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There’s a battle brewing, and it’s being fought by streaming services, cable TV and primetime television. If you’re too weak to resist, “UnBinged” is here to help, telling you what to hate, what to love and what to love to hate. This week: Gwyneth’s Goop poop, McMillions covers the McDonald’s Monopoly game dupe and Locke & Key creeks open the door on a mysterious comic book tale from Stephen King’s son.

Paltrow burns the vagina candle at both ends in the goop lab. (Netflix)

the goop lab with Gwyneth Paltrow | Netflix

There are many, many programs vying for your attention right now. Some of them are great, some are bad, many are irrelevant, but a select few are actually damaging. It is rare to find a show that borders on potentially harmful, but the goop lab (yes, the lower case “t” is intentional) is here to fill that questionable niche.

Patron saint of Whole Foods Gwyneth Paltrow has taken her “modern lifestyle brand” from the computer screen to the TV screen, allowing her “goopers” to do “hard-hitting” “investigations” into new types of “therapy.” During the course of the series, her select “team” of natural fabrics-wearing professionals delve into psychedelic psychotherapy, hot breathing techniques, vampire facials and energy work as they “explore the frontiers of wellness.”

Is the goop lab any good? Well, when the amount of sarcastic quotes you can use to describe a television program almost outnumber the actual amount of words in the description, you’re dipping into hate-watch territory. It’s super easy to poke fun at the ridiculous, over-the-top nature of this program. Paltrow spends a majority of her time surrounded by sycophants who hang on her every word as if she was Vishnu. But the pastel color scheme and high production values are hiding the fact that at its core, a lot of stuff goop is touting could actually be dangerous.

While the disclaimer at the beginning clearly states that the show will not offer any solutions, it heavily suggests alternative means to combat very real problems that plague physical and mental health. These are problems that should probably be discussed with a medical professional with a degree, not a guru with a ponytail and a tea set.

To put it bluntly, the goop lab is New Age gibberish wrapped in a celebrity package. It’s difficult to find a redeeming quality in a show that throws around terms like “psychedelic elders.” Fans of the site and of Paltrow will find the show to be a continuation of her particular brand of bullshit housewife alchemy. They’ll probably have fun with it. But for those of you who are ill or looking for answers towards healing and health, please do not watch goop. It does not hold any answers. Those of you looking for entertainment, also please do not watch goop. It’s a silly show but it’s nothing to laugh at.

Fast food but no fast money in MCMILLIONS (HBO)

McMillions | HBO

In the ‘80s, McDonald’s introduced the Monopoly game. The rules were simple: collect the different game pieces, similar to those found on a Monopoly board, and win great wealth. Anyone could win, and everyone tried. But while our sodium intake and chance for diabetes rose, our chances to win did not, as the game was fixed.

HBO’s McMillions is an in-depth look at the McDonald’s Monopoly scam and the FBI agents who figured it out. At the center of the scandal was Jerome “Uncle Jerry” Jacobson, the security chief for Simon Marketing, who helped create the beloved game. He was a trusted figure who began recruiting “winners” and forced them to share their prizes or purchase winning pieces for the game.

The docuseries is quite lively, filled with unbelievable stories, heartbreaking tales and gotcha moments. The show takes in all sides of the scam, from bullied “winners” to larger-than-life FBI agents to those who knew and worked with Uncle Jerry. But while the personalities and insane true stories that surround the case created a fantastic Big Fish story, what really makes the doc intriguing is its focus on a shared cultural event.

It’s easy to relate to everyone in the doc because it’s pulling from an experience many people shared. The game was a massive part of American culture ever since it started in the late ‘80s. It seemed as though the entire country participated as family meals and friendly outings became fixated on dreams of great riches, new cars, or possible free milkshakes. It flavored a low-cost dinner with dreams of a better life.

McMillions is pure, savory docutainment at its tastiest — a true life event that’s easy to digest because it’s fascinating, highly entertaining, and as addictive as salty french fries.

Comic creepdom in Locke & Key (Netflix)

Locke & Key | Netflix

After the murder of their father, the Locke kids (Connor Jessup, Emilia Jones and Jackson Robert Scott) and their mother (Darby Stanchfield) wanted a fresh start, so they moved into dad’s ancestral home. A fairytale mansion filled with enough woodworking detail and original tile to make any house flipper salivate, but with a few spooky add-ons. In addition to the built-in bookshelves and dutch doors, the house also comes equipped with creepy, whispering keys that bestow magical powers upon those who use them and a demon named Dodge, who has a taste for Chanel and has no qualms with killing kids.

Based on the Eisner-winning comic series by Joe Hill, Netflix remolded and sanitized the original tale for the pre-teen sect. Essentially, Locke & Key is Netflix’s answer to Disney+ programming. Removing a few of the more brutal aspects of the original comic, the Netflix version of the series is less horror, more humdrum.

While the series is exceptionally made and well acted, the original flavor of Hill’s story has been all but watered down. In the book, the story pulls apprehension and dismay from the dark surprises that await the Locke kids. While the series does do a good job of building a slight amount of dread with the character of Dodge, the more harsh aspects of the comic are removed.

Unlike Netflix’s other comic book adaptation Umbrella Academy, Locke & Key doesn’t take a moment to bask in the quirkiness of the situation. While Hill’s comic is filled with fantasy moments, child-like wonder and stings of brutality (the writer is Stephen King’s son after all), the show doesn’t give the story a chance to breath and enjoy its own eerie originality.

All that said, Locke & Key is still worth a peep through the keyhole. High production values, and a unique story makes this a great selection for moody teens and younger comic fans. The show will no doubt fill a niche for Riverdale and Sabrina fans on the hunt for more tween thrillers. The characters are charming and well developed, thanks to the talented cast. But for fans of the original comic, the adaptation is missing the bite of the book.

 

LA Weekly