Eleven years after the iconic, genius, frustrating, scintillating, upsetting finale—the cut-to-black heard round the world, we’re jumping headfirst into the underworld of New Jersey crime, and into the den of the Sopranos. HBO’s critically acclaimed series captured viewers instantly by asking a simple question: what if a mob boss went to therapy? But instead of turning it into a punchline, the show used that springboard to open up questions about humanity, mental illness, family, and the American Dream. Now Derek and Laurel pull apart the characters, the influences, and the ultimate successes and failures of the series that brought epic, romantic stories back down to earth. Brief lessons on Italian Opera, the theatrical form Commedia dell’Arte, and the most famous thought experiment in quantum mechanics.
How did we get here? Where are we going? The future may seem an abstract concept, a faraway thing, but every action we take, every word we set down in the present determines the outcomes and intricacies of our world to come. This week, we pull apart some of the religious references in Hulu’s hit series The Handmaid’s Tale to further understand the message the story is really telling. We’ll discuss Offred’s journey so far, what we’ve learned about Gileadian social structure, and the sacred texts upon which this new country is based. Under his eye.
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Have you every questioned the nature your reality, or podcast? Per chance you should…Listen this week as The Midnight Myth applies its thoughtful analysis to the HBO hit series West World. Central to West World is the idea of the "west", a frontier, a lawless land ripe for civilized folk to come and claim— if they are tough enough to keep it. Amid the moral questions of artificial intelligence and a world created where humans can cater to every lustful wish and violent desire, is a narrative of America. This week Derek and Laurel seek to understand the narrative, from Ancient Rome, to Enlightenment Politics, and everything in between and hereafter.
Is there a soul? One of the oldest questions humankind has ever asked works its way through almost all of our stories in some form or another. But it’s a question that pops up continually in the popular Netflix series, Black Mirror. A vision of a technological future that often devolves into dystopia, Black Mirror pits humanity against machine-learning tech, sentient digital copies, and transferred consciousness on a frequent basis. We’re taking this question up with a quieter episode though. Season Four’s Crocodile asks about whether we have a soul, not as opposed to a robot, but as opposed to the rest of the animals. And if we have a soul, what happens when it’s corrupted?
This week’s episode takes a look inside HBO’s stellar series “Big Little Lies,” the archetypes it relies on, and the stereotypes it deconstructs. From Freud’s triangle of trauma to Hippocratic Humorism, there’s a lot going on beneath the idyllic surface in the wealthy beach town of Monterey. Join Derek and Laurel on a journey beneath the waves as we look at what went so so right (and what went so so wrong.)
Few themes of storytelling and mythology are as widespread or as powerful as the resurrection myth. From the ancient to the modern world, the idea of resurrection, reincarnation, and escape from mortality lies at the heart of religions, belief systems, and popular BBC television shows. Revisiting one of our favorites, Doctor Who, we learn to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new during the Doctor’s process of “regeneration.” Derek & Laurel take a look back this week over Peter Capaldi’s legacy as the legendary Timelord, and seek to understand the timelessness of the character through the lens of Egyptian mythology and contemporary psychology. Some spoilers for Series 9 and the latest Doctor Who Christmas Special.
Did you honestly think we were done talking about Rick and Morty? We haven’t even scratched the surface of the multiverse of Midnight Myth Rick and Morty talk. Listen this week as we deconstruct the story structure of Rick and Morty, trying to understand why the antihero works and doesn’t work in modern serialized commercial shows. We go from Ancient Greece to the Sopranos to Rick and Morty, all to ascertain what makes the antihero one of post-modernity's most commercially viable archetypes.
I turned myself into a podcast is a reflection and meditation on the Sci-Fi interdimensional madness of Rick and Morty. While we all covet the power of turning ourselves into sentient pickles, the question remains, what is this show about? Is it really a hodgepodge of nihilistic philosophies turned into comedy so tragic that we don’t know if we should laugh or cry? Rick and Morty makes us laugh at the very futile nature of human existence, but somehow gives Derek and Laurel hope. Listen, as we Meseek and Destroy!
What is a stoic character? Grim, emotionally immovable, and cold in the face of great human pain? Listen this week as Derek and Laurel delve into the archetypal stoic character and unpack Stoic philosophy along the way. The current stoic character construct bares some superficial resemblance to the philosophy started in Ancient Athens in 350 BCE, but do the tropes really do justice to the philosophical doctrine? By examining characters from the Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Gladiator, and more, we will try to discover the truth beneath the unshakeable facades.
Derek and Laurel have returned from traveling the great wide world and bring you another episode about a favorite character who travels the great wide universe. In our second Doctor Who case study, we focus not only on the Doctor himself, but an unexpected friend, the painter Vincent Van Gogh. In Season 5, Episode 10 of the beloved BBC series, we explore questions of madness, alienation, loneliness, and ecstatic joy. Most importantly, we ask, what does it take to be a truly great artist?