Director Kevin Smith on heart attack, happiness, extreme weight loss- and Weinstein

The director and actor talks about his near-death experience, becoming vegan and the star-studded reboot of the movie that first constructed him famous 25 years ago

In February last year, Kevin Smith performed 90 minutes of standup for a TV special, padded back to the green room and started to worry that the joint he had smoked before the prove was too strong. He was sweaty and nauseous, which was not entirely out of the ordinary. But after he lay down on the tile floor and vomited, he was rushed to hospital, where a doctor broke the news that Smith was having a massive heart attack.

Smith stayed calm. Honestly, he tells me, as we are talking here at his Hollywood Hills home, he was still stoned. On learning that he might die, he says:” I was like:’ I’m going to make peace with this right away .’ You did way more than you ever set out to do, you got to do some cool shit, and if it’s done, it’s done .”

For 25 years, Smith, a director and actor as well as a comedian, has grappled with his own dumb luck. In 1994, his debut movie, Clerks, a raunchy comedy about the convenience store where he worked, was a hit with Sundance audiences charmed by Smith’s on-screen appearance, as a slacker known as Silent Bob, and his behind-the-scenes tales of selling cigarettes during the day and shooting the movie at night. Made for just $25,575, Clerks was funded by credit cards and favors from friends, some of whom even had components in the film: Brian O’Halloran, for instance, plays Dante Hicks and delivers the catchphrase,” I’m not even supposed to be here today !” and Smith’s middle-school chum Jason Mewes, who agreed to play Jay, the talkative half of Jay and Silent Bob( Smith ), two friendly morons with flashes of grandeur. Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax buy Clerks and, as its publicists had done with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, turned the filthy-mouthed former altar boy, the 24 -year-old son of a New Jersey postal worker, into a star.

” I’ve been living on that one trick for a long time ,” admits Smith.” Like, come on, that movie was cute- but 25 years on the back of one black-and-white movie ?” Lighting a branded Jay& Silent Bob joint with his face on the packaging, he describes that Sundance wunderkind as if he were someone else.

” I love that guy. I don’t understand why he had the confidence. I think he was undereducated. I was never ambitious. I think that was a fluke .”

A fluke that became the cornerstone of his future, of his gorgeous three-story house decorated with memories: a table-top football game inspired by the roof hockey in Clerks, iron fireplace statues of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in Dogma, a walrus ceramic that nods to his screwball gothic Tusk, crayon sketches, movie posters and souvenirs from the live stage monologues in which Smith extemporises on everything from phone chats with Bruce Willis to his dog’s genitalia.( He has sold out Carnegie Hall .) The upstairs living room is dominated by a collage celebrating his 20 -year marriage to Jennifer Schwalbach. Squint, and you can find his first email to his future bride:” You’d be surprised how many Schwalbachs there are in the phonebook …”

” The home is a me -seum that highlightings the accomplishments of Kevin Smith ,” he jokes. When he looks around, he is reminded of everything he did that he never expected to do.” That’s why, when I almost dropped dead, I was OK with it ,” he says.” Most days I’m like:’ Oh, I probably did die on the table and this is heaven .'”

Brian
Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson in Kevin Smith’s 1994 film Clerks. Photograph: Allstar/ Miramax

Back to that operating room. The doctor asked if the Smiths had a history of heart disease? No, replied Smith. Only that his father died of a massive heart attack- and that his mother, who is still alive, had stents inserted in her arteries after her heart stopped for a full minute, during which she claims to have ensure his deceased papa and grandmother.” She was probably pumped on fentanyl when she saw heaven ,” Smith chuckles,” so I don’t know if I want to invest in that.

” I was a fat kid ,” he continues. At 14, he joined Weight Watchers, but felt awkward being the only teenage boy and left after a month. As the third child of parents who were strapped for fund and day, the only health food he saw was tinned spinach.” That’s why I don’t like veggies .”

When he earned money to buy his own snacks, he devoured “low-fat” cookies not realising they were packed with sugar.” Oh, I fell for everything is ,” he says. The biggest impediment, however, was mental. Over the years, he had espoused his weight, turning fat jokes from a problem to a comedic intent.” The key early on was realising if I make fun of myself for this, then somebody else can’t. One day you think:’ I could be funny for a living .'”

He marketed himself as a character- the happy schlub in a hockey jersey- and literally became a cartoon, as Clerks ran from indie movie to comic book to sequels to animated series. Success, Smith notes, gave him an extra padding of protection.

” For years, people were just like:’ Hey, big guy !’ And I was like, I am the big guy, aren’t I ?” says Smith.” Nobody ever says: ‘ Hey, fat-ass !’”

At his heaviest, Smith, who is 5ft 9in, weighed 23 st 8lb( 150 kg ). About a decade ago he was escorted off a plane for being unable to squeeze into one seat. The story constructed headlines around the world, and internet trolls were merciless. For the first time, Smith felt naked.” Abruptly, I was like:’ They know I’m fat’- I thought I was hiding it !”

For a while, he swaggered through his insecurities, titling that year’s live show Too Fat for 40, then launching the podcast Fat Man on Batman and publishing a memoir called Tough Sh* t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. But he also quit sugar, an experience he likens to withdrawing from heroin.

Finally, the craving for desserts stopped and 5st melted away. An hour before his heart attack, Smith had been boasting on stage about falling five lingerie sizes from 5XL to XL.

” I would have thought I was in fairly decent shape that night ,” he says.” But now it’s weird to look at me and go:’ Jesus, did I know I was that unhealthy? Or did I only not care ?'”

Since then, he has lost almost another 6st by going vegan, at the insisting of his 20 -year-old daughter, Harley Quinn. Most days, he fasts until midday, then grabs vegan nachos from his favourite fast food joint. He has stocked a two-foot-wide snack bowl with crunchy chickpeas and vegetable whiffs in case he gets the munchies.” Treats galore !” he grins.

Now his bridal ring wobbles when Smith waves his hands .. The first time he realised he was too skinny for the Big and Tall clothing store, he nearly cried. His purple sports coat sags on his shoulders, but he worries that if he has it taken in to fit his new frame, he will jinx himself and regain the weight he has lost. Part of him still can’t help crediting luck over attempt. He did, however, give away all his signature hockey jerseys.” I started seeming weird in their own homes ,” says Smith. Although, he adds:” People were like:’ You seemed weird the whole time .'”

Jason
Jason Lee, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith in the 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Photograph: Allstar/ View Askew Productions

This year has been surreal. Smith posed for a photo shoot for Men’s Health magazine.” Somebody told me online:’ You’re like a Walmart Robert Downey Jr ,'” says Smith.” I’ll take that !” A website theft his painting to hawk diet pills.

Last month, he and Mewes were invited to put their handprints in the cement outside the legendary Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Smith brought his father’s ashes to the ceremony. Forty years ago, on a family vacation, his papa had offhandedly told him he might be here some day. Now he was. Smith ground an urn publish into the wet pavement.

In his new film, Jay& Silent Bob Reboot, Jay and Silent Bob are still where he left them in 2006′ s Clerk 2, loitering outside the Quick Stop, although the video rental shop next to the Quick Stop has been supplanted by a Redbox kiosk.” The world has moved on ,” says Smith. As for Jay and Silent Bob , now visibly in their 40 s, they are out-of-touch apolitical white males.” We needed to introduce them to’ this is woke culture ‘.”

Smith chose the one-year anniversary of his heart attack for his first day of filming.” It’s not macabre ,” he laughter,” It’s a’ fuck off’ to demise !” The movie procures the pair trekking, again, from New Jersey to California to fight for the cinema rights for their fictional resemblances Bluntman and Chronic, as they did in 2001′ s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

The script is a greatest hits of inside jokes. Smith settled on calling it a reboot, which one character explains, is when” they take a flick you loved as a kid and add youth and diversity to it “. That is exactly what Smith has done, recasting the movie with a pro-LGBTQ anti-Nazi and hiring Harley Quinn to play the leader of a pack of rebellious vegan girls.

Smith
Smith at home in Los Angeles Photograph: Jessica Pons/ The Guardian

” This is the most bloated and self-indulgent movie anyone’s ever produce, and I might get away with it because of the heart attack ,” he giggles. As for his star-studded cast, which includes Damon and Affleck, plus Chris Hemsworth, Rosario Dawson, Fred Armisen, Craig Robinson, Val Kilmer, Tommy Chong and rappers Method Man and Redman, he jokes that, apart from Affleck, most of them probably depicted up out of guilt.” Affleck was like:’ I didn’t even is understood the heart attack .'” Smith pauses.” I don’t know how I feel about that .”

Smith doesn’t agree with the Joker director Todd Phillips’ insisting that awake culture has destroyed comedy.” I don’t feel that way because I always punch in ,” he says. Jokes that punch down are” only boring “. But as he is punching in, the tenderest bruise is why he has not tried harder to direct serious comic book movies when he is famous for taking comic books seriously. The other film-makers in his indie clique- Tarantino, Rodriguez and Richard Linklater- made good-looking movies when they won bigger budgets.” Whereas me, I could do cheap, and then people gave me real money and they’re like:’ It appears cheap.’

” Every once in a while, I wonder if I should have done better ?” he says.” If you simply concentrated on the thing that brought you into the conversation, directing, would you be better now ?”

The indie wave he helped to inspire has become a tsunami.” If I started my career now, you might not hear about me ,” Smith says.” I couldn’t break through this noise .” To sell tickets to Jay& Silent Bob Reboot, Smith will tour with the cinema for five months offering audiences a post-screening chat that tends to climax to an inspirational sermon about how if he made it, anyone can. His biography- not his cinemas- is becoming his legacy.

” Maybe I’ll just become one with the art where Kevin Smith is no longer an individual, he’s just a concept of these series of movies. Until people are like,’ Who is Kevin Smith ?’ because they don’t watch movies any more- but that’s what the handprints are about .”

The weed he has been smoking during the interview has definitely kicked in. Yet he assures his career with clarity.

” I don’t think I’m a film-maker ,” says Smith.” I think I’m a salesman. I could sell you Kevin Smith all day. Not a lot of people are buying any more, but enough are where I still get to do this .”

Two years ago, he got a call from the man who launched his fame: Weinstein. They hadn’t spoken for about 10 years, after falling out over the marketing for their final film together, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Weinstein indicated they partner on a sequel to Dogma. Smith was thrilled.” Hopefully people understand, but get that bellow meant the world. I felt like:’ Oh, he recollected me .'”

A week later, the first article about Weinstein’s sexual assaults broke.” All I knew was that he was a philanderer, he cheated on his wife ,” says Smith. Of course, he realised that Weinstein didn’t care about Dogma, or him.

” He was circling his wagons ,” says Smith.” I am not a victim here. But I felt employed a little bit .” Days later, to help the real victims- the women whose dreams Weinstein crushed- Smith pledged his future residuals from the movies Weinstein created to the non-profit Women in Film.

” If you’d gone back in time and told that kid:’ This is all you’ll do, but it will be connected to a person who does all of this to all these people ,’ I definitely wouldn’t have done it ,” says Smith.” I was way too Christian .” Smith is no longer religious( Dogma, he claims, rescinded his invitation to heaven ), but he still seems guided by guilt, obligation and gratitude.” Career-wise, I always was almost like I was playing on house money ,” says Smith.” Now life-wise, this is just a bonus because it was supposed to end in that emergency room .”

To him, his own Clerks catchphrase-” I’m not even supposed to be here today”- now echoes even louder.” Let’s be honest ,” says Smith.” We’re all insanely luck to be here. I’m just insanely lucky I get to stick around a little longer .”

Jay& Silent Bob Reboot is out on 29 November

Read more: www.theguardian.com

I had zero experience in a novelists’ room. Then I was offered my dream job in LA

How would I adapt to my own giant office, gummy bears on demand and daily microdosing?

” Do you want to come to California for a couple of months to work on the television show of your dreams ?” is honestly the most exciting non-food-related thing any other person has said to me. When the comedian and writer Lindy West sold the adaptation of her book Shrill to Hulu and it immediately got picked up to series( a dumb Hollywood term that basically means,” We will give you fund to attain several episodes of a show that we don’t know if anyone will actually watch “), she called me on the phone( a crime ), and we unintelligibly screamed high-pitched nonsense words at each other for a full minute and a half.

Lindy told me that she was allowed to pick one of several people who would join the Shrill writers’ room that summertime in Los Angeles, and she wanted that person to be me.

I had zero experience in a writers’ room and zero experience working on a television show, other than the soap opera running on a continuous loop in my head, starring myself. I was unbelievably flattered and 100% positive that I was grossly unqualified for this job that I was absolutely going to accept.

I love LA( dog birthday parties! spiritual healers on every corner !). You might not think so, because I’m a misanthropic depressed person with menopause acne, whose hips are too wide for every restaurant chair in this city, but you would be wrong. I’m a Fat Bitch from the midwest and I love accidentally running into minor celebrities with my cart in the wheatgrass aisle. I love witch doctor, and blond topknots, and designer sunglasses, and how everyone is friendly until they figure out that you can’t put them in a movie. I love frightening all of the miniskirted assistants at my Tv agent’s office by eating carbohydrates in public. I love going to a ritzy spa and suffering first-degree burns on my labia while getting my yoni steamed, a procedure I didn’t need that provided no benefits. I love when someone recommends their shaman to me in earnest. I love how many adorable ice-cream shops and bakeries there are all over a town where nobody feeds ice-cream or cooked goods. I love how, while sitting at a restaurant gazing out at the oceans and seas and casually mentioning that your back has been bugging you, people will offer a little no-big-deal nibble of shrooms, the route someone in, say, Milwaukee would go fishing through their pouch for a dusty Advil.

The first day of my new task as a lowly faculty writer on a US comedy television series, I was several minutes late and are covered under a thin sheen of musky flop sweat at 10 am, my palpable impostor disorder causing my belly to careen acid up the back of my throat. The perfect way to show up for your first day at a new job!” Nice to meet you, fellow comedy kids! Would you like to shake my damp and clammy hand? My body smells like a dog’s teeth !”

I approach most attempts with zero expectations- a skill I have sharpened after 40 years of fairly regular frustration. I learned early on that if you simply expect things to be bad , not even bad but the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone, then, unless someone gets murdered in front of you, whatever it is usually turns out to be fine. Bearable, at the worst. It’s a good skill to have, and it attains new things, for the most part, pleasantly exciting. I had no idea what was in store for me, so I packed a lunch and brought a refillable water bottle simply in case, because I was fully prepared to eat my room-temperature string cheeses while confidently saying dumb stuff like,” I’m just pitching here, but what if we sent that character to the moon ?”

Everyone else seemed borne and unimpressed so I tried to imitate their nonchalance as we were shown to our individual offices . A real office! With a desk, some chairs and a couple of windows plus a computer and a filing cabinet! No one else seemed fazed. Oh, sure, of course. They were bona fide showbiz professionals who’d probably had dozens of its term of office throughout their careers. I, meanwhile, wrote my last volume in the incapacitated bathroom at my old undertaking during lunch breaches. “ Be cool ,” I advised my inner tuna casserole. Nothing is more embarrassing than unbridled exuberance. I walked in and put down my backpack filled with shrink-wrapped portable snack cheese.” This’ll work, I guess ,” I said coolly, pretending to inspect a room that was bigger than my last apartment. I snuck a picture, my hands vibrating with hilarity, and send it to my friends in the heartland, who are all potatoes.

Samantha
Samantha Irby:’ Writing a Tv show is like hanging out with your friends’ Photograph: Eva Blue

Menus would magically appear in the middle of the conference room table at 10.30 every morning. Do you know that there is not a single Thai restaurant where I live? No need to cry for me, it’s not like larb is a basic human right. I’m just trying to illustrate why the fact that we could just, you know, have dishes delivered in the middle of the day was cause for celebration. I’m a rube, OK? I’m used to living that” packet of expired Swiss Miss cocoa in the violate room if you can find it” kind of life.

I’ve never had a shared assistant before. And, frankly, an deputy is a great deal of pressure, and I would never want to have access to one again. Every time someone young and eager( whose job it was to remember how much Stevia people like in their tea in the hopes that one day that would translate to a writing undertaking) offered to get me a drinking, I said here today,” Wait, can I get you a drink? What kind of kombucha do you like ?” and then I’d melt into a thick goo of inadequacy. I have never not had a job where I wasn’t the one whose chore it was to fetch things or clean up with a mop. I love a cold drinking and I detest strolling, so what a dream not to have to do that, but it felt weird not to give the person who committed to memory that I like that one weird soda a tip-off or the keys to my rental vehicle. You know, to make it feel even.

I frankly cannot tell you how to make a television programme, but I can tell you that we got to make a shopping list every week of things to have on hand in the kitchen. This is an unbelievably astonishing gift that immediately devolves into the most stressful decision you’ve ever had to stimulate in your life!

Someone would slide the notepad with’ groceries’ scrawled at the top over to me and I’d have a complete internal breakdown.

Should I write gummy bears? Is everyone going to know that I’m the one who requested a child’s candy ? What if I put down yogurt , and they get the unsweetened health kind? Is it more depressing or less depressing if I write down the specific brand and flavour that I want? Why do I always want the shit called low-fat chocolate cherry cupcake yogurt ?

Writing a television show is like hanging out with your friends in the same room every day, arguing about what should happen on a display you haven’t watched yet. After the first week, I waited for someone to show up and tell me,” OK, hoe, it’s cute that you thought we were just gonna let you sit in a chair and get paid to think about imaginary people. Here’s your scrubbing brush, you recollect where the lavatories are, right ?” And … I would do it. I would scrub those toilets. When I ran at a bakery, I had to mop the floor every night and scrub down pastry lawsuits, and once burned an entire layer of skin off my limb on a trayful of fresh millet bread. For that I was paid $ 7.25 an hour, and I gladly cashed those cheques. Every day, I drove to the Shrill writing room in my Toyota Camry and wondered if that would be the day someone would see through my ruse and order me to go pick up lunch or ask students if they could use my back as a table.

In the beginning, when we were coming up with the arc of the season, we all pitched ideas to build the narrative for the main character, Annie (” Really, though, should she go to outer space ?”). The basic premise of the series is this: Annie is a fat, single woman in a situationship with a loser, and she’s also unfulfilled at her job, where she is underappreciated. Our goal was to figure out a way, in only a handful of episodes, to evolve her from a whiny doormat( sorry !) to a bitch who owns her shit. While talking about a tangible style to shift Annie’s perspective from the beginning of the season( unhappily eating special weight-loss foods and putting up with shit from a shitty human) to where we wanted her to be at the end of it( fat and fine with it, or at the very least on the way to being fine with it, and dumping said fucking shit ), all of the writers were throwing out notions( we didn’t want to resort to a cheesy makeover montage or make her over the head with an exercise bike ). I said that maybe she could go to a fat-girl party, and maybe that party could be at a pond, and maybe seeing half-naked fat people enjoying themselves is likely to be the catalyst for this change in her attitude toward her body and herself.

‘Half-naked
‘ Half-naked fat people enjoying themselves’ in the scene Irby wrote for Shrill. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/ Alamy Stock Photo

In Chicago, I would go to dance parties, and garb swaps, and exercise classes “thats been” made specifically for fat girls. I thought it would be cool to see Annie assure all different types of bodies unabashedly enjoying decadent party snacks while wearing crop tops and bikinis poolside.

You hear people talking about the importance of seeing” someone who looks like me ,” and it’s like,” OK, sure, who cares, shut up .” It has always been obvious in regards to race, but with sizing I guess I’d never truly thought about it that much because, well, that’s just the way things have always been. Sometimes, it isn’t always clear what you don’t have until model Tess Holliday is on the covering of a widely distributed magazine with her back fat out and then it’s: HELL YES, BITCH. SHE HAS THIGHS LIKE ME, OPEN UP MY LARGEST VEIN AND INJECT THESE IMAGES DIRECTLY INTO IT.

I wanted to write a moment like that for the demonstrate. Frankly, America needs more moments like that. More fat people doing normal stuff that isn’t “dieting” or” being sad “. As a consumer of popular culture you can’t help but be exposed to all the typical fat-girl stereotypes and tropes: she cries on the scale! She’s a great friend to skinny protagonists! She has a closet full of adorable cherry-printed skirts! For me, Shrill was an opportunity to set a bitch fat lady who can’t sing on TV, and it attained people so mad, and I love that.

We wrote the indicate over the course of two months. I ate more delicious free lunch than I could count; I went to many, many live demonstrates and left early; I watched Jeff Goldblum on the freeway and nearly drove my stupid overpriced automobile into oncoming traffic. I also 😛 TAGEND

* went to a psychic in Santa Monica who got some things so right that it scared me

* microdosed psilocybin mushrooms every day

* left a restaurant because it was too small and offered no parking, which constructed me feel like the mayor of the midwest

* ensure the dude who played Ryan on The Office( US) at a fried chicken spot

* went to Sephora in Pasadena and let the handsome salesman with very smooth skin dishonor me into buying six billion dollars’ worth of tiny bottles of oil

* slammed my hand in the door of the rental automobile and pissed my gasps from the blinding pain

* stocked up on powerful crystals

* tried fruitlessly to find a quality bagel

* sat in the car listening to Drake’s In My Feelings on repeat in a parking lot in Long Beach while watching other people frolic in the water

* ordered tacos a thousand times

* feigned I was starring in La La Land and constructed unironic jazz hands in public

After we writers turned our individual scripts in, we expended a week or so punching up one another’s jokes. I learned so many things on the job, entailing I faked knowing what people were talking about then looked it up on my phone when they turned their attention elsewhere. I get off the plane in LAX not knowing how to write” this scene happens in the house at breakfast” in a script, but now I know it’s” INT. HOUSE–MORNING “.” Punching up” basically means that other writers go through your script and try to come up with lines that are funnier than yours, and you get to do the same thing to theirs; then everyone submits them anonymously and individual producers, who get final script acceptance, picking the ones that they like best, and they’re probably not yours but whatever, bitch!

When the scripts were all punched up and edited, it was time to leave. I mostly spent my last week watching Sharp Objects in the air-conditioning at our rented home and avoiding all the Gila monsters prowling around outside. Then I went home, where I no longer had to talk about weed or pretend to understand fashion.

My life snapped right back to whatever it was before I left. I ran my usual errands, picked themed snacks for our monthly volume club, and let my muscle memory lead me right to the gastrointestinal distress aisle at my beloved local pharmacy. I didn’t have to learn the layout of a new store any more.

I don’t ever want to be the kind of person who is not fully blown away by the magnitude of getting to make a big, dumb, shiny thing that doesn’t cure disease or whatever, but brought people some elation. I never want to take for granted that a person in a big corporate office pulled out a giant cardboard cheque for millions of dollars to buy mini hotdogs and fake margaritas, only because I typed this scene up on my old, junky laptop. It still feels like a takeover, like:” Do they actually know that they let those individuals who regularly falls for fake news narratives write an entire episode of their television depict ?” I’ll never be too cool for all those coffees a kid with a master’s degree had to spend his summer running to get for me. I am a garbage person who has taken a shit in the street before! Did I ever imagine, 20 years later, I’d be wearing those flat headphones you only see around the necks of directors in behind-the-scenes DVD extras of your favourite movies, watching performers read terms that I wrote from a monitor? I DID NOT. I believed I would be living in a windowless apartment above a Jamaican restaurant, married to a small hairless dog. I may still end up there, fixing Mr Little Jeans his dinner as reggae heartbeats through our floor from the restaurant below, but I will always have my Hollywood Summer.

* Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby is published by Faber and Faber on 2 April. Shrill is on BBC iPlayer

If you would like your comment on this piece to be considered for Weekend magazine’s letters page, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publication ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Killer looks: how Dietland confronts the violence of beauty culture

Based on the hitting fiction by Sarai Walker, the new series tackles the extreme expectations placed on women with rage, retaliation and ultimately murder

In one of the saddest moments of the new black slapstick series Dietland, the show’s heroine, Plum Kettle, lovingly cooks and decorates a cake. She sings passionately, wholly immersed in her run, which is clearly a true labor of love. When she finishes the final touches, she dabs a bit of frosting on her thumb and takes a tiny savour. For a brief moment, she seems blissfully happy and content, until she realizes that she is not allowed even such small indulgences according to the incredibly restrictive diet she is on in preparation for getting weight loss surgery. A look of horror appears on her face and she immediately runs to the sink to rinse her mouth out.

Scenes like this one show the depths with which Plum has been instructed that she doesn’t deserve pleasure. Throughout the series, Dietland interrogates how our present beauty culture’s emphasis on “perfection” promotes self-harm. This is seen from the opening credits where a cartoon Plum, appearing sad and dejected, starts a journey up a mountain of confectionary treats. As she moves up the mountain, she loses weight and has a makeover with a red dress, capturing the attention of several male admirers, but she keeps climbing and climbing getting skinnier and skinnier, until eventually a skeleton of herself gets to the top and dies.

Dietland’s aesthetic is simultaneously candy-colored and biting, which may, at first glance, seem jarring, but it’s also the style that beauty products are sold to women: one component glossy shine, two parts you better employ this thing, or else. Based on the 2015 novel by Sarai Walker and brought to life onscreen by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Unreal’s Marti Noxon, the series skewers the goal of feminine perfection by exemplifying not only that it is fundamentally unattainable, but also that the pursuit itself is downright frightening. In the opening scene of the first episode, for example, when Plum describes her task as a ghostwriter for an advice column called Dear Kitty, we hear the voices of daughters asking questions about whether forced sexuality is ever that bad, if it’s possible to fix their skin, their hair and their bodies, and what it means that they like to cut themselves. All the while, we consider closeup images of women poking, prodding, weighing, gagging and otherwise taming their bodies into submission using Spanx, hair straighteners and makeup.” I’m ready to kill myself or maybe somebody else ,” one letter writer says, as the scene changes to an image of a man with his hands tied and mouth taped closed, a handgun to his temple.

Dietland doesn’t merely argue that beauty culture is violent, but also asks the unsettling question of whether the violence that females spend inflicting on themselves is actually a coy showing of fury , not at ourselves, but a deep misogynistic culture. Over such courses of the first three episodes, Plum receives herself at various kinds of support groups, each of which extols personal empowerment of various kinds, often through extreme techniques. The weight loss programs emphasize a strict caloric regimen that seems unsafe, the secret women’s groups preach privacy and also exhort a instead vulnerable Plum to give up taking her antidepressants( called ” Y “) in order to stop feeling numb. And we have constant reminders that there is this bizarre “feminist” group called Jennifer that is running around and killing male predators, leaving bodies all over the streets of New York.

In many ways, Dietland’s exploration of femininity feels incredibly fresh. In particular, Joy Nash does a wonderful job playing Plum as equal proportions timid and driven. We understand who Plum is not only through her character’s conveyed supposes, but also through her subtle body language, her manner of speaking, and the way in which she holds her body differently in public and private spaces. It is Plum’s desire to be part of a world that she feels as though she is always on the outskirts of due to her sizing that is ultimately the heart of Dietland.

Julianna Julianna Margulies in Dietland. Photograph: Patrick Harbron/ AMC

Other characters are less fleshed out, at least at this crossroad. We chiefly assure them through their interest in and interactions with Plum, so it’s sometimes hard to see them as fully developed characters in their own right. In a demonstrated that markets itself about women’s issues, I often wanted to see more interiority in its exploration of how different female characters occupy this image-obsessed world. I also wanted to understand their motivatings beyond their concerns about how they looked. I know, I know: the phase of the series is that we live in a culture where women are often reduced to their bodies and I surely don’t mean to suggest that Dietland shouldn’t focus on the devastating effects of beauty culture. By the same token, I also hope the series eventually allows its female characters to take up space in all sorts of interesting routes that go beyond its own experience of female trauma. In the first few episodes at least, girls are often sad or mad, but not much else, and issues surrounding mental health including with regard to are often steamrolled in the interest of keeping our focus on the ways that beauty culture is toxic.

These issues are surely timely in a culture that seems as though it is finally ready to grapple with female rage, and that’s how the present will certainly be marketed. At the same period, it’s impossible to say that Dietland is really about awareness about any of these issues. After all, who doesn’t know that girls are held to impossible, painful beauty criteria that impact us from birth to death? That message is constant, and the message that we should somehow be able to only magically rise above this toxic culture is just as ubiquitous. There are constant advertising campaign telling us to love ourselves just as we are, all the while hawking us new products.

Dietland is most subversive in its insistence that not giving in to these messages is actually productive rather than futile. In my favorite scene so far, Julia, the head of an underground feminist organization that hopes to dismantle this culture, tells Plum that the” frustration industrial complex” is keeping women tethered to unhappiness, always needing to buy the next best thing to feel good about themselves.” It’s not a conspiracy ,” Plum argues with her,” it’s human nature. People like pretty things .” Julia appears shocked. “You’re not a thing,” she says securely.” You are a woman .”

Dietland depicts in the US on AMC on Mondays and in the UK on Amazon Prime on Tuesdays

Insatiable: how offensive is Netflix’s controversial new comedy?

The story of a girl who loses weight and takes revenge on her bullies has already inspired an online petition for fat-shaming

One of the recurring images on Netflix’s new show, Insatiable, is that of the show’s heroine, Patty, played by Debby Ryan, gorging on food.” While my classmates were out losing their virginity ,” she says in the first episode,” I was at home stuffing another hole .” The show’s palpable disgust for Patty’s desire for food is visceral. Throughout the series, anytime Patty feels out-of-control, angry, desperate or sad, she immediately begins to binge, whether it’s handful of crawfish or gobs of birthday cake. Each hour Patty goes on a binge, the camera homes in on her mouth as she shoves food in it, in a way that seems both joyless and fetishistic. Patty’s mouth is the iconic image for the title scene, too. At the start of each episode we see her beautifully made-up mouth with the word “Insatiable” in front of it. In one opening, Patty holds a match between her lips. In others, we find her mouth biting or inhaling the words in front of it. Each day, the trailer shuts on her smile, as she depicts off perfectly white teeth.

Though the trailer for the series, which prompted a furious outcry among concerned spectators, seemed to suggest that this was a narrative of an overweight girl getting skinny and attempting retaliation on those who bullied her, Insatiable is more accurately a story of a young woman who has a binge-eating disorder. In fact, one of the more offensive aspects of the series( and there are many aspects that are offensive) is that fatness itself is synonymous with disordered eating. Throughout the series, Patty’s weight is perceived as a kind of moral failing, as evidence that her passions are just completely out of control. Certainly, one of the “jokes” of the series is that thin Patty is flailing just as much as “Fatty Patty” did. Though she suddenly has tons of positive reinforcement about her looks, she doesn’t feel good about herself or her body. The years of being bullied still haunt her, and her response to any and all stress or setbacks is to act out in ways that are vicious, cruel or just plain crazy.

Insatiable is clearly striving to be an edgy satire of our image-obsessed culture and our constant need for more, but the candy-colored veneer of the series never offers viewers an actual fleeing from the toxic tropes it attempts to skewer. In fact, the prove often seems intent on personifying the very stereotypes that it claimed responsibility for dismantling. Patty is shown being taunted mercilessly when she is fat, and then ogled constantly after she drops the weight. Her character has daddy issues, is a cutthroat and cruel pageant contestant, and has very few interests, ideas or thinks outside of her seems( except for the facts of the case that she actually loves Drew Barrymore ). The style that the camera focuses on Patty’s body in various scenes is often odd and confuse, and seems to emphasize that the viewer shouldn’t really be able to see Patty beyond her appears either.

Other characters in the series are also presented as tropes that don’t get complicated in ways that are particularly interesting, and yet aren’t campy enough to get played off as simply absurd. We gratify “trailer trash” characters with thick southern accents and tacky wardrobes, and the wealthy white collar strivers who are just as seedy and ridiculous under their fake veneer of elegance. We watch the world of beauty pageantries as being fake, charmless and ugly. Religion institutions are shown to be judgmental, foolish and patently unhelpful in the quest for spiritual enlightenment. There are jokes about race, sexual orientation and sexual molestation, all of which seem intent on being shocking, without being particularly funny. There are also a lot of dirty jokes based on a fast food place called Taco Weiner.

Insatiable’s best qualities are its quick-paced plot and the facts of the case that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its worst facet though, and one that I view to be an irredeemable one, is the fact that it feigns that any of its messages are intended to help teenagers navigate a cruel world or feel better about themselves. In reality, Insatiable isn’t skewering the ridiculous expectations placed on teen daughters; it’s merely reiterating them. It doesn’t offer a sensitive and humorous reflection on the experience of binge eating disorder; it’s placing Debby Ryan in a fat suit for inexpensive laughs.

undefined Photograph: Annette Brown/ Netflix

Insatiable’s arrival comes at an odd time, a season after Marti Noxon’s Dietland, a fantastic takedown of fat-shaming and the brutality of beauty culture, and a few months after a company decided to start marketing weight loss reduction lollipops to teen girls and young women use bright pink colorings and images of beautiful young women with heavily made-up lips delightedly sucking on lollipops instead of eating food. In response, you had some celebrities like Kim Kardashian West jump on the opportunist bandwagon( after receiving a lot of backlash from an Instagram post supporting the product, West deleted her post) and others like Jameela Jamil posting outrage about the ways that young women are taught to feel bad about themselves. It seems as though Insatiable is trying to straddle these two aspects of our current culture, “re just trying to” attract earnest viewers who struggle with body image issues as well as spectators who would be more than happy to laugh at the life of a” former fat girl “.

After the trailer for Insatiable aired, hundreds of thousands of people signed apetition for Netflix to cancel the series, arguing it would be dangerous for teen girls and anyone who struggles with eating. At first blush, this type of response is heartening, but I’ve been a culture critic long enough to know that an explosion of cultural discourse , no matter how well-written and smart-alecky, isn’t necessarily enough to actually facilitate culture change. In fact, controversy itself can often be just as effective in drumming up viewers as quality programming, and I wonder if the petition against Insatiable itself may actually end up get this slight series more buzz than it frankly deserves.

Insatiable is available on Netflix on 10 August

Bridget Jones’s Baby review: Zellweger delivers in fun romp heavy with expectation

Broad gags, option turns and some terrific slapstick involving a hospital revolving door elevate a maybe opportunistic outing into a solid and satisfying comeback

Sell-by dates dont mean anything … do they? Bridget Jones is talking about the eco-friendly biodegradable condoms she bought ages ago, and with which she has abruptly aimed an aeon-long sexuality famine by employing twice, on getting suddenly luck with two chaps within a few days: dishy online dating expert( Patrick Dempsey) and her old smoulderer, the unexpectedly single Mark Darcy( Colin Firth ). Now 40 -something Bridget has ascended the duff and there is a Mamma-Mia! -style mystery about the daddies identity. The director is Sharon Maguire, and the writers are Emma Thompson, Dan Mazer and Helen Fielding, author of the original newspaper column and bestselling book.

As for Bridgets own sell-by date, well, she now joins the conga-line of figures from the late 90 s and early noughties making their sheepish comeback: David Brent, AbFab, Cold Feet. But Rene Zellwegers own return after 12 years in the dithery role she created and after a six-year absence from the screen has been overshadowed by a massive media overreaction to cosmetic run which she has evidently had done.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Tom Segura tries to tackle some of the issues Dave Chappelle stumbled on

It’s a loaded time to be a straight, male standup.

In an epoch where Time’s Up, #MeToo, and reports of sexual misconduct predominate the culture, it can feel like overkill to log in and sit down with a spotlight on one singular male view for an entire hour. But this massive sea change has also created a situated of circumstances that can be powerful for comedy in the helping hand, and comics like Tom Segura “ve tried to” leaning into it.

Segura is by no means a political comic. In his new standup special Disgraceful , which landed on Netflix Friday, he expends the majority of members of his time focusing his personal, observational lens on a familiar range of topics: his recent weight loss, becoming a new dad, buying porn for his friends back when he was an old-looking teen. If you enjoyed Segura’s 2016 special Mostly Stories , there’s plenty for you to sink your teeth into here. But he also seems acutely aware that in 2018, an American comedian can’t really upload a one-hour performance to a major streaming service without addressing our broader culture climate in some way. Like Dave Chappelle did in his own Netflix specials earlier this month, Segura seems both tickled at how quickly our standards of behaviour can change, and juuust a little nostalgic for the epoch we’ve left behind–not that there’s anything wrong with the present, though.

Netflix/ YouTube

Within his first 10 minutes onstage, Segura pivots out of talking about fast food with the segue:” You can’t say’ retarded’ anymore. It was just here. Remember ?” The audience in the jam-packed Denver theater reacts with a explode of recognition and a smattering of oohs. Like Chappelle, Segura was born in the’ 70 s and is grappling with the pace at which certain parts of his point of view are being challenged.” You didn’t say it like that ,” he continues, explaining that the slur always seemed more popular to him as jargon than it did as a diagnostic label.” You said it to describe an idea or a situation .”

He adds:” Like if your friend was like,’ I’ll pick you up at your house, and then we’ll come back to my place, and later we can go back to your house and we can get your containers, and then we’ll come back over here after that …’ Now you’ve gotta be like,’ That’s not smart …’ It’s not the same .”

But where Chappelle used his observations to launch a flawed crusade against political correctness( to the mortification of his fans ), Segura takes a different tack and invites his audience to give him a taste of his own medication:” You might be sitting in your seat now going,’ Tom, what can we still say ?’ I’ll tell you what you can say. White racial slurs .” The audience roars.

Segura goes on to listing a bevy of archaic terms for various white the various ethnic groups that have been used during various immigration waves in the U.S ., and gags that if you called any white person those terms today, they’d likely laugh along with you.

” I’ll pay you to call me a honky ,” Segura tells.” I don’t care. It’s a great word .”

And just like that, he unlocks subtext Chappelle seemed to be getting at too: Updating our attitudes and policies is severely important work, but there’s a lot to be unpacked in the intensity of our reactions. If someone get violent for being called a honky, Segura thinks that’s weird behavior. In fact, he bets you that person is probably a racist themselves. And while he seems to agree it’s for the best that words like retarded and “gay” are no longer being used the way he used them in secondary school, he also invites us to look at how vigilant we’re being–and why.

All of this happens in the same approximate five-minute stretch during the course of its special. It isn’t the funniest material in Segura’s hour, but it’s also by far and away the most volatile subject matter he touches on, and in less deft hands those gags could have gotten dicey. Not merely does Segura leave his premise having investigated his own problematic stances( one impression he does of a British girl waking up from brain trauma with a Chinese accent reads a lot like … an excuse to mimic a Chinese accent, a criticism he foresees and challenges ), he leaves the social commentary section of his program as good-naturedly as he entered, and returns to talking about changing nappies and jacking off for the majority of his hour. Where Chappelle took the position of,” I didn’t come here to be right, I came here to fuck around” and ran headlong into territory he may not fully understand, Segura seems to be saying,” I know these terms can have power, especially for people who may not share all my traits, and I respect the boundaries being described. But let’s not forget we ultimately have control over how and when we use our power, and that’s important to look at too .”

Men of a certain age will most likely be grappling with these notions for some time to come, and while Segura’s isn’t a searing academic analysis, his approach is more nuanced than his chosen subject matter might result you to believe. And in 2018, that’s saying something.

Still not sure what to watch on Netflix? Here are our guidebooks for the absolute best movies on Netflix , must-see Netflix original series and movies , and the comedy specials guaranteed to make you laugh.

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44 Hilarious E-Cards That Explain Exactly How You Feel About All Of Life’s Frustrations


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Bridget Trump’s Diary: I went to the Women’s March and it was v overrated. Sad!

Image: Getty Images/ UNIVERSAL/ MASHABLE COMPOSITE

Note from the Editor: You’ve no doubt already heard about the political charade Bridget Trump? The love child of Donald Trump and Bridget Jones has been building people giggle with her charade Twitter account filled with pithy statements that are remarkably similar to some industrialist turned POTUS .

The brainchild of British comic Tiff Stevenson, Bridget Trump, is plainly very, very busy and very, very important. Bridget Trump took a infringe from tweeting to attend the inauguration and the Women’s March over the weekend. Miraculously, she also managed to squeeze in a diary entry. Here’s how it ran :

Bridget Trump’s Diary, London, Saturday 21 st January 2017

Calories 4,000( post inauguration )

Times I avoided eye contact with Nigel Farage last night 67

09.00 AM

I woke up feeling great about yesterday’s inauguration, although I can’t believe that Hillary depicted up and wore white on MY BIG DAY. Also Kellyanne( best friend) turned up looks a lot like she was about to lead the marching band. I believe the vile media has sent her quite mad. By the time Pence was sworn in I was utterly ravished( not in a good way) as all I had feed was half a packet of wheat crunchies.

Pence was sworn in …. must be what it feels like to be a bridesmaid. The choir were as AWFUL as those carol vocalists that show up yearly at mum and dads …. was sorely seduced to tell them to bugger off! However I preserved a cool, dignified stance.

FINALLY I was sworn in. I was v nervous about it. Lots of business-y words like SOLEMNLY; CONSTITUTION. I* suppose* the latter is about regular bowel movement….So now am no longer saddo PEOTUS but fully fledged independent POTUS !!! In charge of myself AND the nuclear codes. I Bridget Trump was feeling good

However…..It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts running okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.Found out this morning via the vile media that some females are marching to protest my new top job. Well … apparently they are also marching against the oppression of women worldwide blah blah … but I chose to ignore that.

My first reply was to call my friend Piers in inundations of tears. He said he would tell those nasty women what for and arrange a marching for men. What about men’s rights? Why won’t person think of them? I think of them the working day long because they are dreamy. Hmmmmm.

Now, after sex, the best kind of exert is walking! Walking is tremendous! On good day I like to stride across Westminster Bridge or up 5th avenue. Feel the wind in my hair( it’s definitely MY hair) and shake off the rust.

11. 45 AM

I decided to sneak in to the march if only to burn calories. Not because I care about what any of these awful people think. The plan was to remove at least 2 inches from thigh circumference.Upon arriving at the marching, I was shocked to insure placards mocking my hair, my skin toneand my absence of political experience.

Feel very blue about the whole thing. There were so many people there. But not more than the inauguration and certainly not more than the TV viewing figures of the inauguration !!! I don’t want that FAKE NEWS get out there.

All kinds over OVERRATED girls were there. Stand-up comedians like Sandi Toksvig, Tiff Stevenson, Sara Pascoe; Sarah Kendall. These girls tell jokes for a living why don’t they concentrate on real thing like Miss Universe competitors? Ugh.

Very RUDE actresses like Sharon Horgan, Amanda Abingdonand Rebecca Hall. Nasty women indeed. Female legislators like Yvette Cooper; Stella Creasy. Ugh Even some humen, I spotted Peter Capaldi, John C Reilly, Ian McKellen, Sadiq Khan and the worst by far …. the writer of that left wing hit task musical Lin Manuel Miranda himself.

Why? Oh why does everyone dislike me? I’m destined to die alone and will find information three weeks later half eaten by Alsatians. They should all apologise immediately !!!!!

At one point I couldn’t walk anymore so someone carried me. There went my weight loss scheme!

I’m 1,000% certain that 1,000, 000% of people on that march believe I am national laughing stock with a bottom the size of Brazil.

Miles walked 1.5

Pussies grabbed 0( v riling ) Calories devoured 800( 4 packets of M& M’s )

Amount of people there who I could consider a special relationship with 0

Tiff Stevenson( a.k.a. Bridget Trump) is on tour from now until May 5, including two proves at Londons Bloomsbury Theatre on Feb. 24 and 25. More datum: http :// tiffstevenson.co.uk

BONUS: Yes, Trump watched the Women’s Marches, and yes, he tweeted about it

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A Tribute To The Facebook Heroes Who NEVER Post Anything Political

Out of all my Facebook friends, there are about four or five who don’t regularly festoon their wall with political vitriol, all of it tinged with an unearned smugness. So let’s take a break from the masturbatory indignation to honor the handful of heroes who don’t post anything political on Facebook.

They’re like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, or Lucky Charms mixed in a worse cereal. As graceful innocents, they refrain from manipulating the conversation with their political agenda, and merely exist on Facebook, never pushing. I love them for it.

There’s my friend Pete( Hi Pete !), who occasionally posts artwork and paintings from his travellings. Or take Sarah, who rides ponies and always posts horse-related things. If she ever posted anything not related to horses, I’d get worried. Brian posts new songs he’s written, and Jeff posts pictures of his kids. There’s only a few more I could list. The remainder are shit.

To be honest, I’d be happy to see the Facebook versions of all my friends die. But perhaps it’s like , and so it might cause them to die in the real world. Tough call.

It’s simply that I know so many people who are more disciplined in regularly posting political items than they are at rendering their own work. Many of them can’t understand why their pet peeve is not “the member states national” agenda, and others love jumping on fashionable outrage. Bloviating as if Ive subscribed to their personal blog, they often alert that they’re about to get political or serious, even though it’s something they do several times a day. If any of my Facebook friends talked to me in person the way they proselytize on Facebook, I’d violate the very hand they use to click “post.”

This is not meant to take away from the power of Facebook to do good. We all know that World War II ended when Cameron from Seattle shared an article about Nazis and simply wrote: “This.” And who can forget that time when Heather from Austin objective bondage with a nasty white people meme?

But such articles is not about them.

No, we’re here to serenade those whose Facebook presences actually resemble how they are in real life conversation: natural and human. They listen and interact, as opposed to the remainder who resemble the crazy people yelling about the governmental forces in Times Square.

Perhaps you think that there’s nothing inherently noble about abstaining from posting political items. We disagree, and we’re probably not Facebook buddies.

Even more than sports, politics reduces once logical people to over-emotional children, who feel their feeling renders them an expert.

Understand that your friends only like you for a few reasons( sorry ), and one of them is surely not your rancorous political opinion. So if you begin to go beyond those few things and force your agenda on them, they might just lose interest, and you will die alone( we all succumb alone, I guess, but that’s a side issue ).

Think of this before you post something political to Facebook: If you physically invited all of your Facebook friends into a press room, and said what you want to post, would they come ? Would they ever return to another press conference? Probably not. Most of them won’t show up to your wedding.

Facebook should add a few features to deter the onslaught of political bile, like a new reaction featuring a smiley-face pleasuring itself, or perhaps some sort of automatic check which analyzes your post for its similarity to the 1.7 billion other Facebook users. So when you wrote your coattail-riding treatise on the trending news of the working day, the Hack Check would say, Your post has 97 percent terms in common with 6.4 million other users posts. Are you sure you want to publish, you unoriginal hack? It could help.

Here are things I’d rather look at on Facebook other than my friends’ political postings: new automobiles I can’t afford, badly lit pictures of food, updates on weight loss, the women they slept with the previous night, awful tattoos, worse accomplishments, and even, yes, newborns, as long as they’re not wearing political buttons.

So thank you Pete and Sarah and Brian and Jeff. Thank you to all those who permit Facebook to be a somewhat organic surrounding. Perhaps you have friends in your life like this. Tell them you appreciate them, because one day they may leave Facebook without ever knowing how you feel.

And to all the remainder: I hope your candidate loses in a horrible flameout of disgrace. I hope whatever issue is important to you turns out for the worst. I hope the demographic you think it’s cool to detest become the very people you need help from in the future. I hope.

It’s like Yeats said in that lyric I don’t understand:” The best absence all sentence, while the worst are full of passionate intensity .”

Come on, people, let’s take Facebook back to what it used to be: a place to pretend you were enjoying their own lives.

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23 E-Cards That Hilariously Summarize Your Shit Show Of A Life

1. This truth bomb .


2. The never-ending circle .


3. The bright side, kind of .


4. Can I get this at Walgreens ?


5. Constant exert .


6. This is the kind of love we’re all looking for .


7. This feeling is unavoidable .


8. Smooth move .


9. This is true dedication .


10. Honestly, this is all of us .


11. Someday we’ll ensure one another again .


12. It’s all about~ balance ~


13. Moving on to bigger and better things .


14. Responsible decision-making .


15. Fleeting youth .


16. Feeling nostalgic .


17. This is growing up .


18. Priorities .


19. Why does this always happen .


20. Now this goal feelings attainable .


21. Thank you Facebook .


22. This is how we’ll know it’s real .


23. Things to look forward to .



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