The Genius of Actor and Comedian Will Ferrell

comedian Will Ferrell

To celebrate his birthday on July 18, revisit the great roles of comedian Will Ferrell. He’s more than just a slapstick comic with a rubbery face. He’s an actor with 104 acting credits in 23 years, and his star isn’t waning. The critics might not be throwing around those four-star reviews any longer, but the legacy of the comedian Will Ferrell doesn’t rely on critical acclaim. If it makes him laugh, he’ll do it. A list of his memorable roles might trigger nostalgic glee: Ron Burgundy in the Anchorman films, Buddy in Elf, Frank in Old School, Brennan in Step Brothers, Mugatu in Zoolander, and the countless comedic turns during his stint at Saturday Night Live. Then there’s a roll call of all the memorably weird scenes where Ferrell has put himself out there more than most actors: He fought a baby in The Campaign, wrestled with a bear in        …read more

HBO's 'Sharp Objects' and the Rise of the Antiheroine

Sharp Objects

The 'Sharp Objects' miniseries is every bit as disturbing as its source material, and it couldn’t have hit our small screens at a more perfect time. Before Gone Girl skyrocketed to the top of best-seller lists everywhere, Gillian Flynn’s 2006 debut novel Sharp Objects found a niche audience with psychological-thriller aficionados. Twelve years later, it’s come to life on our small screens in an HBO miniseries executive produced by Flynn. Devoted fans of the book can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the series is every bit as gritty and dark as its source material. There’s no “glossing over” to see here. The small-screen adaptation of Sharp Objects arrived at the ideal cultural and social moment. Its July 8 premiere scored 1.5 million live viewers, HBO’s strongest showing since Westworld’s 2016 series premiere. It’s hard to imagine the show would have seen this level of commercial success 12 years        …read more

The Lasting Legacy of SpongeBob SquarePants

SpongeBob

SpongeBob has been sharing his childlike outlook on life since 1999. With a third movie coming in 2020, the famous sponge won’t be stopping anytime soon. SpongeBob SquarePants has been around my entire childhood and adulthood. I spent many evenings watching SpongeBob reruns while babysitting the kids in my neighborhood, watching their faces light up when he outsmarted Plankton’s latest scheme. It seemed no matter how many times they saw the same episode, they could still find something new to giggle at. Throughout my high school years, he became more of a symbol, and I watched him show up on peers’ clothes, backpacks and cars. Since 1999, Nickelodeon Animation Studios’ character SpongeBob SquarePants has been living it up in his pineapple under the sea in his home of Bikini Bottom. He’s a lovable sponge whose greatest joys in life are going on adventures with his best friend Patrick and making        …read more

Inside the Genius of Writer and Comedian Larry David

comedian Larry David

Honoring the ‘Seinfeld’ co-ccreator and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ star on his birthday, July 2, with a deep dive into what makes the humor of comedian Larry David so special. When Susie Elman, comedian Larry David’s longtime costar on Curb Your Enthusiasm, told Rolling Stone about David’s early stand-up days, she recalled, “His material was just brilliant, as you can imagine. But there were also nights when he would just walk onstage, look at the audience and be like, ‘Nuh-uh, I don’t think so,’ and just walk off. Nobody did that!” Few anecdotes capture the essence of Larry David’s genius better than that. The main point to highlight? “Nobody did that!” Larry David lives by that motto in his role as writer/creator of Curb and Seinfeld. He isn’t interested in writing the same old cookie-cutter comedy; Larry David, celebrating his 71st birthday on July 2, would rather revel in breaking convention with        …read more

Why 'The Good Place' Is the Best Show on Television

The Good Place

‘The Good Place’ redefines the sitcom with its journey into moral quandaries. In 2017, 487 original scripted television series aired, according to FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. This is up from 182 series just 15 years earlier, in 2002. Thanks to the emergence of online services like Netflix and Hulu and the growth of original programming in that time by basic cable services like FX, the demand for original ideas is staggeringly high. Somehow in this environment, at old worn-out broadcast network NBC, The Good Place — the most original, unique and surprisingly deep sitcom in years — has emerged. Is it the best? Constrained by the limits of time and space, I haven’t seen all 487 original series produced this past year, but it’s certainly the most bold and fascinating, so I’ll take the leap and say, yes, it’s the best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut0ai4s4mjU Created by Michael Schur, cocreator of Parks        …read more

‘Summer Camp Island’ Promises More Magic from Cartoon Network

Summer Camp Island

In a world of reboots and prequels, Cartoon Network’s new original show ‘Summer Camp Island’ is a wonderfully odd series full of animals, magic and parents who won’t listen to their kids. In U.S. pop culture, summer camps are the perfect setting for coming-of-age stories: odd living arrangements, counselor drama, a whole new social hierarchy and, of course, no parents. Just as in Westworld, what happens at summer camp stays at summer camp. Where else can children look to teenagers as authorities on everything from hygiene to adulthood? Or, in the case of one of my personal favorites summer camp movies, Holes (2003), “camp” may in fact be a conspiracy-filled front for adults searching for something they weren’t destined to find. Plus Eartha Kitt. Summer Camp Island, which will air on Cartoon Network beginning July 7, 2018, is based on British creator Julia Pott’s Cartoon Network short film featured at        …read more

LeVar Burton on 'Reading Rainbow' and the Next Generation of Literacy

Reading Rainbow

As ‘Reading Rainbow’ turns 35, LeVar Burton talks about the role of technology in promoting our love of reading — then and now. Reading Rainbow first aired on June 6, 1983. Each episode featured a different children’s book, often narrated by a celebrity, as well as book reviews by kids and other related segments called “video field trips,” not to mention one of the catchiest theme songs of all time. Reading Rainbow succeeded in large part due to the show’s Emmy-winning host and executive producer LeVar Burton, whose lifelong goal has been to promote literacy and help children learn to love reading. LeVar Burton was the voice of my childhood, starring in three of my all-time favorite shows: Reading Rainbow, Captain Planet and Star Trek: The Next Generation. On the 35th anniversary of Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton spoke with Crixeo about the history of the show, as well as his        …read more

Mister Rogers Liked Us Just the Way We Were, But Would He Now?

Mister Rogers

Happy 50th to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and our favorite neighbor. A documentary and a commemorative stamp are just two of the many works of art marking the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood this year. In 2019 we’ ll also be blessed with a Tom Hanks–starring biopic of Mister Fred Rogers’ life. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which began airing in February 1968, ran 895 episodes. That kind of staying power and our continued devotion illustrate that we still value the lessons inherent in the show. Because of political and social parallels between the beginning of Mister Rogers’ TV career and now, his message still resonates in the current climate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKy7ljRr0AA Funding for public broadcasting has recently been threatened, as it was in 1969 when Mister Rogers testified before Congress to advocate for support. In the video of his testimony that’s been making the rounds on the internet again, he called his work “a neighborhood expression        …read more

Superhero 101: Squirrel Girl

Teen Avengers Squirrel Girl

In anticipation of ‘Marvel’s New Warriors,’ meet fan-favorite Squirrel Girl. This year a team of teenage heroes will reach new audiences in Marvel’s New Warriors. Created in 1991 as a lighthearted reaction to superheroes who’d grown too serious, Marvel’s New Warriors introduced us to an endearing group of teen heroes who normally didn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight dominated by heroic Avengers and Uncanny X-Men. Although Squirrel Girl was never a part of the comic book team, she has been tapped to be a part of the young crew in the upcoming Marvel’s New Warriors TV series. Squirrel Girl is a relatively obscure Marvel character, if you don’t follow comics. However, she’s tremendously popular among comic book readers, who’ve long been clamoring to see her as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So why the huge fandom? Maybe because Squirrel Girl’s a lot like the folks who read        …read more

'Westworld' Season 2: The Women Are Running the Show

Westworld season 2

How ‘Westworld’ season 2 turned female robots with zero agency into powerful and painfully human characters. When the first season of Westworld debuted, the show was rife with casual violence and sexual assault perpetrated against female characters. The fact that these characters were AI didn’t help very much when it came to watching them suffer on-screen. Perhaps worst of all, although there were a few strong female characters in the form of humans, such as Elsie and Therese, the robot women were completely without any real agency or self-awareness in the beginning of this show. Their code was written to force them to act a certain way, say certain lines and live a certain life — and they blindly followed the script, unaware that the choices they made and the things that happened to them were completely out of their control. So it’s understandable that many feminist viewers may have        …read more