it sounds like the film was being truer to the books’ gothic nature, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The film, while visually heavy and dark, was actually quite a silly piece of filmmaking. The script itself was lacking, and Jim Carrey’s Count Olaf was so ridiculous that he never felt like an actual threat (You could almost see the moments where “[Jim Improvises]” were written into the script). The darker themes of the book were present, but watered down, and some of the more poignant moments were removed entirely for a more audience-pleasing romp. Netflix’s series, however, doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of Snicket’s work. The lengths they’ve taken to separate the visual world from reality allows them to play much more sinister without making it too intense for children, a line which the books always walked very carefully. In a book, an author has the freedom to write for the reader’s interpretation. The material is only as dark or heavy as the capacity of the reader’s imagination. When transferred to screen, however, very little is left to the imagination, and a child can become easily frightened when presented with something that they are unable to rationalize as they might while reading. In the end, Netflix’s gamble pays off, and they are able to give themselves freedom to tell the story as it is written rather than being forced to sand down the edges.

But here in lies the biggest problem with Netflix’s adaptation: they don’t tell the story as it is written. There’s a lot more. There’s a lot different. The largest complaint of the 2004 film was how much it diverged from the source material. In trying to cram the first three books into one movie, the film reorganized, restructured, and flat out changed major plot elements in order to make it cohesive much to the dismay of fans of the series. I was thrilled when I heard that Netflix was taking on the project, as the episodic nature of the books could be presented in a format where they would actually make sense without reformatting. What I didn’t take into account was how Netflix intends for you to watch the series: the binge.

Yes, it’s no secret that Netflix expects you to binge its shows. Entire seasons are released at once, every episode ends on a cliff hanger, and now there’s even a handy dandy button for skipping theme songs when they grow too repetitive on your 13th episode of the day. A Series of Unfortunate Events is monotonous, but that’s kind of the point. Every time the Baudelaires find a new home, and every time Count Olaf shows up in a new disguise that fools everyone but the children. The joke is that it keeps happening and that is allowed to keep happening. A Series of Unfortunate Events is exactly as its title suggests. However, Netflix has taken great length to keep you interested as you power through all eight episodes in one day. Events are scrambled to keep you guessing, plot points are changed to make them less repetitive, and elements from all the other books are brought in to justify each book having two episodes. In most cases they re-structuring isn’t bad per-se, it’s just comes off as cluttered.

The same cannot be said for what they add. By far the weirdest choice in the whole show is all of the plot elements that are included here that were not in the books whatsoever. And there are a lot of them. A lot. One of the great joys of the books was the omnipresent sense of mystery and conspiracy. As the series progresses, it becomes dense with unsolved questions, and even by the series’ end most of them remain unanswered. When the last book came out when I was a kid, I was furious that it didn’t tie up any of the loose ends promised in the rest of the books. Re-reading it as an adult, however, it’s absolutely brilliant. From chapter one of the first book, you are warned that the story does not have a happy ending. You are told that the story will waste your time and will only serve to bring you misery and woe. And it does. By the end, you are just more unhappy and frustrated than you began. It’s stupid, it’s infuriating, and it’s possibly one of the greatest tricks ever played by an author. And the beauty of it is that he never tricks you. He warned you and you didn’t listen. It’s perfect. So why then, eleven years later, does the same author come back and explain everything? Seriously, almost every mystery is explained. And in season one no less. Season one. It just confounds me how Handler subverts his own beautifully crafted story after finishing it in such a gutsy manner. Again, much like the re-structured material, the added material isn’t bad. In fact, some of it is extremely entertaining. However, unlike the re-structured material, it truly does act as an overall detriment to the piece as a whole and the overall mythos that Handler/Snicket has so meticulously woven.

So, yah. It’s a mixed bag. A highly watchable, highly entertaining mixed bag. People who have read the books will enjoy it, but become increasingly annoyed by the inconsistencies. People who haven’t read the books will enjoy it, but will miss out on the sense of mystery that pervaded the books and made the series intriguing in the first place. The show simply tells you too much, and in the end will probably end up making no one perfectly happy. But hey, they warned you to look away.

About the Author

Rob Condas

Rob Condas

Writer & Editor

Rob Condas is a sophomore at James Madison University, and is currently pursuing a B.A. in theatre. His fashion sense has been described of that of a “hipster Mr. Rogers,” which he begrudgingly does not dispute.
He hopes to someday run a creepy old book shop that disappears the day after you buy one of its mysterious items. His position at Reduced Pulp is that of editor
and writer.