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December 10, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-12-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, December iD, 2D14 - 5A

Dystopian 'Child'
critiques corruption

Ambitious -
SundanceTV show'
skillfully crafted
By CATHERINE SULPIZIO
DailyArts Writer
Sundance TV's original
miniseries "One Child" clocks in
at almost four hours long. At times
the show
circulates
within itself;
it's impossible One Child
not to in SundanceTV
this tense,
claustrophobic and excellent
drama. It features Mei Ashley
(Katie Leung, "Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire") as an adopted
Chinese woman living in London.
One day, she receives a call from a
journalist back in China, claiming
to be an intermediary for her
biological mother. Mei's brother
(Sebastian So) has been framed
foramurderandwillbesentenced
to death in three weeks under
China's oppressive communist
regime. She needs Mei's British
citizenship to help (this is a not
fully satisfying reason), so Mei
travels to China, setting her on
a race through the labyrinthine
halls of government corruption.
"One Child" 's ambition
in covering vast ground in
terms of political critique and
psychological analysis makes
up for some moments of weak
dialogue and plot implausibility.
The show's rich characters
deserve more. Mei's actions, for
instance, are baffling at times
for a burgeoning scientist. She
takes off -for China without
telling her parents the real reason
and without any plan, blithely
trusting the journalist. Her
parents - a superb Elizabeth
Perkins, "Weeds," and Donald
Sumpter, "Game of Thrones" -

"Harry Potter was naked on Broadway. Now I'm in a Sundance miniseries.'

act as a surrogate for the audience,
powerlessly conveying their
fluctuating emotions of shock,
fear and frustration via phone and
Skype calls that Mei either hangs
up on or refuses to answer.
But of course, blood runs thick,
even for a brother she's never
met or even knew about, and the
showis expertlygrapples with the
question of what defines family.
In this way, it explains Mei's
moments of irrationality - those
three weeks are tamped with
unimaginable pressure that the
show successfully evokes.
It does this by imbuing its story
with very little sentimentalism.
Mei's reunion with her biological
mother is stripped of any
Hallmark glow, and there is
something vaguely unnerving
about the way her mother comes
back into her life only to save
her son. More than this, as Mei
pursues various advocacy and
activist channels, "One Child"
unrelentingly shuttles her down
countless avenues only for her to
crash headlong into their dead
ends.
"One Child" is a true
dystopian to American viewers,
recalling Welles' "The Trial"
more than the YA brand
saturating the theaters. "One
Child" is terrifying to watch
because the enemy is an
Orwellian government, sublime

in its presence, spiderwebbed
with potential respites that
dissolve as quickly as they
materialize. Even the activists
and journalists are pervaded
with corruption and operate
under pivoting ulterior motives.
This is suspense in the top-notch
sense, relying on realistic jags of
plot to drive its pace rather than
any superimposed gimmicks.
Nothing against sex and violence,
but "One Child" should be noted
for the unremitting tension it
suspends for four episodes by the
skin of its gritty, unglamorous
teeth. Because of this, it makes
for neither pleasant nor cathartic
viewing.
"One Child" typifies the high-
caliber content migrating to
television. It's skillfully paced
and harrowing, composed
with judicious doses of both
psychodrama and political
commentary. To say this show is
important is an understatement.
The viewer tendency with shows
like "One Child," perhaps, is to
situate the critique solely in the
foreign countries they are set in,
but viewers would be loath to
ignore the universal indictment
of government corruption in "One
Child" 's narrative. When art
and politics converge,.it is worth
examining, but when it is done as
exceptionally as "One Child," it
must be examined.

#Trill bros.

Turning up in the
club w ith Caked U p

A truly medi ocre'Guide'

Bravo premieres its
first 'real' scripted
program
By KAREN HUA
DailyArts Writer
In the weeks leading up to its
premiere, "Girlfriends' Guide to
Divorce" stood at the center of
television
hype.
As Bravo's
first scripted Girlfriends'
television Guide to
program .o
(that is, if you Divoe
don't count its Series Premiere
reality shows),
"Girlfriends' Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Guide" was Bravo
set for a
promising season. Based on the
popular advice books by Vicki
Iovine, the series is created by
the ubiquitous Marti Noxon, with
writing and producing credits on
successes such as "Mad Men,"
"Glee" and "Buffy the Vampire
Slayer."
The show focuses on middle-
aged Los Angeles women in
various stages of divorce. At the
center is Abby McCarthy (Lisa
Edelstein, "House"), the author
of a wildly successful self-help
book for young women; ironically,
her entire career has been built
upon her superficially perfect
family and marriage - the pilot
captures her in marital strife
with her adulterous husband
Jake (Paul Adelstein, "Private
Practice"). Meanwhile, she is
negatively influenced by her two
divorcee friends: Phoebe (Beau
Garrett, "TRON: Legacy"), a
former model who's fully aware
she's a "bangable blond," and Lyla
(Janeane Garofalo, "Wet Hot
American Summer"), who has an
affinity for vengeance against her
ex-husband. Both empower Abby
to celebrate her impending single
status by binge-drinking, having
nonchalant one-night-stands and
lying to her family.

EDM duo brings
energetic set
to Necto
By ARIANA ASSAF
Daily StaffReporter
The first time I saw Caked
Up was at Forever Festival in
Sterling Heights earlier this
fall, where I found myself
rocking out to these guys I'd
never heard of. I'll be honest -
at the time, I was just waiting
to see Adventure Club. But
Vegas Banger and Oscar Wylde
were going absolutely insane
on stage, creating a buzzing,
almost mosh-pit scene at the
front of the Sterling Heights
Amphitheater. I quickly got
the sense thatthis set was
the high point of everyone's
day, and by the end of it, I too
had put Adventure Club out
of my mind and found myself
wishing for just one more song.
Last week, Caked Up played
at Necto on the most turned-
up Wednesday night I've ever
experienced. To those of you
who stayed in because it was
the middle of the week and
finals are coming up, you were
wrong (sorry). Caked Up may
have been going up against the
worst week of the semester -
and Dillon Francis performing
45 minutes away in Royal
Oak - but it didn't matter.
A dedicated group of fans
screamed their hearts out as
the duo jumped into their set
like they couldn't wait to get
going. Loud, proud and eager
to be Caked Up, the crowd
sang along to a hyped-up
version of "Fancy," clapped to
a remix of Deorro and MAKJ's
"Ready" and waved along to a
version of Armin van Buuren's
"Ping Pong" that somehow
transitioned in to a sick
adaptation of "Satisfaction."
Caked Up may appear to be
an overnight success, but the
look is deceiving. It's only been
a year since they've built such
a large and loyal following, but
their popularity has been a
long time coming. Their ever-
climbing social media numbers
are not only a testament to tons
of recent releases, but also to
over a decade of work by the
artists on their own. The two
didn't start playing together
until about six years ago, when
they connected via the Las

Vegas music scene. But if their
41.1K followers on Twitter
and over 600,000 followers on
Soundcloud are any indicator,
the duo's career looks poised
to keep soaring.
Wednesday night's party
didn't stop until over half an
hour after it was supposed
to. Oscar Wylde (Brandon
Marstellar), evidently not
wanting to leave anyone
feeling underserved, indulged
both the audience and himself
in several "last songs" that
saw girls twerking on boys,
boys twerking on boys and
the management team getting
slightly pissed off. We all
thought he was winding down
with "DJ, Ease My Mind," but
then he brought the energy
right back;up with "NojFlex.
Zone," "Wiggle",and more.
Oscar Wylde and Vegas
Banger's (Jeff Saville) 10-plus
years of individual DJ
experience was immediately
evident on stage, and it almost
looks like they have their own
inside jokes running as they
perform. They're charismatic
and quick, carefully building
beats and stringing synths
together just right, while at
the same time, not giving a.
flying fuck about pretty much
anything. The performance
was almost intimate enough
to feel like a night in spent
jumping around to good music
with close friends, but rowdy
enough to very much be a night
out. Way out. Between a trip
or two into the audience for
pictures," calls for everyone
to get up on Necto's stage
and Grey Goose being poured
directly into the mouths of girls
directly below the DJ booth,
there was no questioning
everyone had come to party.
The duo used tried-and-true
crowd favorites remixed and
redesigned to reflect their own
unique style in combination
with new material, walking
the line between trap and
more "traditional" EDM (is
that a thing?). As I said before,
they're quick. In a live show,
Caked Up will have moved on
from one song you think you
recognize before you've really
wrapped your head around
their own version of it.
I didn't step back to think
about this until a while after
the performance, because
while you're in it, you're in it
and having the best time -

that's the point of their music.
But when you're a fan and you
keep tabs on your favorite
artists, you notice when they're
accused .of taking what isn't
theirs. When Caked Up put
a remix entitled "No Type"
on their SoundCloud, people
commented on its similarities
to DJ duos Loudpvck and
Gladiator's track "Tony". This
escalated to accusations of
stealing by various EDM blogs.
Another story broke in mid-
November about how Caked Up
used part of a song by Jackal
("Chinchilla") without giving
credit.
Interestingly, none of these
parties really spoke up about
it until now, and for good
reason: "If you give attention
to something that's negative,
it's never;gonna die," Oscar
calmly explained. For all his
crazy antics, he's also got a
good amount of wisdom on
his side.
It seems to have worked.
Few follow-ups have been
written since, and I don't feel
the need to beat the issue to
the ground. Suffice it to say
that Caked Up is actually
close friends with all these
artists, and they tell me whole
thing has become a bit of a
joke to them.
"Loudpvck and Jackal have
both contacted me and said
'this is hilarious that this
is happening'," Oscar said.
"Everybody thinks we came
up in the past year but we've
worked very hard ... for people
to just take that away is pretty
fucking hurtful."
"It happens in the DJ world
all the time," Jeff continued.
"Everybody makes mashups of
different songs." They broke
down the Loudpvck/Gladiator
situation for my technically
untrained ears: though the
keys may be the same, the
synths only sound similar and
the melodies are different.
The duo compared it to Nicki
Minaj's sample of Sir Mix-
A-Lot's song in "Anaconda,"
though it's worth noting that
she asked Sir Mix-a-Lot's
permission for the sample
and paid for it. Still, her song
has been on Billboard's Hot
100 list for the past 17 weeks.
Caked Up explained that they
didn't even sample a Loudpvck
song, let alone steal it.
"Can you even steal music?"
Jeff wondered aloud.

I wanna feel the heat with somebody."
The series refreshingly follows
women who are the breadwinners
- and not housewives - for
a change. However, this
empowering factor is almost
negated in Bravo's stereotypically
inaccurate portrayal of."normal"
women. All the females stand
in a quasi-gorgeous state, their
beautifully slim figures buttressed
by plastic surgeries and Botox
procedures. There are no women
struggling, . of racial diversity
or with variation in weight -
as the show homogeneously
demonstrates only 'a narrow
margin of today's modern woman.
Abby and her friends seem
vapid beneath their immaculate
complexions. Even the
protagonist, whom by name and
regardless of faults or flaws is
supposed to be admirable in some
way, is difficult to root for. In the
end, Abby's friends push her from
independence to self-destruction
- when she purposely botches
her speech at a book signing for
young women who look up to her.
An audience cannot be quite as
sympathetic toward Abby as they
can toward a Hannah Horvath
figure - both with affinities for
bad decision-making, but Abby
without a cushion of ignorant
youth..
In general, the show often
blurs the lines between comedy
and drama. Interspersed between
humorous moments, the writing
stands out primarily in the serious
scenes. "Girlfriends' Guide" may
be a scripted show of fiction, but

it is one that feels "realer" than
any of Bravo's "reality" shows.
Though it bears a flippant title,
the show aims to be emotionally
complex, peppered with a bit of
social commentary. In a way, it
does live up to those expectations,
but to quite a mediocre standard
nonetheless.
Most prominently, the show
comments on the stigma divorce
still carries. Just as an argument
between Abby and her gay
brother Max (Patrick Heusinger,
"Black Swan") reveals, some
people do not accept divorce as
an appropriate option unless one
spouse is abusive or alcoholic. On
the other hand, though Abby's
husband is initially portrayed
as a despicable individual, he
can be commended for his
final willingness to mend their
relationship. He often fluctuates
between vulgar rudeness toward
his wife and sporadic efforts to
make things work - but it is Abby,
the "empowered" woman, who
finalizes their separation. The
fickle reality of their marriage
captures the essence of divorce.
The end of the pilot concludes
with an indifferent wave goodbye
from Abby as she saunters out of
her book signing - an attitude
that mirrors that of the viewer.
Although the pilot is not awful,
there is little to be desired for
upcoming episodes. But despite
"Girlfriends' Guide" 's mediocrity,
Bravo should be commended for
taking a step beyond its usual
programming.

PRINT JOURNALISM:
SURE TO BE ALIVE
AND KICKIN'
IT IN 2015.
STAY TUNED.
@MICHIGANDAILY

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