Dear Patsy: Filling a Westworld-Sized Void, Understanding Smash Bros. & More

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Dear Patsy: Filling a <i>Westworld</i>-Sized Void, Understanding <i>Smash Bros.</i> & More

Dear Patsy is your new one-stop-shop for any and all questions about music, movies, drinks, TV, comedy, videogames, celebrities or whatever else you want to ask our pop culture expert. Send Patsy your question to mailbag@pastemagazine.com with a snappy subject line including the words “Dear Patsy,” and you could be featured in Paste’s newest weekly column. Simple as that! We want to hear your questions—or, Patsy does!—and we want to be your guiding light in the ever-foggy, fast-changing world of pop culture.

This week Patsy provides some recommendations for dark, dystopian TV shows in the vein of Westworld, some Smash Bros tips for beginners, some suggestions for movies that won’t put your parents to sleep and more. Remember: This fine column can also act as a vehicle for personal, customized discovery should you send Patsy a few things you already like. Find all that and more below, and don’t forget to send Patsy a note at mailbag@pastemagazine.com.

Dear Patsy: Help fill the void Westworld left

Howdy Pasty,
During quarantine my roommate and I decided to start watching Westworld. We would usually watch one episode a day because the episodes are so dense (confusing) and we would have to go read/watch recaps to understand what the heck just happened. Even though we worked through it slowly we couldn’t get enough of the dystopian mayhem. We eventually caught up to the live episodes and tuned in every Sunday night to see what Dolores Abernathy would do next. But now with season 3 complete and season 4 nowhere near its air date we have big ole void we haven’t been able to fill. Do you have any recommendations for dark/dystopian/thought-provoking television that can help us move on from Westworld for the time being?
Sincerely,
2 Sad Cowboys

Dear 2 Sad Cowboys,

No need to be sad! You are in luck, TV is absolutely filled with dark, dystopian dramas. If you are into twisty puzzlebox series that examine the nature of humanity—specifically, humans vs robots—we highly recommend the iconic binge series Battlestar Galactica (streaming free on Syfy.com—and start with the miniseries). But if you want to stick to Hulu, their recent, contemplative series Devs ( review) deals with a desire to use tech to change reality. Also of note, Hulu’s miniseries 11.22.63, based on the Stephen King novel, is a worthwhile watch that’s twisty (and includes time travel), although does lack robots.

Over on HBO (now HBO Max), you can get your western fix with the excellent, brutal drama Deadwood, or your obsessive “what does it all mean?” puzzle fix with the first season of True Detective (but you’ll probably want to stop there). The Leftovers is also a thought-provoking drama that examines life after 2% of the population suddenly disappears; if you want dark, well it has it in spades!

Three other noteworthy series that deal with the question of humanity in the face of the superhuman come from the overseas, and are available on Amazon Prime: the soulful Humans (robot butlers awaken and challenge human overlords in the UK), the cheeky but surprisingly emotional In the Flesh (focusing on English “rehabilitated” zombies), and the atmospheric Les Revenants (also zombies, but they don’t eat flesh; sadly, it is no longer streaming free but can be purchased).

We hope you find your next dark obsession, but don’t forget to watch a comedy once in a while!
Patsy

Dear Patsy: Curated suggestions for enjoying theatre during quarantine?

Thank you for the reply in the Paste newsletter and your invitation to send in some of my pop culture “likes” so you could attempt to provide additional suggestions.
I do find that your lists are very useful, especially in film, television and music. On that note, I thought I might comment on other mediums where I do find it more challenging to find things that suit my tastes.
Theatre:
“Time Stands Still”: I’ve seen a few productions including the Broadway one with Laura Linney. The story remains one of my favourite contemporary plays.
“Village Bike”: Greta Gerwig’s performance made me feel so much empathy to an otherwise flawed character.
“Farragut North”: I think this is one of the finest political plays and don’t understand why more theatre companies take on this production. Chris Pine was impressive in the production that I saw.

There are some limits to our pop culture knowledge, including deep dives into theater. So instead, we’ll send you over to the folks at Broadway HD or Marquee TV (which we have covered here and here), two theater-based subscription services that will very likely help you find more of what you’re looking for. Enjoy!

Dear Patsy: How do I refine my Smash Bros. skills?

Dear Patsy,
I’ve been playing videogames with my kids, and while I love Mario Kart, I cannot for the life of me understand the point of Mario Smash Bros. Is there a training course? Are there moves I can learn? Is there a way I can win at this game through skill instead of randomly mashing the buttons?
Sincerely,
A Mom Who Wants to Win

Dear AMWWTW,

Believe it or not, there actually is more to Smash than button-smashing. There is some order within its chaos. Each character has a unique and standardized moveset that can be memorized, and once you’ve internalized a fighter’s abilities you’ll have a leg up on your opponent. Smash does have an in-game training mode, where you can get your reps in with any fighter and try out their different moves, abilities and combos. Nintendo also has some basic pointers on the official Smash site. These can help you get your fundamentals down—the difference between the various kinds of attacks, the situations in which you’d want to implement them, the timing needed to optimize every action you take, etc. Of course, nothing beats actual experience; you can know how the game works in theory and still be terrible at it. I’m proof! Knowing what to do is not the same as knowing when and how to do it, and it’ll take time and many battles to get that down. Just don’t lose hope if you keep losing during that time, and resist the temptation to go back to mashing buttons as fast as possible. It takes time, but you WILL Smash better if you put in the training.

Patsy

Dear Patsy: Lighthearted movies to watch with my parents?

Hi Patsy,
Hope you had a nice memorial day weekend…
I have a couple questions for you:
1. I just drove back home to FL. I want to watch something that will keep the ole rents entertained but they’re old and fall asleep SO fast. Do you have any recommendations? My parents aren’t fans of animation. They reluctantly watched Coco with me last year and it was a tough sell. I really enjoy lighthearted humor or something informational. Currently binging new girl and seinfeld.
2. My music has really plateaued during quarantine. I’ve been listening to alot of the same stuff recently and can’t get myself to listen to anything new these days. Any good new albums you recommend? I like indie pop, pop, and oldies
Thanks Patsy Pat, appreciate ya :)

Dear Florida Film Girl,

First of all, your parents are missing out on Coco—what a freakin’ family-friendly delight! But fear not, there are plenty of non-cartoon movies streaming on Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Disney+ and beyond that you three will be able to enjoy together. Lighthearted and informational…how about Becoming, the new Michelle Obama documentary streaming on Netflix? Or, if you’re looking for something a little closer to home, check out The Florida Project, also on Netflix—it can be a tough watch at times, but it’s ultimately a joyful film. I’d also recommend the delightful, underrated rom-com Morning Glory, on Hulu. For an informative, moving music documentary that’s also about family, try May It Last, The Avett Brothers documentary by Judd Apatow on HBO. If you’re after a lighthearted classic, Hello, Dolly! is streaming on Disney+, as are The Sound of Music, The Princess Bride and Free Solo.

As for music, I think you’ll really dig I Feel Alive, the new album from Montreal indie-pop trio TOPS. It’s full of dance grooves and party numbers perfect for a midday dance break or a quick skip around the neighborhood, and it’ll make you feel, well, alive! And knowing what I know about you, Florida Film Girl, I think you might also enjoy the latest offering from psych-rock group Woods: Strange to Explain, perfect for the Tame Impala fan. None of those scratching your itch? Try the latest singles from Spanish rock/pop quartet Hinds, who have a new album out next week, the new album from Perfume Genius (pure pop magic!) and/or these groovy, oldies-inspired, uplifting recent singles from classic rock queen Grace Potter. Hey, maybe your parents will like this music, too!

Stay cool down there in Florida,
Patsy

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