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Nerd Poppin’ Throughout the SAG-AFTRA Strike

As of Thursday November 9, the SAG-AFTRA strike came to an end following an approval of a tentative agreement with the AMPTP. Having lasted a whopping 118 days, it is the longest actors strike against the film and TV studios in Hollywood history.

Within that time, I have limited what specifically I wrote about for The Nerds of Color; not just to show solidarity with SAG-AFTRA, but also as someone who hopes to join the WGA in the future. But now that it’s finally over, I figured that now is a good time to catch up on what I’ve been consuming, but haven’t written about.

For those who tune in to our weekly podcast, Hard N.O.C. Life, towards the end of each episode, the hosts and guests will share what’s nerd poppin’ with them; whether that be a book they’ve been reading, an album they’ve been listening to, a TV show they’ve been binging, or a film they’ve seen and are digging. I’ve been nerd poppin’ over four shows that have premiered, released new seasons, or wrapped up throughout the strike, and I want to take the time now to dig into my impressions of them. (Also, just a heads up, there will be spoilers.):

What We Do In the Shadows, Season 5 (FX)

This show is, in my opinion, easily one of the funniest shows out there right now, and each season, I think to myself: Where are they going to take it from here? To see the writers finally explore Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) becoming a vampire is something that I wasn’t sure we would ever see happen. All the characters on the show are such hams, but when it comes down to it, Guillermo is not only the rock, but also my favorite. He has already been on such an incredible character journey with just coming to terms with the fact that he a descendant of vampire hunters, that it was starting to seem like maybe we would never see this wish of his, that was first made known in the first episode of the first season, ever come to fruition.

As comical it was to see him struggle with both being a half-baked vampire (if you will) and also keeping it a secret from Nandor (Kayvan Novak), I must say that how that arch was wrapped up was a little rushed and, admittedly, unsatisfying. With Guillermo back to being human again by season’s end, I’m left once more wondering where the writers are going to take it next season, and in a way that I’m a little uneasy with. I just hope I’m proven wrong for feeling this way.

Reservation Dogs, Season 3 (FX on Hulu)

Reservation Dogs has come to an end, and I can’t believe it. Three seasons is not a long time for a show to be around (especially in an era of streaming). However, with show co-creator Sterlin Harjo making it clear that it was a creative decision to wrap it at the end of the third season, I felt a little more at ease that, at least, it’s on the terms of him and the rest of the team behind it.

The fact that this was the final season was definitely indicative by how all out the creative team went with some of the episodes this season; ranging from encounters with aliens (or, rather, star people), the origin story of Deer Lady (Kaniehtiio Horn), other characters having interactions with spirits, etc. The audience also got to see the Reservation Dogs themselves continue to grow and evolve in ways that feel very natural at this point in the characters’ respective journeys. From Elora (Devery Jacobs) making decisions for herself for what she wants in the future, to Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis) learning to take over for her mentor, they’ve come so far from the first episode of the first season, where they were stealing a truck to raise money to leave their reservation.

It was just really wonderful to have this show — about Indigenous characters, by an Indigenous creative team — end on such a satisfying note; making way for other Indigenous-led shows to follow suit. As the elders said over a toast in the final scene, “Until the next one.”

Ahsoka (Disney+)

(L-R): Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) with Night Troopers in Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS: AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved

It’s fair to say that there have been some hits and misses with some of the Star Wars live-action series in recent years. When it comes to Ahsoka, however, I would argue that it’s one of the best of them. Already it means a lot that this show really legitimizes the stories told through the animated series like Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars, with Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) joined alongside by the likes of Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and Hera (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). To have Kevin Kiner and his children, Sean and Deana Kiner, return to score for these characters once more only further exemplifies the role that these shows play in the bigger lore. Together under the leadership of George Lucas’ successor, Dave Filoni, the show scratched an itch in such a way that felt so very satisfying indeed: flashbacks to the Clone Wars, Huyang (David Tennant), Loth-cats, space whales, what more could one ask for?

That’s not to say it was a perfect show — not by any means. To have Sabine learn to use the Force is an arch that, even now, still seems kind of odd to me, even with the valid point that Filoni was making with that. Also, to never get a clear answer as to what Baylan (Ray Stevenson) was working towards was frustrating, especially now that the actor has since died. But otherwise, I still believe Ahsoka to be one of the more top-tier live-action Star Wars shows to come out; leaving just enough room in the end for more story to tell. (Also, I want to quickly acknowledge Diana Lee Inosanto, who reprised her role as Morgan Elsbeth from The Mandalorian, and Eman Esfandi as Ezra Bridger. I found their performances in particular to be spectacular!)

Blue Eye Samurai, Season 1 (Netflix)

Blue Eye Samurai (L to R) Maya Erskine as Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2023

Oh my goodness! The minute I first heard about this show, I knew it was one that I had to watch. It is also, admittedly, the show that I know the least of out of these four, as I’ve only seen the first two episodes. Despite that, I must say that I really like it so far.

The concept of a mixed-race, female samurai in the Edo period of Japan seeking revenge is fascinating both on paper and in execution. As someone who is also mixed-race, it can become undeniably cliche at times when you start seeing the same kind of stories about your experience being told over and over again: about not fitting in, being othered, etc. While that’s not to say that Blue Eye Samurai doesn’t do that, it turns those cliches on its head. White features are considered demonic as opposed to attractive in this society, and the fact that Mizu (Maya Erskine) is seeking vengeance against white men makes all the more intriguing. I’m so engaged in the direction the story is heading in, and if it weren’t for my schedule as of late, I would have long since finished the season by now.

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