‘Telemarketers,’ ‘And Just Like That,’ and football documentaries
In this week’s excellent edition of the BFG Podcast, host Neal Pollack calls up Daniel Cohen to talk to him about ‘Telemarketers,’ the three-part Max docuseries about phone scams that Neal calls “one of the best shows of the year.” If you want a time-capsule depiction of what America was really like in the early 21st century, you could do a lot worse than this show by and about loser New Jersey telemarketing drones. Yet those drones, Sam Lipman-Stern and the great Patrick J. Pespas, manage to perform the greatest act of documentary investigative journalism since Roger and Me. They uncover terrifying truths about the police, non-profit fundraising, and governmental indifference, and do it all in their unintentionally wacky working-guy way. You have to watch this show.
You do not have to watch ‘And Just Like That.’ In fact, Matthew Ehrlich isn’t even sure why he’s watching what is essentially a modern version of Sex and the City. As Matthew pointed out in his recent BFG article, the original SATC was garbage, but it was also garbage that contained coded messages for gay men, who didn’t have the same voice in society that they have now. It was water-cooler gossip fodder. Now the show has moved onto new frontiers of queerness, but no one is talking about it. Yet Matthew keeps watching, an act that he equates to eating a snack food that’s bad for him, and that he doesn’t even like, but he just eats out of habit.
Robert Dean, meanwhile, is back in the football habit, and he prepared for the coming season by watching a couple of Netflix documentaries. The first is a short “Untold” film about “Johnny Football,” Johnny Manziel, who committed the grave sin of putting College Station, Texas, on the map, and then blowing his Heisman Trophy accolades in an incredibly stupid binge of partying and drugs. The film doesn’t exactly gloss over Manuel’s flaws, but the majority of it is just Manziel telling his own story, making it feel a bit like spin control.
And the NFL is engaging in a bit of modern spin control itself with a “what it takes” documentary series called ‘Quarterback’ that lionizes three very different types of NFL leaders: Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, and Marcus Mariota. Mahomes is, at this point, a commercial for himself, but the show is an interesting peek into two slightly less successful field generals. If you want to get hyped for the coming NFL season, you could do worse.
From straight to gay back to straight, it’s the BFG Podcast. Enjoy!